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Monday, March 31, 2014

On 1:48 PM by Rachel Preston Prinz in
Starting in LA, drive north to Ojai via route 33.

Ojai is an amazing architectural oasis full of bungalows and unique Spanish-Colonial influenced arcades. Its also got some of the most amazing food around at the (in-)famous Ojai Coffee Roasting Company. Be sure to go off the beaten path and explore the courtyards and sidestreets. There's much here that not to be missed! Drive north via route 150, passing through California's Italianesque Lake Casitas towards Santa Barbara.

Now, Santa Barbara is EPIC as far as Spanish Colonial Architecture goes. Spend AT LEAST a day wondering around old town. Explore the alleys and courtyards. DO NOT MISS the Santa Barbara Courthouse, Whatever you do!~ Also, go upstairs to the library via the spiral staircase, and visit the tower, which gives great vistas of the city. Also, hit the mission, for sure. This place is beautiful, inside and out.

Drive up the 101 to Solvang to see what ersatz Danish history looks like. Its amusing, and the pastries are wonderful.

 Afterward, head north again, and be sure to take a breather at Pismo Beach to stretch your legs and bask in the sun for a few minutes on the way into San Luis Obispo.

Heading into SLO, BE SURE to stop by the Madonna Inn. Its so over the top, your architectural thirst will be unquenchable. So stop in the cafe and get a piece of cake. Yes that cake. I know its huge. Its also worth it. Be sure to head into both the women's and men's restrooms downstairs.

 After that, what can you do but plan to seriously chill out and enjoy SLO? So do. There's a Frank Lloyd Wright designed office building here and some of the prettiest 19th century homes you'll see. Its a place to relax and enjoy. The Fremont Theater is a don't miss event, and downtown is pretty awesome too.

From SLO, head north along the 1 (if they've got the road opened) and be sure to drive to Morro Bay for a walk, then north through Cayucos and Cambria.

Moonstone Beach north of Cambria is a beautiful place to stop and take a walk. Stop by Hearst Castle if you are into that. People love it or hate it, if you are on a budget or want flexibility in timing, skip it because its expensive to visit and you need reservations.

There are too many interesting things to mention that are not architectural on this trip north towards Carmel. If you don't mind the tourons, stop at Nepenthe for a desert and/or glass of vino. They have a great selection of local wines by the glass and the view, when you get one is amazing. Their giftshop is pretty amazing if you want truly extraordinary gifts to take home.

Now, Carmel...
My goddess, Carmel... She's EPIC. Spend at least a day here exploring. Especially be sure to get off the main road, and get the tourist's guide for the courtyards and be sure to visit  the ones in between the main road the the ones that run parallel to it on either side.

Monterrey is a living cliche and totally missable. (Not the aquarium, of course). Skip 17 Mile Drive if you don't want to pay $10, and head up 68 through Pacific Grove and past the Point Pinos lighthouse. When you get there, after you realize its all been built recently and decide to move on, stop at a Taste of Monterrey for winetasting (not cheap but YUM) and a fantastic view of the fishing fleets and the expanse of the bay.

Heading North, Santa Cruz is a cool, really easy-going place for funktastic everything, and Natural Bridges State Beach is well worth a stop. If you keep heading north on the 1 to enjoy the views, make a segway to Pescadero at stop at Duartes for EPIC green chile stew and Ollalieberry Pie. AMAZING. Half Moon Bay is one of many interesting stops on the way to San Francisco.

Now, San Francisco... that's just too much to put in one post. So I'll stop here and blog some of my favorite things to do in San Francisco separately. It deserves it.