Top 5 California Road Trips

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It’s vacation season! What better way to welcome summer than with a road trip!? There’s something so freeing about hitting the open road, and with its countless destinations and beautiful coastal landscapes, California is a great state to explore by car. Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic escape, a family trip or a girls’ getaway, we’re sharing our favorite nearby destinations to entice you to hit the road this summer!

Bobby & I recently drove to one of my favorite destinations Big Sur, Ca to celebrate his birthday! Take a look at the video below for a few highlights from our trip!


Here are some other great road adventures we love…

BIG SUR

The road trip to Big Sur is a very special one to me. Years ago I discovered the beauty of this area while I was driving from San Francisco back to Los Angeles with my dad.  We took a wrong turn and got lost on Highway 1 headed south and had no idea how magical it would be! We made an extra day of it exploring the area, hiking and asking locals about the best places to check out. It was such a great time that we decided we needed to come back! So we set out to do our annual Big Sur half-marathon together. It was a great excuse to get back to the beauty of the area and spend some quality time with my dad. Since then I’ve traveled to the area with my sister, friends and most recently Bobby!

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eat:

Nepenthe – Expansive cliffside views, fresh ocean breezes and tasty fare make this a must-stop destination for dining or cocktails. They also have a really great gift shop perfect for perusing.

Deetjen’s Restaurant – Surrounded by picturesque greenery, this historic English eatery is open for breakfast and dinner. Enjoy a

satisfying and hearty morning meal or a candle lit, romantic dinner. This is the first restaurant I ever visited in Big Sur with my dad. Now I make it a ritual to always swing by for at least a cup of tea. There’s even a local cat that wanders around the restaurant ;)bakery

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant – With exquisite food and write-home-worthy baked goods, this is one of my favorite spots for grabbing a coffee before a hike or getting a bite to-go to take on a picnic! Everything on their menu is an absolute treat. This is where Bobby and I grabbed our picnic lunch from in the video :) We even met a Tone It Up girl working here! Be sure to try the coconut macaroons!

stay:

Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn – This family built establishment boasts old-time charm and gorgeous surrounding landscapes. It’s also where the Deetjen’s restaurant is located.  Romantic, intimate and the ideal place to truly unwind and unplug! There are several private and rustic cottages to choose from that are set in the woods over a stream. The rooms are cozy, nostalgic and very peaceful.

Treebones – Get a little closer to the beautiful landscape at this glamping resort where guest can either stay on the campsite or inside one of the 16 Yurts ~ a large tent-like room filled with amenities such as a queen sized bed, heat and electricity.

Ventana Inn – the ultimate relaxing and luxurious experience for a special getaway! The views are breathtaking and the spa and Japanese hot baths are absolutely heavenly! This is where Bobby and I stayed as a special treat for his b-day. It was truly incredible!

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play:

The 17 Mile Drive – a beautiful scenic drive from Pacific Grove to Carmel. Once you pay the toll, you’ll be given a map of the historic highlights along the drive.

Pfeiffer Beach – A magnificent, dog friendly beach perfect for hanging out and having a picnic! Look for the signs off the 1 Highway and take a rugged 2 mile drive through the trees until you reach an enchanting place. This is where Bobby and I had our picnic in the video above :).

McWay Waterfall – This stunning waterfall is absolutely mesmerizing! Take the quick hike from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State park and you’ll see it.

Henry Miller Library – Nestled in the heart of Big Sur, this art center commemorating the late writer Henry Miller, is one of the town’s main music venues!

 

PALM SPRINGS

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eat:

Cheeky’s – The local breakfast and brunch hot spot serving up traditional dishes with an elegant and hearty twist! Get here early on the weekends or be prepared to wait for a table. It’s ok if you do have a wait though, since you can enjoy one of their fresh pressed green juices or their special Blackberry Mimosa!

Jake’s – One of our favorite lunch destinations with outdoor seating. My favorite items on the menu are the Chicken Curry Wrap and the Grilled Pineapple and Watermelon Salad. The Sangria is pretty good too. This place is also dog friendly and Skunk approved (they brought her treats and a water bowl).

