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California Coastal Highway

For the sake of not putting this off, or over complicating things, I’m going to attempt at keeping this SIMPLE… Let’s see how this goes…. 

8-day California Hwy 1 Road Trip Itinerary —

First of all, I did not plan this trip from scratch. I have to majorly shout out Practical Wanderlust as their 10-day itinerary was my starting point. From there, I narrowed down to fine tune to our interests and timeline. 

Also, I would not necessarily recommend how we began the trip (flying into LA, renting a car, driving to SF then working the way down) Since we waited until the last minute to plan and then cashed in points for our airfare it only worked out to fly in and out of LA. Most blogs will suggest flying into SF and out of LA, I would agree. 

That detail overly complicated the beginning of the trip, even though it was really cool to see the landscape and agriculture fields, I’ll just begin as if we DID start in San Francisco. 

One last thing before you read this; I’m not a foodie and don’t do a lot (if any) research on food. But, there are a few food elements of the trip that stand out, and I feel like they are worth mentioning but apologies in advance if you were seeking food recommendations. 

Here’s a high level breakdown of the route – 

San Francisco – Santa Cruz – Big Sur – Monterey – Morro Bay – Santa Barbara – Los Angeles

Now for the wordy part — 


Atlanta > LA > San Francisco 

(arrived in SF around 5pm)

Activities: Explored Fisherman’s Wharf and surrounding area, caught the sunset

Notes: Parking by the wharf is $$$, for ours it was $50/all day so you’d want to make full use of it. There’s a WW2 museum and submarine I would have checked out but it was closed, however, right beside it, there’s an antique coin museum arcade that was a surprise and very cool. Don’t even have to spend money, it’s neat to just look! There’s a lot of seemingly cheesy restaurants around there but there’s also some great stuff mixed in. Popped into San Francisco Brewing in Ghirardelli Square and while it was very touristy, the historical buildings over there are really cool to peruse. Watched the sunset from the Aquatic Park beach – that park as a whole is cute and a great place to rest and people watch. 

Overnight in SF


San Francisco

Activities: Muir Woods, The Haight, sunset cruise

Notes: Parking pass for the national park required, very important, you will get turned away! Incredible experience, don’t sleep on seeing the largest trees in the world! We went in the morning and noticed it got way busier as we were leaving around noon. The entrance and boardwalk trail is packed with kids and the elderly so if you want actual peace and quiet to take things in, hike a trail. Opted for the fern trail to escape and even though it was at times exhausting, it was so worth it to have quietness.

Muir Woods

If you’re into music, specifically musicians from the 60-70’s, check out the Grateful Dead house, Janis Joplin’s apartment and Jimi Hendrix’s “red house.” The area Haight-Ashbury also has great shops of the plant, hippie and vintage variety. We popped into Magnolia Brewery for a pint- recommend! Regarding the sunset cruise- would opt for a smaller, more private boat. I booked this one, and it was not it. Way too many kids. It also didn’t help that there was no sunset. The entire day was gorgeous then a few hours before what would have been golden hour, fog rolled in. I would suggest, if you can, walking up to the wharf and booking on the spot. There was a small sailboat offering 1-hour cruises for very cheap. With booking ahead, you just don’t know how the weather will actually be, since it can shift so quickly. Cashed in IHG points and stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in Japantown – great location and nice hotel. They had a little wine happy hour and in California, anything free is very welcome! 

Overnight in SF


Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Monterey 

Activities: enjoy the coastal highway, sightsee 

Notes: Drove to Santa Cruz, specifically Natural Bridges State Beach. After looking at things to do in the area, I realized we didn’t need a ton of time there, so we just hung at the beach for a bit watching the birds on the “bridge” and then headed towards Big Sur. There are not a lot of pit stops in or along Big Sur so to take advantage of the views, we landed on Nepenthe for a relaxed long lunch. Very much recommend, though be prepared to spend, lunch was not fancy in the slightest but the prices were steep. Heard from a local it’s the “tourism tax” as well as to counterbalance all the money the city spends on natural disasters (rock slides etc) to keep things open _for_ tourism. After lunch we popped by Deetjens Big Sur Inn to have a look around after it came recommended by a friend and folks we met at lunch. Then it was time to get ready for sunset so we drove to Julia Pfeiffer State Park. We heard there was purple sand (there was!) and we walked around peeking into tide pools hoping to find starfish (we did!) 

tide pool at Julia Pfeiffer State Park

That evening’s hotel was purely for a bed, and we knew that going in, so we stayed in Monterey for the easy access back onto the highway. There is currently a part of the road closed due to a rockslide so we had to detour around it. This is something you’ll definitely want to look into when planning your coastal highway trip!

