Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Annual Adventure

We finally decided what we're doing for our two-week summer vacation: We're flying to California, renting a car, and driving up the coast all the way to British Columbia.

We are ecstatic!

Unfortunately, flights are astronomical in July, but we've set up some e-mail tracking alerts to let us know when they go down. We're also pretty flexible about which Californian city we fly into. We're currently thinking San Francisco, but we're open.

I'm excited that we'll get to take a road trip without driving all the way through Texas (bigger is not always better!). The plan is to make a few reservations at awesome B&Bs along the way but to otherwise stay with friends or camp and to pretty much give ourselves a chance to spontaneously explore.

Any suggestions about:
  1. Things to do
  2. Vegetarian-friendly places to eat
  3. Places to stay
  4. Trails to hike
  5. Random places to go
between, say, Los Angeles and British Columbia?

Please comment to your heart's content!

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susi said...

Go to Pain Du Monde on Balboa Island (Newport Beach, Orange County - a little south of LA, but maybe you get a flight to SanDiego?) and eat a Cinnamon Twist. Pleeease! I lived on Balboa Island for 9 months in 1998 when I was an aupair and I LOVED the cinnamon twists!
Have a wonderful trip, it sounds great! Are you taking Hoss with you?

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ susi: Yum! I will definitely add it to the list. No, Hossy won't be able to join us this time. We don't want to limit ourselves to dog-friendly B&Bs, and we want to do things like whitewater rafting. However, he will have a fun two weeks at dog camp!

A-L, said...

Unfortunately I don't have any recommendations, but I'm sure there will be some great vegetarian-friendly places as I think there's a far higher percentage of vegetarians there than elsewhere in the country. But if your vacation is at the end of July I might be able to give you some recs because I'll have visited Seattle & Vancouver!

Liz said...

Yay! I grew up in Portland and went to school in LA, so that's all my territory...I'm hoping to convince my UK fiance to do the same next summer. Suggestions:

Favorite beach in the world: http://www.stateparks.com/oswald_west.html (the website said it was closed part of last summer though, so do check in advance)

B&B/hotel I've ALWAYS wanted to stay in:
http://www.sylviabeachhotel.com/ (each room is modelled after a different author!)

Oregon lighthouses to visit:

And I highly suggest you detour into Portland and then perhaps take the ferry from around Seattle up to Vancouver or Victoria - definitely worth it! Have fun!

Lea Shell said...

It's usually cheaper to fly into Sacramento (and rental cars are cheaper there too!) - it's under an hour and a half East of San Francisco. You can stop in Davis (a town 15 minutes West of Sacramento) and there are TONS of veggie options. It's a totally hippie college town with tons of delicious food. Then you're on your way!

Lyssabeth's Wedding Officiants said...

Any hike in Oswald West State Park (south of Cannon Beach)is spectacular. Sweet Basil in Cannon Beach is the best vegetation restaurant around. I posted my other suggestions on Facebook.

Carrie said...

Wow, L, you made my day by mentioning Davis. Moved here a few years ago and it is the best little town. There are great restaurants here with excellent veggie options (my favorite: http://daviswiki.org/Delta_of_Venus).

I have also found that Sacramento flights are a ton cheaper than San Fransisco. And from Sacramento you can easily choose which direction you want to explore (San Francisco, Napa, and Tahoe are all within a few hours).

Have fun, it sounds like a wonderful trip!

Elizabeth said...

There are amazing campsites all up and down the coast- just a warning, that due to the budget crisis, all CA State parks are $30 per night! Luckily, there are also lots of county parks, which are cheaper, and just as nice, if not directly in the State Parks.

In Oregon, I've heard Oswald West is the best campground in the world, unfortunately due to falling trees, it is closed indefinitely. You have got to do the short hike out Cape Lookout State Park, which takes you right along the oceanside cliffs and has amazing views. Up in Astoria, I have a friend who swears Cape Disappointment is the best campground, now that Oswald West is gone.

You should absolutely detour into Portland - my husband and I would love to show you around! We have some awesome breweries, and lots of fun little hikes and things to do.

In BC, you should take the ferry to Victoria Island, which is amazing.

Have so much fun!!!

L said...

