Road trip adventures down the California 101

One week.   2500+ miles.   Lots of pit stops. 
Big family fun!

I have been aching to do this trip for over 2 years!! And we finally made it happen for spring break.
I really tried to scale back on all the photos, but there's really no way to edit without leaving a lot out, so here we go! Picture heavy!

Highway 101 is one of the most scenic drives in the country. We hopped in the car last Friday, grabbed a Starbucks breakfast, and made our way down I-5 south. 
First stop: the K and R Drive In.

This little place is kinda famous on I-5, but most people just call it by the town it's in: Rice Hill ice cream. A "small" is two scoops.

Lots of yummy flavors! 
Definitely worth the stop.

Next, we cut over to the 101, and made our way over the California border. What's a road trip without quirky roadside stops? 
The Trees of Mystery was a fun photo op with the giant "Paul Bunyan and Babe" statues. 

The northern California coast was so pretty.

We stayed the night in Eureka, and then got back on the road to make our way through the Avenue of the Giants in the Redwoods.

Before we did that, my dad had told us to take a slight detour to the town of Ferndale.  So adorable.  Cute little Victorian homes on farmland.  Norman Rockwell would have had a heyday here.

Hopping back on the highway, we arrived at the entrance to the Avenue of the Giants.
'Amazing' doesn't even begin to adequately describe these monsters.

Because we're from Oregon, we decided to pose for a tree hugger shot. ;)

It smelled amazing here.  We could smell the cedar in the car.
You can start to get an idea of just how big some of these trees are when you see the size of our pickup next to one.

So much magical beauty. We loved listening to 'The Mission' soundtrack driving through.

One more quirky roadstop: the One Log House.

This was a giant tree house!  It took several months to hollow out this log, but it was 7 feet tall inside, and housed a kitchen, bed, and living area.  It toured the country for a bit and then landed here as a roadside attraction in the early 90's.

Next stop, Carmel!
One of the main reasons this roadtrip was put together was so I could see the Comstock Cottages in person! I had read about these charming historical houses in an issue of Cottage Living (RIP) a few years ago.
We stayed at a quaint little motel called The Carmel River Inn.  I was so excited to have my own dutch door- even if it was only for a night! (and in my favorite color!)

The Comstock Cottages were just as adorable in person as I've seen online and in print.  The only problem is that they were very hard to find!!!
It would have been better if we'd done a walking tour instead of driving around.  The houses in Carmel are not numbered, they only go by the cottage names.  I had found a list online of where they were all located, but man! Once we started driving to find them, it wasn't so easy.
bummer.  But, the houses in the area are all so incredibly charming, we just enjoyed all of them.

If you've never heard of the Comstock Cottages, you can read here about how they came into being.  I love the story as much as the structures themselves!

We ate at some amazing spots in Carmel- Flaherty's, where I had the yummiest crab BLT.  I am salivating just thinking about it again.  To. die. for.

Breakfast was at the Carmel Bakery and Coffee Company where they display all of their goodness in the windows just like in the olden days.  Best pretzel and breakfast burrito ever!

We hopped back in the car, and made our way down to the L.A. area.
We passed some gorgeous vineyards, and I could not resist snapping this one in passing:

And then, about the time we hit the San Francisco area, we ran into this:

Serious depression setting in, because I had plenty of this in Oregon!  C'mon!
Where's the sun, California??

It was pretty bad.  Torrential downpours. The good news is that it cleared up the next day, and we had great weather for the rest of the trip.

We were able to meet up with our friends Andy and Jenny and their kiddos for dinner.  They braved the last of the weather to meet us! They were the ones who visited us about a month ago, when I wrote about it here.

Monday was a busy day! We went to our old college, Azusa Pacific University, and did a drive thru of campus.  Jon and Hannah both got sweatshirts at the bookstore.
Then we stopped off at a Goodwill.  :)  I can't help it.
I got a couple things, which I will show you later, but I gotta say- the Goodwill's in California were pretty disappointing.  90% clothing!

Next I wanted to stop in Glendora and see Knot Too Shabby's shop.  So cute! She is a blogger that I've been following for a few months now.

Lunch was at one of our old favorites in Pasadena;  Burger Contintental!

