Posts Tagged ‘california road trip’

California road trip: 2 days in LA

Hello, how are you? Have you ever been on a “big holiday”? One that’s stayed with you long after it’s passed, with regular reminders and smiles about the time you had away? Our trip to California in April 2015 was most definitely that, yet we returned and moved house within a few weeks of returning… with the house move and logistics of being home owners taking over our lives. It feels like the house move stole California’s thunder; we didn’t have time to stop, remember, put photos in albums, bore our friends with stories or time to frame prints we picked up. I’m definitely not complaining – we were incredibly fortunate to be able to do both things in quick succession – but in today’s post I want to take a moment out to remember a few days of our trip. The time we spent in LA. I’ve talked a bit about our time in San Francisco, Yosemite and Carmel/Monterey Bay already, so do have a read of those posts too. I’ve still got a few more stories to tell… but these are most definitely just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve broken it down into where we stayed, what we did, where we ate and our overall impression. If you’re due to go to LA soon, or planning a trip, I’d be happy to answer any questions this post might not cover so do email me. I love talking about California and would be only too happy to help.


California road trip: LA. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Where we stayed

We were incredibly lucky to have a relative in LA, Stu’s uncle, who we stayed with. It was a welcome break from hotels and felt like a little piece of home; he cooked us a BBQ, we used his washing machine and sat on his sofa one night drinking wine and watching Frasier. When you’re away from home it’s things like that you don’t even realise you miss and, as our time in LA was smack bang in the middle of our road trip, I’d like to think it helped re-charge our batteries. Stu’s uncle lives near the Balboa Pier, which is south of the city, near Newport Beach.

Where we ate
  • Dinner: The Albright, Santa Monica Pier. Driving from San Simeon, Santa Monica and a bit of Venice beach was our first stop. The Albright is just on the pier, looked empty yet served the best lobster rolls with fries. It didn’t feel like too much of a tourist trap and oh man, the food was delicious!
  • Lunch: Ruby’s Diner, Balboa Pier. After a morning of bike riding through the neighbourhood and along the beach, a good old burger and milkshake was just what we all needed. This was a real highlight of our stay; the location was just gorgeous.
  • Lunch: McDonald’s, Hollywood Boulevard. For shame, I know. Kind of felt like we needed to have one McDonalds meal and Hollywood a good spot for it. Pretty horrifying to see someone put extra sugar in a large coke, eeek.
  • Dinner: Live Basil Pizza, Downton LA. You know that feeling when you know you’ve eaten badly for too long and your body craves something healthy? That. So at Live Basil Pizza we stopped and had a salad and felt a million times better for it.


California road trip: LA. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


What we did

Of course there are millions of things to do in LA, and so much more we know we could’ve done, but we knew with this holiday it was a quick stop at each location and that we’d make the best of the time we had. Being with family allowed us to also take some time out and enjoy home comforts and quality time together. We also managed to do the following…

  • Explored Santa Monica. Our first stop in LA after a long day of travelling and we walked along the beach and walked the pier. We both said we’d have liked more time there; it seemed like a pretty chilled part of the city and a place I could see us going back to one day. We parked there for $12 and, while it is a little touristy, didn’t feel too bad. Plus it was about 5/6pm we were there, so the sun was beginning to go down after a hot day.
  • Rode bikes along Newport Beach. Stu’s uncle is a keen cyclist and we had great fun riding around the local area and along the beach. It gave us a great feel for the area and there was something so happy about riding a bike in the sunshine in a beautiful location, even if we did get a little sun burnt – oops!
  • Drove up to Griffith Observatory. We knew we had to see the Hollywood sign and had heard a lot of good things about the Griffith Observatory. Once we were parked we opted to skip the usual “take a photo from this point” option and walked further up into the hills, which gave us a chance to see the sign closer, yes, but more so we got a great view out over the whole of Los Angeles.
  • Walked Hollywood Boulevard. I’ve got to say this was probably our least favourite part of our stay. It was exceptionally hot and we’d gone from the nice stroll around the Griffith Observatory to the incredibly busy, loud, hot and touristy part where it seemed the whole world and his wife was. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool to see the Hollywood walk of fame and it’s where I bought a couple of souvenirs, but that was it. It’s a place we’ve ticked off the list and will probably never return to.
  • Watched the LA Lakers play the Sacramento Kings at the Staples Center. On the flip side I’m so pleased we did this. It was at the end of a long day in the city and the perfect way to get a feel for “real” American life. Before we left for California I’d been browsing my Lonely Planet book and it suggested watching a sport, so after a bit of a hunt I found one of the last basketball games of the season was being played at the Staples Centre in downtown LA. Perfect. We bought a big drink and a pretzel and loved every minute of the experience. The atmosphere was incredible and I fondly remember the brass band playing and how much interaction there was with the audience – nothing like what we’d get in the UK.
  • Walked along Crystal Cove beach. Oh man, one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, Crystal Cove feels like a little hidden part of LA that the tourists don’t know about. It’s probably so far from being the case, but it’s the feeling it gave us. So beautiful, please go there if you ever get a chance.