Carrie Dee, I lived in Davis for 6 years and loved every minute! A great resource is daviswiki.org for all things Davis. Sebastopol is another great artsy town with delicious food in the northern California region (the best part of California,, by far - no bias here haha). Anyways! Enjoy your trip, that drive is going to be amazing!

Unknown said...

You could try flying in to Reno, NV too. It's a beautiful 3-4 hours from San Francisco and you could see Lake Tahoe on the way. I agree with what the other ladies have said about Davis - it's great but very hot in the summer. I'm partial to Truckee, CA. It's 40 minutes west of Reno and 15 minutes north of Lake Tahoe. It has great veggie and camping options and it's 80 and sunny almost everyday through the summer.

As you go up the coast - don't miss Shelter Cove, CA. It's off the beaten path (if you plan to drive rte. 101) west of Garberville and Redway. There's a great campground about half way there and the hiking and Black Sands Beach can't be beat.

Tamar said...

Sometimes the LA suburbs airports are cheaper too - try Ontario, Burbank or John Wayne. In LA there's plenty of veggie options especially in the beach communities... Bu going up the grapevine means more meat. The black bear diner is up and down CA99 and has yummy pancakes. And on the road there's always in-n-out grilled cheese if you're really in a bind.

spanishteacher83 said...

Definitely take some time to bike and/or hike in the Seattle area. We have fantastic trails for both! I second Elizabeth's comment that I would love to show you around!

Also, eat at Cafe Flora in Seattle. It's the best vegetarian food I've ever eaten!

Elizabeth said...

My boyfriend and I drove last Septemeber from our home in LA north to Redwood National Park. We drove quickly north to wine country and then headed to the coast. Here are two places I would recommend staying:
Love this little cottage to stay in just north of Mendocino: http://www.lefauxmendocino.com/default.html
It is as pretty as the pictures and very romantic.
Also love this b and b near Redwoods National Park: http://www.requainn.com/
It is very cozy and serves an amazing breakfast. The innkeepers and their dog are very friendly. Lots of great hiking in the nearby Redwoods National Park and the coast trail that can be hiked to from the inn.

Very homey with lots

BEL said...

Vancouver! It's fantastic! Enjoy all of the cheesy touristy things (that are so fun all of the locals do them too) - granville island, bike the sea wall, etc. I would go just a bit further too - if you haven't been to whistler it's gorgeous. Go to the top, even though it's summer. Ride the peak to peak gondola.

The most famous "hike" is the grouse grind but I would skip it in favor of the chief. It's in squamish, BC (just a bit outside Vancouver, on the way to Whistler). The views at the top are incredible. Go early, bring a lunch to eat at the top then stop in Horseshoe bay on the way back to the city and rent a motorboat to drive around.

As for vegetarian restaurants, I'm not too familiar but the Naam is the city's first and a bit of a Vancouver staple. It's on West 4th av and is open 24h.

Have a great time!

Ms Bear Cub said...

I second Liz - stop by Portland!! You should go for a run in Forest Park, check out the Chinese Gardens (where there's a Tao of Tea teahouse!), go to St. Honore Bakery and stuff yourself with tasty baked goods and the Brie Bartlett sandwich!
Or swing out by the coast - Cannon Beach is beautiful, especially the hike nearby at Ecola State Park.

I'm so excited for you! We LOOVE the northwest. We honeymooned on a small island close to Vancouver Island, and now we're planning on moving to Vancouver :)

dognbird said...

This sounds amazing! I'm a veg too!!

Brandy said...

My father lives in Southern Oregon, and the few times I was able to go up for the summer were always met with weekend adventure! My favorite hands-down was our trip to the Oregon caves (approx 50 miles off of I-5). They're very unique (formed of marble instead of limestome), beautiful, and naturally cool on the inside. http://www.nps.gov/orca/index.htm
Crater Lake is also insanely beautiful. It's formed from a collapsed volcane, and so has some of the clearest water and unique plant like. I believe there is great hiking and camping there too. I was a bit too young the last time I visited to have great details though. http://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm

This is a trip after my own heart!!!

Miss Molly said...

Shakespeare Festival in Ashland OR is pretty cool - especially if you like plays...and Shakespeare.

Alycia said...

