6 Week America Road Trip in 3 Minutes!

The world of travel may be different as we know it, but to satisfy those blues check out my America road trip recap on my YouTube channel!

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Make sure you read the below posts too:

The California Travel Diaries | Welcome to San Francisco

30 Lessons I Learned As a Brit in America

A New York Minute | Day 38 – 44

The California Travel Diaries | Los Angeles (Part 1)

“Driving down the 101, California here we come!” is what I sang, i.e. yelled, at the top of my lungs, feeling like I was on my way to meet Summer and Seth, as we drove down the famous highway. I had spent years dreaming of a Californian sunset backdrop decorated with palm trees and I was determined to get as much as I possibly could out of my visit to Los Angeles as possible. I had read somewhere on a travel blog that if you want to really experience a city, you should stay in a few different areas upon your visit there. So in June 2018, I booked my stay in LA to encompass just that; from Culver City, Beverley Hills, Downtown LA, Manhattan Beach & Orange County, the palm tree life was mine.
We had only got to scratch the surface in Santa Barbara, but we had planned 2.5 weeks worth to explore Los Angeles to the max. We split our visit to LA into 3 parts:
  • Santa Monica, Malibu, Hollywood
  • Beverley Hills, Melrose, West Hollywood, Universal City
  • Orange County
The Basics
When? Late June – early July 2018
Where? During our first leg of LA we explored Santa Monica, Malibu, Rodeo Drive and Universal City
Accommodation? Airbnb in Culver City – surrounded by several famous music studios like Sony
Food? Drink? Craftsman, Chez Jay, Jimmy’s Tavern
To do? Beaches, Surfing, Santa Monica Pier, Universal City
Day 1 in Los Angeles (oh what a day it was!)

On day 16 of our trip we arrived in Culver City, a neighbouring town to Santa Monica. Our Airbnb host greeted us along with her 2 deceivingly friendly German Shepherd mix breed dogs, along with her mischievous cat, Oscar.  We dropped off our bags and were given a quick tour of our new home of the next few days, including being shown how to unlock the sometimes stiff door. The weather had been pretty mild up until this point, so we were excited to go out to Santa Monica Beach to finally enjoy some sun. Our host kindly offered us some complimentary beach towels and a Coke to cool us down in the heat, which we sipped in delight. Californian friendliness had been serving us well. After moving from place to place, we really appreciated the simple pleasure of kicking back on Santa Monica beach for a few hours. As we sunbathed, swam and splashed each other in the sea like kids who had discovered the water for the first time, we could finally relate to this meaning of “Californian lifestyle”.

Later that afternoon, we had a right giggle as some fellow nearby sunbathers mistook me to be Yamlin. A name I hadn’t personally heard of before, but Yamlin’s loved one had dedicated a proposal message to them in the sky, written on a banner pulled by a small plane.  Soon after their excitement (and our own humour) passed, my boyfriend and I gave into the local tourist trap bars and had a drink at Ma’Kai. Although a mediocre bar, it did boast fairly scenic views of the ocean and for us, that was enough. Next we discovered Craftsman, which I would highly recommend! Here we enjoyed some Happy Hour drinks and Tater Tots that were tasty, cheap and cheerful – a budget traveller’s dream!

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Me in Santa Monica, June 2018

Upon returning to our Airbnb, we heard the dogs barking, signalling our arrival. “They are guard dogs after all, it’s perfectly normal” my boyfriend assured me with a kind nod. I used to be petrified of dogs up until a few years ago, a fear I had mostly conquered, but the harsh and loud bark on these dogs made my heart skip a beat. Our kind hosts calmed them down and once the dogs saw us and were reminded that we were friends, they soon retreated back to their shy personalities. After showering the sand out of my hair, we decided to make the most of our first night in Los Angeles. Lost on where to go for dinner and with the time getting rather late, we succumbed to trying our first American McDonald’s. Opting for convenience, we bought it from the nearest Maccy D’s we could find. Unfortunately the hype of trying the chain in the States, didn’t live up to the name. It also certainly did not come close to the In ‘n’ Out Burger we had experienced in San Francisco!

Nonetheless, the quick bite to eat did the trick. Next we bought a round of beers at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern, a nearby casual and cozy bar. Here we got to chatting with a guy from San Diego and the barmaid whom recommended Chez Jay to us, – a supposed must see in LA where you may also bump into someone famous. We took on the suggestion and decided to go there next, only to be met with a relatively hostile ‘welcome’, a shabby chic/rustic (dirty) floor covered in peanuts and rude service. Just as we were about to leave, our new friends from the bar walked in and the night turned around. Sharing more drinks, good conversation and feeling very merry – before we knew it, it was suddenly closing time. We had a jolly chat to our Uber driver on the way home and in all the fun after a few beers in, we had completely forgotten about the “sometimes stiff” door lock we had been shown to use earlier that day. Not being able to open the door quick enough, the dogs sensed our hesitancy and their barking got louder, causing us to actually fear when we would eventually have to set foot inside the house. I began imagining a replay of that scene in “The Father of the Bride’ where the rottweilers show Steve Martin who is boss. What was the Dog Whisperer’s trick I thought to myself?! Moments later, although at 3am in the dark it felt like a lifetime, the hosts quite literally jumped to our rescue, appeasing their dogs in the process. We soon sobered up very quickly as we met the wife’s husband for the first time; whom very angrily and embarrassingly opened the door to us in his underwear. Now stone cold sober, I quietly tucked myself in to bed. My boyfriend and I dared not make any more noise, nor say another word to each other, instead clearly sharing the same thought, “This was Day 1. How on earth would we survive Day 2?”