California road trip: LA. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Overall impression

LA was a mixed bag for us; on the one hand we absolutely loved spending time with family, riding bikes, walking, seeing Crystal Cove beach and going to our first basketball game. On the other hand, Hollywood really wasn’t for us. But we had to see it, no regrets at all, but it cemented in our minds that we’re not really into the super touristy areas and would rather see where the locals hang out – kind of like we did when we were in San Francisco. What made our stay in LA special was having time with family and being on the outskirts of the city – it gave us that bit of quiet and normality, a launch pad to then go and see the bigger things.


California road trip: LA. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Other places we visited on our road trip

If you fancy a look, here’s the map of where we visited on our trip. Before we went to California I also created a Pinterest board, with lots of ideas of places to visit – so be sure to check that out.

Follow Leanne’s board California dreamin’ on Pinterest.

Thanks for reading and letting me take a trip down memory lane, I hope you’ve enjoyed the post as much as I did reading it. Here’s to the start of a good week!

Leanne x

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California road trip: Carmel, Monterey Bay and a trip through Big Sur

Hello! I’m back today with another post about our California road trip – an adventure we went this time last year (the time since has flown by!). Last month I talked about San Francisco; from there we headed to Yosemite and today I’m talking about the time we spent in Carmel – which includes a day trip to Monterey Bay and our drive through Big Sur down Route 1.

It’s a jam packed post, but I’ve broken it down into where we stayed, what we did, where we ate and our overall impression – which I hope is useful to you if you’re planning a trip and/or daydreaming about visiting Carmel, Monterey Bay and the surrounding area. I’ve also added in various photos from our time there.


California road trip: Carmel, Monterey Bay and a trip through Big Sur. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Where we stayed

La Playa Carmel. I loved this hotel. I loved it so much that I wrote a list of reasons why I loved it in our travel journey. They were:

  • Breakfast was included (and boy was it tasty!)
  • We had a great view out of our window – we could see the beach
  • The hotel offered free fresh lemonade in the afternoon
  • We had a comfy bed and I slept really well
  • They offer milk and cookies for guests in the early evening (even now that memory makes me so happy)
  • We stayed in a room that had a lovely light in the morning when we woke
  • There was an outdoor terrace where we sat, drank and read our books
Where we ate
  • Lunch: PB Market. PB Market was a general store in Monterey Bay, so not a sit down place, but we popped in, bought loads of snacks and ordered a fresh panini and then sat outside on a picnic bench and had lunch in the gorgeous spring sunshine.
  • Lunch: Big Sur Bakery. On check out in Carmel the team recommended stopping here, as we passed it on our way down to San Simeon. It’s quite a popular little spot and we had a strawberry scone and some iced lemonade here. It was a really warm day so made for the perfect pit stop for us.
  • Dinner: Little Napoli. This was our first meal in Carmel and we opted for pizza; I remember having a really tasty garlic bread for starter too. I liked this place, it had an authentic feel and I loved that they had a signed picture of The Soprano’s cast in the restrooms.
  • Dinner: The Tree House Cafe. Oh we loved this place! While they had a great outdoor space to eat, it was a little chilly so we ate inside. We had the most delicious meal (and wine!) and the whole atmosphere of this restaurant was perfect. The staff couldn’t have done more for us so I highly recommend The Tree House Cafe.


California road trip: Carmel, Monterey Bay and a trip through Big Sur. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


What we did
  • Visited Monterey Bay. There’s a 17 mile drive around the bay and Pebble Beach which we took advantage of. We had to pay a little bit to do so (sorry, I can’t remember how much it was!) and then we followed the route and stopped at regular points to have a walk around. It was an incredibly beautiful area and the views were fantastic.
  • Found a knitting shop, named Knitting by the Sea. When researching Carmel I know by the fact that the shops were quite quaint that there just had to be some kind of craft shop. Knitting by the Sea was a great find, a fab knitting shop and we met the owner and the new addition to the shop… a cat called Boomer. Carmel seems to be very popular with dogs and dog owners, so it was nice to see a cat. Do check out their Facebook page for regular Boomer updates; this is the message I left after we visited.
  • Watched the sun go down on Carmel Beach. On our first night in Carmel we popped to the beach just in good time… a really beautiful moment watching the sun set on the pacific ocean.
  • Looked around the shops and explored the neighbourhood. It’s fair to say when we first arrived we thought the place was a little tacky, but the more time we spent in Carmel the more we were proved wrong. Carmel and the surrounding area was a joy to spend time in – a really good rest point before we headed on to LA.


