California: A Road Trip

We spent a total of 11 days in California.

We arrived in SF at 10am, rented a car at the airport, and drove to our airbnb in Oakland.

The itinerary was:

  • 3 nights in Oakland

  • 1 night in Yosemite

  • 2nights in Carmel

  • 1night in Santa Ynez

  • 1night in Joshua tree

  • 1 night in LA.

San Fransisco & Oakland

We stayed in Oakland and decided to do a day trip to San Fransisco on Sunday. I had already spent some in San Fransisco, so I was happy staying in Oakland. It’s a bit more laid back, and since I wasn’t willing to drive in SF, this was a great location. Even though we only spent the day in SF, we saw almost everything I had on my list. It’s a big city, but if you plan it right, you can see a ton in a day. Don’t write-off Oakland, though. There is some great food, shops, and drinks. Three nights in this part of California worked great.

Where to stay:

This airbnb. Yes, please. It was walking distance to many shops and restaurants but was a quite place to stay.

 

Yosemite

This was our “decompress-from-the-city-be-one-with-nature” stop, and unfortunately, one night was just not enough. Our hotel was a total dream, and the area was downright gorgeous. Since the hotel was about an hour from Yosemite National Park, we weren’t able to do any of the hikes. We walked around the base a bit, and that was gorgeous, but I definitely recommend staying here at least 2 to 3 nights if you want to do a bit of hiking.

As far as food and drinks go, there are some options in the area, but we picked up steaks and potatoes in Oakland and grilled them at our airstream. It was pretty simple, but I think about this meal often. They sold wine at the Autocamp along with other snacks and drinks, so you’ll definitely never go hungry.

Where to stay:

Autocamp - a little slice of heaven in the woods.

Where to eat & Drink:

What to Hike:

  • Cook’s Meadow Loop

  • Artist Point trail

  • Yosemite Valley Loop Trail

 

Carmel-by-the-Sea

This town was cute and weird, and honestly, not as great as I thought it would be. The shops were mostly meh, and there weren’t a ton of restaurants or bars that appealed. The area was truly gorgeous with tons of scenic drives, but it’s a slow moving town, so just take it easy and you’ll enjoy yourself.

Where to stay:

This airbnb where I met my best friend, Walter.

Where to eat & Drink:

What to see:

  • Carmel Beach

  • Point Lobos

  • China Cove

  • Carmel Mission Basilica Museum

Where to shop:

 

Santa Ynez

Took Highway 1 and ended up here. It was more affordable than Santa Barb, seemed like a weird place with good food, and there was a cute hotel. The Landsby had great cocktails and a great atmosphere, so we enjoyed our time just hanging out at the hotel. We ventured out a bit, saw Santa Barb on our way out, and all in all enjoyed our time here. If you have some extra days in your road trip, stop by for a bit!

Where to stay:

We stayed at The Landsby.

Where to eat & Drink:

What to see:

  • Ostrichland USA

  • 1000 Steps Beach

  • Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

  • Ganna Walska Lotusland

 

Joshua Tree

What a gem.

From Santa Ynez to here, it’s quite the trek. Be prepared for that. You have to go through LA to get here, so if you can, I’d recommend spending at least two nights in Joshua Tree. It’s such a cool place with many trails and sites, so you won’t regret spending more days here.

And whatever you do, go to La Copine. I think of this place often. Our dinner was mostly southern style, and as a person from the south, this place is legit. Stay in Joshua Tree two nights just so you can eat here many times!

Where to stay:

This airbnb which was a good deal considering we were only spending a night. If you’re spending more than one night here, there are so many cool spots that are worth your money.

Where to eat & Drink:

What to see/what to hike:

  • Cholla Cactus Garden

  • Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum

  • Hidden Valley Nature

  • Pine City Trail

Where to shop:

 

LA

I had heard mixed reviews of LA, so my expectations were really low. That’s fully the reason behind the one night here because I was convinced I’d hate it. But full disclosure, LA is great, and you should spend two to three nights here if you can. If you can only spend one day here, it’s totally doable, though. It’s a very trendy town, so finding great food (and not instagram food) was maybe the biggest struggle for me. Gjelina and Broken Spanish are both fantastic, so if you don’t know where to go, those are top notch options. Great shopping is everywhere, so if you haven’t picked up any gems along your road trip, you will definitely be able to find you something here.

Where to stay:

The Freehand Hotel is forever and always a gem. You basically don’t have to leave because they have great coffee, drinks, and food all in the hotel.

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