Overnight  in Monterey 

Day 4

San Simeon, Morro Bay 

Activities: Hearst Castle, elephant seals, kayaking 

Notes: If you find yourself in Monterey, have breakfast at Wave Street Cafe, it was exceptional! After fueling up, we drove to Hearst Castle, and took the grand rooms tour. If you have more time I think it’d be worth seeing more, but the grand rooms did the trick for us. I was most impressed with the indoor pool and the fact that Lady Gaga shot a music video at both the pools! I mean…

indoor pool at Hearst Castle

A few miles down the road from the castle is the (free) elephant seal viewing area. Super neat to see the massive creatures. After hanging with them, we drove to Morro Bay, quickly checked into the hotel and got ready for this sunset kayak excursion. Loved our tour guide, “Ocean Mike.” We saw otters, bay seals, an oyster farm and watched the sunset from the dunes over wine and cheese- very much recommend! 

Overnight  in Morro Bay *HIGHLY suggest: Beach Bungalow Inn & Suites, specifically the oyster room, great view of Morro Rock


Morro Bay 

Activities: dune buggies, wineries, dinner

Notes: While the dunes were really cool, I do not recommend the dune buggy experience. If you have any injuries or are in your 30’s…it’s brutal for the neck and back. Instead do the kayak experience (above) and you’ll walk the dunes around Morro Rock which is equally as cool. I do support hitting up San Luis Obispo wine country. There are (according to Google) 250 wineries in that area so it’s definitely somewhere you can spend some time, but we only had 2 afternoon time frames and opted for the following – Chamisal Vineyards, Saucelito Canyon, Baileyana Tangent & True Myth, lastly Claiborne & Churchill.

San Luis Obispo wine country

Followed by an impromptu stop at Madonna Inn which is apparently on several of my friend’s bucket lists. It’s pretty dang cool! Would love to stay there one day, especially since it’s right by so many great wineries.

Overnight in Morro Bay


San Luis Obispo, Solvang, Santa Barbara 

Activities: wineries, free styling 

Notes: The plan was to just drive to Santa Barbara, but because Bittle Ranch was closed when we were winery hopping the previous day, we stopped by. The vibes (and wine) were so me! Olive trees everywhere, black and white decor. While there, one of the gals told us about Brick Barn and it sounded really cool too, so we popped by. All in all, the 6 wineries we visited were all great! On our drive to Santa Barbara we passed through Solvang, which Practical Wanderlust recommended and I originally opted out of but, the Danish details got me! We stopped for a beer and game of corn hole with some locals. Then continued on to Santa Barbara for a late dinner and early night in order to pack it in the following day. 

Overnight in Santa Barbara 


Santa Barbara, Los Angeles 

Activities: architecture walking tour, shopping 

Notes: The walking tour is FREE and not daunting, I promise. It’s all within a few city blocks. If I hadn’t dropped the ball, we planned to visit Lotusland- a former home of a Polish opera singer turned botanical gardens. Low key regret not making it happen but also each city we went to had incredible (free) landscaping to gawk at. The Funk Zone had really cute shops and eateries though we did all our shopping along State Street. I’d love a slower paced couple of days here, it’s so gorgeous! After a nice afternoon we checked into The Line hotel in LA. Bit of a splurge but every other stay was very thrifty or booked with points and the view from the room and amenities was worth it! 

view from The Line Hotel, LA

Took advantage of happy hour and hung at the pool then had dinner at Openaire. A friend had recommended The Comedy Store so out of curiosity checked to see if there was another that night- to our surprise there were tickets available for a fun lineup of comedians. If the day wasn’t packed enough, we had heard there was a speakeasy below the hotel (there’s actually TWO!) so we hit that up as well. Next time you’re in LA, definitely hit up Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for a disco dance party. 

Overnight in Los Angeles

DAY 8 – the last day!

