We returned this week from a lovely weekend on coastal California! Here's a report on the portion of our trip from San Francisco to San Simeon and back. (Part 2 - San Francisco - will be on the San Francisco forum.)
Oct. 5 (Friday) - Arrived at SF airport around 11:00 a.m. After luggage and rental car pick-up, we were on our way around noon. Heading south toward Highway 1, we found our way to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. We stopped here and took a nice stroll on the trail of Redwood Groves (about 1 mile long). It was a nice, peaceful view of the impressive trees and a great chance to stretch our legs. We looked for lunch in Santa Cruz, but ended up a little south of there. We continued along Highway 1 and watched as the scenery turned spectacular! We pulled off quite frequently for the first part of the trip, then realized we better use our will power to keep going, or we wouldn't make it to San Simeon before dark. Our next stop was in Big Sur at Nepenthe Restaurant. It was very windy that night and pretty cool, so we decided to eat inside but were seated at the window and enjoyed the view with our desserts. It was a pricey piece of pie ($8), but we figured we were paying for the great view! The road got even more winding after that. A word of warning for those traveling on Highway 1 -- Be sure your gas tank is full! There are long stretches where there is nothing in the way of places to stop for gas, food, or bathrooms. Be prepared! We watched the sun set over the ocean as we approached San Simeon. We arrived at Best Western Cavalier around 7:30 p.m. We had an ocean view room (room 155) w/ a king bed, wood-burning fireplace, and our own patio. We tried to sit out at one of the fire pits on the beach, but it was just too cold and windy to stay for long. The hot tub looked tempting, but it had leaves and such floating on top and we didn't feel like asking someone to clean it out just for us, so we retired for the night.
Oct. 6 (Saturday) -- Hearst Castle tour day -- We slept in a bit, then walked along the beach before eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The food was decent. We spotted a sea lion (or otter?) in the water before leaving the hotel. We took the 10:40 tour at Hearst Castle (Tour #1). It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed the tour. We drove a few more miles north to see the elephant seals -- hundreds of them! -- sunning themelves on the beach and playing in the water. For the sake of saving some time, we decided to travel back to San Francisco on 101, but there isn't really an easy way to cut over to it. We were forced to drive south a bit to Cambria to find a way to 101. We enjoyed the charming "downtown" area, though, and picked up delicious sandwiches at the Cambria Deli. The drive on 101 is much less scenic (actually quite dull), but quicker, and we arrived back in San Francisco around 6:30.
For San Francisco portion of our trip, see the San Francisco forum.