Birba – This hip, modern open-air restaurant is the place for dinner in Palm Springs. Everything from their salads, small plates and homemade pizzas are seriously delicious.

stay:

Ace Hotel –  An ultra hip destination clad in modern midcentury design, the Ace is located close to the heart of downtown Palm Springs. With a classy pool vibe and fun bar scene, it’s definitely worth checking out, even if you don’t stay there.

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Le Parker Meriden – This exotic and luxurious hotel is a great place to either stay or visit for a poolside cocktail.

JW Marriott – Technically located a few miles outside of Palm Springs, in Palm Dessert, this expansive property boast multiple pools, a full-service spa, night club and golf course. It’s great for a low-key girls’ trip!  Kat and I have stayed here to celebrate friends’ birthdays and ended lounging by the pool most of the weekend!

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Downtown Palm Springs Shops – With vintage gems, one-of-a-kind decor and cute boutiques, this is a really great place to walk through! I love to browse all the Mid Century Modern home design shops and art galleries. Make sure to stop in Koffi for an afternoon latte and relax in the courtyard!

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway- Enjoy breathtaking views of the Palm Springs valley from up in the sky! From the top of the peaks there are casual places to grab lunch or enjoy an afternoon hike.

Hiking, Biking & Horseback riding in Coachella – the surrounding coachella valley offers somewhat lower temps and along with fun outdoor activities, great for when you want a break from pool side lounging.

JOSHUA TREE

Make this National Park your destination or take a day trip while staying in Palm Springs!

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eat:

Natural Sisters Cafe – Offering delicious, vegan and vegetarian friendly meals along with fresh vegetable juices and wellness shots, this cozy gem is perfect for breakfast or lunch.

Pappy & Harriet’s – This unusual spot in neighboring Pioneertown is both a one-of-a-kind restaurant & music venue. Surrounded by vast desert landscape, it’s a really great place to stop on your way in or out of Joshua Tree.

stay:

Lazy Dessert Airstream – Near Palm Springs & Joshua Tree, these 6 airstreams are decorated to “wacky perfection,” making up a unique, yet comfortable hotel for a camp-like experience.

Airbnb like this one – Renting from the locals through airbnb can offer a unique experience with a modern, home-like feel.

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Hiking Trails – Hiking is what this gorgeous National Park is made for! Choose from shorter hikes (2-3 miles) or longer excursions (8 miles) for spectacular views! Make sure you bring tons of water and snacks. The sunsets here are incredible!

Pioneertown – A fun stop to check out for old Hollywood western lovers.

SANTA BARBARA

This is the perfect weekend get away just two hours from Los Angeles. There’s so much to do, from enjoying the beautiful scenery, hiking, surfing or visiting tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbra or surrounding wine country.

Walking around downtown #losolivos... it's such a cute town and everyone is so nice. We ran into a lot of ToneItUp girls too

eat:

El Encanto – This place is a beautiful place to grab sunset dinner or drinks. They have a live jazz and piano singer that is truly incredible! Kat and I have both enjoyed dates here with our boys :)

Bouchon – Fine french dining made with organic, farm-fresh ingredients makes for a really special dining experience.

State and Fig – Tucked away in an alley, this is a must-stop brunch spot!

Cold Spring Tavern– Nestled just a few miles outside of Santa Barbara this awesome destination serves up traditional American fare. 

stay:

Bacara – This luxury resort is located right on the California coastline for gorgeous views all day long. It features Spanish architecture, a spa and pool perfect for summer time getaways!

El Capitan Canyon Resorts – Whether you’re in the mood to stay in a yurt, cabin or tent, this is your glamping go-to!

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Walk State Street – From shops, dining, night life and more, this is where the action happens!

Surrey Around –  Riding a Surrey around downtown Santa Barbara and along the coastline is a must! It so much fun and a great way to get your Booty Call in while exploring.

