Driving from San Francisco to L.A. can be done in two days, or even one (long) day, but taking the 400 or so miles (about six hours without traffic) slow and spreading it out over a week was so cool for Tom and I. That way we could really soak everything in. Here’s part one of the road trip, with highlights of San Francisco and the redwoods, and quick snapshots from our adventures hiking near Silicon Valley and exploring Carmel-by-the-Sea…
The week we were in Northern California was dubbed “unseasonably cold” by weather reports, so all those shorts I brought… never worn! I pretty much lived in these jeans. I’ve had them forever and they’re my favorite casual pair, since the fit and length are nearly perfect. They’ve gotten so worn in that I noticed the right knee had split right across (almost looks intentional), which made me love them even more.
San Francisco was…
Alamo Square, for the view of the cityand the Painted Ladies, which I thought were actual paintings of “ladies,” but they’re the pretty houses in a row (see top photo) that have become quintessential to SF—also known as where the Full House home was shot).
The Mill (right down the street from Alamo Square) for coffee and people-watching (lots of boho, California-style hipsters).
Baker Beach for climbing rocks by the water with the Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in mist in the background (and glimpses of occasional nude sunbathers!).
Mo’s for a simple, delicious brunch (there was no wait—compared to the line outside of the revered brunch spot Mama’s, which stretched so far down the street by 9 a.m. on Sunday, you would have thought they were selling Cronuts).
Fisherman’s Wharf (touristy, but still fun, a good spot for souvenirs too) to see the sea lions (ar, ar, ar! You can hear them before you see them. I could have watched them play, fight, gracefully slide into the water, and burst gently up onto the floating docks all day). We also took a bay cruise tour to the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz. I geeked out over the history of the island: According to the audio guide, no prisoner is known to have successfully escaped Alcatraz (although many tried), which is why some of the worst criminals in the U.S. were placed there when it was a functioning prison).
Fort Point for a unique view of the Golden Gate bridge (less touristy; I loved watching two surfers working the waves that were bending around the point).
Muir Woods was… redwoods galore. I’ve wanted to see a redwood since reading about them in a textbook in elementary school. I remember seeing a photo of a car driving through a massive tree (!). So I’ve been waiting to meet these precious creatures for a long time. While the trees we saw weren’t big enough to carve tunnels through, there was something magical about just being around them and thinking about all of the untold years of history they have witnessed. After we hiked through Muir Woods for a few hours, we stopped at an amazing Puerto Rican spot for dinner, Sol Food. I especially loved the limonada fresca: so refreshing, and served in a huge mason jar.
This is Dickens, one of the cats we met on our journey. He lives with the most lovely Airbnb hosts we stayed with outside of Silicon Valley, in Mountain View.
We did some more hiking in Rancho San Antonio park, just south of Silicon Valley. That beanie was a huge help to keep me warm (and, er, looking cool) whenever it was chilly out.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is the loveliest town, with unique, quaint houses and European-style architecture (it was voted one of America’s best beach towns by National Geographic Traveler in 2014. Think: restaurants, boutiques, and tons of art galleries, all in walking distance; the gorgeous beach is worth a stop too). It reminds me of one of those faux villages you see inside really nice theme parks (which doesn’t do it justice!)—Carmel looks too pretty, bright, and clean to be real!
If you’ve gotten to the end of this long post, bless you. Thank you for reading!
P.S. If you’d like to see more photos from this leg of the trip, check out Tom’s blog post on his photography site. Next week I’ll be sharing my favorite part of the drive: Big Sur! Plus: tips on how to make the most of Airbnb.
All photographs taken by Tom Schelling, except for: the cup of coffee, the Mo’s sign, Fort Point, the limonada fresca, and the windows in Carmel (which I took on my iPhone).