10 Days Road Trip from SF to SD

For my birthday, we took a 10 Day road trip from San Francisco to San Diego in September 2017. It’s a beautiful drive down the coast. If you’ve never done it before, I highly recommend it. We packed in a lot of attractions and events, and it was all so worth it that I thought I’d share this late post! BTW, we took our 9 month old with us on the trip and to the Kaaboo Music Festival.

Sunday – Had breakfast at a cafe in San Francisco and then headed down to San Simeon, CA. We checked into the Silver Surf Motel and rested for an hour or so before having dinner at Cambria Pines Lodge Restaurant. The food was good and they have a nice wine list including local wines, which I really loved reading. To start, we shared a Cheese Plate and wine, and then ordered the Halibut and Filet Mignon for entrees. We enjoyed our meal though the overall experience was average. Silver Surf Motel is your typical 2-star motel. It was pleasant enough. We like to save on where we sleep and splurge on food. I always forget that the coast has rather gloomy skies so that was a little bit of a bummer to wake up to.

Hearst Castle

Monday – On my actual birthday, I was so super stoked to have stumbled upon Linn’s Restaurant in Cambria. It has great reviews and is actually the original Linn’s of the Cal Poly, SLO location that had fed my brother and me for years. We used to eat brunch at Linn’s when we were able to take a break from studying. Their family story and the creation of the olallieberry is incredible. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND breakfast at Linn’s and indulging in one or two of their muffins. After breakfast, we grabbed a coffee at their counter and walked around the cute downtown area of Cambria. Afterwards we went on a tour of Hearst Castle, which was amazing. It was my second time visiting the National Historical Landmark. I enjoyed it more on this this visit because I understood it’s historical importance a lot better. For my birthday dinner, we had a tasty casual meal at Cracked Crab. I hadn’t been since having one of my graduation dinners there back in the day and it’s still just as good and fun to eat. Donning our plastic bibs, they dumped the Big Bucket of Seafood onto our table and we went to town on crab and shrimp. We shared a number of their appetizers including the Blue Crab Cakes and Steamed Clams.

Linn's Muffin

Tuesday – The Oxford Suites Pismo Beach is a very nice hotel close to the beach, offering a free decent breakfast with your stay. After breakfast, we packed up and drove north to SLO to walk around. I can’t visit SLO without having lunch of Tri Tip and Fries at Firestone Grill. I must’ve had a meal at Firestone once a week or so when I was attending Cal Poly. I LOVE their Tri Tip Sandwich, Tri Tip Salad, and Seasoned Fries. Sometimes when a friend visits SLO, they will bring me back a Sandwich because it is just that good. Even cold, it’s delicious. We drove to Glendale and checked into Hotel Brandwood. Hotel Brandwood is in a central location off the freeway and has many restaurants, bars, and cafes nearby. I’d recommend staying there. The only bad thing which was fine for us is that you have to go up a flight of stairs and they don’t have an elevator. The rooms are nice and comfy.

Wednesday – We grabbed a coffee and quick bite at Starbucks near our hotel and then headed over to La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. My husband had wanted to visit the Pits as a kid and he talked about it as an adult. I had no idea it was “A MUSEUM THAT COULD DISPLAY ANCIENT TREASURES AT THE VERY SITE THEY WERE DISCOVERED,” and there’s real tar out there that had once preserved their animals. It’s an amazing Natural History Museum that I highly recommend to everyone. Even my 9 month old enjoyed looking at the woolly mammoth and other fossils on display. After educating ourselves and filling our brains with knowledge, we fed our bellies with Korean at Chosun Galbee. The restaurant was huge. We sat outside and enjoyed all their Ban Chan and delicious grilled meats. Everything was good and authentic. Later we found out it the favorite spot of the parents of one of our Korean friends. Say that sentence fast three times! In the afternoon, we went to hike to the Hollywood sign and visit the Griffith Observatory. My husband couldn’t hike to the sign because of his fear of heights so we had to turn around. The sunset from the bottom of the hill was still amazing. The Griffith Observatory was cool too. For dinner, we filled up on pizza at Pizzeria Mozza and literally rubbed elbows with a TV star. The pizza was delicious and the staff was incredibly accommodating for our little guy. Their management allowed us to attach his portable seat to the handicap counter so we could enjoy our family dinner at the bar vs. waiting for a table.

