Los Angeles -> San Francisco Road Trip

Los Angeles -> San Francisco Road Trip

One weekend me and my friends decided to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, spend one night there and drive back the next day. It was absolutely amazing trip, even though not everything went quite as planned. We found out google lied to us, but we were ok with it. We did so much in these two days, to really take advantage of where we were. Here’s a couple of things we did and what we learned.

IMG_3637.JPG

First, we decided to take the PCH and the 101 up. So we drove right along the coast from Santa Monica, to Malibu and Oxnard. Unsurprisingly we were the only people driving up the coast after the “monster storm” that came to LA the day before. And even though it was still raining a little, the view was absolutely amazing and worth it. We had fallen in love with Malibu in the few weeks we have been here, so we enjoyed driving through the town again. The coast is gorgeous and I definitely recommend taking the Pacific Coast Highway for at least this part of the trip.

IMG_3644.JPG

Right before we hit Oxnard, we hit a very rural part of California, which actually surprised us. Lots of farms that spanned forever. In Oxnard we got a little lost. We turned off the GPS and assumed we would just continue going straight and we would hit the PCH headed north again. Well, we were wrong. Somehow we ended up heading east through more fields and driving through orange groves. It was gorgeous and worth the extra time. But eventually we turned the GPS back on, now to get on the 101 heading towards Santa Barbara.

IMG_3662.JPG

As we drove down the 101 we were constantly in awe. The landscape was surprising to us. We drove through mountains, hills, on cliffs along the coast. It took us a little over 3 hours to get from West Hollywood to Santa Barbara, so the perfect time to stop for a break and some food. Quick suggestion: a small cafe called The Shop Cafe. Amazing brunch food and you get the food pretty quickly, making it a great stop on a long trip. Also the food is AMAZING!

IMG_3716.JPG

We hopped back onto the 101 heading north. I don’t know what I imagined the Californian countryside to look like, but I was surprised. The rolling, velvety hills just kept going as we drove north. It was beautiful. Eventually vineyards started popping up and the highway straightened and flattened. At this point we hit a bit of a rough patch. The trip was getting long, we had already driven for 6 hours out of the expected 6.5 and according to Google Maps we had another 3 hours to go. So we ate a lot of snacks and stopped at a rest stop in San Miguel, a really cute town. What also woke us up was a small patch of forest with lots of pine trees, something you would find in the North East.

IMG_3743.JPG

After 9 hours, around 4:30pm, we finally hit San Francisco. We parked the car ($45 overnight parking), checked into our hotel, Union Square Plaza Hotel. After 9 hours in the car, we decided to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. So up, over the hill and down Powell street we went. And when we reached our destination, we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset. We walked along the Wharf popping into different stores. Most importantly we bought a bunch of saltwater taffy, something I have never tried. So worth it, it was amazing! They had many flavours, anything you could think of, from cherry to sangria to pina colada!

IMG_3747

We walked down the road to Ghirardelli Square and started looking for a place to eat dinner. By chance we walked by The Pub BBQ and decided to share a bunch of appetizers and it was an amazing choice. The food was great paired with their drinks, so I definitely recommend! For dessert we went to Ghirardelli and got their famous hot fudge sundaes and sea salt caramel hot chocolate. And it was the best hot chocolate and sundae I have ever had! I will definitely have dreams about them.

DSC_5860

The best part of the trip came next. I finally took the cable car in San Francisco from Fisherman’s Wharf to Market Street! So worth the $7 ticket! It was too cold to hang on to the side of the car, but I will definitely do it in the future! This time we enjoyed the heated cabin.

DSC_5850

The next day we went to one of my favorite brunch places, Honey Honey Cafe and Creperie. Such delicious food and countless options! Just in the line we all changed our mind about what to get three times. One of the reason I like this place so much, other than the food, is that no matter how busy they get, you never feel like they are pressuring you to leave.

DSC_5886

After brunch we found the Painted Ladies, which is a must in San Francisco. They are gorgeous and I would move in, if I could! Naturally, the Fuller House house was next! Another house and neighborhood I loved. So we drove around a little and looked at more houses.

 

Golden Gate Bridge was next. We drove over it, in pouring rain. You could barely see the bridge as we drove over it, but that didn’t matter. We still had the experience and it was great. We drove to Sausalito, which is the most adorable town! There, we stopped for lunch at The Spinnaker, which was quite fancy, but totally worth it. Though the view from the restaurant was non-existent when we got there, soon it stopped raining and the fog cleared up, so we were rewarded with an amazing view of San Francisco! This, of course, meant that when we drove back over the bridge, the experience was even better! The view was beautiful, so we decided to drive through the Presidio, stop for a little and get a few pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge from there.

