10 Day West Coast Trip: What to See, Do, and Eat from Seattle to LA
And we’re back to it!
Last week Anees and I returned from a jam-packed 10 day west coast trip to the usual grey weather and major post vacation blues.
But that changed rather quickly as Houston had it’s chance to host The Big Game this year and what a game it was! Did you watch? But more importantly, what did you eat? And what did we think of Lady Gaga’s performance? We just had a relaxing Sunday with homemade gumbo and a few friends.
Moving along. This post it super heavy on the pictures and I totally get that looking at other peoples vacation pictures may not give everyone the same amount of joy that it gives me and if that’s the case, I totally get it, friend. We’ll see ya back here in a couple of days with our regularly scheduled programming.
But for those of you that are interested, I wanted to share some of the best things we did on this trip, our 10 day itinerary for the best WEST COAST vacay ever and FOOD recommendations. A big thank you to all the sweet people that messaged/facebooked recommendations. I really wish I had another 10 days to see it ALL.
This has been on of the best vacations the hubby and I have ever taken together. Saying that I obsessively planned this trip is the understatement of the year. It’s been a big bucket list item for a number of years now and it’s a little bittersweet to be crossing it off the list. 10 days driving from Seattle to LA, taking in the Highway One scenery (the good and the scary) as much as we could. Just watching the sunset over the pacific ocean was truly incredible. I’ll include an itinerary with some of the things we did (and the ones we couldn’t get to) for those that are interested in a similar trip.
Also note, we did this in 10 days but looking back, I wish we had made it into a two week trip. We didn’t get much time in Portland and really could’ve used another couple of days driving down Highway One. But that just means we’ll need to do it all over again and so i’m totally okay with that. ?
And now… let’s go places!
Day 1-2: We started our travels up north and decided to drive south on Highway One. And though we were to have a good 36 hours in Seattle before driving to Medford, Oregon, travel plans changed significantly when our flight had a, count ’em.. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.. 5 hour delay. I pouted, stressed, and muttered but in the end, things were what they were. We ended up not being able to see a few things like the Space Needle, the skyline during sunset from Kerry Park, or the Mural Amphitheater but at least I got all the time I wanted at the Pike Place Market, which i’ll shamelessly admit was the whole point of going to Seattle. That chowdah. ❤
What to do:
- Pike Place Market
- Fremont Troll
- Gum Wall: kind of gross if you think about it, cool to look at and smells like… [drumroll] bubble gum!
- Kerry Park (view of the Seattle skyline)
- Space Needle
Where to eat:
- Serious Pie
- buffalo mozz + tomato sauce pizza
- roasted mushroom + truffle cheese pizza
- Biscuit Bitch
- Daily Dozen Doughnuts
- chocolate with sprinkles, of course! The cinnamon sugar also looked good.
- Pikes Place Chowder (that smoked salmon chowder is phenomenal!)
- smoked salmon chowder was my favorite
- Beecher’s (said to be the World’s Best mac and cheese, it was definitely really good)
- Piroshky Piroshky
Day 2: After Seattle we drove a good 8 hours down to Medford where we stayed just long enough to catch some shuteye. Here’s the part of the trip we wish we had extended. We were only in Portland to grab dinner and of course, a steaming hot cappuccino from Stumptown Coffee. Doughnuts from Voodoo were also on the list but after having Daily Dozen earlier in the day, neither of us could really afford the additional sugar. I’ve had Voodoo doughnuts in Denver before so I wasn’t too upset but if you’re planning a trip, work these in, they are warm and fluffy and everything a donut should be.
Little River, CA:
Day 3: This was one of my FAVORITE days. Okay, truly, they were all kind of my favorite but this one especially. We crossed into California during the early morning hours from Oregon and drove through a million everygreen trees. And then it happened. The most majestic winter wonderland scene straight out of a Christmas movie. It started snowing the trees glistened with snowflakes, we sipped coffee, listened to an audiobook, and really enjoyed being the only car on the road for miles. My heart is forever there. That night we stayed in Little River, a little town off the coast of Mendocino at the Heritage House. We got there after dark so it was a little hard to see what was beyond the balcony doors. In the morning we drew back the curtains expecting to see another set of rooms beyond it. But the most breathe-taking view of the ocean welcomed us instead.
?? The view from our rooms patio.
What to do:
- Drive through Humboldt Redwoods State Park
- if you’ve got the time, take the exit for the Avenue of Giants. It’s 31 miles of the most beautiful redwood trees
- stop by Shrine Drive Thru Tree and take a picture of you driving through an actual tree!
- Stay at The Heritage House
Where to eat:
- Mendocino Cafe
- we tried the healing bowl and the Thai burrito. Both were delicious and both are on my list to recreate for us!
Inverness and Sausalito, CA:
Day 4: We stayed in San Francisco for a total of 3 nights/ 2 days. So this day was spent taking in the hills and valleys of California from Little River all the way to San Francisco. We passed dairy farms, a million cows and saw the beautiful Monterey Cypress Tree Tunnel. And at sunset, we finally saw that iconic red bridge. It’s so much larger than I thought it would be. I know it’s silly, but did anyone else expect it to be.. smaller?
