To kick off the summer of 2018, I planned a week long road trip to San Francisco around the dates where Alex and I would be attending a reggae festival in Monterey and when we would need to be in LA for his brother's high school graduation- and what a success it was!
The trip started off on Thursday, May 24th with a long drive up to Monterey. This was probably the roughest time of the entire trip, not because of how long the drive was, but because we booked the hotel for the wrong dates, and the hotel we had booked for that night was the hotel that we were supposed to stay in when we got to LA the following week. So while Alex drove up the coast, I was in the passenger seat calling both hotels and trying to avoid the late cancellation fee. Although we couldn't completely avoid it, I was able to talk them down to a lower rate so I'll give myself props for that move.
The next problem then came when trying to find a new hotel in Monterey that wasn't completely sold out for the festival or ridiculously overpriced. We didn't find a hotel that we wanted, but we did end up finding a small inn near the fairgrounds where the festival was being held. This place worked out perfectly because it saved us from needing to drive to the festival everyday- instead we could just walk for 3 minutes! We ended up needing to sleep in the car just for that one night before calling them the next morning and getting early check in! Another lifesaver so we could unpack the car and shower and get ready for Day 1 of Cali Roots.
This was our second year going to the California Roots Reggae festival and this year was definitely better than our first time around. We enjoy going to music festivals the most because of all the people that you meet, the experience of enjoying not just the music but the art and energy of the venue, and having the opportunity to relax and enjoy everyone's company. It's a nice escape from every day life where your immersed in music and good people.
We attended Cali Roots for the whole three days (May 25, 26, 27) before getting back into the car on the 28th and driving up to San Francisco!
For anyone that's never been to San Fran, if you're thinking you need more than a week to explore all the major tourist attractions, you can honestly get it done in about 3/ 4 days at most. I originally planned for a week long trip but cut it short to be able to get back to LA. I was worried we wouldn't be able to get everything done, but we did even more than I planned to do within the week long itinerary. I find that watching YouTube videos from travel bloggers about the place you're going to visit is helpful in deciding what's worth seeing and finding some hidden gems that not many tourists know about. This was the most helpful when trying to pick places to eat.
We stayed in San Fran from the 28th until we left on the morning of the 30th. Top places that you have to see in San Fran: Golden Gate Bridge (don't be scared to drive over it), the Palace of Fine Arts, Chinatown, the Painted Ladies, Twin Peaks, AT&T Park (if you're into baseball), Alcatraz (of course!), and Fisherman's Wharf.
Going back down the coast on the 30th, I planned some pit stops to see some places and things that we've been wanting to see for a while. First stop and one place that's been on my bucket list since I was little- the Winchester Mansion. If you don't know what the Winchester Mansion/ Mystery House is, it's supposedly America's Most Haunted House (yes, I was into haunted stuff since I was 6). I promise that it's not scary when you visit, and it's actually very interesting. Alex wasn't sure he would like it (because he's the total opposite of me when it comes to scary things) but he left happy that we went and interested in learning more about the house.
From there we went down to Solvang, which is the cutest little Dutch town hidden in California. When we got there, there was a farmer's market being held, and unfortunately all the shops started to close down early. But we made sure to grab some Dutch pastries, grab a couple postcards, and visit the Hans Christian Anderson Museum (again, literature and twisted stories- something that I've always loved).
After Solvang, we headed down to LA where we stopped to see the Last Bookstore, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and LA County Museum of Art- well the lightposts there, we got there after the actual museum closed. All three places are great for photo ops. From there we drove to Fullerton where we stayed with Alex's brother, Elijah, and his family.
After such a crazy day full of driving, we stuck with the family and hung out with them until it was graduation time (May 31). It was a long ceremony but one that ended with me crying. I didn't think I would be so emotional but I really consider Alex's siblings to be my siblings too. And Elijah was the first of all our siblings to graduate. I can only imagine what it's going to be like watching the youngest sibling walk across that stage in 2030... when I'll probably have my own kids by then.
The next and last day of our vacation, June 1, we decided to put our passes to use and spend the day at Disneyland. We went on all the essential rides, Alex was able to purchase his first Disney michelada (his 21st birthday was on May 10th), we got to see all the new Pixar Fest festivities, and then drove back down to San Diego where we spent the next day sleeping.
It was a great trip, and we learned a lot about travelling and road tripping. Best tips to share:
1. Make sure that you take the time to plan out pit stops when your road tripping. Even if it's a small little town, you can find some great new experiences and make memories that you didn't even think could happen.
2. When going to a city where it's mostly stop and look at this cool tourist thingy- don't plan on those tourist thingies to take up a lot of time. More than likely it should take you 20 minutes at most.
3. And lastly, always double check your hotels at least 3 days before you leave. Don't pull an Alana (unless you're talking down those cancellation fees).
If you have any cool places that you'd like to add to the list of things to do in San Fran, Monterey, LA, or Solvang, be sure to comment them below.
Since I was a little girl, writing was always my go- to way of expressing myself and escaping from the rest of the world.