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  • Writer's pictureMarie Bailly

4 Day Scenic Roadtrip on Northern California's Pacific Coast

Everyone knows about the iconic Pacific Highway drive and Big Sur - it's one of the most famous drives in the whole world. While known for its incredible beauty, the drive can be overcrowded and "touristy". Truth is, there is so much more to California than Big Sur and - we have done quite a bit of exploring and driving around so you don't have to. We love NorCal and came up with a perfect 4-day trip itinerary.

Day 1

We recommend an early start, preferably 7 am.

First stop:

Mill SF - grab some freshly-baked bread, a coffee and one of the their famous toasts

Next stop (60 mins):

Stinson Beach - this beach is one of NorCal's best hidden secrets. Meditate to the sound of the waves and watch cool surfers to their thing

Next stop (60 mins)

Point Reyes Lighthouse - breathtaking, literally. Climbing up to the lighthouse is a good workout and the views from above are so, so worth it

Next stop (20 mins)

Cypress Tree Tunnel - Northern California is famous for its Monterrey cypress and this iconic cypress tunnel is worth checking out

Next stop (45 mins):

Hog Island Oysters - pick up oysters to go (don't forget lemons and a shacking knife)

Next stop (50 mins): Russian House #1 - you must be getting hungry - we have the perfect authentic Russian food experience. It's half restaurant, half a spiritual sanctuary - there is a delicious buffet of freshly-prepared Russian dishes and you pay what you can/want.

Next stop (90 mins) Gerstle Cove Campground - tonight you are staying at one of our favourite campgrounds and the only campground in the area that's open year round. $35 per night, its 28 spots get booked up quickly so make sure to reserve ahead of time. Well-maintained camping space with fire rings and a nice camping bench. Reserve here:

Day 2

You are starting your day in Salt Point State Park - with 6,000 acres of rugged beauty and 6 miles of coast, this park is one of the highlights of the Sonoma County. Ask the campground ranger for a hike route depending on how much time you want to spend on exploring. Next stop (20 mins)

Trinks Cafe - perfect breakfast spot, our fave is buttermilk pancakes - 20 mins Next stop (30 mins)

Point Area Lighthouse and Museum - one of the most iconic lighthouses on the American Pacific Coast, it still keeps the light on and guides sailors to safety on foggy days.

Next stop (1 hr)

Fort Bragg - take a walk through historic downtown, check out Headlands Coffee House if you need a snack/coffee and head to Glass Beach

Next stop (30 mins) Westport-Union Landing State Beach for a scenic beach walk

Next stop (90 mins)

Usal Campground in Whitehorn, CA - beach-front dispersed camping mecca. Find parking on the beach and fall asleep to the sound of the waves, so romantic!

Day 3

Spend the day chilling on the beach, tan, walk along the coast, take naps, read a book, watch the Milky Way - you get the drill.

Day 4

Have a hearty breakfast, pack it up & pack it in (make sure to take all of your trash with you) - you are heading to wine country!

Next and final stop (4 hrs) Petaluma - take a walk through historic district, stop by wineries. We like: Barber Cellars Tasting Room and Azari Vineyards if you like the idea of pizza+wine. Craving beer? Stop by Lagunitas Brewing Company. For the best pie you'll ever have, head to Petaluma Pie Company. Next and final stop (45 mins)

Hawk Hill - Arrive by sunset and catch the most iconic view of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco

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