As I’ve recapped in prior years (see 2015 and 2016) Christmas is my favorite holiday to spend with my family. I flew home to Virginia on December 23 and spent four days with my family. Christmas Eve is our big night with my mom’s side of the family. My mom is one of 6 siblings and all my aunts, uncles and cousins live in Northern, Virginia. My grandmother used to host Christmas Eve dinner. However, the last couple of years my mom has hosted since my grandmother now lives full time in Florida. Then, Christmas day we spend the morning with my mom opening our stockings and presents. Then we spend the afternoon and have dinner with my dad and step-family.
After spending a couple of days in Los Angeles, we drove north to Ojai, California to have Thanksgiving with Jeremy’s family. Jeremy’s aunt and uncle live in Portland, Oregon but purchased a vacation home in Ojai, California. Ojai is a small, charming city in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. It’s set in a valley in the Topatopa Mountains.
Jeremy’s aunt and uncle live in Portland, Oregon, but they purchased a second home in Ojai, California. So, this year we celebrated Thanksgiving on the west coast in Ojai. Since Jeremy and I love southern California so much, we flew in early before his family got in to spend some time in Los Angeles.
Mid September I visited Charleston, South Carolina with my three college roommates, Lanie, Lisa and Erin. After all this time we’ve remained friends, even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything. At this point we’re more like sisters than friends since we’ve seen each other at our best and at our worst. The three of them live in Virginia and I live in Atlanta now. So, every year we plan a girls weekend to get together and pick a destination. This year we chose Charleston, South Carolina.
Fall weddings are always so beautiful. The weather is cooler and the leaves begin to change colors. On Saturday September 9, I attended my friend Gracie’s wedding in Boone, North Carolina. Gracie married her longtime love and best friend, Jeff. Unfortunately, Jeremy was sick and so was unable to attend the wedding. But, luckily my friend Jenna was also invited to Gracie and Jeff’s wedding so we made it a girls weekend.
As I stated in my Monterey blog post, we ended up loving Carmel more than Monterey. Carmel is a quieter beach town. Carmel is known for Pebble beach and the 17-Mile Drive. Most of the photos taken here and in my Monterey blog post were from the 17-Mile Drive. The drive takes you through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. The drive passes famous golf courses, mansions and scenic attractions. Some of the scenic attractions includes the Lone Cypress (see Lone Cypress photos from my Monterey blog post), Bird Rock and the 5,300-acre Del Monte Forest of Monterey Cypress trees. The drive is absolutely stunning and you can’t go to Carmel without driving through.
After visiting Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles and Big Sur, we ended our California trip in Monterey and Carmel. It’s crazy how different the landscape and temperature is between Southern California and Northern California. You really need to layer in Northern California, because it gets cold. After watching Big Little Lies on HBO, I was dying to visit Monterey. In Monterey we stayed at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Honestly, we weren’t that impressed with the hotel. If we had done things differently we would have stayed in another hotel in Monterey or in Carmel. The hotel was a bit outdated; however, was in a great location. We ended up loving Carmel more than Monterey. Although, both areas are beautiful.
After traveling to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Paso Robles, Jeremy and I drove to Big Sur. Big Sur was our favorite spot during our Pacific Coast highway vacation. Hands down the views in Big Sur are more spectacular than any other views in California. While in Big Sur we stayed at Treebones, a family run “glamping” resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Labor Day weekend I visited Chicago with my three best friends, Tricia, Lindsay and Jess. The four of us live in different cities now, so we plan trips to visit one another, or we pick a destination. I live in Atlanta, Tricia lives in Los Angeles and Lindsay lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Jess used to live in Arlington, Virginia, but recently moved to Chicago. Since Jess just moved to Chicago, we wanted to visit her while the weather is nice.
After spending a few days in Los Angeles and then in Santa Barbara, we continued north driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur. The drive is about 4 hours from Santa Barbara to Treebones, where we stayed in Big Sur. So, on the way to Big Sur we stopped at Daou Vineyards in Paso Robles for lunch.
After our weekend in Los Angeles, we headed north to Santa Barbara. Jeremy and I rented a lovely Ford Mustang convertible, which ended up being a breeze to drive. The drive from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara takes about 2 hours, depending on traffic. We stayed at the Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara during our visit.
Jeremy and I are back from our 10 day California vacation. As much as it’s nice to be home, I’m already missing our time on the West Coast. We started in Los Angeles and drove up North on California State Route 1. We heard from multiple friends how amazing the drive is. So we decided to make a trip out of it and explore the various cities and towns along the coast.