DSC_5912

After that, it was time to get back onto the highway and head home. We took the I-5 this time, since google promised a shorter amount of time.  Since we drove in the evening and at night, we couldn’t enjoy the view as much. But before it got dark, we got a quick look at Dublin and Pleasanton, where we stopped for gas before the long journey home. They were both really cute towns surrounded by great country. IMG_3904

We ended up getting back to LA at around 11:30pm and decided to get milkshakes as a reward and as a nice cherry on top of the road trip. Mel’s Drive-In was the perfect way to end the road trip, their milkshakes were so delicious as were their fries.


READ MORE:

Los Angeles: Three month adventure

Scandinavian Airline Review

 

San Francisco in less than 3 Days

A couple of weeks ago we went on short (2.5 day) trip to San Francisco and yes, we did a lot of touristy things! It was our first time on the West Coast, so we took advantage of the nice weather and explored some of the main sights.

 


IMG_6259Friday night we walked from our hotel, which, amazingly enough, was right by Union Square, to the Fisherman’s Wharf. It was about a thirty minute walk, half up an excruciating hill and the second half of it down. The directions weren’t complicated, literally we just had to walk straight. So that wasn’t an issue, we only got a little doubtful when we got into a very sketchy looking Chinatown. But we made it through and were rewarded with a really good fresh crab and a octopus-calamari salad when we got to the Wharf.

 

For dinner we took an Uber to a small restaurant, that the receptionist at our hotel recommended to us, called Pacific Catch. I got an amazing salmon filet with really good sweet potato fries! We were all so happy after that meal, but exhausted! We ended the day and headed back to the hotel. Since we were all jet lagged, all coming for the trip from very different time zones, we ended up going to sleep at about 9pm, so much for being a crazy college student, am I right?

IMG_6270

The next day we went for brunch and I love brunch food, so I was very excited to get good brunch and not just food at my dining hall. We searched around on Yelp! for something that was nearby and lucked out when we came across Honey Honey Cafe and Crepery. We randomly picked it out, because it was close by, but we were blown away with the quality and amount of food we got. It turned out to be a cute little cafe with a really long line. However, we didn’t wait too long and we managed to get a table right away. I definitely recommend this cafe! It is a must! Just make sure you get there at a good time, because I’m sure the place gets even more crowded.

 

Next, came an activity Alena and I feared a little. Ok, that’s a lie, we very afraid of it: biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. We were up for the challenge, but it was definitely going to be a struggle, since neither of us has gone biking in about 10 years. However, I am quite stubborn, so, with words that I was afraid were going to be my last, I declared CHALLENGE ACCEPTED and got on my bike.

DSC_1835

We rented bikes from Blazing Saddles, I questioned the name of it, but kept my doubts to myself. My favorite, however, was their short video we had to watch before renting the bikes. This amazing and not at all cheesy video gave us an overview of our tour and sights “we definitely cannot miss”. The very excited woman told us not to forget to turn right onto the bridge, which shocked us all, and told us to “just enjoy the view” as we rode across it. Meanwhile the woman at the counter got very sassy about it, clearly annoyed at having to watch the same video over and over.

DSC_1885

We weren’t sure what to expect of the actual bike ride, but we loved this trip! The weather was amazing and the view was priceless and as the video recommended, we “just enjoyed the view”! After a while we even got used to dodging families on the sidewalk (we never got used to cars, but that’s ok, we survived)! The journey was about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) long and took us 4 hours, which I definitely count as a huge success! We managed to get to Sausalito, where we took a ferry back to the ferry building. And we even navigated the busy streets of San Francisco and got back to Fisherman’s Wharf without getting hit by a car!

 

TIP: Bring enough water! It’s a long journey and you definitely need to keep hydrated

 

That night we deserved a nice big meal in a great restaurant, the name of which was forgotten after three glasses of wine. Our dad’s friend order basically EVERYTHING on the menu and we ate almost all of it. And just like the night before, we passed out after our long day.

coast-watermark

On our last day we went the Cliff house and went for a walk/hike along the coast. Finally, we saw the Golden Gate Bridge from all possible angles and took hundreds and hundreds of photos of it, and I felt complete :D. I could leave San Francisco knowing I took more than enough photos, about 400.

We ended our trip with The Cheesecake Factory, so yet again, another big meal. Our trip was so much fun and even though we didn’t manage to see everything we wanted to, we call it a success! We will definitely go back to see more sights and especially tour Full House filming sights!


READ MORE: 

Dubai: first impression

Three Days in Munich