What to do:
- Bodega Bay (sometimes you can see whales in the water, unfortunately we weren’t that lucky!)
- Monterey Cypress Tree Tunnel
- Point Reyes Lighthouse
- Muir Beach Overlook
- Battery Spencer Park
- Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge
- keep in mind the toll is $7.50 and they don’t have a cash booth. Our rental car didn’t have a toll pass so we ended up paying online before crossing. You can pay up to 48 hours after crossing as well.
Where to eat:
- Inverness Park Market
- I had the shrimp salad sandwich which had a distinct hint of lemon zest and dill.
- Bar Bocce (Sausalito)
- The mushroom pizza with caramelized onions and fontina was out of this world. We also tried the margherita pizza because we always have to. And it was meh.
San Fransisco, CA
Day 5-6: Let me start by saying, 2 days for San Fran is just simply not enough. Especially if you’re like me and literally want to see the Golden Gate Bridge from every angle possible. Combating traffic and finding parking takes up a whole lot of time. The locals are tell us this isn’t a city we should be driving in and they’re right. It’s a lot easier to Uber your way around and at max, you’ll end up paying about the same as you would if you parked. San Fran, you are amazing, we’re coming back for ya!
What to do:
- Alcatraz Tour
- take the audio tour it’s so interesting!
- walk around the island – make sure to wear extra layers it’s always cold on the island!
- Drive down Lombard Street
- Watch the sunset at Bakers Beach
- The Painted Ladies/ Alamo Square
- Ferry Building
- sample the olive oil here, they have so many different flavors
- Crissy Field
- Walk or bike the Golden Gate Bridge
- Visit Golden Gate Park
Where to eat:
- Wise Sons Jewish Deli: Fillmore Bagel and Bakery
- Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
- try the cruffin – they have a different flavor everyday!
- The Codmother Fish and Chips
- 4 words: ice cream cookie sandwiches
- Blue Bottle Coffee
- really good cappuccinos
- Tartine Bakery
- make sure you grab a croissant
- Sushirrito – it’s a sushi burrito and it is divine!
- I recommend the sumo crunch – it’s their most popular one!
Hwy 1 to Monterey and San Luis Obispo, CA:
Day 7-8: This was the part of the west coast trip that I was most looking forward to the most. I’ve had pictures of McWay Falls plastered all over my desktop for almost forever and unfortunately this part of the trip just wasn’t meant to happen. Parts of the Pacific coast highway (Hwy 1) were closed off just two days before we got there because of the recent mudslides in the area. Big Sur State Park// Pfieffer Beach // Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park (home of McWay Falls) were all just passed the road closures. We drove as far as we could on 1, then went back to Monterey and took the 101 to San Luis Obispo.
Making lemonade here: there’s got to be another trip in the future.
What to do:
- Half Moon Bay
- Old Davenport Pier
- Shark Fin Cove
- Monterey Fishermans Wharf
- Monterey Aquarium
- Pebble Beach
- Take the 17 mile drive
- $10 admission fee
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
- the admission is $10
- Big Sur, Pfieffer Big Sur State Park, Pfieffer Beach, Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park, McWay Falls
- pretty much all the places I wasn’t able to make it this time.
- San Luis Obispo Downtown
Where to eat:
- Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurant
- definitely not the best interior so if you’re looking for a romantic spot, this is not it! We grabbed dinner and took it to the hotel and watched Breaking Bad while eating.
- try the garlic butter tilapia with rice and veggies.
Santa Barbara and Malibu, CA:
Day 9: A lot more low-key and definitely more relaxed. We made the short drive to Santa Barbara, walked around Butterfly Beach for a bit and then to Malibu. Malibu weather was hot! I totally wasn’t prepared for that. That vest i’m wearing, came off within the first 30 minutes of us being outside. My favorite part of Malibu: El Matador State Beach. We saw a music video being filmed and tons of people modeling for pictures. It was a Saturday so everyone was at the beach. We ended the night on the Santa Monica Pier watching the sunset and listening to so many talented musicians.
What to do:
- Santa Monica/ Butterfly Beach
- Neptune’s Net – just for a quick picture!
- El Matador State Beach
- Venice Beach
- Santa Monica Pier
Where to eat:
- The Nautical Bean Coffee House, San Luis Obispo
- try their California egged for breakfast (bagel, cheese, eggs, tomatoes, onions, and avos)
- Malibu Seafood & Fresh Fish Market
- Fish and chips!
- really good asian fusion: bulgogi burrito, blazin’ shrimp and rice bowls, etc.
- kimchi nachos!
- Mexican Fruit Salad on Santa Monica Pier
Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, CA
Day 10: Last day of the trip and it was packed! We started in LA and made our way to Beverly Hills before heading back to our hotel in Marina Del Ray. It was fun but definitely a lot more of that city life.
What to do:
- Bradbury Building
- beautiful architecture (coined the Taj mahal of LA)
- Lake Hollywood Park (for a great view of the Hollywood Sign)
- Walk of Fame
- not my sort of thing but the hubby hadn’t seen it so we did a little stop by!