Hollywood Sign


Thursday – We walked over to The Halal Guys two blocks from the hotel on Brand Ave and had some yummy Chicken & Gyro with Rice. Years ago, we learned about the Halal Guys cart in New York City and burned our mouths on their red hot sauce. When they started to open up on the West Coast, we got very excited but now we know better, and only have a few dabs of that hot sauce. From there, we drove down the coast to San Diego and met my cousin Bo in the Gaslamp District for some booze and snacks at Spike Africa’s Fresh Fish Grill & Bar. It was a huge place with a good vibe and $1 oysters but they have since closed (Spring 2018), probably because it was difficult to keep it full. We met some other friends at Viewpoint Brewing in Del Mar near the fairgrounds. The setting with the fire pit and booths was really comfortable. They served great beers, wine, and good food. Both the service and food were awesome.

Friday – We got a late start in the late morning, grabbing just Starbucks near our hotel, Pleasant Innand then headed to the third annual Kaaboo Music Festivalat the Del Mar Fairgrounds. This has been our favorite music festival because it’s not packed with people and the music and vibe is geared towards an older crowd, like us in our late 30’s and early 40’s. The best part is the availability of flushing toilets stocked with toilet paper and even hand soap! When you’re drinking and eating all day under the sun, you don’t want to climb into a warm tiny plastic box.

Saturday – It was day 2 of our music festing. Kaaboo is family oriented with a large selection of food choices and lots of art displays. Apollo loved the art, food, music, and lights. We had little headphones to cover his ears and he did fine. Kaaboo was his third music festival so he was a pro even at 9 months old. For dinner, we went to Little Sheep Hot Pot and had a great time laughing and dipping meat in a big pot of hot broth. Hot pot is always fun with a group of friends.

Sunday – Even on a vacation, we never miss Football Sunday. We went to Bullpen Bar & Grill where they had a ton of TVs showing every game, comfortable tables with big cozy chairs, or high stools, and great service. The food was very good as well. On our most recent trip, we watched football here again. Once we got our football fix, we drove over to Kaaboo for our last day of music in the sun. On our way to the hotel, we decided to stop off on Convoy St for some late night Asian food. We settled on ramen at Tajima Ramen which wasn’t great nor bad, just average ramen.

Monday – There had been lot of buzz about the influx of Asian restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) so we decided to find some Taiwanese food with Bo. We popped into Noodle King in Alhambra and had a delicious feast of dumplings, noodles, and more dumplings and noodles. Whenever I hang out with Bo, we order a ton of food and somehow manage to eat it all to the amazement of my husband. With full bellies, we dropped Bo off at the airport and drove up to Santa Barbara. We barely cleared our SUV with the Yakima storage case under the parking lot height restriction of The Presidio. The owner came out to help direct me and we made it! The Presidio is a very nice hotel close to downtown. We were able to walk every where and enjoyed our stay. After dropping off our bags, we went to the Santa Barbara Public Market to meet a friend for dinner. It was a cool spot with lots of different vendors selling their goods and food. We opted for some poke and wine.

Tuesday – We walked around downtown Santa Barbara for a little bit and each got a smoothie at Blenders in the Grass. Then we drove up to Pismo Beach for some award winning Clam Chowder at Splash Cafe. We fed my son a bite of their Clam Chowder and he said “mmm…mmm…” for the first time ever. Splash has expanded their menu over the years and have added items like Grilled Ahi Tuna Salad and Fish Tacos which were both delicious. Or at least I don’t remember them serving that in 2000. Our son was so happy with his Clam Chowder, we ended up bringing a frozen box of Clam Chowder home with us. While attending school in SLO, I would stop at the In and Out in Paso Robles but never the wineries, not even on short visits back so we made our way to Sculpterra. We only had time to stop off at one spot and Sculpterra was a definite winner. They were extremely friendly and I love the history of the place. A doctor owns the winery and his son the winemaker graduated from Cal Poly. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sculpterra wine are donated to “His Healing Hands”, a medical missionary foundation co-founded by the doctor. They give back in other ways as well. They have a delicious wine in a bottle, Héroe Viognier, dedicated to their vineyard and production team who they call true heroes of the wine industry, and has pictures of the team on it. I still have the bottle though empty, sitting in my bar, and I bought some for gifts. Their grounds were beautiful with many sculptures in their garden and lots to see. We’ll be back for a picnic one day!



10 full days on the road from San Francisco to San Diego and then we were back home!