california road trip

As the Christmas break drew closer, C and I started throwing around the idea of jetting off to CA to visit some friends & family while getting a little R&R. After we finally booked the flights, I got right to planning. I actually really enjoy doing the research and making a plan. We have lots of friends who've lived in CA or recently visited, so I was able to gather lots of tips. We covered so much ground on this trip (over 800 miles!) and had a blast the whole time. All that due diligence paid off and we had one of our best vacations yet. Photo heavy post to follow!

Del Mar 
My aunt, uncle and cousins live just north of San Diego in Del Mar which an adorable beach town (their backyard is sand!). C and I had been out there three years earlier for my cousin's wedding and we had a blast. It was great kicking off our vacation at Chez Huebner. It consisted of lots of low key family time, a stroll through Solano Beach, and a sunset walk on the beach. CA was having a cold spell so it was sort of hilarious to hear everyone complaining about the "cold".

Montecito/Santa Barbara
We decided early on that we'd take our time heading up the coast and eventually ending in Napa. I looked at the map and picked Santa Barbara as an overnight stop. LA traffic meant we arrived after dark to our adorable AirBnB and wandered around in search of food. We settled on Tre Lune for some pizza and wine which was pretty good.

This was such a fun drive. It add a considerable amount of time (about 2 hours) to the drive from SB to the Carmel area but it was so worth it. We had a great time taking in the sights and stopping wherever we pleased to soak up the view. The elephant seals were so cool and also so strange. We stopped at Nepenthe for lunch and it was so worth the wait (and being a little chilly). The view was stunning and we even saw part of a whale! The food was pretty good as well. This stop also made for the perfect excuse to have a Bailey's and coffee...mmmm.

Staying here was such a special treat arranged through a friend (thanks Jordan!). Our room was unbelievable with a great view and a stunning fireplace. We had a low key dinner (apps and dessert) at The Bench which has fire pit tables outside. It was so cozy and in the morning, we were able to see that the restaurant looks out over the 18th green! 17 Mile drive was really neat as well, I mean the views are just outrageous.

Saved the best for last! We had such an amazing time and will definitely go back someday. We stayed at the Inn on Randolph on a recommendation from a friend. It was absolute perfection. I almost don't want to tell you about it because I feel like it should be kept a secret. There is no where else I'd ever stay. The cottages were adorable and Karen (innkeeper) thought of everything. We had a delicious complimentary breakfast each morning and fresh baked cookies in the afternoon. Devine. We ate at The Pear and Angele. We LOVED Angele, probably one of the best meals we've had. The Pear was good but not anything special. We purchased 6 bottles of wine throughout our visit typically our favorite wines from each place. When they arrived a week later, it was really special to open the box and remember the experience. We'll save most of the wine for a few years and I'm excited to open a bottle for a special occasion. Definitely such a treat. Elizabeth Spencer was by far our favorite.


All photos were taken either on my iPhone or with my dSLR camera (I have a Nikon D3000). Photos were edits with the Beautiful Mess actions for Lightroom.

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