- Silver Lake (heart stairs)
- The Bates Motel
- Beverly Hills/Rodeo Drive
- Greystone Mansion
- This is where some of scenes from Gilmore Girls was filmed along with scenes from X-Men, Rush Hour, Spiderman, Austin Powders:Goldmember, and The Social Network
- Griffith Observatory for Sunset
- go early if you’re hoping for parking closer to the top! We almost missed the sunset because we weren’t expecting such a huge crowd.
Where to eat:
- Ricky’s Fish Tacos
- I had the shrimp tacos with the chipotle sauce and pico.
- macaron ice cream sandwiches made in house
- Ike’s Place
- great sandwiches: I had the one with chicken, bbq sauce, honey mustard, and pepper jack on Dutch bread – it’s one of their most popular sandwiches.
- The Pie Hole
- try the salted caramel pecan pie. We’re sad that we split a slice, should’ve gotten two!
And Day 11 we were headed home but not before a celebrity sighting! We saw Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) at LAX. We’re probably the only ones that had to force ourselves to sit through season 1, it was torture. Took us two years, if not longer. But all of our friends kept telling us to stick to it and it finally happened. We got sucked in too.
And there it is, that last California sunset from our west coast trip. That was a wave of 80+ pictures and 2,000+ words that I just threw at you and if you’re still here, reading these words, thanks for sticking around 🙂
i just got back from a trip to Mexico so I can totally relate on vacation blues. your pictures and trip looks awesome! i have not explored west coast as much as i would like to so, definitely will come back to this post.
Thank you Dixya!
Wonderful pictures <3
Lovely and interesting post <3
Thank you for sharing,
Thank you Felicia 🙂
Do you mean the Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant in Moss Landing??? That’s my neck of the woods! It’s about 15 minutes from my house. 🙂 Highway One is a glorious drive, I love it!! Glad you enjoyed your trip. I feel so blessed to have been born and raised in the Monterey Bay.
Hi Jennifer! We actually went to the one in Monterey but such delicious food! Your hometown is absolutely beautiful ❤️
Wow! Congratulations for pics and text organization / structure! We ( my wife and I ) are planning a trip from SFO to LAX and your post helps a lot! Thank you!
Hey, thanks for the great write up on your trip. Love the all the photos too! We are a New Zealand family (with 3 young kids) who live in the Middle East and this summer we are doing LA to Vancouver (and then into the Canadian Rockies) as part of a bigger road trip. We will spend just over 3 weeks in June making our way from LA to Vancouver. I really like all your places you went on this trip. If you were to have say 2.5weeks to do this trip, where would you have extended your stays? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks jasmine
Hey Jasmine! Your trip sounds absolutely amazing! If I had the time that you’ve got, I would certainly extend our stay by at least one more day in Seattle and maybe two in Portland or in Oregon overall! There is so much to do, see and eat there! I would also slow down a bit with Hwy 1, as with 3 kids I’m sure you guys will need plenty of bathroom breaks. Maybe drive a little inland if the time permits or use an additional day in San Francisco! I know two days made everything very rushed for us. But also, if you guys stop in Big Sur, try out Nepenthe restaurant! It has been on my list forever but unfortunately, when we went that portion of Hwy 1 had been closed off 🙁 Hope you guys have a fabulous trip! ❤️
This looks like a truly incredible, once-in-a-lifetime trip! Your pictures are stunning. My best friend and I are looking to plan a similar one. If you don’t mind my asking, how much did this trip cost? Not looking for an exact answer, but more of a ballpark estimate. Again, beautiful post and I am so glad you had a nice trip.
Hi Megan! Sorry for taking some time to get back to your message, I wanted to be as thorough as I could in answering! Full disclosure, we used both air miles and hotel points for this trip so our airfare/hotel costs were very low. But, my best estimate is that you’ll end up spending in the ballpark of $2,000 for airfare/rental car/ hotel. This is with the assumption that you’d split the hotel/rental car costs with your friend and also if you take the trip during off season (Nov – March.) Costs are significantly higher if you travel peak season! I hope that helps and I hope you have a wonderful trip! 🙂
Well, food-wise, I think you hit the hot spots in Seattle! I live here and I still love Pike Place Market. Of course, this time of year it’s mobbed with tourists. 🙁
I think even the plain little robo-donuts are lovely because they’ve just come out of the fryer (unless you’ve hit them at an off hour). Get a particularly stoned clerk and you can get an awful lot of donuts in a ‘half dozen’ bag…LOL. Sadly I now have GI issues so all that stuff is off-limits. I miss Piroshky-Piroshky too.
Don’t worry about missing the space needle. I think going up it is highly overrated. It’s a great landmark though and I love living near it and the monorail.
Thank you, this was so helpful!
Wonderful recap! My husband and I are visiting the Monterey area this spring. Your photos capture the beauty of this area. Thank you!
Nice trip. Im glad you stop a nautical bean my favorite place . I live in cayucos…