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Road trip along the California coast with gf
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Road trip along the California coast with gf

>starting in South Orange County
>want to take the scenic route up to Santa Barbara where we will be staying for a night or two and then head up the central coast to the bay area
>have been looking on wikitravel/google maps for cool spots to check out
>will be staying 1 or 2 nights in Santa Barbara
>have big sur, santa cruz, redwoods, yosemite and the san francisco bay - point reyes on our list
>going to be a 7-10 day trip, maybe longer..

is there anything that is obscure and not mentioned very often on the internet? would like to go somewhere unique along with the usual spots I had mentioned which I read up on online.. We just wanna have a nice laid back trip, along with some hiking, sight seeing and some good food.. have our own car so transportation is no issue and we will most likely use airbnb or stay in a hotel all the nights we are away from home. If anyone has an recommendations please let me know ! I will check back frequently.
Depends on the season -- much of the Sierras (including Yosemite) are basically impossible during the winter. Do, when are you planning to go?
Sometime between now and summer, most likely February.. Good to know that though, maybe we will save the sierras for next time.

February is pretty iffy; you'll need chains on your tires to go on a lot of the Sierra roads. With that said, Yosemite (the main area only, i.e. the Valley) will be open, but I'm not sure how much you can do there as there will be a lot of snow. I suppose a few of the day-tourist bus-tour "trails" will have been plowed out, but these are generally a 10-minute-long "hike" only.

I'd stick to the coast all the way up to SF (and beyond, it's pretty nice). You might want to stop in Ano Nuevo SP (a bit north of Santa Cruz); elephant seal breeding season is around then. You can take an escorted tour around and get pretty close to the seals -- very interesting if you're into wildlife.

You have Point Reyes on your list -- definitely worth it if you're into hiking and huge empty beaches. Bring food/drinks with you as there's nothing available in the park. The drives down to the southern end (lighthouse) and northern end (elk herds) are both worth it.

Farther north (hiking again), I'd recommend going to the lost coast. The coastal route north of Eureka and up to the Oregon border is great; lots of little towns and beautiful scenery.

South of SF, there's also San Luis Obispo (college town), the Hearst Castle (tours are hellishly expensive, but if you're into that kind of thing probably worth it), and Monterey. IMHO Monterey is an OK place to stay but not very nice; the aquarium there is worth a visit, though. The 17-mile drive is nearby; if you like looking at a lot of really expensive mansions and some pretty good scenery, it's a good choice.

>anything that is obscure and not mentioned very often on the internet?

Definitely the lighthouse at Point Sur (near Big Sur). It's a complete lighthouse/light station from the late 19th century on top of a huge volcanic rock. Tours are infrequent but really cheap (be sure to check schedules in advance) and 100% worth it if you're into history at all.
If you stop by Pepperdine College in Malibu, there is a 9/11 memorial that overlooks the bay/ocean (you can see across to LA).
I went in the winter but it was still really beautiful. nice and quiet and will take 10 minutes of your time, and you can get back to driving.

As an unrelated side note, everyone is rich as fuck and it's the only college campus I've seen that didn't have a shitty beater car in sight.
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amazing, but it's a 4 hour drive each way from the coast, assuming no traffic. but if you go and you've never been before you'll do fine cruising the valley floor and looking up. plenty to see.

>pinncacles n.p.
pretty cool and under appreciated. though (even speaking as someone who's been there 6 times in the last 7 weeks) it doesn't really deserve to be a park. monument was about right.

>marin headland batteries
if you're any sort of history or military buff they're totally amazing, and a pretty damn good view to enjoy even if you aren't
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>>marin headland batteries

Definitely a good recommendation; great for easy hiking, picnics, etc. Point Bonita lighthouse is also nice.
Anything else along the coast that I should be seeing?
if you like animals monterey bay aquarium and sf zoo are both world class.

kayaking in monterey or elkhorn slough are both amazing. i prefer monterey (sea otters ftw), but the slough's good too, especially if the bay's too choppy. no experience needed, it's super simple.

>pic completely unrelated.

though you might get chased by a big bull sea lion. if you do just keep going
OP here, update on my plan

1 night santa barbara
2 nights big sur/santa cruz area (point lobos, mcway, pfeiffer beach)
2 nights in the bay area (not big on cities.. so most likely will not be in the middle of SF very long.) (point reyes trail, peninsula/redwoods area)
.. so still a couple of nights to fill in, not sure where to go or what will be happening. Any good restaurants? cheap places to go?
Was thinking of heading up to Oregon but it may be enough of a trip just along the california coast, would oregon really be worth the extra mileage?
forgot to add, I'd like to camp/get a cabin maybe camp one night in a tent and then cabin 1 night, anyone have any experience camping/renting a cabin in big sur
no. The state border's at least 5 hours n of sf, and you have to go at least another hour north if you want to do anything other than say "been there"

lots of camping around big sur in the state parks, don't know about any cabins. a lot of the food in the area is overpriced. stay the fuck away from nepenthe. it'll be difficult to combine with santa cruz since they're 1 1/2 hours apart or more, depending on traffic. if in big sur you want to get a good case of the willies and the moon is right do a night hike to the tin house.

n of sf mt. tam has some great hikes and great views. alcatraz is probably my favorite thing to do out of sf proper.
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Santa Cruz has a couple neat things.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a historic seaside amusement park that looks immaculate. Their super legit big wooden coaster and classic carousel (I think they are like 90 and 100 years old, respectively) are the highlights. Also, there is a pretty cool train ride called the Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway starting right at the park's entrance and takes you out to the forests outside of town, where you can board an even cooler steam-powered logging railroad they also run called the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad, which runs over wooden trestles through a giant redwood forest.
Was also thinking of going up thru the oregon coast/mountains into portland.. thoughts? portland worth the drive?
>Trip will be 2 weeks long if I can find enough things to do
>Might end up camping the entire time depending on weather (will end up going february or march)

Sorry about the constant updates, my itinerary keeps changing every day.

My friends really want to see Oregon so I am giving in and going to go all out
February could be a great month and could be bad, I would wait a few months until May. But then again, coastal weather is unpredictable and when they say it will be cloudy/rainy it ends up being dry, hot and sunny out.
OP here,

I am just curious as to if anyone knows when the best time to take the California Coast trip would be

Is there a certain month that has good weather and best for camping or is it all year around?
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april-october, maybe may if this year is as el nino as they say it will be. took this yesterday just east of the boardwalk.
seconding. the weather just gets better and better from april to october, and aside from morning fog it's pretty much perfect from july to september.
When you're near point rayes, you'll probably enjoy visiting Armstrong redwoods in guerneville. Some of the biggest redwoods around, and awesome hiking. Also, if you're into craft beer there's a couple awesome breweries located near there along the Russian river
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