Look at flights to San Jose; there is a not too expensive flight from Houston around 9am.

But if you end up flying to LA, you have to drive up Route 1 and go through Big Sur. And if you are Steinbeck fans you can make a quick detour to his hometown, Salinas, to the Steinbeck Center.

Also go to Victoria and Vancouver Island in BC.

Have fun!

Gabrielle said...

Ahh, my partner and I live in San Francisco and just got back from driving to Portland last week for our spring break! Just a word, literally driving the coast can take a LONG TIME. Like, ridiculously long. Once we drove for three hours on the 1 and went 60 miles because it was so curvy. Also, not the best if you're prone to car sickness. Taking the 101 in CA would be a bit quicker and is still really beautiful - you drive right through all these amazing redwood forests. :)

Check out Muir Woods which is only like 20 min out of SF, the main part is a bit touristy (but still beautiful), but if you can make it on the weekend check out the Tourist Club (http://www.touristclubsf.org/). It's this amazing German beer club you bring a picnic to and hike in. They have board games, lots of beer, and amazing views. It would be the ideal wedding spot...

We just camped at Cape Lookout in OR and it was really pretty, but kind of a normal campsite...I've heard that Jones Creek campsite is amazing, but it was closed when we were there. Also, make a stop in Portland! It's awesome! We're both teachers and fell in LOVE with Powell's bookshop. It was really amazing. Also the Rose Garden was beautiful, the food carts were yummy, and all the little neighborhoods were great and had some fantastic vintage shops. Plus all the coffee there was...SO GOOD.

Have a great time and if you need a place to crash in SF shoot me an email! We would love to put up some fellow broke ass educators. ;)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an awesome trip!

You probably already are: but watch Southwest for flights. They're running sales for July right now, so I'm sure you can find something into a CA airport.

Elly Belly said...


I highly recommend several amazing places to stay on your way northward:

Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport Oregon

Kennedy School in Portland Oregon (Any of the McMenamin Hotel's are awesome if you've never stayed in one, but the Kennedy School is by far the most awesomest.)

Fairmont Empress in Victoria (High Tea is worth the price, just don't forget to make a reservation. Also Miniture World and the amazing Chocolate Place Butlers? I think? in Victoria are must stop places.)

Have Fun!

Stephanie Field said...

I'm from the Northwest and I want to second the comments on visiting the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR; Powell's Books and the rose garden in Portland, OR; and Cafe Flora in Seattle, WA. (I'm a vegetarian too!) Another great Seattle restaurant with several vegetarian options is Wild Ginger.

Walking Barefoot said...

I love the Greenwood Pier Inn, in Elk, Mendocino County - right on the coast, gorgeous views, a funky veggie friendly restaurant in the tiny town of Elk.

In the Sonoma wine country, the Russian River Valley is great for wine tasting, and slightly off the Napa-tourist path.

Further up the coast, Arcata is a great little college town, home to Humboldt State Univ., and zillions of homemade, crunchy veggie restaurants (I think it's a requirement to become vegetarian while studying at HSU). The best cinnamon rolls I've ever had were from a bakery (I forget the name) near that Arcata town square. Great beaches nearby, too. The head up to Redwoods Nat'l Park.

Oh, and down the coast, in the Big Sur area, stop at Esalen, and enjoy the hottubs overlooking the ocean. If you're not there for a retreat (which you could do...), the tubs are open to visitor after 1 AM (?).

Gretchen said...

If you're going through Portland, Oregon, you should definitely stop at The Chat House, which has THE BEST Indian food that I've had outside of India. And of course you can't pass up Powell's bookstore. I can't wait to hear about your trip!

lilDdownunder said...

I'd say fly in to LAX and then drive up the 1 (freeway) and stop in Cambria on your first day, then do the drive through Big Sur and there are amazing views and some campgrounds along the way, as well as an elephant seal rookery and Hearst Castle which is weird (http://www.hearstcastle.org/) then keep driving up the 1 and head through Santa Cruz and stop at the coolest vegetarian restaurant I know-Saturn Cafe (http://www.saturncafe.com/) and then keep driving up the 1 to Pigeon Point Lighthouse where you can stay at the cool looking hostel there (think hot tub overlooking the ocean) (http://www.norcalhostels.org/pigeon/) then stay in San Fran, then do a day in Napa or Sonoma if you are in to wine, then head back towards the coast in to Fort Bragg or someplace in that area. I don't know much past there, (although my fiance and I did drive from Fort Bragg up to Grants Pass, Oregon at Christmas and that was cool) but I lived in the LA/Orange County area my whole life and now I'm in the Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz/San Francisco area part time so I know it well. If you need any suggestions, message me on my blog and I'd be happy to give you more detail.

