Our trip throughout the Coast of California has been an amazing ride! Even though we haven’t had lots of time to spend in each city, an average of a day per town, we are enjoying every minute to its fullest while on the Golden Coast.
After leaving the Golden Gate behind, we drove down through Monterey, Carmel, San Simeon, Santa Barbara, and now we are currently on our way to LA. Each town was uniquely charming, plus, our entire drive was by the white sandy beaches of the Golden Coast.
A Little Historical Background
California was discovered by the Spanish in the mid 16th century; however, it was only colonized in the 18th century. Shortly after the United States acquired, in the 19th century, gold and silver were discovered at the Sierra Nevada-the Gold Rush took place. Because its roots were formed in the Spanish culture, California-especially the southern region-is still heavily influenced, whether the food or architecture, by its Spanish origins. Personally, that’s California’s charm-like New Orlean’s French background-and why I fell in love with almost all the cities we passed through as we continue to cruise the Golden Coast (of course, the beaches and the marvelous weather contributed too).
This tiny, yet quite charming, town has the characteristics of a fishing village, frozen in time with its huge storages, numerous piers and boats, as well as seafood restaurants. You can stroll around the historic downtown, visit museums and the Old Whaling Station, enjoy the beautiful beaches, visit the Fisherman’s Wharf, and the many fabrics-who were once sardine businesses back in the 40s-that were transformed into boutiques and cafes. I guess Monterey’s “most visited” attraction is their aquarium, the Monterey Bay Aquarium-the perfect destination for families.
Situated at the end of the 17-Mile Drive-from Monterey to Carmel-this town is exceedingly lovely-the streets are packed by art galleries, fancy restaurants, boutiques, and charming inns. The downtown isn’t far from the beach, just a few minutes by foot; additionally, you can either drive/walk/bike a road that contours the beach for a few miles until it stops at a white sandy beach. Take a few hours to enjoy the relaxing “beach town” and enjoy the sunshine.
We didn’t stop at San Simeon town; however, we visited the stunning Hearst Castle. The church-like edifice is situated at the very top of a hill near the San Simeon Village, and it’s surrounded by the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen! The entire project-including three guest houses, and indoor and outdoor pool, a zoo, plus a ranch-took over 28 years to be executed, yet, it isn’t entirely completed. Now, imagine-a huge white castle with red roofing, built to look like a catholic church from the renaissance, tall palm trees rise over 30 ft. tall, and outdoor pool, which was designed to look like the a Greek temple, was surrounded by Greek statues and artifacts brought from Greece and Italy. Throughout the building, historical artifacts-varying between 300 to an authentic Egyptian statue from 1000 bc-could be easily found and spotted on Mr. Hearst lavish rooms.
This unique town is Southern California’s true jewel. The entire town, or at least a great deal of it, was built in a mediterranean style-white houses, red roofing, lots of terraces filled with flowers, cafes and restaurants with an Italian architecture, and plenty of narrow streets crowded with boutiques and antique stores to explore. I will confess, I only spent a few hours in Santa Barbara; thus, I can’t say too much about this town. If you find yourself wandering around the historic downtown and you are quite hungry, I suggest you eat at Chase Restaurant & Lounge-they have pretty good prices in their lunch menu-and then pay a visit to Chocolats du CaliBressan-they have phenomenal ice cream!