I was watching the sun rise on Saturday morning when I decided to take a solo trip up north. I opened my trusty AirBnB and hotels.com apps and immediately booked a motel in Seaside, California.
I made a pit stop at this gas station in Paso Robles to fill up and use the restroom. While inside the market, I discovered that James Dean made his last stop here before he died in a car accident along this highway.
A&W Family Restaurant
This is kind of a ritual for me. Whenever I see an A&W Family Restaurant during a road trip, I order the Wisconsin White Cheddar cheese curds. It's a guilty pleasure of mine.
The drive through Paso Robles to Justin Winery was far, but a beautiful drive because of fall foliage. I was in awe of all the colors I saw along the highway from the red, yellow, to orange.
My first stop for my impromtu winetasting tour was Justin Winery. A winery that has won numerous accolades and is owned by a couple billionaire Angelenos, the Resnicks. The current winemaker is from the highly regarded Opus One in Napa. I've never visited a winery where I loved everything I tasted.
My second and last stop was Halter Ranch Winery which came highly recommended by the staff at Justin Winery. I was told that the winemaker at Halter Ranch was the former winemaker at Justin.
Halter Ranch Winery
Scenes from Highway 1 from Paso Robles to Big Sur
This was the most beautiful drive I've experience in my life. I might have gained a few wrinkles driving up the coast because I was smiling so much. It was as if I was seeing this for the first time. This was actually my second trip driving through this area. The last time I drove this stunning stretch of PCH was a trip from San Francisco down to Los Angeles back maybe 12 years ago with a group of friends. I later drove through a third time the following day.
Someone in Paso Robles recommended that I head to Nepenthe to have dinner and watch the sun set. The wait was about an hour so I decided to hangout and take some photographs then head up to a less touristy spot near my motel for dinner.
Hula's Island Grill - Monterey, California
For dinner, I found this local late-night spot serving tiki drinks and Hawaiian food and is ranked as one of the "top 10 restaurants in Monterey."
From Scratch Restaurant - Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
From Scratch Restaurant's concept is making most of their menu items from scratch. I really enjoyed their housemade corned beef which wasn't too salty, fried grits and cheese, English muffin, and my usual poached eggs.
At the very top of my list to see in Big Sur was the famous (but hidden from the road) Pfeiffer Beach -- a purple sand beach. There isn't any sign on the main road indicating that there is a beach at end of Sycamore Canyon Rd. I had to ask a local at Nepenthe for the location. She happened to have a map of it telling us the exact location and turn.
It was a wonderful trip and nothing short of my expectations. If anything, Big Sur exceeded my expectations. It didn't seem too crowded and touristy. Perhaps because of the road closure on highway 1, the crowds are still slowly coming back to Big Sur now that the road has reopened. It's definitely worth the trek from Los Angeles for a weekend getaway because the drive through the coast is breathtaking. You really feel like you're on vacation, even just for a weekend.
Until my next road trip or travel adventure... peace out for now peeps.
I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling to another country. I hope my adventures inspire you to eat well and travel often.