California road trip: Carmel, Monterey Bay and a trip through Big Sur. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Driving through Big Sur down Route 1

I mentioned Big Sur Bakery earlier, where we stopped for lunch. This was on our route from Carmel to San Simeon, where we stayed the night and visited Hearst Castle. A note on Hurst Castle; while I appreciate that for some it’s a great tourist spot, for us it was just that. A tourist trap that we didn’t really enjoy. We experienced quite a rude member of staff, who mocked our accent, and felt that the place didn’t have enough history.

The route from Carmel to San Simeon was a fantastic experience, not just because I drove some of it(!) but the views were breathtaking – greenery and hills on one side and the ocean on the other. There are plenty of points to stop and take in the view and take photos, and the route felt safe and enjoyable. The blue skies of the day made it even better and I’m sitting here typing wanting to take that drive again. Just before our stop in San Simeon we stopped to see all the Elephant Seals along the beach; never in my life have I seen so many seals! We saw more later on in our trip, in La Jolla, but more on that another time.


California road trip: Carmel, Monterey Bay and a trip through Big Sur. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Overall impression

We loved spending time in this part of California, by this point we were in full swing holiday mood and had settled into the trip. The weather was beautiful, we had some great meals and we were in beautiful surroundings. If you’re planning a trip to California I would always encourage a stop here.


California road trip: Carmel, Monterey Bay and a trip through Big Sur. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Other places we visited on our road trip

More posts coming soon (I’ll update this page as soon as a new post goes live). If you fancy a look, here’s the map of where we visited on our trip.

If you’re planning a trip to this part of California, I hope this post is really useful for you. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have too, so drop me a comment below or tweet me and I’ll be pleased to help. Before we went to California I also created a Pinterest board, with lots of ideas of places to visit – so be sure to check that out.

Follow Leanne’s board California dreamin’ on Pinterest.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a good day.

Leanne x

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California road trip: 2.5 days in San Francisco

Wow, I can’t believe that next month will mark a year since we headed off to San Francisco for the start of our California road trip – I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. I’d planned to blog about each place we visited a long time ago but, with buying a house etc., it’s all been a bit busy! I managed to write about our time in Yosemite and now I’m back on the case and happy to today be sharing with you what we got up to with our 2.5 days in San Francisco.


2.5 days in San Francisco, California. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


It’s a jam packed post, but I’ve broken it down into where we stayed, what we did, where we ate and our overall impression – which I hope is useful to you if you’re planning a trip and/or daydreaming about visiting San Francisco. I’ve also added in various photos from our time there.

Where we stayed

The Beresford Arms on Post Street. While the hotel itself felt a little dated, it was comfortable enough for us and we knew we wouldn’t spend a great time of time in it as we’d be out exploring. The hotel is also only a 10 minute walk to Union Square, which has heaps of shops, restaurants and links to other parts of the city – an ideal spot for us.


2.5 days in San Francisco, California. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Where we ate

During our stay we really tried to avoid tourist traps (with a couple of exceptions!) and instead aimed to be guided by Google reviews of local restaurants near where we were staying; with only a couple of days to explore we were exhausted by the evening so local was key for us.

  • Breakfast: Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. I’d stumbled across this bakery via Instagram before our trip, so when I found out it was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel I knew we had to pay a visit. The food didn’t disappoint; their offering is really unique and I especially remember how good the pastrami and pesto danish was. While there isn’t any seating inside, it’s a great spot for grabbing breakfast and seemed popular with locals.
  • Lunch: Mijita. We walked past this Mexican cafe as we came off the ferry from Sausalito and thought it looked good, so popped back the following day for lunch. We both had a tortas sandwich and a fresh juice and it filled us up nicely. As far as Mexican places go, we both loved this place.
  • Afternoon pit stop: Mojo. After visiting the Painted Ladies and with the wind picking up, we popped into Mojo, a bicycle cafe, for a hot drink. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier and we spoke for ages about our trip, with them giving us recommendations. I could’ve spent more time there; the hot chocolate was super tasty too!
  • Dinner: The Cheesecake Factory. OK, definitely a tourist trap but we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. This was our very first meal and, incredibly jetlagged, it was nice and local to our hotel – at the top of Macy’s on Union Square. The burger and milkshake we had was so tasty and we couldn’t resist having some cheesecake. Delicious.
  • Dinner: Sakana. This was probably our favourite meal during the stay, a low-key sushi restaurant on Post Street. This restaurant had a friendly local feel to it and the staff were incredibly friendly to us. Plus, the food was delicious and just what we’d been after (figuring San Francisco was a good place for sushi) If I ever went back I would definitely pay Sakana another visit.
  • Dinner: Sai Jai Thai (they don’t seem to have a website, so I’ve linked to their Trip Advisor page). In our continued quest for local spots (and to avoid just eating burgers, chips etc.) we opted for Thai on our final night and found this restaurant through a Google review. Less than 10 minutes from Beresford Arms, I had Pad Thai here (one of my favourite Thai dishes). Delicious, really tasty food. Very local and definitely no-thrills, the food speaks for itself I’d say.