I've mentioned this little place before here on my blog.  They have great Meditteranean food, as well as sandwiches, burgers, and THE most amazing baklava.

After lunch we hit another favorite location: Newport!  We love Huntington Beach and especially Balboa Island.

The boardwalk is so fun, and we always take the short ferry ride to see all the gorgeous beach houses.
A churro for boat ride was a must for me!  :)

This is the view from the other side, once we were off the ferry.  We had a lot of fun drooling over the beach houses, and being inspired by their gorgeous patio areas.

Most of these houses are literally a step away from the sidewalk- so taking photos was a little awkward, but I got a few!

Loved the bright aqua door on this one:

The homes here are so pretty.
We enjoyed our afternoon, and then headed back to Pasadena for dinner.  At 10pm, we went to the late showing of "The Hunger Games".  Jon and Hannah have both read the books, and I'm a lazy pants and haven't yet.  I should.

The next day we packed up and headed to Carlsbad.  My best friend from high school lives here with her family, and I was so excited to see them!

It's been 6 years since I last saw her, so it was great to stay with them for a couple days.  She also has a Hannah, and they have been pen pals for a few years.  This was their first time meeting in person.  So cute! They live right across the street from the beach, so that evening we enjoyed the sunset.

The next day we headed over to Sea World!  I haven't been there since I was 8, and it was such a fun family day.
We went on this first:

....and then enjoyed several of the shows and aquariums.

They are such a sweet family- we love you guys so much!

(Wendi, don't kill me for posting this photo!)

It seemed like every stop wasn't quite long enough for us to enjoy everything fully, but we crammed a lot into one week.  Such a fun trip, and I'm so thankful we were able to do it.

We ate at In N Out every chance we got, and had our first taste of Chick Fil A!  YUM!
I gained four pounds on this trip.

Thanks for letting me indulge on all the photos.  :)
And again, a huge thank you to all my guest posters who filled in for me while I was gone.
You are all awesome!!


  1. Oh such a fun trip. We've done that run several times and it is definitely one of the best trips. Your photos are fantastic. Loved seeing it all. Hugs, Marty

  2. That looks so fun and my goodness you did alot of driving. From Pasadena to Newport back to Pasadena is enough for me. BTW~ I live about 2 miles from Burger Continental~~~~~ You were right around the corner:)

  3. Loved seeing all your spring break pictures! I love Seaworld--haven't been there in like 16 years, that ride looks new. Love the family picture of you guys with the ocean in the background. Looks like so much fun! A little different from our laying around the house spring break :) You were smart to get out of Oregon!

  4. Sounds like you guys had an awesome time!! GREAT PICS! We are going to California in July, my kids can't wait!!

  5. it looks like you are having so much fun! beautiful pictures, and you look gorgeous as always.
    and i will take a dish with one scoop of wild blackberry and one scoop of birthday cake.

  6. Treasure your time together and the memories made...

  7. Your nostalgic photos are inspiring. What a fabulous trip! I'll have some of that ice cream, please!! To heck with the diet, that is REAL ice cream!

  8. What a fabulous trip! I grew up in Oregon and remember taking a trip to see the redwoods, and we stopped many times at rice hill for the ice cream. Now I live in the San Diego area and go to Carlsbad and Oceanside on my never ending quest for vintage items. So glad you had a wonderful trip!

  9. fun....glad you liked chick fil of my very fans.

  10. Lovely post! We've been to California twice and loved it both times. We are planning to go a third time to do the northern portion. We stopped in Carmel and I would love to retire there, sooo charming! The whole coast is amazing.

  11. My husband & I did this trip last summer with our truck & camper. So fun! You got some great pictures. Thanks for reminding me of the fun times.

    robin :-)

  12. uhm next time you are that close to me, please stop by my house!! {she grins}...glad you had such a wonderful trip and got to see so much of the coast!! xo

  13. My wife and I did our own California road trip in 2012 - only we started from LA and dipped up into Oregon (kinda the opposite of your trip). This is something we also had been aching to do for several years and finally made it happen. I can relate to the excitement of finally getting that one thing checked off your list! We kept a travelogue of our own California road trip at if anyone is curious. Happy travels!


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