Taking a trip between Los Angeles to San Francisco should take you about six hours on any given day, but what’s the fun in that? Consider a road trip sprawled over the course of five to six days, making stops in large cities and small towns. You have several options in the route you take. The I-5 proves to be the fastest, but it’s also the most boring — just a straight shot — and that’s not what we’re looking for.
The next option is US-101, which follows the coast only part of the way. Take this route and miss some of the most amazing views you’ll ever get to see.
The winning option? Take US-1 all the way up. It’s long (about nine hours), but by going this way, you’ll be able to enjoy the majestic views of the Pacific Coast Highway, look up at mountains on one side and down at the waves crashing on the other. Truly, very little compares to this “Big Sur” drive up the coast.
On such a long drive, you’re sure to build up an appetite. Consider the following stops along your drive from Los Angeles: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey and finally, San Francisco. And definitely — definitely — consider these places to dine. For some of these hot spots, I used the redesigned Foursquare which used my personal palette to pull some recommendations. Enjoy your travels!
FIG Santa Monica, as complemented by its mirrored wall decor, boasts a seasonal menu that reflects the simple taste of locally grown and organic ingredients. The bistro-inspired dishes are served in a casual yet inviting atmosphere. Go here for brunch and try the eggs benedict, chilaquiles, or a breakfast burrito.
The self-proclaimed neighborhood restaurant in Silver Lake provides comfort and social release to its patrons. The seafood eatery is a mix of a Parisian bistro with an urban vibe specializing in — you guessed it — oysters. Get a table by the patio and try oysters L&E, knife and fork fried oyster po’boy, or the smoked trout salad.
If you’re already feeling homesick, stop by a Souplantation or a Sweet Tomatoes for a taste of comfort. This all-you-can-eat dining experience lets you create a customized meal from more than 45 feet of fresh salad ingredients. On the side, indulge in homemade soups, pastas, or baked treats.
The harbor in Santa Monica is actually an active one, and on Saturday mornings you can buy fish directly from the fishermen. This is great news for the establishments like Chuck’s Waterfront Grill, who serves up fresh seafood amidst the boats. Get the wild-caught king prawns, fisherman’s stew, or their award-winning clam chowder.
This establishment has been a welcoming atmosphere in San Luis Obispo since 1927. Its history is deeply rooted in a “friendly corner market” tradition and maintains it by embracing its inherent vintage charm. Stop by here for lunch and order the Nashville club, “mother nature,” or the hot pastrami.
This cliffside restaurant is located at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. A five-course lunch tasting menu will set you back $95 per person, but includes such dishes as venison tartare, Monterey red abalone, and Morro Bay oysters.
The 90-mile stretch of curvy Big Sur highway begs for you to take a pitstop in this tiny, converted ranch house. Built in 1936, the building has continuously been used as a place to restore hungry travelers and Big Sur Bakery keeps that tradition alive to this day. Stop in and try grilled octopus, any of their wood-fired pizza, or a latte and a ginger scone.