There are 3 main ways to make the drive from Southern California to Northern California.
Hwy 5 takes about 4-6 hours
Hwy 101 takes about 5-7 hours
Hwy 1will run you any where from 10-13 hours
You pay for your scenic view in hours your willing to spend driving, meaning, Hwy 5 is not so scenic, Hwy 101 is decent, and Hwy 1 is gorgeous and well worth the long drive...do what we did and make a day of it!
Loving Instagram's new mapping feature, you can see where we drove up on Hwy 1 and drove back on Hwy 5.
// driving into the coastal fog //
We left Santa Monica around 7a and headed up the 101 to San Luis Obispo. After about 2.5 hours of driving (and a quick pitstop), we came upon the quaint town of Los Alamos. I had read about Bell Street Farm in a recent issue of Sunset Magazine and was quite intrigued. We arrived a bit early and decided to walk around and explore the town.
// do you see the little black cat :) //
// teeny tiny post office //
// an interesting set of books in the antique store //
Once we made our way to the restaurant, it took me a good 10 minutes to order (not kidding) EVERYTHING on the menu sounded amazing-- plus I was distracted by all the fresh baked pastries, packaged goods and rustic decorations.
I ended up going with their most popular dish, the Rotisserie Pork (hot and crispy pork belly-wrapped shoulder on ciabatta, apple and jicama slaw, house mayo and picked onions) and Nic ordered the Country Grilled Cheese & Rosemary Ham (Bravo farms white cheddar cheese and framani rosemary ham on multi grain bread with whole-grain mustard.) We sat in the back patio area and enjoyed this mouth-watering brunch with a cup of coffee long enough to see the sun break through the coastal fog. If you're ever passing through Los Alamos, definitely stop here for a meal.
// le fuel //
// sun coming up over the mountains somewhere near San Luis Obispo //
// someone is in heaven //
// somewhere near Hearst Castle //
This drive is such a great mash up of California terrain. I feel like we got to see the best parts of California in one day. As you begin to approach Big Sur, the road becomes really windy and narrow. We pulled over somewhere near Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to take in some ocean air and the spectacular view.
Our next and final stop was Pfieffer Beach, it was a bit hard to find, it's a narrow turn off from Hwy 1. Stop at Pfieffer State Park and ask for directions to the beach if you can't find it right away. We only stayed for about 15 minutes as the wind was cold and strong, but this beach is beautiful.
At this point it was getting late and we were about 11 hours in. We happily drove the rest of the way without stopping and made it to our destination by 8p. A perfect summer road trip.