Los Angeles, Venice Beach, Santa Monica

Activities: hike, beach, bike ride, tattoos

Notes: Hiked around Griffith Observatory grounds followed by seeking AC and checking out the free exhibits. Very cool space information and I even touched a piece of the moon! I had made a tattoo appointment with Joey Hill in Venice Beach so of all the beaches to hit around LA, we opted for that area. We first hit the Santa Monica pier, which was very similar to SF’s Wharf as far as touristy vibes goes. To our luck, there was a classic car show happening which was very cool. The pier was packed with all kinds of crazy cars, and people. Upon realizing we were tired and could only cover so much ground, we rented bikes. This was the move! Allowed for a lot more exploration. Few of the highlights of the bike path were the skate park, lunch and drinks at Shutters, and the people watching – so many characters! 

Overnight in Los Angeles before heading out the following morning

What a journey! There are few things I’d do differently – it was that good!

Couple of last notes: to save time and allow more flexibility, I’d pack outfit options so we wouldn’t have to go back to the hotel and I’d just change in the parking lot. Almost every single time I put on makeup, it was in the car. And speaking of, lots of folks asked if we were renting a convertible, we did not. We got a very comfortable Mercedes SUV and have no regrets. We spent so much time in the car and it was extremely comfortable, had lots of space for our stuff and the larger windows allowed for perfect viewing.

If there are any questions you have, ask away!

blast from the past…

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been MIA from this blog for quite some time (from the looks of my last post, since 2021!) Life has a way of taking unexpected turns, and in my case, it led me to a lengthy hiatus from this platform. Instead, I’ve channeled my energy into Instagram, which has been a fun and less formal outlet.

Instagram has allowed me to capture moments, express thoughts, and connect with an incredible community but, I’ve been itching to get back into the world of blogging!

My Insta feed is a kind of micro-blog. I’ve poured my heart and soul into those little captions, but there’s something about the long-form narrative that’s been calling out to me. On this platform, I can dive deeper into topics and details.

So, here I am, returning my roots. And in true form, starting with a FLASHBACK, to 2019.

Recently developed film from our southern Italy trip and love how the colors and light leaks turned out, here are my favorites from Positano:

35MM photos taken on vintage Canon using Lomography film

Next up, I’ll be sharing our full 8-day road trip itinerary from San Francisco to Los Angeles! There’s so much information to compile, so it’s going to take a moment, but I’m excited to share it. It was truly a trip of a lifetime, and I don’t use that phrase lightly!


While traveling majorly pumped the breaks last year and 2021 is just as difficult there are some ways to STILL get out. Here are some tips and tricks:

Figure out COVID restrictions or guidelines

Before you travel in 2021, figure out if there are any COVID restrictions or guidelines at the location you’re visiting + with the airline you are traveling with. For example, there is a new guideline that says you have to get tested if you are entering back into the USA. Also, places such as Sedona enforce a city-wide mask mandate. Just be aware of any guidelines beforehand, or you can get yourself into a pickle! 

Spend less, travel more

When you travel, save money where you can so that you are able to travel more. So, for example, if you have to choose between a $500 hotel and a $350 hotel, choose the less expensive option. Sure – it may not be exactly what you were hoping for or envisioning, but traveling and exploring a new city is indeed traveling, right?

Make extra cash

There are 2 big ways to make extra cash, so that you can travel more. 

The first one? Cut back on unnecessary spending so that you’re able to save more. Travel is expensive, so making financial sacrifices is a given. Some people, though, don’t even know where the bulk of their money goes. In a lot of cases, it’s food. Eating out for lunch every day (even the cheapest of takeout options) or grabbing a daily coffee en route to work is likely one of your biggest expenses. Foregoing a $5 latte five times a week can save you $100 per month and that adds up. Every time you go to order a second glass of wine at dinner or have trouble passing up a pair of shoes, remind yourself that travel is the reward.

Your second option? Find ways to make extra cash. Sell things you don’t need, or use your skills to make some extra cash. If you need help finding a place to sell your items, check out Chapes-JPL. They are an Atlanta pawn shop that buys and gives loans on valuables such as watches, handbags, gold, diamonds, etc. They have been the highest-rated pawn shop in Atlanta for over forty years now and have amazing reviews, too! Plus, you do not even have to go in-store to get extra cash in exchange for your valuables because they just released an at-home option. They say: “Chapes-JPL announces our National Mail-In, 100% Insured, Secure Cash for Assets Program. The dirty secret of a typical “pawn shop” is they charge the highest interest rates by law in their local city. With Chapes-JPL National Mail-in Program, you are able to get the lowest interest rates allowed by law, across the entire United States. Best of all, it’s 100% secure, insured, and licensed. Your items are insured by Chapes-JPL and mailed out with the United States Postal Service; backed by Chapes-JPL 5 star reputation since 1980.” Pretty cool, right?