J. Bella said...

You have to try Southwest airlines for your flight into San Fran they start at $167. Also hotwire.com too they almost always have great deals.

sarahsohns said...

my partner's bff's partner and i (who became adventure seeker soul sisters!) are doing a similar trip in reverse; flying into seattle and driving to la the first week of may! i will scout out great sites and bites and fill you in upon return. =) thanks to all of your kindred spirits for suggestions already. they are helping me fill in the blanks on my itinerary.

Jen B said...

If you want to spend a night in Santa Cruz, I highly recommend staying over at the Adobe on Green Stret--beautiful accommodations and not your typical B&B experience.

As you drive north of SF, consider stopping at Goat Rock Beach for some amazing views. It sits at the mouth of the Russian River.

Anonymous said...

Southwest has flights from Hobby to LAX for $147-ish one-way in July: http://travel.southwest.com/specialoffers/offerDetails.html?id=36158511&RMID=L_100420_CNS&RRID=YXV0dW1uaGVlcEBnbWFpbC5jb20.&src=MAILCNSTUES00000A100420#Houston

Stephanova said...

In SF, you should visit Blue Bottle Coffee. There's one inside at the Embarcadero (which has a blow-your-mind farmer's market every Saturday by the way) and get delicious coffee but also the most amazing whole-wheat Belgian waffle dipped in salty dark chocolate I've ever had. I also second going to Muir Woods, and if you're going to do some wine tasting, try Sonoma instead of Napa for a different and *slightly* less frou-frou experience. I also second that driving on Highway 1 takes a really long damn time, and switching to the 101 is worth it if you're actually trying to get somewhere. When I did a similar trip several years ago, we also camped at some beach in Oregon and it was amazing. Not sure if it was actually legal, but it was spectacular to dine on a meal of super fresh salmon we made with the portable grill and fall asleep to the waves. Have fun!!

Mia said...

I lived 6 months in SF.
Vegetarian-friendly places to eat : very easy (Baja Fresh mexican food... mmm)

All the parks (Yosemite...)

Have a nice trip !

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Everyone: You are the best! Thank you so much. I can't wait to start the itinerary-making process, thanks to your suggestions. Happy Tuesday! s.

Claire Taugher said...

Pure Luck in Hollywood is by far the best veg meal you will get! The restaurant uses jack fruit as a meat substitute and it is to die for.

Carly Allisa said...

If you have time to spend an extra day driving take the highway 101 through washington and oregon. It goes right along the coast and is a really pretty drive with different beaches and lookouts to stop at. The Sea Vue motel just outside Yachats Or. is nice and each room has a different theme. It's right on the coast and i think all the rooms have a view.

spanishteacher83 said...

To chime in again...When I travel I love to visit local grocery stores and food markets to see (and taste!) all the things we don't have at home. May I recommend Uwajimaya and Pike Place in Seattle?

Kathryn said...

If you fly into Sacto, like L suggested, consider taking the road through Rumsey and Guinda over to 20 and thence to 101. It's easy to miss, so you'll need a good map, but it runs through some beautiful tiny farm towns and then along Cache Creek, which has both cool geology and whitewater rafting.
Like many others, I would recommend 101 rather than 1 up most of the California coast-all that curvy stuff gets tedious fast, and you'll still get some ocean views in far northern CA.
I also love Redwood National Park-lots of cool hike-in campsites.
If you're driving north on 101 from SF, the Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg or Tartine down in the city are great places to get breakfast or dessert. Real Goods, in Hopland, is a great place to stop. They have (or had) a mist canopy for cooling off as well as the advertised cool bathrooms.
Have a great time!

The Abides said...

