My Favoritestravelling

California mini road trip: from San Francisco to Carmel

Last week, I published here on the blog a post about our trip to San Francisco – if you have not seen, just click here to check – and I mentioned that I would still publish another post about our mini road trip – we left San Francisco on Saturday morning and visited some cities. And I asked Analuisa, my friend who lives in San Francisco and organized all our script and also this mini road trip, to write this post, after all, she knows the region much better than me. Ana has a blog about San Francisco and also an Instagram full of tips, @sftips. Enjoy her tips – she also does custom itineraries for those interested. Her contact email is


We checked the weather during all week – the weekend had to be sunny and warm! It had to be perfect. And it was! Our short road trip down the coast of California, San Francisco to Carmel, with a night stop in Santa Cruz, had a pleasant weather, pleasant temperatures, beautiful landscapes, an amazing hotel and lots of laughs.

A Pacific Coast Highway (também chamada de Route 1, Highway 1 ou California 1) é conhecida como uma das estradas mais lindas do mundo. Realmente é uma viagem inesquecível! Meu marido e eu, por morarmos em San Francisco, sempre que podemos descemos por ela até alguma cidade no sul da California. Não tem como cansar de tanta beleza! Já fizemos o caminho mais famoso – San Francisco/Los Angeles- duas vezes, com mais de 600 km de paisagens maravilhosas e de tirar o fôlego! Dessa vez não teríamos muito tempo, então, decidimos percorrer os trechos San Francisco/Monterey/Carmel, Carmel/Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz/San Francisco.

Pacific Coast Highway (also known as Route 1, Highway 1 or California 1) is known as one of the most beautiful roads in the world. It is a really unforgettable trip! My husband and I, as we live in San Francisco, always drive to any city in Southern California. There’s no way to be tired of so much beauty! We’ve done the most famous path – San Francisco / Los Angeles- twice, with over 600 kilometers of beautiful landscapes and breathtaking! At this time, we would not have much time, so, we decided to do the path San Francisco / Monterey / Carmel, Carmel / Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz / San Francisco.

We left San Francisco on a Saturday morning (around 10 am) and the first thing we did was to make sure that the GPS was telling us to follow the route on Highway 1. Our first stop happened about 40 minutes later: we stop for a breakfast at Joe’s in Half Moon Bay (portions family size! The grilled cheese & ham – is quite large and comes with a lot of fries). As we had not much time, we do not stop at any beach Halfmoon Bay and follow the path.

Our second stop was at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a beautiful lighthouse with a most beautiful landscape, still in Pescadero, a small town 50 miles from San Francisco. We took some pictures and decided to continue straight our way to Monterey and just stop there, as we wanted to enjoy the good weather. Oh, look at that cool: the lighthouse also works as hostel. For those who have enough time and want to enjoy every coast landscape, it is worth the experience.

Pescadero / Monterey path had many charming landscapes and we were kind of sorry for not stopping, but we still had enough distance to go and we were happy to see the whole landscape through the car window.

We arrived kind of hungry in Monterey and we decided to have lunch. We had no idea what to eat and we started searching on Yelp for few options. Bingo! We found a place with delicious Mediterranean food / Lebanese and affordable value (Paprika Cafe, $ 25 per couple). Better than that, just having a beautiful and delicious bakery side restaurant, oops, wait a minute: there was! Take note: The Perfect Crumb Bakery, worth a post-lunch coffee accompanied by a freshly baked brownie.

After lunch, we drove to the Lovers Point Park, located in Pacific Grove in Monterey County. The Lovers Point is a park on the edge of the beach where you see everything: families gathered barbecuing or picnic, parents and children surfing, people with their boats, many taking the opportunity to stay in the sun and even more people admiring the beauty of the landscape. The sea water is crystal clear and is a great place to get lost in time.

From Lovers Point arrived to 5 to the entrance of the 17-mile drive, a road connecting Monterey to Carmel, was just 5 minutes. As already its name says, the road is 17 miles and is all composed of bucolic landscapes, small beaches, golf courses and stop points marked. Remember that to get into 17-mile-drive by car is required to pay $ 10 in cash (no cards accepted). In the “17” stop, we stopped to see The Lone Cypress, one of the most intriguing spots to stop, because this cypress grew lonely on a cliff, and is more than 250 years old. Many tourists stop to take pictures with this landscape of rarity, a lonely tree and a blue sea, and weave theories about how the cypress is still going strong on a rock at sea. We also stopped at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, built in 1919, place that today is a golf resort club that receives the high-income guests, but which is open to the public for visitation. The resort’s restaurant is also open to the public and offers a breathtaking view of the Pacific.

After our tour by 17-mile-drive, we were in Carmel, a town with saw atmosphere, but with a beach. It is impossible not to love walking the streets of Carmel, where you will find many charming restaurants, art galleries, renowned shops, local shops, everything very beautiful, an organized small and beautiful town. Carmel is to behold! We took a break for coffee and bakeries at the traditional Carmel Bakery, a bakery that is the oldest hotel in town (in operation since 1899), in addition to being located in the oldest building in the city too.

We walked a little bit in Carmel, we entered some shops and headed to Santa Cruz, a beach town located midway between Carmel and San Francisco, that is, the return trip has already started in the evening of the first day. We had a great surprise when we arrived at the hotel (Casablanca Inn) when we found out that our rooms were facing the sea (has nothing better to sleep with that little noise wave?). We dined at Santa Cruz in a restaurant which the highlights are dishes with seafood, The Crows Nest.

Sunday was also a sunny day, a wonder! We walked a bit through the center of Santa Cruz, we took a breakfast / brunch at a place called Lulu’s Pacific (another tip! The bacon bagel is delicious!) And then we went to the beach in Santa Cruz, which has an amusement park.

Capitola was also part of our plans. Despite being a small beach and often forgotten by tourists, I wanted to show Laura the colorful houses facing the sea, which are actually part of a hotel, the Capitola Venetian. With romantic houses, flowers in the windows and many beach shops, Capitola is a mix of rustic beauty with a European touch.

When we go in the car to our return trip, the heart began to tighten. It is hard to see our beloved friends back home, especially after so happy days! And today I write this post with great nostalgia and already crazy will of a repeat!

Leave a Response