Lindsey Frances Illustration


Pacific Coast Highway, San Francisco to Los Angeles


The new year is here, with fresh starts and some trepidation on what’s next in 2017. I’m more ready than I’ve ever been for a new year though.  In looking forward to the New Year, I was stuck on the feeling I had during the drive down the Pacific Coast we took at the end of September. Perhaps it’s the long ingrained school calendar that makes me feel the fall as a new start but that drive also felt like a beginning, too. Sure, things were still to come (the election for one) but it felt like an harbinger of a new year, of the new challenges we’d all face.

So while the end of calendar year came with unexpected bumps still, I’d like to think I’ve been embracing a new year, a new era in my life since this fall when we flew to San Francisco and drove down the coast. I’m thinking of those feelings of California sun, the misty cold air in Monterey, as New York City hunkers down for winter as it snows outside my window right now.


Where we started:

We flew to visit our friends who’ve moved to San Francisco, staying in an Airbnb in Berkeley and attending a wedding of another friend.

Since we’ve both been to San Francisco before, we spent a good amount of time just exploring the East Bay by UC Berkeley. Particular favorites were the views from Tilden, Cheeseboard pizza, and an excellent izakaya meal at Ippuku. We killed lot of time in bookstores by the campus, being especially fond of Moe’s.

In San Francisco we dim sum-ed with our lovely friends and their new baby (!) which seemed a necessary activity for a city known for dim sum, walked the Mission and the Castro, as well as toured the original Mission Dolores Basilica church. We had abnormally warm weather for September, so it felt like a wonderful return of summer.

On the Coast:

We spent two nights on the coast, driving down Route 1 on the Pacific Coast highway. First of all, don’t worry about missing the views because literally every pull-off on the highway provided an amazing view.

On the recommendation of a Nor Cal friend we stayed in Monterey one night and toured the amazing Point Lobos State Park, where you meander several trails, catch sea lions, and watch the phenomenal fog drag into the coast. The flora and fauna and the dramatic cliffs reminded me so much of the South of France!

Next we spent a day driving through Big Sur where unfortunately several of the big state parks were closed for a large forest fire. (Sidenote, forest fires are crazy?!) Still, we turned off every single opportunity to admire the coast meeting the forest, watching fog make you think you weren’t at the end of the continent. Of note were the very well photographed Bixby Bridge and Julia Pfeiffer State Park for the famous waterfall on the beach view and meandering coast hike.

The second night on our two day drive down the Pacific Coast Highway we slept outside of Big Sur (to get a cheaper hotel rate) at Pismo beach. The town felt like a California's tourist town, with a great beach and lots of hotels. On the way we stopped for smoked fish tacos at Ruddell’s Smokehouse which came randomly recommended as a roadside treat. They were great!

On the way to Los Angeles we stopped in Santa Barbara for a cup of coffee and stroll, walking up the spanish style courthouse which is a brief and free way to view both amazing architecture and get a beautiful view of Santa Barbara. I felt like I was also living inside a Nancy Meyers movie while in town.

That same day we made it to Los Angeles but before we checked in our Silverlake Airbnb we stopped at the The Getty; I was very smitten with the tram that takes you up. The architecture and views were reason enough to stop on our way to silverlake. Oh, and we also stopped for In-and-Out.

Since we didn’t have much time in LA, only three days, we picked one area to call home. Picking the east side was great, Silverlake had lots of food and was just a bit more walking friendly (thought we drove everywhere to sightsee) Still, if I were returning I’d love to stay in West LA, seeing Santa Monica, Venice Beach, or Malibu. I will say that given how big the city is, and how unlike New York City it is, picking one area is the best idea. Driving times are crazy (to me) on those freeways!

Of note in our time in the east side of LA: We ate excellent roadside tacos everywhere, excellent ramen, went to Griffith Park Observatory at night to see the stars, had drinks at Mohawk Bend, ate ever-so-trendy toast at Sqirl, saw a few Hollywood stars, went to Downtown LA for modern art The Broad and Grand Central market, ending our trip with a hike in Runyon Canyon like we were pretend locals.


Until next time, beautiful left coast! I could get used to all that sun and succulents.