Our 7 Day California Road Trip

Road tripping Pacific Coast Highway 1 has been on our bucket list for a while. We just returned and it absolutely did not disappoint! I did a lot of research and planning so I thought I would share my itinerary for those that would like to add this to their own bucket list!

This was the first vacation that my husband and I had taken all by ourselves. We celebrated thirty years of marriage and my husband beating cancer for the second time!

We started and ended our trip in Sacramento. I knew the route we were taking but did not make hotel reservations to allow flexibility to our adventuring. (Yes, this was outside my comfort zone!) I used an app to book our hotel each day for that particular night when we had decided on the area we were wanting to stay for the night. The hotels offered discounted rates on that night’s unbooked rooms.

Day 1 – We traveled to Napa and had time to do some sightseeing. We stayed at a wonderful Bed & Breakfast in downtown Napa called Hennessey House.

Day 2 – After a wonderful breakfast at our B and B, we traveled north through wine country through Oakville and Calistoga. We toured a vineyard called Castello di Amorosa, an amazing reproduction of an 11th century castle.

After touring the castle, we traveled to Reyes Point National Seashore – it was a beautiful drive through the country. Once we turned off to go to Point Reyes National Seashore, the road was long and rough. It was cloudy, foggy and cold. We explored the seashore but a little disappointed because the lighthouse was closed for refurbishing.

Afterward, we traveled south to San Francisco. We were exhausted!

Day 3 – We toured San Francisco on The Big Bus hop-on-hop-off. Our tour included all areas of the city, including Chinatown and Pier 39. We rode across the Golden Gate Bridge on the top of the bus. It was chilly and damp in most parts of the city.

We ate dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf at Boudin Bread Co. It was delicious! We ended our day with a trolley ride back to our hotel.

Day 4 – We traveled down Pacific Coast Hwy 1. The further south we got, the sunnier it was.

We stopped at Pigeon Point Light Station – Such majestic scenery with lots of wildflowers and ocean views.

We stopped at Carmel-by-the-Sea for dinner. It has lots of cozy shops and eateries. (I got a yummy cannoli at the Carmel Bakery!) We stayed at a pretty hotel called Carmel Mission Inn. This area was quite expensive!

Day 5 – Continued our journey south on H wy 1 through Big Sur…. Sooooo beautiful! Stopped multiple times at the vista points to look and take photos.

Next, we stopped at Julia Burns Pfeiffer State Park. We walked down a trail that goes under the highway and comes out overlooking a beautiful waterfall dumping onto the beach called McWay Falls. There is just no way to show the beauty and actual scale of the falls with a photo.

I wish that I could bottle the smell on this trail!!! It was a combination of sea air, pine, wildflowers and some wild herb that I couldn’t pinpoint but I just wanted to stand there and breathe it all in. It was divine.

Our next stop was not such a pleasant smell. It was to see the multitude of Elephant Seals molting on the beach. It was stinky but very entertaining!

After driving for some time, we stopped in Cambria at Moonstone Beach to eat lunch and to relax a bit. The beach is made of little pebbles of all colors! Very fascinating!

Later, we stopped at Morrow Bay and stayed a while on the beach. Walked and collected stones and enjoyed time together.

Day 6 – Traveled from Santa Maria through Fresno en route to Yosemite. This was quite a bit of driving but we still had some highlights…..

Stayed at Bass Lake in a cute, rustic chalet just south of Yosemite park.

Ate dinner at the Bass Lake Resort on the deck by the water. Saw the sunset and a beautiful rainbow while sitting there. The weather and the company was perfect!

Day 7 – Got up early and left our resort at 7:00 a.m. to head out to Yosemite. We were only 20 miles to the actual boundaries of Yosemite park but another hour on a curvy road through the “park” to get to our destination of Yosemite Valley. It was already getting crowded and difficult to find a parking spot by 8:30. We parked in Half Dome Village.

We hopped on the shuttle and went to Mirror Lake trail. It was about 2 miles round trip to the lake and back. We walked alongside a beautiful stream with lots of whitewater at the base of a mountain.

Yes! I took these photos! 😮

After a short rest and snack, we went on another trail that led to the Yosemite Falls!

This park is truly a gorgeous place and should be on your list of places to visit sometime in your lifetime! Go while you are in good health and can truly experience it!

We traveled onward to Elk Grove, just south of Sacramento to spend the night. We were tired and extremely hungry so we decided not to be so adventurous for dinner and go to one of our old favorites… Texas Roadhouse!

This was an amazing trip and time together! We just went with the flow and anytime we were trying to make a decision, one of us would say

let’s go for it– we are being adventurous!

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