I have to throw in a shout out to Mar Vista just north of Gualala on highway 1. Super cute cabins, an organic garden you can rummage in, chickens, and it's about 100 yards from the ocean. Super beautiful and the folks that run it are amazing...we had our honeymoon there and couldn't have asked for better. Have a wonderful trip!

elementsofmylife said...

That trip sure sounds good! I'm a BC coast girl, born and raised and I'm looking forward to returning to teach there this fall. I actually think we might actually be making a trip down to California and back this summer too.

If Vancouver Island, or any of those islands in the vicinity (Gulf Island in CAN, San Juan Islands in the US) you'll have a great time for sure. Tops on my list for the northern part of your journey are Olympic National Park, Washington, the big trees of Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island, BC and ocean kayaking almost anywhere where there are little islands.

We're all about camping and we like to hike but most of our hikes have been on Vancouver Island. I haven't stayed in many B&B's but Marketta's (more of a guest house) in Victoria was pretty cool and Solwood Guest House in Tofino is nice, they even have private little cabins. As long as you pack a tarp and go somewhere with trees, camping can be quite a lot of fun too!

Ms. Jovanovich said...

Olympic National Park (in Washington) is one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been. If you're in Seattle, you should check out Bamboo Garden-- an all-vegetarian Chinese restaurant in the Queen Anne neighborhood. I ate their sweet and sour "chicken" regularly when I lived there. Also in Seattle, happy hour at Dragonfish (in the Paramount hotel downtown) can't be beat. Have fun!

Four Winds said...

This is a very fun post! I loved reading everyones suggestions... I have a few of my own. In the Northwest corner of Washington lies a artsy, hip seaside town. The surrounding landscape is painfully beautiful! A must see - the scenic Chuckanut Drive. Best Vegetarian restaurant- Pepper Sisters {yummy southwest cuisine}. Happy travels!

LCL said...

If noone has mentioned it yet, the Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz is tasty, funky veggie food! http://www.saturncafe.com/

The entire drive up to BC is beautiful. Lots of hiking and outdoor spots all the way up. Have fun!

Alicia said...

Such great comments! I'm in Eureka CA, let's see if this helps...
North of Mendocino, where Hwy 1 meets the 101 is Leggett, where you can find the drive-thru tree. A little farther north on the 101 you can exit onto Avenue of the Giants, a redwood ladled drive. If you're into victorian villages and shops, there's Ferndale. Then you'll hit Eureka--just keep going, nothing here--(old town's ok, but there are cuter). Ten min. out of Eureka, you'll find Arcata-no problem finding veggie eats here, I love Renata's Crepes, they have all kinds and the atmosphere is great. Continuing north, the ocean will come into view next to the freeway just out of Mckinleyville. Take the Trinidad Exit for my favorite northcoast town, a little fishing village. There's a couple of B&B's here, the Lost Whale Inn and Trinidad Bay B&B. Just north of town is Patrick's Point State Park and Agate Beach, a great place to spend a day. 20mi north you'll find the Redwood Hostel with great views. A little farther north is Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, where you can find Fern Canyon and herds of Elk.
Feel free to email me and ask any more questions, like so much of the West Coast, there's a lot to do here.

Robyn said...

Check out Orr Hot Springs in Mendocino County, not far off the 101. Hot springs and cabins in the middle of a redwood grove. I don't remember how much it is to stay there, but if you like hot springs it is one of the best I've found in the region.

I also would recommend hiking the Cape Lookout trail in Oregon. It is one of the most amazing hikes I've done in my 2 years as an Oregonian. 2 1/2 miles out onto this cape that overlooks the pacific with stunning cliffs (keep the dog on a leash). We were able to see lots of whales this weekend, but I'm not sure they are migrating in July.

Enjoy your trip!

Davanie said...

When you're in San Fran you should check out Clarion Alley Mural. It's essentially a big graffitied mural by different artists, the length of an entire alley. It's amazing and free! It's between Mission and Valencia, parallel to 17th and 18th streets.


Molly and Buttons said...

You should visit the French Corner Bakery in Cambria - it was a huge highlight of our trip (we went from Seattle to San Fran). If you are driving the coast of California, just be aware of how twisty and turny those roads are and plan for double the time you expect!

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