Los Olivos –  We love to take a day trip to this quaint little town that boasts many wine tasting rooms! We recently visited for our friend Eddie to celebrate his birthday and had brunch at Larner Vineyards. Other favorite vineyards or tasting rooms to visit are Kaena and the sustainable farm and vineyard Buttonwood…they also produce olives, peaches and garlic (my fave!) on their farm!

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Deep Sea Tasting Room – great location on the end of the pier with a fabulous view! The wine bottles even have starfish and seashells on the label ;)

Santa Barbra Pier 2

Thousand Steps Beach – the perfect spot for that early morning Booty Call!

LAGUNA BEACH

This quaint little beach town has some deep artistic roots, making it a relaxing, yet culturally enriching weekend getaway. The ideal plan is to find a place to stay along South Coast Highway in the heart of town so you can easy to walk to the beach, restaurants and shops from there. This way you can skip looking for parking for the rest of your stay!

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eat:

Las Brisas – gorgeous views paired with authentic margaritas for an elevated Mexican dining experience!

Zinc Cafe and Market – this local spot offers plenty of tasty vegetarian options!

The Rooftop Lounge – An amazing and serene spot that’s perfect for  pre-dinner cocktails! Make sure to arrive early to enjoy happy hour!
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stay:

Surf & Sand Resort – This Mediterranean inspired hotel is nothing short of a spectacular, beachside paradise. It’s perched right
over the sea.  Kat brought Brian here as a birthday surprise last year! Even if you don’t stay here, be sure to stop in for drinks or dinner.

Montage- Whether you want to stay the night or lounge by the pool and book a massage or dinner, this is a fabulous location.  Grab a table on the balcony of The Loft for a spectacular sunset view!

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1000 Step Beach – Bring a picnic and prepare for a full-on beach day on this beautiful, quaint stretch of sand! 

Pageant of the Masters – The city’s most known attraction is a live recreation of classic and contemporary works of art! An absolute must-see for art and performance lovers.

Walk the Main Drive  – S. Coast Highway is packed with art galleries, unique shops and plenty of clothing boutiques!

Newport Beach – The home of the official Tone It Up retreat is just a 20 minute drive from Laguna! From bike riding along the happening beach scene to visiting the Balboa Fun zone and enjoying some serious shopping this is a great place to visit!

Breathtaking sunset in #NewportBeach

COMMENTS 23

  1. Cortney says:

    INCREDIBLE POST! I’m totally bookmarking this one. I’ve done a road trip down Hwy 1 a couple of years ago, but there were SO many places we wanted to stop but couldn’t! This is inspiring me to do it again. My hubs and I are CA natives, and we always say that we would never want to live anywhere else. :) So thankful to be able to live on the golden coast!

  2. karli_tonesup says:

    Fun! Thanks so much for sharing! I miss the west coast dearly, east coast is beautiful but I’m a sunshine kinda girl ;) We are planning on moving back to Arizona or California soon so I’m super happy about that! My husband grew up in Huntington Beach and he used to take me on a drive up PCH in the evening so we could see the sunset, so beautiful and relaxing!

  3. faeryinloveinc says:

    This has all of my favorite places in California!!! I love Deetjen’s in Big Sur and Los Olivos and the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs! I’ve even stayed at Surf and Sand in Laguna! I love that I’ve gotten to have so many of the same experiences as you girls. I need to explore some of spots on your list I haven’t been to :D

  4. Maggie says:

    Awesome post! Big Sur is at the top of my list of places to visit out West!!! I am bookmarking this & showing my #tiuboyfriend because we are about to plan a long overdue trip soon!! We love camping & hiking so I definitely must see.

  5. Anna says:

    Love this! I definitely want to explore Big Sur! Thanks for sharing, K&K!!

    xo, @tiugirlanna

  6. Lauren Shaber says:

    I love, love, love Big Sur! I’m from Carmel but haven’t really ventured out to Big Sur more than a few times. There’s not a triathlon (that I know of) in Big Sur or Carmel, but I seen one in Pacific Grove. I did a Double Road Race in PG last year & the views were spectacular! You should totally do one of those races you haven’t already… it’s tough but fun! You do a 10K, have a 45 min-ish break, then do a 5K after. Anyways, thanks for sharing your getaways. I’ll definitely be coming back to this guide more often!

    xo Lauren (@laurenliveshealthy)

  7. Heather A says:

    Love this! I’m for Nor CA and it’s just breathtaking there! Sonoma and San Fran are also great stops in Nor CA for great views and food & wine of course! Loved your pics and vid.

