From San Diego to San Francisco, discover the best stops along the iconic Highway One for the ultimate California road trip.
If you've been following FOXY OXIE on Instagram, you already saw that the husband and I have been road tripping up the coast of California in celebration of many things, including our three-year wedding anniversary. Although my initial plan was to remain almost entirely unplugged, it's nearly impossible not to share just a glimpse of the beauty that has (literally) been taking my breath away for the past eight days.
For someone who has traveled to nearly 30 countries, it's quite embarrassing how very few of the States I have seen. So when our international travel plans fell through at the last minute, I was surprisingly okay with keeping our travels a bit more local – our idea of local being to fly to the opposite end of the country and then drive nearly 800 miles up Highway One – what is, quite possibly, the most scenic drive in the United States.
I'm planning a series of in-depth travel guides and photo diaries of where to go, what to see, where to eat and stay, but in the meantime I wanted to give you just a taste of some of my favorite stops we made along the iconic Highway One.
Beginning our road trip in southern California, we were greeted with San Diego's sunny skies and mild climate – a welcome change from the cold and rainy Tennessee we had left behind. More surprising than the summer weather in November, however, was the city's super chill vibe. Despite being the second-largest city in California, San Diego was one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities we have ever visited. With its miles of charming seaside neighborhoods like La Jolla, some of the best Mexican cuisine north of the border and year-round sunshine, there's always something fun to do in San Diego.
We arrived in Laguna Beach in early afternoon and immediately fell in love with the seaside resort village best known for its beautiful coastline isolated from urban life by surrounding hills. Wandering down the miles upon miles of sand, we discovered the mysterious Victoria Beach Pirate Tower that could only be accessed after waiting for the crashing waves to recede before running across the stretch of sand to where the tower stood. The rugged coast, modern mansions and exotic plant life provided a captivating background as we watched the sun drench the coast in its golden light.
After arriving in Los Angeles, we immediately headed to Hollywood before the throngs of tourists arrived. Some of our favorite tourist spots were the Hollywood Boulevard, otherwise known as the Walk of Fame, Runyon Park for panoramic views of LA mansions, and, of course, Rodeo Drive, where the Holiday Lighting Ceremony just happened to be taking place, adding to our already festive mood. The next day, to make up for our tourist traps of the previous day, we drove past Malibu to El Matador Beach, one of the dreamiest beaches along Highway One.
After making a quick stop in Santa Barbara, we headed out for a day of exploring Big Sur, making sure we had plenty of extra time to make as many stops as possible along the way. These 90 miles of redwood- and fog-trimmed waterfront between San Simeon and Monterey is without boundaries and urban cityscapes. It draws you in with a magic allure that is almost palpable. Big Sur is, quite simply, heaven on earth.
After stopping in rugged Monterey and romantic Carmel, we finally reached San Francisco. While we initially started exploring “the City by the Bay” by foot, we soon found that the cough which had previously plagued me for three days straight would force us to revert to exploring by car, which wasn't so bad after all, considering the freezing temperatures. From The Painted Ladies to the Golden Gate Bridge and everything in between, this city has so much to offer that a lifetime in this city wouldn't be enough to discover all of its hidden gems.