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A few months ago, I was able to spend an entire week with my sweet friend and sister/adventure buddies in San Luis Obispo, California. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was about 4 weeks pregnant, and nauseous the entire trip. But despite this, we had a great time and saw a TON of the beautiful central coast.
Our home base was Bethany’s apartment in San Luis Obispo. Her apartment was right smack dab next to the ocean. My first day there, I happily ate my less than picturesque fast food lunch while overlooking the ridiculously scenic beach. It was a wonderful thing.
We were there for an entire week, so we got to explore all that SLO (that’s what the cool kids call it) has to offer. We ate acai bowls on Shell Beach, explored the caves on Pismo Beach, saw otters in Morro Bay, and hiked Bishops Peak along with like 20 Million CalPoly freshmen who were there for orientation. Some of those things were even intentional.
Bethany even reluctantly took us to Bubblegum Alley downtown and cringed while I took pictures of Meg pretending to eat the gum off the wall. (Note the absence of photos of Bethany and I putting our face against a wall of chewed gum. We aren’t crazy.)
San Luis Obispo
The highlight of our week in California was definitely the drive through Big Sur. I had driven a big section of the Pacific Coast Highway before, but this was my first time making it this far north. This stretch of highway is extremely curvy (did I mention I had pregnancy nausea all week?) as it goes along with the mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. There are tons of parks, beaches, and scenic overlooks along the way, and we did our best to see as much as possible. We drove the highway up one day, and back the next. We made lots of stops both days and we still didn’t see everything.
One of our first stops was San Simeon Beach State Park. It’s right across from Hearst Castle (which we did not get to go to on this trip.) Here, we walked a woodsy trail out to a little cape. We took a lot of pictures here (a select few of which are included below) and soaked in the general gorgeousness of the California Central Coast.
We also stopped by Ragged Point to see the Elephant Seals sleeping, snuggling and scooting around on the beach. There were so many of them, and they are HUGE. They definitely call them Elephant Seals for a reason.
There were so many gorgeous stops along the way, that they all begin to blend together (especially after putting off writing this for a few months.) Some of our other favorite stops were seeing the waterfall at Julia Pfieffer State Park, getting pelted by sand on the windiest beach ever at Los Padres National Forest (highly recommend, if for no other reason than recreating the little mermaid photo as seen below), seeing the Bixby Bridge IRL, and hiking down to a secluded cove and watching the huge waves crash against the rocks. Oh, and lunch at Nepenthe, overlooking the ocean from the bluff was gorgeous (and the food wasn’t bad either.)
After a full day of driving we arrived in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is just as cute as its name. It has the most charming European architecture which makes it look like it’s straight out of a children’s book. The streets are full of cute little shops and bakeries, and I would happily move there tomorrow if you offered. Clint Eastwood was also the mayor at one point, so what’s not to like?
Carmel is adjacent to Monterey, so we made a quick side-trip to walk over to Lover’s Point in Monterey. I can’t overexaggerate how pretty these little towns are. I would love to go back again for more than an evening/morning.
Carmel & Monterey
After a few days back in SLO, we decided to take one more quick little day trip to Solvang. I had wanted to go to Solvang on my previous trip to Santa Barbara, but it didn’t work out timing wise, so I was super happy to learn that it was so close to SLO. Solvang is another one of those uber-themed towns like Carmel. The architecture and shops here are all purely Danish. From the Hans Christian Anderson museum to the gazillion Danish bakeries, this place oozes charm. I just love it.
We also stopped by Ostrich-Land outside of town, per Meg’s request, and fed the ostriches. Not exactly my cup of tea, but it was for sure a quirky stop if you’re into random roadside attractions.
The central coast has SO much to offer in the way of beautiful scenery, fun stops, and great food. In case you’re wondering how we were able to schedule all of this into one week, check out my travel itinerary – complete with a list of some of our favorite restaurants:
A lot of these photos were taken on our phones – but for my Nikon I mainly use these lenses: Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F/1.8G Lens (portrait) Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II Digital Zoom Lens (AF-S Motor) (for Nikon) (wide angle)