Chapes JPL, Atlanta

Take shorter trips more often

If you have a limited number of vacation days from your job, using them all at once means you’ll spend the rest of the year waiting for new vacation days to kick in. Using a few here and there means you’re traveling more often throughout the year. Plus, if you’re able to drive to your location vs. driving, it will save you quite a bit of money that you can put to your current or a future trip!

Work remotely

You don’t have to turn into a digital nomad in order to work remotely. Find out whether your company would be amenable to the idea and, if they’re open to it, give it a test run or two to prove your efficiency. The ability to work remotely, even occasionally or for part of your trip, can help you stretch out limited vacation days. Yes, you’d be working part of the day, but when you turn off your computer you’re still on vacation. Thankfully, if you are in the corporate world, so many positions have virtual capabilities now due to COVID. Take advantage of that! 

Watch airfare sales

If you’re the spontaneous type, take advantage of airline sales by signing up for email notifications (Google flights is a great option), learning the best time to book flights, as well as all the ways you can score cheap flights. Airlines like Southwest often have big sales where they practically give flights away. The sales may be for last-minute flights, but don’t be fooled into thinking that every trip needs to be planned way in advance. If you have a free weekend or some extra vacation days, just throw your stuff in a carry-on and in a few hours, you could be at the beach or on the slopes.

STAY SAFE, stay WARM, keep traveling

*Collaborative post


Just like my wardrobe, my sleepwear HAS to be comfortable and thanks to Lunya, I’ll be sleeping in silky softness in this gorgeous set –

My favorite part is the leg slits! Nothing worse than feeling constricted while trying to decompress, relax and SLEEP.

Growing up, one of the Christmas gifts my brothers and I could always count on were pjs. It was usually Old Navy fleece pajama pants so I’ve definitely leveled UP with this chic set. If you’re a pj gift giver or love to receive/shop for yourself (no shame!), and are shopping around for Black Friday deals, Shopbop has you covered. They are currently running a sale for 20% off $200, see details here and have a HUGE collection of loungewear, sexy lingerie and pajamas, SEE HERE. Happy shopping friends!


On Saturday we celebrated FIVE YEARS!

Five years filled with fun times, exploration, kitchen dancing, belly laughs, TLC and my BEAUTIFUL WEDDING RINGS. As it falls on Halloween, we celebrated a day earlier with fancy sushi. As well as at the beginning of the month opening our guestbook box that contained notes from our wedding guests during our last visit to the Daufuskie house, where we got engaged. Super special reading notes from friends and family!

More on my wedding ring below:

I love love love the story behind my wedding rings! Here goes…

When we first set out on finding a ring we looked at vintage and estate options at AmericasMart. I liked some of the pieces but none made us want to INSTANTLY pull the trigger. Talking about our shopping trips with my mom she said “I have my mothers and you can keep as is or rework!”


It was two rings, soldered together. The main had a tiny diamond that was surrounded by a lot of silver and a few super small diamonds along the band. By this time Dustin knew what I liked so I handed over the rings and said “lets keep the band as is, but I trust you!” When he popped the question and I saw the made over ring I WAS BLOWN AWAY!

He worked some magic and turned her into a work of art.

He upgraded the largest stone to a bigger more clear estate diamond, added two baguette diamonds, kept two small ones from the original and added two sapphire triangles to the underneath/side area for a total of 7 stones which is a lucky number to us.  The touch of blue represents Dustin and the triangles were a little something for me <3 We wanted it to remain two-tone, yellow gold and white gold to be able to go with whatever I want to wear with it.


The accent triangles are usually hidden when wearing but I absolutely adore the detail. Dustin drew it out in a moleskin and took it to the jeweler and viola! Feeling like a lucky lady all over again just typing this out!

Above are two other rings I wear everyday. The dainty sapphire band I got from Shopbop and the croissant ring is from Mejuri. Ring holder by local Atlanta ceramicist, Honeycomb Studio.

Hope you enjoyed reading about something very near and dear to my heart! Happy Anni Dustin <3