The California Coast—A Drive from Anaheim to San Francisco, 8 Days

If you ever wondered what the “Promise Land” really looked like, just take a peek at some of the pictures that I took during our awesome drive from Anaheim to San Francisco, up California’s Pacific Coast Highway 1.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that this is as close as it gets.


From the cool and quaint coastal towns of Santa Barbara and Huntington Beach, the sleepy little towns of Los Gatos and Saratoga on the slopes of the green and plush Santa Cruz Mountains and to the dried golden colored hills of Napa and Sonoma, add two mega cosmopolitan cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco and what you have here is a place like no other in the world—California.

This beautiful land has so much beauty, it is difficult to explain.  You just have to be there.

My traveling companions and I stayed at the Anaheim Hilton for the first three nights. It’s a nice walk to Disney Land which we visited but did not actually go inside the park. Rather, we just had a cup of coffee in a nice outside café in Downtown Disney at the entrance of the park.

We took three (3) day trips from Anaheim:
San Juan Capistrano, is said to have the oldest neighborhood in the state of California and a bar called “Swallow’s Inn” which at one time was ranked the number one (1) “Worst Place to drink a beer and take a P” in the whole United States.  You guessed it, the place was packed. If you do visit, be sure to stop by the men’s room.  You’ll know what I mean when you do so. Dinner at Vitos Pizza with 2 glasses of house merlot is $56.33 including tip.

Huntington Beach has a “Dog Beach” where you can take your dog to the beach and make it a day.  Surfing is ”The Thing” here and as a matter of fact the weekend that just passed was the US Open Championship of Surfing and this place was ”Rocking”.

Dinner at Schooner at Sunset is $41.38

Los Angeles.  If you don’t go to any other place in LA you MUST go to Hollywood and it’s Walk of Fame to see the STARS of your favorite Artist. I highly recommend you take a 90 minute tour that cost is $25 per person and they take you UP the Hill to see the multi million dollar mansions of the rich and famous of Beverly Hills and then on to the shopping streets and the Walk of Fame.

We had a delicious brunch/tapas sort of and a glass of chardonnay at the Roosevelt’s bar $63.22 including tip.

We had dinner at the famous “Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. at Universal Studios $48.76

On our fourth (Thursday) day we continued our quest to the Promised Land.

We left Anaheim at 9am and cruised past LA, it took us almost 2 hours to get out to the skirts of the city.  We passed Santa Monica, Malibu, Thousand Oaks and Oxnard, before reaching Santa Barbara just in time for lunch.  We fell in love with Santa Barbara and wanted to stay.

Grudgingly we left Santa Barbara with our music loud and Russell’s nerves going nuts as we curved up and down the mountains with its winding highway with sharp turns, steep climbs and sharp descents and the beautiful Pacific Coast on the background.  We reached Cambria at about 5pm.

Cambria is such a fantasy tale little village by the sea.  It came highly recommended by my dearest friend Aga and it is where a major tour operator stops for one night on their “The Californian” tour.  We stayed at the Mariners Inn*; $150.00 for the night for a Quad with breakfast included is a very good investment. *not where the tour operators stays the night

That Thursday afternoon we went to the little country market just up the hill in Cambria and bought bread, cheese, some Italian brand bacon and good ol California Wine.  We walked across the street to the wooded walkway on the side of the cliff with the most spectacular view you can imagine.

Waiting for the Sunset on this cool and breeze evening with a glass of Merlot in my hand with the woman I love the most by my side and two of my best friends to share the moment with was “without words”.  Life is good.

After a light breakfast (Friday) we left Cambria and headed for Monterey.

Ours hearts and memories remained in Cambria.


Curve after curve we saw picture perfect sceneries; beautiful mountain tops, Steep and sharp cliffs with cold Pacific Water crashing below and the bright sun and the grey clouds above.  We saw whale tails and dolphins jumping out of the water.  Sea Lions living and surviving in their natural habitat and seagulls and other beautiful animals along the road.


After numerous stops for picture taking and admiration of these wonderful views time got the best of us and we opted to stop in Carmel by the Sea for Lunch.  We ate at the Dametra Café in Carmel.  I had the best Shawarma with a glass of Chardonnay and Lili had the Lamb with water and hot tea to drink.  We got free desert and were able to hear Armando, this Mexican guy who actually worked in the kitchen with a voice from heaven singing an old (50s) Mexican love song.