  8. jojo1090 says:

    Loved Big Sur when i went with my family! My boyfriend and I are always talking about taking a road trip to California ( we live in Colorado) Would also love to know where Karena got that cute blue scarf/vest top in the first 4 pics! @karenakatrina @toneitupcom

  9. Diana says:

    Looks like such a fun trip! I’ve been wanting to take a drive up to Big Sur forever and this makes me want to go so bad! xoxo @dianamfranklin

  10. Michelle Mannchen says:

    Thank you!!! I’m doing a roadtrip from LA to SF at the end of June with my boyfriend, this is so helpful and so exciting!!

  11. Cea says:

    Love love love Big Sur!! We live outside of Toronto (Ontario, Canada) and went to Big Sur for our honeymoon. We are already starting to think about next year for our 5 year anniversary. We stayed at Treebones and it was AMAZING! Miss California and the west coast so bad!

  12. If you visited Santa Monica, next time go to True Food Kitchen! It’s the best local, healthy and organic restaurant that offers clean food and a lot of vegetarian/vegan options! Plus it has some delicious drinks!

  13. Carly Hansen says:

    Love that you girls posted SB! I live here and it’s like a vacation every day :) Deep Sea is one of my favorite tasting rooms for the view alone – and the Funk Zone is just a few blocks away and has PLENTY more winery choices! The tri-tip sandwiches at Cold Springs are DELISH! They’re the perfect splurge after a long hike in Santa Barbara’s beautiful Los Padres National Forest!

  14. alisha says:

    These are all SoCal spots! There’s sooooo much to love in Northern California too! (OK, I’m a bit partial being from Sacramento.) Tahoe, San Francisco, Yosemite, Humboldt… There’s so many gorgeous forests up north, I know mermaids love the beach but the woods are beautiful too :)

  15. ioanna tsap says:

    I’m so jealous right now………….. wish I was there….!!!

  16. Emma says:

    This is making me so jealous! But excited too for my holiday soon! Fingers crossed I win the lotto tonight and i can visit all these places! :)

  17. Jessica says:

    Karena– what lip color/brand are you wearing in the selfie with you and Bobby (above the picture of you next to the pool). It. Is. Gorgeous. As are you!!! :)

  18. Erin says:

    this takes me back to my honeymoon just under a month ago! me and hubby did a roadtrip honeymoon from SF to SD and made many stops along the way. The drive on highway 1 from Monterey to Santa Barbara was the most beautiful scenery I have ever scene. We took way too many pictures. Thanks for posting about your trip, Karena! oh and p.s. there were A TON of people biking/jogging along even the most narrow sections of highway 1. scary!

  19. Zero representation of NorCal :( These places are great, but it should be titled Southern California Road Trips!! This is only about the bottom THIRD of the state! So much more to see :)

  20. Orietta Carroccia says:

    Hello, I follow you from Rome, Italy. I’ve been 4 times in Ca, I love these places. My uncle lives in Sacramento and I love California. I hope to visit these wonderfull places again nex year. Love Orietta.

  21. I love this post! Especially since Palm Springs is my hometown, and my best friend and I are going to leave PS to get to the beach for a few days while we are back in the desert for spring break! Love the restaurant recommendations! :)

  22. Me & TIUHubby are from Seattle and are planning a road trip to San Francisco in June for his nieces wedding and are going to Big Sur, Carmel and probably Sausalito too! Been through that area a few years ago and can’t wait to see it’s beauty again and do some more exploring! Thank you K&K for the suggestions!

  23. Hi!! Love this post so much-Thank you. I would like to know the location of that rental Palm Springs home? Is so cute! Or at least the name to book a stay there :)

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