Golden State of Mind: Road Tripping California’s Pacific Coast Highway

Shortly following my brother Matt’s college graduation in May 2017, we got to spend nine days exploring the California coast. It was the first substantive trip to California for both of us, and we wanted to get a good sampling of the state, so we ended up splitting our road trip into three legs of roughly three days each in Greater Los Angeles, along the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), and in the Bay Area.

Exploring Los Angeles was more like experiencing a patchwork of completely different towns and cities — from the boardwalk of Venice Beach and Santa Monica, to a hike up and down the Griffith Park trail, to cafe hopping along Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake.

Overlook of Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory
Pacific waves at Santa Monica State Beach
Street art on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles viewed from across Echo Park Lake

The second three-day leg marked the “road trip” portion of our journey, a northward drive on California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Some of our favorite stops along the way included Santa Barbara and coastal state parks. And we enjoyed breathtaking views of the ocean from Big Sur, even though significant parts of the area were unfortunately closed due to a landslide.

El Matador State Beach, Malibu
View of Bixby Bridge and Big Sur Coast from Highway One, Monterey County
The Big Sur Coast, Monterey County

We capped off our California excursion with three days in the San Francisco Bay Area, which included some hiking in Oakland’s redwood forest, getting dim sum in Chinatown, and lots of bar hopping and taco hunting in the Mission District.

Redwood Regional Park, Oakland
Downtown San Francisco as viewed from the Golden Gate Ferry
Sausalito, Marin County
Chinatown, San Francisco
Mission Dolores Park, San Francisco
Mission District, San Francisco
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Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco

Overall, this trip gave us a solid introduction to California, but definitely left me wanting to  see more of the state, include Lake Tahoe, Napa, San Diego, and Yosemite National Park. Shoutout to my brother Matt for road tripping with me — let’s go back soon!

Battery Spencer, Sausalito

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