Many people believe that in order to have a “Grand Adventure” you would need to travel to a distant land to find something extraordinary .
This may be true at times but I also feel that there is so much one can find even closer to home if they are willing to “Dig” for small gems of travel .
As I have mentioned before in my previous posts I was born and raised in Southern California. The land of beautiful beaches, mountains, deserts and flip flops. We see sunshine over 300 days of the year. We eat well too. Our produce flourishes year round with an abundance of Avocados, Artichokes, Strawberries, Squash, Table Grapes, Tomatoes , Oranges, Grapefruits and Lemons. To top it all off we are spoiled with some of the best wines in the world that are produced from the Central Coast (Paso Robles & San Ynez Valley) and Northern California (Sonoma & Napa). It really is a food lovers dream over here.
By the time August 1st hit this year I found myself pretty worn out from the previous 11 months of non stop activity and work. I wanted to escape to have a real break. I wanted to breathe in some fresh crisp ocean air , I wanted to go and explore , I wanted to hit the California’s (Hwy 1) heading North and most importantly I wanted to do all of this, Alone.
I pitched the idea of doing this alone to my husband D and from the get go he was very supportive of my plans (Thanks D- you are so sweet). D and I have always traveled well together but at the same time we have always been very independent in the sense that if there is something we want to go and see and the other won’t be able to join in because of (work or other commitments) then we always do our best to support each other in our endeavors.
Did I get a little flack for wanting to to this solo? Well yes, a little bit.
I found that some of my friends and especially (My parents) couldn’t figure out why on earth I would want to take a trip alone. My answer is easy, “I wanted to”. Like most women my days are filled with an overloaded “To do list” and I am more than happy to put in long days and hard work for the benefit of others and especially my family. But sometimes I frankly want invite a little “quiet” into my life , a little disconnect in order to center and renew myself. So I came up with the perfect spot to do this. I would drive north to- Big Sur.
Big Sur has always been a very special spot to me since I was a small girl. It’s a landscape that is at times is just too “Majestic for words”. It’s where I feel I can stand on a mountainside, cast in glorious sunshine, and gaze down upon a Pacific Ocean completely blanketed by dense fog. It’s a view most of us would associate with being in heaven, or at least the window seat of an airplane. In Big Sur you can get it with your two feet on the ground.
Not much has changed here in the past 50 years. Sure, there are now some small grocers and restaurants around. But the nearest supermarket is still dozens of miles away. It’s a destination where cell phone coverage is nearly nonexistent. The nice part of this is that, whether you like it or not, you’re on vacation. If someone at the office needs to reach you, well, too bad. I can’t urge you enough that if you have never been for a visit (especially if you reside here in California) by all means pack up your car and hit the Hwy 1. It’s a journey that one needs to do at least once in their life and it is one that will definitely “Take your breath away”.
- “I got to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more”
- -John Burroghs-
- McWay Falls – My Happy Corner of the World
McWay Falls is an 80-foot waterfall located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park that flows year-round. This waterfall is one of only two in the region that are close enough to the ocean to be referred to as “tidefalls”, the other being Alamere Falls. The source of the waterfall is McWay Creek and is one of the few waterfalls that empty directly into the ocean. Originally the waterfall cascaded directly into the ocean but after a 1983 fire and 1985 landslides, the topography of McWay Cove was altered, forming an inaccessible beach. The waterfall now meets the ocean when the tide is in.
I must have taken hundreds of pictures , I was so hard to choose which one’s to share. It’s also so hard to describe all the joy and happiness I came home with. I was able to take in so much in one weeks time. I only scratched the surface of this most beautiful route. But as the old saying goes “All good things must come to an end”. There is one thing I know for sure and that is I will be back over and over again. I am a California girl to the core , I love the Pacific with all my heart…………………………
We will forever remain close!
There where so many spots along the way that made my trip extra special.
Here is a listing of some of my favorite places to STAY-PLAY-EXPLORE
and most importantly EAT.
For more information on each establishment feel free to click on each of the places described here it will connect you directly to their websites.
- Santa Barbara
A Spanish colonial Santa Barbara boutique hotel gem is located just steps from lively State Street, the heartbeat of Santa Barbara. Walking distance to many great restaurants and wine bars.
I found the rooms to be quit lovely and oh so pretty. It was perfect for a girly gal like myself.
Scarlet Begonias– Eat
OMG, OMG , OMG and did I say OMG ……Everything here is delish. Heavenly Breakfast served right here on earth. Many unique and beautiful dishes made here with extremely fresh and organic ingredients. Homemade granola, lemon ricotta pancakes, hot chocolate with hand crafted marshmallows, soft scrambled eggs with a light sprinkling of sea salt, maple/bacon biscuits, shrimp and grits I can be here all day listing all the items that can be adored here. The place is just that amazing……………………………………………run here #forreals
Freshly baked brown butter cookies served right off the baking tray. Each is hand rolled by a dedicated staff of artisanal cookie makers. Beautiful blends of brown butter and sea salt. I have never tasted anything like it before. So unique and carefully made. You really taste the love in these cookies. They carry their signature brown butter and sea salt selection but they also have a very tasty array of other flavors to choose from (Almond, Lemon Poppy Seed, Cocoa Mint, Citrus and Espresso) to name a few.
