Friday, June 7, 2013

Beaches of the California Coast

Because I live on the east coast, most of my posts are about the beautiful beaches along the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.  But I have fond memories of the California coast and I hope to get back there someday.  My last visit to California was so long ago that my pictures are film, rather than digital, but now that Instagram is popular they actually look "hip" again. 

We started our trip in San Francisco and then took California Highway #1 south to L.A.  The scenery is spectacular and I hope to get back with a good camera, so I can do it justice. 

I love Japanese Gardens and the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is one of the most beautiful I've seen.   Legend has it that the Fortune Cookie was invented in this Tea Garden!

Driving south from San Francisco leads to Monterey and the famous 17-Mile Drive, which hugs the coast and provides the most dramatic scenery of the trip. Some of the classic "post-card" shots of California are taken along this stretch of beach. 

At the end of the 17-Mile Drive is the charming "village" of Carmel.  This little storybook town has wonderful shops, galleries, and restaurants.  We particularly liked a little toy store called Thinker Toys.  There are many wonderful places to stay, but I loved our hotel, La Playa, which featured lush gardens and landscaping.  It was built as a mansion in 1904 by a Norwegian-born artist for his bride, a daughter of the chocolate-famed Ghiradelli family, and was later converted to a luxury hotel. 

Many of the town's residents had wonderful gardens and window boxes.  I liked this 4th-of-July themed display!
Our next stop was the beautiful city of Santa Barbara.  It looks like classic California with a wide sandy beach, swaying palm trees, and the blue Pacific Ocean.   We stayed at the Santa Barbara Inn, a boutique hotel which featured Michel Richard's famous restaurant, Citronelle. 
We then drove to Los Angeles . . . . which of course has wonderful and famous beaches . . . . but I will leave that for another post!

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