2.5 days in San Francisco, California. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


What we did

With just over two days in San Francisco we knew it was going to be jam packed, but we saw and did loads. Below is an overview of some of the places we visited, though we saw quite a few more places using the City Sightseeing hop on hop off bus pass.

  • Hired bikes and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. We caught a tram to take us as far down as we could and came across Blazing Saddles, on Beach Street, where we hired bikes for a few hours. The team guided us on the route to the Golden Gate Bridge and we were off. This was on the very first morning of our trip and is still one of my highlights of those three weeks. The weather was glorious and it was a great experience. We reckon it was about 10 miles we cycled all in all and, had we had time, we definitely would’ve liked to have spent some time in Sausalito – the town you arrive in across the bridge.
  • Walked around Fisherman’s Wharf. Between arriving back from Sausalito and catching the ferry to Alcatraz we had a bit of time to walk around Fisherman’s Wharf. I do understand why it’s popular, but it’s a major tourist trap and really wasn’t our kind of place.
  • Visited Alcatraz. Part of our package (booked with Flight Centre) included a booking to Alcatraz island and a tour of the old prison. We were told to book before we went, so I’d recommend booking before you go. Alcatraz was certainly an enlightening experience and I’m pleased we went. I had no idea people, including children, lived on the island while the prison was open. I certainly learnt a lot during our visit.
  • Used our 48 hour City Sightseeing hop on hop off bus pass. With limited time, this was the perfect way for us to get around the city and see the bits we wouldn’t have time to fully explore (like Japan town). The guides were friendly, funny and told us lots and lots of useful information about the city.
  • Walked up Lombard Street (the crooked steps). We got off the hop on hop off bus around North Beach and walked all along Lombard Street to the crooked steps, which we then walked up. Tough going, especially as it was a warm sunny morning, but good to do and there are some gorgeous houses to be spotted as you walk it.
  • Visited the Painted Ladies on Alamo Square. Using the bus pass again, we got off the bus around Fell Street and walked over to see the famous row of houses, names the Painted Ladies. It’s a hugely popular area, so much so that tourist buses aren’t allowed to drive there. It’s also on Steiner Street – a reference to Mrs. Doubtfire that made me smile (sadly we didn’t have time to go and see that house). Alamo Square is also home to a patch of grass that a lot of people hang out on, so we took some time out here to enjoy the pretty scenery.


2.5 days in San Francisco, California. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


Overall impression

The weather has to be mentioned… San Francisco is odd. One of the tour guides told us to bring clothes for every weather and he wasn’t wrong – in a day it went from being bright blue skies and really warm to cold, windy and having a downpour, before that bright blue sky came out. I struggled with the weather and even went to H&M to buy a big jumper because that bitter cold wind was horrible. But that’s more me being unprepared than anything else.


2.5 days in San Francisco, California. Top tips on where we stayed, where we ate, what we did and more! Post via This Little Space of Mine


I’ve also got to say how much we noticed people running and keeping fit – especially with all those hills, kudos to them. I reckon I’d have to join in with them if I lived in San Francisco!

My only wish for San Francisco is that it hadn’t been our first stop of the trip, as I really struggled with jet lag and getting into the swing of the holiday. Those first couple of days felt like a blur and so, for that reason, I’d love to go back to San Francisco one day and spend a good week there exploring all the different areas.

Other places we visited on our road trip

More posts coming soon (I’ll update this page as soon as a new post goes live). If you fancy a look, here’s the map of where we visited on our trip.

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco, I hope this post is really useful for you. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have too, so drop me a comment below or tweet me and I’ll be pleased to help. Before we went to California I also created a Pinterest board, with lots of ideas of places to visit – so be sure to check that out.

Follow Leanne’s board California dreamin’ on Pinterest.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a good day.

Leanne x

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