Hello Fall Break! The first 6.5 weeks of this new school year felt as busy as my first year with working around the clock, so I didn’t have time to think ahead and make plans to travel anywhere. I visited Portland last year at this time and Chicago and Milwaukee for two years in a row before that. Without flights/hotel booked, I wanted to take a small road trip to see some beach/coastal views. Yesterday turned out to be one of those days that couldn’t have rolled out more perfectly than planned. With Santa Cruz and Big Sur on my mind, I drove down Highway 17 and Highway 1 and let spontaneity and adventure take over… with the help of Google Maps.
About 240 miles of driving in one day, which was more than one way to Mendocino where my mom had wanted to visit, but we got to explore some coastal cities with pretty views and delicious eats along Highway 1, and it was a fun mom and me day out! Adventure is out there!
I took out my Canon Rebel T2i camera from my brother which I haven’t used in over a year and vintage Nikon Lens Series E 50mm from my parents’ wedding to manually take photos. It was a fun, challenging experiment because this lens has no zoom so I couldn’t capture a wide view and I need to practice adjusting the functions manually to take clearer photos. Enjoy some captures!
Santa Cruz / Soquel
Verve Coffee Roasters: 1540 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
My friend Anita carries around a Verve canteen and I realized it’s a local coffee shop in Santa Cruz so I decided to check it out. I tried a large coffee ($3.50) on the daily menu, which was La Fortuna from Honduras and described as cinnamon, apple juice, and elegant. It was really smooth but citris-y. My mom tried the large latte ($4.50) and thought it was smooth too, but she didn’t really enjoy hers… maybe it was too strong? Both cups were very generous in size.
Shopping on Pacific Avenue
I am so happy to finally find a jacket that I have long been looking for at Heavenly Couture. There were lots of interesting boutiques and shops from clothes to shoes to kitchenware to books.
Cafe Cruz: 2621 41st Ave, Soquel, CA 95073
After a few attempts of considering restaurants that were too tourist-y near Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or didn’t have good reviews, I yelped this 4-star restaurant with 500+ reviews and found plenty of people eating here around 1:30 PM. We shared the Grilled Prawn Sandwich with fries ($14.00), which had quite a lot of prawns inside and a soft bread, and the Chop Salad with blackened chicken, watermelon, heirloom tomato, roasted white corn, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, creamy lemon basil vinaigrette, and Pt. Reyes blue cheese on the side ($16.50).
The Penny Ice Creamery: Multiple locations
Should have ordered only one item at lunch in order to fit ice cream from this local Santa Cruz ice cream shop that has Verve coffee flavor and torched marshmallow fluff. Next time!
Monterey / Pacific Grove
Shopping on Lighthouse Avenue
The street was quiet and too slow-paced for me with antique shops and few boutiques.
Shopping on Ocean Avenue and Carmel Plaza
I saw the most Chinese tourists here and felt like I fit right in with my camera on me. This area had lots of retail shops like Coach, Kate Spade, Sur La Table, J.Crew, and Anthropologie.
Rocky Creek Bridge
I mistakenly thought this was the bridge that friends have taken photos and sat on the edge.
But after I drove farther south, I realized this was the bridge where people sat on the edge and found that I couldn’t do it with my fear of heights. The coastal views were gorgeous.
Somewhere along Highway 1 on the way to McWay Falls
McWay Cove and McWay Falls
I have also seen this in friends’ photos, a pretty looking cove with a small waterfall that looks like someone’s peeing. It really doesn’t help to look at this when you have to pee. This was a long drive down Highway 1, especially with an Asian driver who didn’t know how to let other drivers pass him when there were 3 cars right behind him. It’s also super curvy along the cliffs. I was trying to make it here before sunset. I don’t think this was worth the drive out of the way since I wasn’t passing through on my way to SLO or somewhere farther south. We risked being low on gas and had to drive all the way back up the windy Highway 1 to Monterey in order to get home.
Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery: 7600 Sandholdt Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039
While driving back home and it being 8:30 PM, I yelped this 4-star restaurant with 1,600+ reviews and knew it had to be good because it was a fish market by the coast. I laughed when I turned off the main road to a dark, sketchy street that seemed to be leading me to nowhere, but found a lot of people here even with only 30 minutes left before closing. We shared a medium/pint of New England Clam Chowder ($8.95), which was generous in size and ingredients like cabbage and not potatoes, and a half order/1 pound of green steamed mussels from New Zealand ($12.95), which was the plumpest mussels I have ever had, and they were still juicy and yummy.
Until next time… either a trip to Half Moon Bay/SF/Sausalito, Oakland, Sacramento, or we’ll see!