I’ll shortly publish a review of the Ventana Big Sur Resort, but first want to share the fun we had driving up there and back…a real California road trip.
California Road Trip From Los Angeles To Big Sur
When I travel up north, I prefer to take US-101 for the outbound journey. Although it generally adds about an hour to the overall drive time, it is a beautiful drive, particularly between Ventura and Santa Barbara. With beautiful ocean views and a cool breeze, it’s nice just to put the windows down and enjoy the fresh air.
There’s another reason I like taking US-101: Prospect Coffee in Ventura. If you take I-5 up, there really is no great coffee stops (at least that I have been able to find). I’m just not a Starbucks guy and that leaves very little in terms of choice.
But Prospect Coffee in Ventura offers some of the absolute best espresso in the country (as far as I am concerned). So that is always a welcome stop when traveling north.
We also like stopping in San Luis Obispo for lunch at the Apple Farm, a quaint hotel, restaurant, and bakery that I stayed at all the time when I was kid. Clean restrooms too…
Only this time the restaurant was closed due to the pandemic, so I introduced my wife to a restaurant you rarely find in California: Cracker Barrel (located in Santa Maria).
She ordered steak and hated it (I warned her) while I ordered meat loaf and loved it. You don’t go to Cracker Barrel for steak. But the service was wonderful and I quite enjoy the food there, though once a year is enough.
We continued north. After Apple Farm, our next stop was Spearhead Coffee in Paso Robles, another tremendous coffee shop.
Just south of Salinas, we left US-101 and entered CA-68, which took us to Monterey. From there, we took CA-1 down to Big Sur.
The Trip Home
For the trip back, we took the more direct I-5. That still required taking CA-1 to CA-68 to US-101 to CA-45 to I-5, but it trims an hour from the journey.
We did stop in Monterey first for some coffee at Captain + Stoker before heading down.
And more for observational purposes, we stopped at the Golden Corral in Bakersfield for dinner…yes, a buffet. Oh my word, I could not believe it. Masses of people, many not wearing masks, minimal distancing, and a giant free-for-all, self-serve buffet. We have stopped at this restaurant in the past because Augustine (and yes, daddy) likes it, but no more…the quality is “blah” and by the time we left there was a huge line out into the parking lot.
Proceeding south on I-5, we had to cut over on Stockdale Highway (which reminded me so much of Texas State Highway 130) in order to get to Bakersfield. From Bakersfield, it was a fairly quick ride down CA-99, up the Grapveine, then into the Santa Clarita valley before hitting LA.
Next time, we hope to take CA-1 up from just north of San Luis Obsipo directly to Big Sur rather than go north, cut west, and then back south. After a horrific washout, Highway 1 has re-opened this week. We did that drive a couple years back on the way home from Carmel and although it is laborious for the driver and somewhat slow, it is a beautiful drive and well worthwhile (once in a while).
I had rented a Toyota Prius for the trip because I generally don’t like to put wear and tear on our car for a road trip. We averaged 51.4MPG, which wasn’t bad at all.
Road trips in California are fun!