Disclaimer: I have to start this post by saying how frustrated I am with technology. I had this whole post finished and when my two devices decided to sync, they went with the original draft that had one paragraph. So I am sorry if this isn’t perfect but I am starting from scratch and having some dejavu. Here’s a video of my little roadtrip followed by a blog with some more details and pictures, of course! Enjoy!
Anyways! I’m so excited to share my first video of a quick and cheap road trip down the California coast! This was a spontaneous trip where I will be stopping anywhere and everywhere. We rented an SUV with no plans other than to sleep in the car somewhere along the coast. We also brought groceries in a cooler so that we didn’t have to buy any food along the drive. This should be fun! The trip was intended to begin in San Francisco and end in Los Angeles but due to the land slide damage near Big Sur we had to cut it into a Central California road trip. If anyone hasn’t heard, all the rain that hit California in the last couple months has crippled the residents near Big Sur who are completely stranded; they are literally relying on airlifted supplies. Along with the struggling residents, this picturesque destination is no longer an option for tourists as the roads have been burried and bridges are crumbling.
With this information we drove up the coast from Orange County until we hit the closed road at the beautiful Ragged Point Inn. It just so happens that this cliff side Inn is amazing. We parked at the Inn and hiked to the beach down a narrow winding dirt path. Now the hike down was slippery and nerve wrecking but boy did it pay off (I would recommend leaving your coffe in the car as it did not help me with my balance). There is a waterfall falling from the top of the cliff into a stream surrounded by beautiful rocky greenery right on the beach. It’s beautiful and worth the trek back up that will have you huffing and puffing (if you are as out of shape as me). There is also a cafe with floor to ceiling glass walls looking over the cliffs if you need a pick me up or aren’t prepared for a hike (https://www.raggedpointinn.com/).
Back on the road we headed South in search of Elephant Seals, and it didn’t take long before we practically ran one over like a speed bump. Right along the side of the road there was a female elephant seal around 10 feet long . Of course we stopped and took some pictures before continuing on to the Elephant Seal Piedras Blancas Rookery located next to a scenic cliff walk. The beginning of the year is the time to go as they are mating and males are fighting but March was the end of that season so most of the seals were hanging out, playing, swimming and napping. There are hundreds spread out along the beach and we were amazed at how entertaining they are. From flopping along the beach, yelling, cuddling and claiming their territory you will be amazed while laughing at these mesmerizing creatures. The picture of the beach does not do the seals justice as there are hundreds in all shapes and sizes, it is quite a sight to see.
Half a mile from the seals is a trail along the cliffs, enough said.
Back on the road again we turned off the highway and stumbled upon San Simeon Bay, a National Marine Sanctuary which has a long history of being rich in food and a sanctuary for boats. The calm waters are welcoming to kayaks and paddle boards as well as eager fishers.
In search of Moonstone Beach, (which I do not think we ever found), we did explore Leffingwell Landing’s tide pools. This town is adorable with quaint hotels along the coast, walking trails and a stairwell down to the lively rocky tide pools. I would recommend driving through and maybe even stopping for lunch or a walk along the beach.
Next stop Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria full of walking trails and so much wild life. Looking out we could see hundreds of seals in the ocean, which are surrounded by otters, turtles, and birds. Hours can be spent walking around this preserve, if you are looking for a picnic spot or place to walk a dog this is the perfect spot. Also side note, the rain in the last few months has done amazing things to the grass in California. Everywhere you look along this drive the glass is absolutely glowing in different shades of green. Wildlife is finally thriving again after such a long drought.
Morro Bay time! I have never been to Morro Bay and fell in love with the beach views. In an attempt to walk along the beach to the Morro Rock, I was able to take in the green hills, sand dollar filled sand, and Morro Rock Harbor view. Not realizing how far we had parked after around 2 miles of walking we turned around with our sand dollar collection and drove to the Harbor for a quick bite to eat and a beachfront nap. The Harbor is full of oceanfront bars, wineries, resturants, live music, shops and aquariums as well as sailboars and sea life. We went straight to the rock, parked the car, popped the trunk and napped oceanfront in the back of the SUV. This was one of those moments where I realized how truly blessed I am.
In search of the perfect sunset, we headed out to Pismo Beach in order to camp out on the beach for the night. In order to drive on to the beach it is $5 for a day pass until 11pm and $10 for an overnight pass. This turned out to be a little adventure as we originally parked on too soft of sand which dug our tires in nice and deep. Thankfully some beach camping experts helped us dig our tires out and push us out of the hole. We then drove down the beach past the creek to the campground, parked the car, watched the sunset and slept with the sun. Definitely one of my worst night sleeps as a car floor is not the most comfortable but Pismo beach is a great place to camp and I would do it again in a heartbeat. There are also sand dunes for anyone interested in renting 4 wheelers on the beach.
The next day didn’t quite go as planned and since we had seen the rest of the drive before we headed home early still feeling pretty accomplished. I have to say, I love my Southern California beaches when it comes to tanning, biking and strolling thanks to the reasonably consistent weather but the Central Coast knocks it out of the water when it comes to the views and wildlife due to the preserved and protected land.
Next road trip will hopefully be from the Northern tip of Big Sur up through Oregon and Washington! Stay tuned! And feel free to offer any recommendations along the West Coast!