If you enjoyed this snippet of my Californian Travel Diaries, you should read:

The California Travel Diaries: Welcome to San Francisco

The California Travel Diaries: Sonoma and Napa

The California Travel Diaries: Yosemite

The California Travel Diaries: Monterey to Big Sur

The California Travel Diaries: SLO

The California Travel Diaries: Solvang to Santa Barbara

The California Travel Diaries | SLO

When planning any trip it’s great to read up on as much as you can before you go away, particularly for a road trip. You really don’t want to be stranded staring at your google maps and hoping for the best! Whether it’s reading blog posts, travel guides or watching YouTube videos, nowadays we have so much access to a wealth of information. Quite frankly, you wouldn’t be doing yourselves any favours by simply “going with the flow”, at least not for the whole trip! About this time last year, I began to plan my California summer travels. I too scoured the internet and turned to my good old fashioned travel book, Lonely Planet’s California (thanks to my brother for gifting this to me!). Thank goodness that I did my research too, otherwise I may have missed out on visiting San Luis Obispo – a little gem in the Californian crown of jewels.

Positioned roughly 3 hours between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo or SLO as it’s affectionately known, is so much more than just a halfway point. Loved by both the old and the young, SLO encapsulates it’s population perfectly. The town has a youthful energy to it whilst also being complimented by it’s peaceful waves. The relaxed pace and the stunning views make it the perfect destination to sit back and relax whilst sipping wine. If you haven’t guessed it, SLO is a very popular spot for Wine Country tasting tours, particularly in late June.

The Basics

Accommodation:

We stayed for two nights with a fantastic South African host who had lived in California for over 20 years. Friendly, warm and welcome – her home reflected her character. Based a 15 minute walk to the town, with free parking and an en-suite bedroom complete with a coffee machine, I would highly recommend this spot to anyone who needs a room in SLO!

Travel:

Getting around by car in Cali is by far the easiest option, however I would happily cycle around SLO maybe even visiting a winery or 2 along the way

To do:

  • Wineries upon wineries
  • Farmers Markets
  • Beaches
  • Nature Trails
  • Bubblegum Alley

Eat & Drink:

  • SLO Brewing company
  • Libertine’s
  • Tri Tip Sandwiches
  • Clam Chowder

Somewhat tired after our day of exploring Monterey and Big Sur, it was a late Thursday afternoon when we arrived at our Airbnb. As we pulled into the neighborhood where we were staying, we fell just a bit more in love with the Golden State. As scenic as Monterey is, SLO was definitely more on our level and our age range. The views remained on par with Monterey, as our host’s house was set behind a backdrop of a glorious mountain. California really is the gift that keeps on giving! We had limited time to see SLO so unfortunately we didn’t hike up the trails surrounding us, but this is a great idea should you be looking for a long weekend in San Luis Obispo. After we freshened up we took a stroll into town, and to our delight the Farmers Market was in full swing. Families, students and holidaymakers were sprawled across downtown, showing their support to local farmers and businesses in buying local produce, fresh fruit and vegetables. I can definitely see why this vibrant county is so popular with college kids! For dinner we shared a couple slices of pizza and a tri-tip sandwich. The best thing was that we could try all of this delicious food on a traveller’s budget! After a walk in the outdoor market we grabbed a drink at SLO Brewing company before making our way home and coming across Bubblegum Alley. Although unclear when this strange toursit attraction originated, thought to be sometime between the end of WW2 and the 1950’s, it’s worth a visit just for the quirkiness of it. The next day we dedicated to exploring more of Wine Country.

Me at Kynsi Wines

  • Kynsi Wines – Our first stop was at this lovely barn setting vineyard. With a family run atmosphere and chilled out vibes, it was the perfect start to our own wine trail.
  • Saucelito Canyon – This particular weekend in June there was a SLO wine tasting event with Saucelito Canyon being one of it’s stops. As a result there were tacos on offer and live music. We chatted to some lovely American’s for a couple of hours over wine, where we absorbed as many tips from them as we could.  Here’s a shout out to Neil, Deb, Bebe and Jim!
  • Biddle Ranch Vineyard – Set in the Edna Valley, we enjoyed some wine outside overlooking the stunning vineyard which is pictured in my featured image of this post. I’ll let that do the talking.
  • Edna Vineyards – The largest and most established of them all. This winery was impressive and beautifully presented, with each item of decor carefully chosen. Although I personally preferred the smaller wineries with a more laid back vibe, the beautiful grounds and good service was worth a visit.

Later that day we made a trip to Avilla Beach, a small town within San Luis Obispo. To our delight we attended another Farmers Market. Although on a smaller scale to the downtown market in SLO, the quality of produce didn’t suffer. If we had more time I would’ve liked to have a spa day and enjoy the mineral hot springs, go shopping or dare I say, sip some more wine! Instead my boyfriend and I enjoyed the views of the oceanfront as the sun came down.

Late afternoon at Avilla Beach

Before we left SLO we made a trip the next morning to Pismo Beach. Unfortunately our timing meant we were there during the “June Gloom” period. Nonetheless we visited it’s iconic pier and renowned turquoise waters that did not disappoint. You can also enjoy horseback riding across the dunes and capture memories that will last a lifetime at Pismo Beach. SLO CAL was named “the happiest city in the world” by Oprah, and I can definitely support this! It is a beautiful and more affordable county with so many stunning beaches and scenic hikes to complete. There is even something for culture and history lovers to do with Spanish missions to see that date back to the 1700’s! With all the charm and glamour that California holds, San Luis Obispo really appealed to me and I became more and more convinced that one day it may just be a home away from home.

If you enjoyed this you should read:

The California Travel Diaries: Welcome to San Francisco

The California Travel Diaries: Sonoma and Napa

The California Travel Diaries: Yosemite

The California Travel Diaries: Monterey to Big Sur