What do you do when the world is a dumpster fire? You get in the car and take a road trip!
Last year, I took a solo trip up the coast To Solvang and Beyond and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken! I’ve been waiting (impatiently) for an opportunity to arise to repeat this trip and this time, I did it in a Mazda Miata X5 convertible and with my best friend! 💖 Have you ever tried to pack a two-seater convertible for a road trip?
Admittedly, while cruising up the 101, the image that replayed over and over in my head was that of Thelma and Louise (tap that link if you’re too young for that reference, 😂). We’re just two best friends hitting the road and looking for adventure!
Our first order of business was to get to Solvang as soon as possible for this ↓! But, I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself!
This trip was my first time getting out of my four walls and acclimating back into society since COVID-19 struck. There were some feelings of angst and worry about hotels, restaurants, and traveling in general and how to do it all safely. Even a road trip bathroom break is now more complicated than it was ten months ago.
We hit the road, grabbed some breakfast, and navigated the Mazda through Los Padres Forest. The views there are truly breathtaking and after soaking them in, we headed straight for Solvang! The sweet smells of Danish bakeries and photo opportunities were calling us!
The Solvang Bakery is my FAVORITE, and it’s a must when you’re in town!! Let me just remind you of that cake photo up top! If you think I’m exaggerating when I say I’d drive 4 hours, just for that cake, you’d be wrong! I haven’t stopped thinking about that cake in over a year! And now that I’m a (self-proclaimed) Solvang Bakery aficionado, trust me when I say you NEED to try their Danish Waffles! They may have even converted me into liking gingerbread, who knew?! Also, they make the cutest gingerbread houses I’ve ever seen!
When you’re in town, swing over to Brekkies by chomp for brunch. A bellini and some French Toast are the best way to start the day! They have a great outdoor patio and they’re convenient to everything in town.
After our adventures in Solvang, it was time to head north to Pismo Beach for our stay at The Cliffs Hotel and Spa! I stayed here last year too and had the BEST time, so we were super excited to move back in for a couple of days! The views here are stunning!
The staff here excels in making you feel welcome, and they’re really good at it too! Treat yourself while you’re here and add something extra special to your visit!
At The Cliffs, they’ve made changes to their housekeeping routines to follow COVID-19 guidelines and now require face masks to be worn inside and when moving throughout the property. Amenities like the pool and fitness center are open with heavy monitoring and waitlists as needed. From a visitor perspective, it was as close to “normal” as possible, and seeing the changes they’ve implemented put my worries at ease.
During my trip research, I found a great place for dinner in San Luis Obispo called 1865 Craft House & Kitchen! Last year, I didn’t venture off the property, so it was great to see more of the local area this time. When I looked at 1865’s Instagram account, I was immediately taken by their gorgeous cocktails.
The manager Melody is a total doll! She was awesome with helping us choose delicious food and drinks and accommodating any requests to help us capture them at their best! Check out these TikToks we made with their decadent chocolate cake and dry ice Pismo Fog!
Post dinner, night time drives in the convertible are definitely fun! Before we turned in for the night we took a detour to the Pismo Beach Pier to grab some snaps of their new sign all lit up! It’s quite the attraction, so this was no easy feat, but fun and worth the photos!
There is a serenity in the air at The Cliffs Hotel & Spa property. You’re surrounded by lush landscaping, with endless views of the ocean. Few things in life are greater than listening to the waves crashing from a super comfy bed!
Every time I’m here, I say “if I just don’t leave my room, do you think they’ll notice?!” If you’ve been cooped up long enough, and want to escape your walls too, a stay here will certainly make you feel refreshed. I never want to leave, however the next stop on our road trip was awaiting us! But first…
a quick stop in Santa Barbara is a requirement! And while you’re here, even if you’ve already been to the Chromatic Gate, I still think it’s a fun stop! It was about this time that I was reminded of my hunger, lol! You know the phrase “when in Rome?” Well, The Habit Burger Grill originated in Santa Barbara, so we grabbed a quick bite before heading into LA traffic. Guess who’s been stuck inside for soo long that she forgot traffic was even a thing… 🙋♀️! Oops!
After tons of traffic, we finally arrived at the Avenue of The Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa. This hotel is in the Arts District and is truly a piece of art itself; its lobby is full of rich purple accents. I’ve stayed here before on a staycation in Costa Mesa and was eager to return.
In regards to COVID-19 precautions, one major change this hotel has implemented is a 24-hour rule. After a guest(s) occupies a room, they do not allow vacancy in that room again until after 24 hours have passed and it has been thoroughly cleaned. As expected, you’ll be required to wear a mask in public spaces, and they’ve provided hand sanitizer stations around the property.
The room we stayed in was warm and cozy. One of the things I love about this hotel is how unique it is. The decor sets an inviting ambiance. And can we talk about my backyard? Haha, yes I’m referring to our room’s outdoor private patio! I thought it was super neat, so I fondly referred to it as our backyard! Also, if any of their furniture ever goes missing, I didn’t do it! 🤪 Every chair there is crazy comfortable!
Now that we were settled in and after spending the whole day in the car, it was time to venture out for dinner at Old Vine Kitchen & Bar. Old Vine is located in The Camp, a hotspot for dining and shopping. Check out the super fun and creative use of the space here with to-go menu mailboxes and built-in seating with hammocks.
[Image: Old Vine Kitchen & Bar]
Since we were there for dinner, I wanted to share this photo so you could see how they’ve transformed this rooftop to adapt to current circumstances. At night, there was such a relaxing vibe on the roof that it helped me reset from the chaos of the day. Old Vine specializes in making as many ingredients in-house as possible like the onion rose petal jam on the charcuterie board. You can taste that extra love in every dish.
After a good night’s rest, we ventured out for donuts and did a driving tour around Costa Mesa to look at all the new murals that have popped up! First stop, mochi donuts at Fill Bakeshop! We’ve been eyeing up these mochi donuts for a long time, so this was the perfect opportunity to try them! These unique donuts have fun flavors and a chewy texture. My favorites were the Taro and the Milk & Cereal!
Next up, we checked out the murals at the Costa Mesa skatepark! I really loved the designs and bright colors here. While we’re still out here social distancing and being safe, taking a driving tour to see these colorful murals is a safe way to enjoy these works of art.
With our trip coming to a close, there’s just one last stop we have to make before returning to San Diego…brunch! A quick walk down the street from our hotel is an Aussie inspired restaurant called, OUTPOST Kitchen.
This was such a fun brunch experience. Alex was great at helping us pick some of their best dishes and drinks! They have such a creative cocktail menu, which is only fitting because their bar reminds me of a disco ball! And whatever you do, trust when I tell you to order extra potatoes to take home with you! They’re roasted and crispy, topped with onions and prosciutto, and perfect to add to eggs the next day! Facts!
What a trip this was! It was soo nice to get away, and it was a big relief that things are starting to feel as normal as they can during this pandemic. If you are worried about getting back into the world, my best advice is to wear your mask, and take precautions (I go through a TON of hand sanitizer!), but GO live your life! We only get one life to live, and time is a very precious gift!
If you could take a road trip anywhere right now, where would you go?
Until next time, happy eating and traveling!