About three weeks ago, I met someone really awesome in a bar and we started going out. First date, second date, third date, and by now we are not counting dates but shared memories. It’s going really good and I’ve realized that our dates tend to be more like all-day adventures, each and everyone so perfect that both of us think it can’t get better- only it does. On the next date. Anyways, I figured I’d share some of these days with you. Just in case you ever make it to SF and try to make every minute count. Or have a real romantic date. After all, San Francisco did get elected the most romantic city in the US.
1 Perfect Day in California á la Ariane:
- 1 Car
- 1 fully charged Camera
- Sun screen
- A map or iPhone for directions
We rented a car with AVIS and were lucky enough to get a really cool all-American car on discount- the Dodge Challenger. We named him Charlie. Now, I’m not too familiar with car types but this one just screamed road trip and we did him justice, I believe. So, here goes the perfect route for a perfect one-day-roadtrip:
1. Start off at Lombard Street
If you rent a car, you might as well go all out and do one of the most touristy things that SF has to offer: curvy Lombard Street. If you go early in the morning, you will barely have any cars blocking your ride down. Be prepared for some proper rollercoaster action.
2. Cross Golden Gate Bridge
No matter how the weather will be that day, in the morning it is very likely to be foggy. Embrace it though, the bridge looks fascinatingly mystical when half covered in the thick grey fog layer. Toll is $6 one-way. For some reason however, we didn’t need to pay so bare that in mind. You might be lucky.
3. US- 101 towards Sonoma
You will not be disappointed. After about half an hour you start passing the first vineyards and wineries, it gets hilly and the views are amazing. Find the River Road towards Guerneville and after about half an hour you should see a small parking lot to your left. Do park and stroll down to Russian River. It will be a nice break.
4. Armstrong Redwoods State National Reserve
Continue on River Road until you come to the Armstrong Woods Road, merge onto that. Drive up to the Redwoods Reserve. It will cost you $8 to spend the day, there are a lot of hiking trails that lead you miles and miles into nature. Or, you can decide to drive up a really steep curvy road instead, which of course we did. I spent that part of the journey burying my head into my scarf. The Redwoods are amazing though and if you are all for the view, do go for the drive-up.
5. Have a stop in Gueraville
It’s a really cute town with good diners, gas stations, banks and Safeway. Do try the Ice-Cream at Flavors Unlimited. They let you choose from an unlimited number of toppings, which get blended into vanilla and chocolate soft swirl making it taste like cheesecake, mint and white chocolate at the same time. Energized? Great, back on to the road!
6. Blind Beach
Turn onto Hwy 116 W/CA-116 W/River Rd until you reach Jenner Pond/ Blind Beach. I mean, it’s amazing really. My favorite stop of the day. One minute you stare out of the window admiring the hills and forests and next thing you know you look ahead and BOOM. The ocean. In all its beauty. Take a break and climb up that hill about half a mile away from the parking lot. Breath and be overwhelmed by the majestic ocean, the clean air and the incredible feeling of freedom.
7. Point Reyes
Continue on the CA-1 N/Coast Hwy to Marin. Follow the signs directing you to SF. Once in Point Reyes Fort, search for the Sir Francis Drake Road and follow that on. Warning- if you wanna make it to the Lighthouse, be aware that it’s a good half an hour drive crossing the peninsula. The road is not in the best condition and the land stretches further than we had expected. But, as with anything along the Pacific Highway, the views make up for it by far. It is a national park though, so technically, it is currently closed. We did see a lot of cars generously ignoring the govt shutdown sign though. As with many things in that regard, zero f***s were given.
8. Stinson Beach
Turn onto Panoramic Highway and follow until you hit Muir Woods Road, then continue on that one. If you have time, stop in one of the many cute towns you will see on your way. Like Bodega Bay, that just looked incredibly romantic and seemed to have a great selection of seafood restaurants and beach cafés. Other than that, embrace the fact that you are on the Panoramic Highway (which is named like that for a reason…), wind down the window and blast Let Her Go by Passenger. Or California Dreaming. Or On Top Of The World. Once at Stinson Beach, try to find some sand dollars. They’re big on petrified ones there too! Definitely worth a walk.
9. Back home
The city is calling, so you wanna swing back. Preferably, in time for you to drop of your car at your rental agency. We failed and could only avoid being charged high late-fees by driving to the SFO airport to drop Charlie off there. Oh well. Shit happens. We miss you Charlie!!!!
Return back home and realize that you have gotten a glimpse of paradise. California is intensely beautiful and yesterday I saw landscapes that dreams are made of. I know that sounds super cheesy but I did not expect to be confronted with so many breathtaking spots. Do go people, do go!
Cheers and hit the road,