This week we took Gavin’s trusty Prius for a road trip up the coast from Newport to Santa Cruz. As an avid Sunset mag reader, I’ve been itching to take a scenic trip up the California coast for a while now! In my excitement I assembled the best snack basket ever and totally geeked out on an extensive itinerary, complete with cool fonts. Feel free to refer to this as an abbreviated guide, as what you will read below is far from abbreviated.
Though we started in Newport, our focus was Cayucos (Gavin’s home town) and beyond. After a few hours on the road we made it to his dad’s surf shop Good Clean Fun just in time for a sunset beer on the loft patio. Started in 1975, Good Clean Fun is right on the water and the place for ocean rentals, lessons and gear. Later we paid homage at local favorite Taco Temple, where they serve burritos the size of your average newborn and a single taco fills an entire plate. I ordered one (delicious) salmon taco and still had enough leftover to make 2-3 average sized tacos.
In the morning we grabbed tea & coffee before hitting the road headed to Big Sur. Driving up Hwy 1, we stopped in San Simeon to check out the hefty and hilarious elephant seals, who are in the midst of birthing season. Things got windy while driving through Big Sur, but the drive was gorgeous. We stopped for lunch at Nepenthe, enjoying the amazing(!!!) view with our artichoke and sandwiches.
Not burning any daylight, we started on the 5.1 mile Ewoldson Trail hike from Julia Pfeiffer. Rated “moderate to strenuous”, it was a challenging climb up the pretty damn steep canyon. Worn out legs aside, the hike was definitely rewarding with redwoods, oak, creeks and spectacular ocean and mountain views not only at the top but all along the way. Though relieved to be walking downhill, the descent was particularly difficult, being so steep that it was nearly impossible to keep your footing. But we did it! And in just two hours, at that.
Finishing right at golden hour, we did the short walk to McWay Falls before checking into our campsite at Pfeiffer. Being freezing cold, we had a fire and s’mores before retreating to the Prius for good old fashioned car camping.
The next morning we “broke camp” early and hit the busy Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant for morning drinks and pastries. I can honestly say I enjoyed the best chai latte (with almond milk) of my life! Still on the scenic Hwy 1, we were able to stop at Bixby Bridge and again near Salinas for blood oranges galore and 7 avocados for $1!
We arrived in Santa Cruz and immediately started walking West and East Cliff Drive, checking out the waves and the thousands of surfers on them (and creeping on some cool houses) before watching little surfer boys compete at Steamer Lane. By the time we checked into Hotel Paradox (which we loved!) the weather was on the warmer side, and it felt nice to relax with a little jacuzzi time and organic beer and cider at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing (located in a really neat place). After cleaning up, our NYE rager included a four-course dinner at Solaire followed by a bottle of Veuve and Food Network.
In the morning we walked across a park to downtown Santa Cruz, stopping at Verve Coffee Roasters– ordering a Whiskey Chai Latte and Fresh Mint Mocha- and perused Bookshop Santa Cruz. After a quick walk of the boardwalk, we were on the road home!
Road trip success.