California Hwy. 1 Road Trip

 San Diego to San Francisco: From 5 Star Glamping to 5 Star Resorts

One of the most relaxing, breathtaking vacations I’ve taken is a road trip along Highway 1. With waves crashing along rugged coastline on one side of the road and wildflowers and pampas grass spotting jagged mountains on the other, awe and inner peace replace everything you have left behind (you know the stresses; kids, parking tickets…whatever; they’ve got nothin’ on you once your tires hit this road).

First destination on the Hwy. 1: a visit to the quaint, historic Danish town of Solvang. Just 3 hours north of Los Angeles, this charming town transports you to Scandinavia through its unique architecture and traditional bakeries and restaurants. This town is CUTE! But also practical, wine tasting is easy to find with it’s close proximity to the Santa Ynez Valley. Wine enthusiasts may recall its beautiful scenery from the movie Sideways filmed nearby.

The Danish town of Solvang

After checking strawberry crepes off the list, we set our sights and GPS for Morro Bay. Morro Rock was spectacular to see in person, and the seals hanging out on the harbor rocks were so close we could touch them. At this moment I was wishing I had a few of those kids I’d left behind with me…wait, who am I kidding.

Morro Rock at Morrow Bay

A trip along the California coast wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the world famous Hearst Castle. Relics and treasures from all over the world can be found built in to the structure and décor of this National and California Historic Landmark. William Randolph Hearst, a publishing and media tycoon wasn’t just all work and no play, Hollywood elite and political dignitaries were frequent guests at the estate. You can watch fun home black and white movies featuring Charlie Chaplin and other celebrities playing on the property in the Castle’s original and skillfully preserved movie theater.

Hearst Castle, San Simeon

After a massive landslide buried a portion of Highway 1 just north of San Simeon in May, 2017, the shortest way to access the Big Sur coast is by cutting across the treacherous, curvy, no-cell service Nacimiento-Fergusson road. If I wasn’t clear, this road is not for sissys. In fact, before you go, be sure to read every terrifying online review of the road, multiply your fears by 100, update your living will, then go for it. I mean, if you expect the worst, it can only go up from there, right? So true, we found the hour long detour road breathtaking, despite hairpin turns without guardrails, just one lane for both directions at times, and did I mention NO cell service?  Despite all that, we’d do it again in a heartbeat. (Well, only if Hwy 1 was still closed, of course.)

Nacimiento-Fergusson Road

Now, in all honesty, when I booked our yurt at Treebones Resort, I had regrets immediately… because it seemed really expensive. I knew it was going to either be the best travel decision I’d ever made, or the dumbest. And, even though the majority of TripAdvisor reviewers love it, I couldn’t see how glamping accommodations could be valued at 4 star resort prices. Well, I’m happy to say, the moment we arrived on the property, before we even checked in to our yurt, I was certain I’d made the right decision. It was peaceful…just us and nature, with the mountains behind and the ocean in front…

Ocean view yurt

The interior of the yurt was even better than I imagined; rustic, clean and totally groovy! We picked a winner.

   

Interior of the Ocean View Yurt, the skylight allows for stargazing at night.

Two deer greeted us right behind our yurt as they drank water from the koi pond, where the friendly koi fish want you to pet them.

Deer drinking from the Koi pond

The sushi is renown, with many people saying it is the best sushi they’ve ever had, so we had to check it out. The presentation by the chef was a beautiful display of art meets science, prepared with fresh ingredients picked on property from the organic “Chef’s Garden.” The catch is you have to get there at 4:30 pm to put your name on the first come first serve seating list, it’s so popular that they usually fill up the wait list within minutes of opening (they are open seasonally and closed Monday and Tuesday). Todd loved the sushi, I loved the view, it was a win win.

The Sushi bar

There are several hikes nearby, we particularly enjoyed the cool, shady path leading to the waterfall at Limekiln State Park.

Limekiln State Park

The McWay Falls trail was short and easy, with an incredible waterfall at the end. I’ve heard of hiking up to a waterfall in the mountains, but trekking to a coastal cliff to see an 80’ waterfall cascading over the edge? Wow.

McWay Falls

Each night, after days filled with beautiful hikes, walks and whale spotting, we’d return to Treebones Resort for a spectacular sunset dinner.

Dinner with a view

If you are REALLY outdoorsy, you can even rent this “human nest” with a futon bed at the top, which was rented when we were there.

Human Nest, for people who really like the outdoors

Reluctantly, we said goodbye to the serenity and stillness at Treebones Resort, and headed north towards Half Moon Bay.

A sidenote on getting gas…Gorda is the last place to buy gas for many miles (the next nearest gas station is 40 miles north and 12 miles south, the latter is currently closed from the mudslide.) At $7/gallon you’ll want to plan accordingly.

Gorda gas station

Sand Dollar Beach is a must see. 99 stairs lead to a long stretch of sandy beach, one of the few accessible in Big Sur. We didn’t see any sand dollars, but the rock formations were very cool.

The scenic drive continues north past Carmel to Pebble Beach via the scenic 17-Mile drive on the Monterey Peninsula. After you pay the $10 entrance fee for the 17-Mile Drive, be sure to follow the map on the brochure you’ve been given. Or, if you have a husband like mine, and decide to wing it, you may find yourself meandering through tree lined residential streets wondering what the big deal is…so follow the map.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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