Travel blog

California road trip – our travel diary: week 3

Quick recap – last week we travelled up the coast from Los Angeles to Monterey. We have just one more stop left on the coastal part of our trip before heading inland to explore Napa, Lake Tahoe and the national parks.

Before making our way up to San Francisco we made time for a quick visit to the Big Sur – it was beautiful. A vast length of vicious coastline that has been preserved as best as possible despite the difficult climate in which it exists. The natural beauty of the coastline was incredible – definitely a bucket list item we can now tick off!

As we are now into our third week, we thought it was best to move to our last stop along the coast before heading inland. We travelled to San Fran via the Red Rock Big Basin State Park which was well worth the detour. The drive was amazing, through miles and miles of forests containing these ginormous trees – so beautiful! We arrived in San Fran pretty late after quite a busy day and were both so excited to explore over the next few days!

Our first day in San Fran, the sun was shining so we took the opportunity to explore some of the city’s main sights. First on the agenda – the Golden Gate Bridge (of course!). We parked close to Baker beach, which sits slightly south west of the bridge. We walked via the beach and a coastal trail up to the bridge itself. The walk was lovely, albeit a little tough (definitely not as fit as we thought!!), and there were lots of photo opportunities. We took a short walk along the first part of the bridge before wandering back to our car. After spending the morning walking to the bridge, we drove over to Castro – the gay district. It was a pretty cool neighbourhood with a young vibe, sat at the bottom of some very steep hills (just like in the princess diaries), with lots of the multicoloured flags on buildings and painted on the roads. We were even graced with the presence of two gentlemen strutting down the street in their smalls (not leaving much to the imagination!?). We headed back to the hotel early afternoon to get changed and head to Twin Peaks, an amazing viewpoint overlooking San Fran (360 degree views!). As we haven’t been feeling overly healthy recently, we decided it was the perfect spot for a short workout before watching the sunset – which was pretty spectacular even despite the incoming cloud!

Day two in the golden city and it was raining… again! We had tickets to visit Alcatraz so left pretty early to get to the pier. The roads were absolutely chockablock and at one point we thought we may not make our ferry. The early start and the mad rush was well worth it when we arrived on the island, plus the view of the golden gate from the ferry is an added bonus. We listened to a short talk upon arriving, where we were informed we could meet an inmate that had served time at the prison. We did the short audio tour of the main cell house which was really interesting before heading to the book shop to meet Billy Baker, who’d escaped three prisons before being sent to Alcatraz!!! The rain continued throughout the duration of our tour and on the ferry back to the pier. We made the short walk down to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf to have a look around before driving to Union Square. The rain was getting heavier so we had a pit stop at the Cheesecake Factory – yum 😋. The miserable weather clearly had us feeling sorry for ourselves as we ended up ordering a Dominos for tea, whoops…!

Our final morning in San Fran before driving over to Napa Valley and we had one more stop that was on our to do list before we left the coast – Lombard street. The windiest street in the world. Bit of an anticlimax, but fun to drive down. We then headed across to the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping for a quick look at the city from the other (North) side of the river, before heading to Napa Valley. We arrived in Napa mid afternoon and as we were only in the county for one evening we decided to head straight to a winery – Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. The location was beautiful and the wine was even better! We did two wine tastings whilst we were there and will definitely be returning in the future to see more of what Napa has to offer.

The following morning we began our drive to the most northern point on our Roadtrip, Lake Tahoe. The drive was lovely until the heavens opened and we were driving along the mountain edge in torrential rain… As we climbed in elevation, the rain turned to snow and all smaller cars had to put snowchains on. Luckily, as we were in a 4×4 with all weather tyres, we didn’t have to but the snow was still quite thick and visibility was awful! After a very slow (but quite exciting) drive to South Lake Tahoe, we made it to our hotel! Whilst we couldn’t see much of the lake due to the weather, we could tell it was a pretty nice view from our hotel. After spending a bit of time in the jacuzzi, we headed back to our room for dinner. The next morning the sun appeared and we were correct, the view was beautiful. The temperature was still below freezing so we wrapped up and headed out. A lot of snow over the past few days meant a fair few of the roads were closed but we still managed to get to some pretty view points near Emerald Bay. With a long drive to Fresno ahead, we began our journey through the state to the entrance of the national parks!

The drive to Fresno was pretty slow, it seemed there was one main road in and out of the city when travelling north or south… it took us slightly longer than planned but it was still enjoyable. Whilst there wasn’t much we wanted to do in Fresno itself, it was a pretty convenient location for us to visit Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia without us having to pay the premium of staying in the park!! As we’d spent most of the day in the car, we both decided the best thing for us was an early night 💤

Day one of our national park adventures and Yosemite (easily the most well known Park) was the first on our list. We drove around three hours to reach the park (the roads aren’t the best). We visited Yosemite falls and a couple of other breathtaking viewpoints / waterfalls, it was stunning. Even just driving through the park was beautiful. We were quite restricted on where we could go due to road closures and a lack of snow chains but we definitely made the most of the day and what we could see in the park!

It’s the end of week three, we only have one week left but so much still to see!! Over the next week, we will be exploring Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Death Valley and then heading over to Utah before (sadly) ending our road trip in Vegas. What an amazing time we’re having so far, we just wish the time would slow down!!!

Updates to follow… 🏔

Adios for now,

Char & Mar x

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