They are located in the adorable little beach town of Cayucos. The good news is you can order these amazing cookies online and have them shipped to your front door! at www.brownbuttercookies.com
- Big Sur
Ragged Point– Explore & Eat
This is a great spot to stop and take a rest from driving and stretch your legs. They have a little cafe here that serves really good burgers, shakes and coffee.
The best part about this place is walking out to the lookout. The views are absolutely breathtaking, looking north along the coast. Great spot to take photos.
They also have a little Inn here. I have never stayed here overnight but would like to one day in the future.
Ventana Inn & Spa– Stay
This was the most beautiful property I’ve ever stayed at in California. They hold many weddings here each year and it’s so easy to so see why (If I could get married all over again Mr.D and I would of done it here). They offer many outdoor activities here. From guided hiking excursions, you can have a guide take you out to the best point on the property to enjoy the sunset and if that’s not enough they have one of the best afternoon wine and cheese tastings I’ve ever experienced. The rooms are exquisite with the most amazing views.
Tranquility is found in every corner of the most memorable property.
- San Luis Obispo
The Madonna Inn– Stay & Eat
I’ve driven past this place so many time over the years with out stopping to take a look. But legend has it that the place is notorious for there (50 shades of Pink) that is generously sprinkled everywhere through out the property all the way down to the infamous Pink Champagne Cake. I decided I would stop and check it out and , OMG I am so glad I did. The place is so over the top tacky and fabulous. Pink is EVERYWHERE. I was in Pink euphoria. After taking a walk through the pink dining room I was convinced that Liberace was the interior designer for this place…lol
- Madonna Inn feels like a mix of one of those old roadside attraction postcards, the kitschy room Grandma didn’t let you in, that weird in-between area between Fantasyland and Frontierland.
You really have to see it to believe it. Whenever I think of the Madonna Inn, I remember one thing most of all. Pink Champagne cake!!
Buona Tavola– EAT
All is can say is thank God for Yelp. It guided me to one of the most delicious meals of 2015 so far.
I was really craving Italian and this place delivered in the most profound and life changing ways.
I have eaten in Rome, Parma, Florence and after one bite I instantly felt “transported back to Italy” it was an A+ experience on every level. The service, the warmth of family who runs the place, the mezmerising smells that came out of the kitchen. The real mind blowing thing here is the food. I ordered the Tagliata di bue salutare (a flat-iron steak grilled on fresh arugula with shaved parmesan and balsamic reduction sauce. It completely rocked my world. Please make sure if you are ever in the adorable little college town of San Luis Obispo that you make sure to stop here and have one of the most delightful dining expriences.
- Paso Robles
From the moment you walk in, you could smell the wonderful aroma of the various spices & things. I thoroughly enjoyed my olive oil tasting. you pick your spices/salts & put it on a plate, then you’re provided with some bread & get to taste the different flavored olive oils. The ladies that work there are all very friendly & knowledgeable. They gave me recommendations of what spices to try with which flavored oil. They also have a ton of other products from lotions & soaps to different flavored balsamic vinegars & jams as well as wooden boards & bowls for serving.
- Opolo Vineyards– Taste & Eat
Yes 5 stars! I visited Opolo based a recommendations from other wineries. This place is off the beaten path of 46 and has a nice desk/patio area that serves food as well (loved the outdoor Tuscan Pizza Oven). All their wines were good but their reds are some of the best we’ve tasted in the area. Nice bold reds! My favorites where the Sangiovese, Zinfandel and the 2011 Petit Verdot!!
Wine Country Inn– Stay
Dutch-inspired ambiance enhanced with all the comforts of today. I very much enjoyed my little cottage. It’s located in the heart of the sweet town of Solvang. Walking distance to local restaurants, dozens of wine bars and Bakeries. The grounds are really green and pretty here. They also offer bike rentals to cruise around town.
Actors Corner Cafe– Eat
It all started with the warm welcome from the lovely Grace Lebecka (she is the wife of the chef Santo Cervello). It’s ambiance is romantic and all things beautiful from the fresh flowers on the table to the sounds of the outdoor fountain trickling in the background while you eat the most amazing food . Grace explained to me that she hand picks all the freshest of ingredients everyday from the local farmers market. This was very evident from the first bite of my butter leaf salad . Then came the Capellini Bolognese with Kobe beef. I told myself that there was no way I could possibly finish all of it but “I’m no quitter” This pasta was very special you were really able to taste the care and love that was put into that plate. I just know I will be back here soon, but next time I plan to bring along Mr.D I know that he too will fall in love with this place like I did. Thank you Grace! You are the very best and your restaurant can best be describe in one word………..AMAZING.
Quicksilver Ranch– Play
And I have saved the best for last. One of my last stops that was made on my trip was at the Quicksilver Ranch. Home of the Mini Ponies. The ranch is located only 3 miles outside the town of Solvang. These little ponies are too precious for words , they walk up to the fence and you can pet them. Walk around and you’ll find others more willing to get pet. The grounds are well kept and if you have children this is surely a place they would love. I could have stayed here all day just looking at all these cuties graze and eat grass.