With summer here, many people are making last minute vacation plans. Whether you’re living in California now or plan on visiting soon, a road trip up or down California’s coastline should be on your bucket list. We took a week to explore everything from Northern California’s luxurious wine country to sunny Beverly Hills and all the little gems in between. We’ve put together (in conjunction with Preferred Hotels & Resorts) our dream California road trip to share and hopefully inspire you to do your own. We’ll begin at the top and work our way down with some trip highlights.
We start our trip in Sonoma's wine country. Many people don’t realize this but Sonoma has its own regional airport with direct flights to/from San Diego, LAX, Portland, Seattle and now Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Our journey starts at Farmhouse Inn to check in for an amazing two night stay in the wine country. Enjoy a glass of wine on your private balcony, unwind from a day of travel, and then head down to the Farmhouse Restaurant for a fantastic dinner with wine pairings. The next morning begins with the famous Farmhouse breakfast before you head out for a day adventure.
Swing by Armstrong Redwoods for a quick hike, down to the Russian River for some kayaking and out to Jenner for a glass of champagne and oysters at River’s End. Return to Farmhouse for a little self-indulgence: a spa treatment with steam shower sounds about right. The Farmhouse leg of the California Road Trip offer comes with a specially curated artisan picnic with wine pairing that can be enjoyed back in the room after your jam-packed day. The following morning its off to Highway 1 after another amazing breakfast.
Take Highway 116 from the Farmhouse Inn through the Russian River area out to the Sonoma Coast and Highway 1. Make a quick stop at Goat Rock Beach to stretch your legs and work off some of that breakfast. As you wind down Highway 1 enjoy a crab sandwich at one of the highway shacks. Stop in Bodega Bay for some sight seeing and to enjoy the town where Alfred Hitchcock filmed “The Birds.” As Highway 1 curves in you’ll come to Tomales Bay, home to Hog Island Oysters. It is on our list of must-see stops. We recommend making an appointment but you can drop in without one.
As you finish the day’s driving you’ll arrive at the stunning and historic Cavallo Point for the next 2 night stay. Before turning in for the night we dropped by the Farley Bar to take advantage of the free drinks and appetizers offered with the Cavallo leg of the road trip.We reserved a table in the Murray Circle restaurant for the next evening and scheduled spa for the next day. It is so convenient being so close to San Francisco for a day (or two) of playing at tourist. There is something for everyone there; whether you're an artsy person, or a sporty person, or a cinephile...there is plenty to find and do in the City by the Bay.
As you say goodbye to Cavallo you’ll cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head south through the city and down Highway 1. Winding down Highway 1 to your next stop in Big Sur is meant to be a leisurely drive taking in all the scenery - be prepared to take your time.
Your destination...Post Ranch Inn. A visit here and you’ll return to the real world relaxed and happy. The ocean-view rooms are stunning and of course in high demand, so book well in advance. Big Sur is an outdoor lover's dream so take the time to explore the beaches, mountains and cliffs. However, what you’re really there for is to enjoy the spectacular room. From the charming wood-burning fireplace to the wall of windows and indoor/outdoor jacuzzi tub, the Post Ranch Inn Ocean Rooms are the perfect way to indulge but also enjoy the beauty of Big Sur.
Our preference is to dine in the Sierra Mar restaurant at least one evening and enjoy a couple’s massage in one of the stunning treatment rooms. Take advantage of the one-of- a-kind offer, courtesy of the California Road Trip, and cozy up in the Spirit Nest, a relaxing nest like structure, and chow down on the complimentary picnic.
Departing Big Sur, hop in the car and continue along the Coast Highway to the next stop at the stunning Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, California. Along the way take in the beautiful ocean views; you'll have to stop more than a few times for a quick picture or two.
Toward the tail end of the day's trip, you pass through Santa Barbara and can make an impromptu visit at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Some fun with the animals and it's off to the serene resort just 45 minutes down the road. This is easily the longest leg of the road trip; give yourself plenty of time to make it to Ojai.
After a long day of traveling, and checking in for your two night stay, make your way straight to the splendid spa to cap off a grand, albeit stressful day. The following day, take advantage the roadtrip offering for this leg; a complimentary picnic basket comprised of ingredients from the Libbey Marketplace. That afternoon stop by the Ojai Vineyard tasting room for the complimentary tasting (yes, you are in another California wine country) and cash in the $50 credit toward any class at the Artist’s Cottage (we might choose a class on learning to paint cats!).
Next day make your way to Montage Beverly Hills; your last but certainly not least stop. Give yourself ample time; it's only an hour and a half away from Ojai, but Los Angeles traffic is a killer. But after a few hours of stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper fun you will arrive for your next two nights at the luxurious hotel. Dine at least one night at the Rooftop Grill, a spectacular dining experience with a spectacular view overlooking beautiful Beverly Hills.
Your two days in Beverly Hills will be jam-packed with activities. With all the shopping and attractions there is no shortage of things to do. If you feel yourself running out of things to do; you are surrounded by sunny Santa Monica and the beach area and all the wonders of downtown Los Angeles. Don't leave the Montage before taking advantage of the California Roadtrip offering; a complimentary sweet treat created by the pastry team and champagne. After such a week you will return to the world relaxed and pining for another such trip, we are sure.
Haven't you started your road trip planning? For more inspiration and BonTraveler's version of the road trip check out what she had to say about it in her recent post: "California Summer Road Trip with Preferred Hotels". (More pictures, I promise).
We hope you come out for a visit, whether you’re here to do some wine tasting or as part of a bigger vacation. All the lodging and restaurants mentioned can be booked directly with the hotels. Continue to check our website and Facebook pages for inspiration, new package offerings and the latest from the Farmhouse Inn team.