California Coast Road Trip 2013

California Coast Road Trip 2013

California Coast Road Trip 2013

Driving the beautiful California Coast on Route 1

A visit to wine country has been on my travel wish list for a while, so a few months ago we decided to spend a week in California.  We flew into L.A., rented an SUV and made our way up the coast to Napa, making a few stops along the way. It was a lot to fit into a week, but worth it!

Day One: Los Angeles

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Driving to Beverly Hills

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Jimmy Stewart’s hand and footprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater

We had only one day in L.A. and neither of us had ever been before, so we just hit a few highlights: the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Beverly Hills shops.  We had lunch on the patio at 208 Rodeo—it was expensive but a fun setting and the food was good.  For dinner we ate at Angelini Osteria in West Hollywood—it turned out to be our favorite meal the entire trip. We had to make reservations a couple weeks in advance and I’m so glad we did. If you like authentic Italian food and wine (and don’t mind a very cramped and crowded dining room) this place is a must!

Day Two: Santa Barbara

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Santa Barbara Arts and Craft Show on Cabrillo Blvd.

The next day we made the hour and a half drive to Santa Barbara.  We were there on a Sunday so we did the Artwalk along the beach, some shopping downtown and soaked in the sun at our hotel pool.  We had dinner at Casa Blanca, a Mexican restaurant on State Street.

Day Three: Coastal Drive on Route 1

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Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur

The following day we drove from Santa Barbara to San Francisco on Route 1.  The views are gorgeous but it does make for a looong day of driving and we were exhausted when we arrived in SF.  We stopped for a picnic lunch at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur along the way. The beach is difficult to find at the end of a long and narrow road but you’ll be glad you did!

Day Four: San Francisco

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We stayed at the Prescott Hotel near Union Square, had breakfast at a fun place next door called Honey Honey Cafe and Crepery, and rode a cable car down to see the Ghirardelli Square, the sea lions at Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.  We skipped Alcatraz since we didn’t have a lot of time and went to the Ferry Building instead, where you can buy everything from wine to cheese to fresh cherries.

Days Five to Seven: Napa

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Inn on Randolph in Napa

Finally, the main attraction! We stayed in Napa midweek to save money since it can be really pricey on the weekends.  We chose the Inn at Randolph, a bed and breakfast that feels like you’re stepping into a storybook every time you return, and has the service on par with a five star hotel.

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Our room at the Inn

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On our first full day in Napa Valley, we took a Platypus Wine Tour and visited five different wineries.  The next day we toured a couple wineries on our own. There are hundreds of different wineries to choose from and they are all very different, so it’s best just to choose the ones that best suit your tastes. Our absolute favorite was Cakebread, and we also enjoyed Frog’s Leap.  Watch out for the wineries that charge high tasting fees–not worth it unless they offer to waive them if you buy a bottle or two of wine.

Our favorite restaurants in Napa were Bounty Hunter and Azzurro Pizzeria–both casual but fun places with high quality food.  We also enjoyed visiting the Oxbow Market which has lots of cute restaurants and shops.

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Castello di Amorosa Winery–an authentically styled Tuscan castle and winery

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Hot air balloon sighting on our hotel balcony

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