From Carmel we took the awesome 17 mile drive up to Pebble Beach and its awesome-est of the awesome-est golf course.  The views you see here are absolutely unreal.  We were lost most of the time up and down this two lane highway, but sometimes it is worth getting lost, even if, for only a little.

We were heart broken that we were not able to stop in Monterey to eat at the Fishermen’s Warf, walk down the Canary Road and spend the evening there.

But Lili was too anxious to see Baby Teddy; our baby nephew whom we are so much in love with.

We reached Fairfield about 7pm. We were tired but happy to see Stephy and Baby Teddy.

Saturday Morning we woke up to a hot and hearty breakfast graciously prepared by Suzy.  Suzy is Chris’ Mom who is Baby Teddy’s Daddy.  We were blessed and appreciative that she hosted us for the following three nights. She has a beautiful home facing these Golden Colored Hills that I talked about earlier.

Napa and Sonoma are two of the most gifted and blessed pieces of land that God could ever have made.  Here everything grows, especially Grape VINES!

The hills throughout this region are covered with vine after vine, after vine.

People grow vines in their front or back yards and any other spare piece of land they can find.  You can almost see any other produce known to mankind grow here.

From Sebastiani to Beringer, to Ravenswood, in Santa Helena, Napa and in Sonoma itself we saw and tasted wines from these; world renowned wineries and it was such a nice experience.

Wine tasting in these wineries generally range from $15.00 to $35.00 dollars per person, you get a taste of 2 to 4 different wines with explanations of each so that the enjoyment of drinking the wine along with a brief history of it can be most appreciated.

Sunday Morning we took a drive South on 17 towards the Santa Cruz Mountains and across over to Capitola and Santa Cruz.  Our first stop was Los Gatos.  What a romantic little town right on the foot of these gorgeous mountains.   This little place saved my life back in the mid 80’s when I first moved here and it is one of my most beloved places in the world.

We opted to have lunch at Zelda’s on the beach in Capitola, rather than Margaritaville. At the end of the day they are both average and overpriced Mexican food restaurants but you really pay for the ambiance and the beauty of the view before you.  Service was excellent.  Lunch for 3 and ½ of us was about $84.00 including tip.

Live Music and a little Art market was on display.  I got to see my beautiful friend Leslie whom I had not seen since way back in the 80’s. Leslie is an artist and she goes sea glass hunting on beaches throughout the world and makes and sells this beautiful sea rock jewelry.  She travels the world on luxury ocean cruise liners and sells her art around the world.  When she is at home here in California you might catch her at any one of the many art festivals throughout the region.


You can see her art at

Our drive back to the San Francisco Airport to drop off Russell and Fatima this Sunday evening signaled the beginning of the end of this beautiful vacation.  Even if I am not the best Chinese Food eater in the world, we headed over to China Town on the way home for some Chinese dinner at the R and G Lounge highly recommended by non other than Mr. Anthony Bourdain himself.  Food and service was great.  Total for Lili, Stephy, the baby and me: $74.00

Monday Morning Lili and I had Baby Teddy for the day and we headed to Sonoma.  We ate lunch at Baci’s Café and Wine Bar. This little hole in the wall just across the street from Chateau St. Jean winery was superb,  they prepared a special order pasta for me that the owner made out of nowhere (not on the menu) and it was absolutely delicious.  I had this with glass of chardonnay, Lili had Pasta in white wine clam sauce and ice tea and baby Teddy had a cup of tomato bisk soup.  It all came up to $47.00 including tip.

Tuesday Morning we headed to SFO International but not before a quick stop for lunch at the “Ferry Plaza Seafood” at the Embarquadero for some good ol Boston Style Clam Chowder.

This 8 day vacation was awesome.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to do a Self drive vacation across this beautiful state.  As with anything in life you can make this trip as expensive or as inexpensive as you want to. The main thing is: You just have to do it!

There was this guy named Neville Goddard and he wrote:
“If you want to see your future dreams a present fact,
You MUST ASSUME the feeling of the wish fulfilled.”

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About the Author

Gilbert Ortiz
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