California Roadtrip

Hello hello! I’m so excited to share this blog post that includes all of the details from our California roadtrip back in September. I actually put this entire post together as soon as we got back to New York, I wanted to get them written down before all the details left my head. Of course though, being the ultimate procrastinator and between all of the chaos that came with moving home, I’m only sharing it now. Better late than never though! I’m going to talk through this post in the same order as we did everything, we jammed so much into five days. 

Day 1

We arrived into San Francisco at about 10am local time. We were staying with a good friend who lives in Sunset so this was so handy for us. We got brunch in a local spot called Toast and it was really good. The one catch was that they had no air conditioning and we were there during a heatwave so that made for an uncomfortable meal. From there we headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf and had a look around one of the squares. It’s quite touristy down there so it was very busy.

We rented bikes from a place called Blazing Saddles and cycled from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way along the coast, over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. All of the views along the cycle were stunning, but Sausalito was literally like a dream. We probably got it on one of the nicest days of the year so it just made it so much better. It feels as though you’re in the middle of Italy with the style of the houses in the neighbourhoods. We went to go for a drink in Bar Bocce which has a really fun atmosphere and it’s own private beach. It was very busy when we got there and we were too hungry to wait for a table for food so we went across the street to a little Mexican restaurant and got margarita’s and tacos instead. There were no complaints on our end!

We got back to Fisherman’s Wharf by ferry and the views were nothing short of spectacular. We got it right at sunset and it was just absolutely picture perfect, literally. When we returned our bikes, we went to a bar which is famous for their Irish Coffee’s called The Buena Vista. From there we made our way over to Union Square and tried to get a table at a famous Italian called Tony’s. They were totally booked up so we just ate in another place across the street. It was fine, nothing worth mentioning though. 

What we would have done differently:

We tried to book tickets to Alcatraz about 3 weeks in advance but because it was Labour Weekend, it was totally booked up. Make sure you book well in advance. We were gutted to not get to visit it.

We didn’t time our visit to Sausalito very well and ended up rushing to get back to the ferry to return our bikes. Next time we would head out a lot sooner and try to get as much of the day in Sausalito and enjoy some drinks and food out there. 

Day 2

We got up, made our way back down to Fisherman’s Wharf and this time we rented ourselves a little yellow car from GoCar Tours. I actually could not recommend this highly enough, it was absolutely hilarious. It’s basically a little go cart that speaks to you and gives you a tour of San Fran through the GPS navigation. They give you a route to follow and as you drive along it talks you through your surroundings. We got an early bird special which just meant that we had to have our car returned by noon, I would definitely recommend this because I’d say the roads are a lot busier in the afternoons. We literally laughed through the whole thing, you feel ridiculous sitting in traffic next to a big SUV but it’s so much fun!

Afterwards, we walked up to Chestnut Street and got brunch in a place called Blackwood which was sort of like a Thai-American fusion restaurant. There was a bit of a wait for a table but it was fine and it’s in a cute area that you can wander around to kill time.

From there we walked all the way up to the Painted Ladies. This was actually so nice because you walk through some stunning neighbourhoods and we also passed the house from the Mrs. Doubtfire movie! The Painted Ladies were really cute and definitely worth seeing. From there, we went up to Dolores Hill and just chilled out with some drinks and snacks. The weather was perfect, I literally wouldn’t have changed one thing about it. We then ventured up to Twin Peaks where we got a full and stunning view of San Fran. This was definitely worth the short drive up. 

That night we ate in a really good Italian restaurant called Firenze of the Night. We then went out to a few different bars in the area, don’t ask me what they were called, I just followed the crowd!

Day 3

We made our way back out to the airport and rented our car for the following two days. We rented it on Hotwire from Alamo car rentals. This was by far the busiest counter at the airport so I think that they were the cheapest option. We hit the road and headed for Carmel-by-the-Sea. This was actually our favourite stop along the whole trip. It was just the cutest little town and the beach was literally perfect. If you have a chance to stop along here then absolutely do it. We got a sandwich in a little cafe called Carmel Belle and then hit the road again. We drove all the way down Route 101 to Santa Barbara where we were staying that night. We made a quick pit stop in In-n-Out burger which is a must when you’re on the west coast- delicioso!

We stayed in the Villa Rosa Inn in Santa Barbara and booked it through the app Hotel Tonight. One massive mistake that we made with this was that my app was automatically set to Euro, so all of the prices that we got were coming in a lot cheaper than what we were actually charged for. This was verrrrry frustrating when we realised. Our hotel was cute though and right beside the beach so this was exactly what we wanted. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                     Day 4

Our hotel catered for breakfast which was actually such a nice touch, we stocked up on lots of bagels and cereal (holiday diet)! We did a little wandering in Santa Barbara which is literally the most gorgeous little town, so beachy! From there we made our way up to Butterfly Beach which was just beautiful. We parked right outside the Four Seasons Hotel and of course had to go in for a wander! I actually had no idea how beautiful California was, it blew me away!

Next stop was Malibu!!! I was so excited to see this place. We did some research before hand (a first) and decided to visit Carbon Beach. This was a beach that used to be completely private, as so many celebrities have homes right on the beach front. It’s a place that gives you so much motivation because the homes these people have is nothing short of depressing, haha!

This was a jam packed day and from Malibu, we headed straight for Rodeo Drive, and then Beverly Hills where we did some more home stalking of rich people! We stopped in a small fish & chips place on the side of the road on the way, it was number 1 on Yelp and was so delicious!

After our stalking stint in Beverly Hills we headed for our next hotel which was the Line Hotel in LA. I stayed here before last year when on a work trip so I was so excited to be back. It’s such a cool hotel and I love the decor, so modern and kind of alternative. 

Day 5

We got up bright and early and after many, many mistakes, we hiked one of Hollywood Hills and got to take in the most incredible views of LA. I was so delighted to be collaborating with Fiji Water while I was in LA. They looked after us so well and kept us as hydrated as possible on our Hollywood hike. This may sound clueless but I completely underestimated the California heat. I assumed September would be a lot cooler than the summer, but we met a few couples on the hike who all had to turn around because they only had one bottle of water between them. We had about 4 between us so we were thankfully covered.

After our hike we headed to Venice Beach! We spent the rest of the day chilling on the beach and wandering around the boardwalk. We headed up to the Santa Monica Pier and grabbed dinner in an unreal Mexican restaurant called Blue Plate Taco. I got the fish tacos and a margarita and they were DIVINE! It’s a really fun atmosphere there so definitely worth a visit. I also finally got my hands on an acai bowl from Amazebowls! It’s an Instagrammers idea of heaven and it tasted delicious too!

What we would have done differently:

Hmmm, don’t put a random address from a random website into Uber and end up an hour from where you need to be – that would be my number one thing that I would do differently! We wanted to hike to the front of the Hollywood sign and after two failed attempts we still didn’t make it. We still have yet to figure it out so unfortunately I can’t be of much assistance here. My best advice would be to ask your hotel or a trusty local! 

I can’t believe how quickly this trip flew by, next time I would definitely include the stretch of coast down to San Diego, and I would probably spend less time in LA. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. We were very, very disorganised so hopefully this might help at least one person to do it better than us!

Niamh xx

*Huge thank you to Fiji Water for collaborating with me on this post & while I was in LA. <3

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