Surf week in San Diego + road trip down California’s PCH

Last week, Joe and I took our first vacation (longer than a weekend) in 6 months. We originally had plans to fly out to Maine, but unfortunately, the day-before we canceled the trip (we didn’t feel safe being on a plane given the rising corona cases).

Instead, we pieced together a last-minute trip to stay in California: a relaxing week in San Diego. I think things turned out super well and Joe and I both agreed we were SO happy we stayed in California rather than venturing out to the east coast.

FYI Joe and I were sure to stay safe by not doing anything we wouldn’t do in SF: we didn’t eat at indoor restaurants, we didn’t approach crowded places, etc. We were either outdoors (with masks), in our car, or safely in our Airbnb. 🙂

Days 1-2: Roadtrip down California’s Highway 1

On the ride down from SF, we decided to take the scenic route along California’s Pacific Coast Highway (“PCH”). I had done this roadtrip 2x before and was dying to share this with Joe. Unfortunately, most of the beaches/state parks were closed…womp, but we made the most of it by seeing the remote sites we could find, which gave me a whole new perspective and appreciation for the PCH my third time.

Even though the more popular beaches were closed, we did find some remote beaches and soaked in the isolated views.

Beach on California PCH road trip

Personally, I found the drive in Northern California more scenic than SoCal. 😉 I guess that’s why I live here. We stopped through Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Carmel on the first day.

California northern coast

My absolute favorite stop was Big Sur. Driving through the wind-y mountain with jaw-dropping coastal views. You really have to see it for yourself – it never disappoints!

Big Sur

We stopped for a hike in Big Sur. It was nice to stretch out legs and get to know the local state parks in the massive area. The hike ended at a remote beach that we had all to ourselves!

Hiking Big Sur

Big Sur at sunset was the most gorgeous site. I definitely felt a renewed appreciation for living in California. ❤

Girl at Big Sur California Highway 1

After a long drive on day 1, we stopped in in San Luis Obipso for the night.

On day 2 we tackled the drive in SoCal. We were eager to make it to San Diego so only stopped in Santa Barbara. The warm air hit us right away and it felt like we were finally on vacation.

Santa Barbara beach walk

We took a walk on the Santa Barbara Wharf. I love Santa Barbara because it’s much less crazy than LA and is filled with cute red-roof Spanish-styled houses throughout the town.

Santa Barbara Wharf

We dipped our feet in the warm ocean water and it was glorious.

girl posing on beach

After another long day of driving, we finally made it to San Diego. Total 800 miles over 2 days!

Days 3-6: San Diego!

San Diego was truly the good life. Our days were so relaxing and easy and filled with a bunch of outdoorsy activities. Our Airbnb was a small-house that we had all to ourselves. We woke up every morning and eased into the day with coffee on the colorfully decorated outdoor furniture.

Airbnb coffee morning

We came to San Diego for one key reason…SURFING!! Joe and I love to surf (although we are beginners), and there was no better option in California than San Diego. The entire town is centered around surfer/beach-life, which added to the positive, relaxing vibes.

Surfing San Diego

We tried different surf spots every day, and by the end of the trip we really got to know all the different beaches.

  • Pacific Beach – my favorite spot of all. The waves were gentle and the water is super shallow so you can stand pretty far out into the water. The actual beach was really long and beautiful. The only downside is the surrounding area is very commercial and not really a beach town.
  • La Jolla – Very popular surf spot for beginners, and for a reason! The water is also shallow and forgiving like Pacific Beach. The surrounding area is a quaint, sleepy beach town with one street of shops/restaurants. The downside is the beach is pretty crowded with surfers/beach go-ers.
  • Ocean Beach – Popular spot for intermediate/beginners. The beach itself wasn’t as pretty as the others in my opinion, but the surrounding area is a hippie-dippie colorful beach town which is fun to stroll through.
La Jolla Beach

After surfing, we would hang out on the beach, eat some lunch, and rest from all the activity. We got plenty of beach time over our 4 days.

Pacific Beach sun bathing
Couple chilling in San Diego beach

We mixed up the surfing with some hiking at Mission Trails Regional Park. San Diego itself is pretty dry and desert-y; it was interesting to see different scenery from what we’re used to in SF. We found a hot and vertical hike in the park and boy did it give us a workout!

Hiking in San Diego
Mission Trails Regional Park

On our day-off from surfing, we strolled through Balboa Park. Unlike the rest of the city, Balboa is lush and green, and had a variety of plants/flowers that Joe and I marveled at. Our favorite was strolling through the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden

Being cheesy 😉

Couple kissing under tree

Our airbnb was in a Latino neighborhood, filled with colorful houses/shops and Spanish-speaking neighbors lefts and right – it felt like we were in Mexico! Needless to say we ate about 100 tacos while we were down there. This shop had the BEST tacos I’ve ever had.

Taco Shop

After long days of being active, we ended our days with cracking open a beer and chilling in our hot tub. Perfection 🙂

Hot tub

I am SO happy we ventured out and pieced together this last minute trip. Making travel plans has been very difficult this year for obvious reasons, and Joe and I were super bummed when we had to cancel on Maine. But we didn’t let that set us back because we were determined to give ourselves a much-needed break. We were both pretty burnt out from work and this trip really gave us the break and fresh perspective we needed. It’s been a difficult year to find things to be grateful for, but this trip filled my heart. I’ll definitely be looking back on our photos all week reminiscing on our good times. 🙂

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