Dramatic coastline, charming towns, and great eating. Travel blogger couple Collette and Scott Stohler, of Roamaroo, recently took a road trip up the Central Coast to the Bay Area—using California Road Trips: 50 Life-Changing Adventures as inspiration. The husband-and-wife team, who left their desk jobs in 2015 to travel the world, started this scenic road trip in Carmel-by-the-Sea, in Monterey County, and stopped in Half Moon Bay before ending in Sausalito, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
It’s a fabulous trip to do during the winter—but really, this coastal road trip is awe-inspiring any time of year, says Collette, and for any kind of traveler. “There are so many activities, great dining options, and beautiful beaches—we truly believe that absolutely everyone will enjoy this road trip.” Collette shares more favorite moments from their trip below.
1. What were the highlights of your trip to California?
It’s hard to choose just one highlight from our road trip up the central and northern coasts of California because [each destination] offers breathtaking views, amazing dining options, and beautiful beaches.
2. Your trip took you to a variety of California’s beaches. Are there a couple beaches that stood out—and why?
We absolutely loved Cowell Ranch Beach in Half Moon Bay. Even though you’re close to downtown Half Moon Bay, it feels like you’re in an alternate universe. The coastal cliffs climb high over the Pacific Ocean, there are hiking and biking paths along the edge, and its secluded location exudes a palpable peacefulness.
3. What did you see on your bike tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea?
An e-bike tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea is a great way to experience the seaside city. We biked through town and stopped at tasting rooms, biked along the Carmel coastline, and enjoyed a magical sunset at Pebble Beach.
4. Can you describe your experience at Refuge in Monterey County?
Refuge is a magical outdoor thermal spa just minutes from downtown Carmel. No electronics are allowed inside the spa so it allows for a complete disconnection from the outside world while offering a peaceful, quiet, and meditative space to restore the mind, body, and soul.
5. Do you have any tips for exploring Half Moon Bay?
We would definitely recommend the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach and the hike at Cowell Ranch Beach. In Moss Beach, you can play in the tide pools and watch the elephant seals along the coastline. Cowell Ranch Beach is rugged and romantic, offering beautiful vistas at every twist and turn.
6. What were the best parts of your stay at Cavallo Point in Sausalito?
Cavallo Point in Sausalito quickly became one of our favorite hotels in the United States. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge are unparalleled, the service is exceptional, and the spa is divine. We had a romantic room with a fireplace, a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and unlimited wine and cheese!
7. What did you explore in the Bay Area?
We visited downtown Sausalito, which is a charming seaside city across the bay from San Francisco. We enjoyed a magical sunset at Kirby Cove overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, and we took the ferry across to San Francisco. There are so many picturesque ways to experience the area: biking, hiking, driving, and ferries! No matter what form of transportation you take, you’re guaranteed stunning views of the Bay Area.
8. What was your favorite meal on the trip?
While we had many delicious meals on our road trip, the lobster roll and clam chowder at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay was our favorite meal of the entire trip. The location was low-key and laidback, the food was divine, and we really felt like locals while we were there.
9. Who would you recommend this trip to and why?
We would recommend this trip to couples, families, groups of friends, and anyone who wants to enjoy authentic coastal California charm.
10. Is there one photo or social media post that best sums up your trip?
It’s hard to sum up this amazing California road trip in one photo, but this moment from Refuge does a beautiful job of encapsulating the trip: romantic, whimsical, adventurous, picturesque, and completely enchanting.