The Journey Begins!
Justifiably, the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most iconic roadways in the United States of America. Call it what you will—California Highway 1, Route 1 or Cabrillo Highway—it’s truly breathtaking. All you need is your car, a few ideas of where to stop (keep reading), and you’re ready to discover the beauty and freedom of our open roads.
The City by the Bay
Our Pacific Coast Highway journey began today in one of this country’s most vibrant and eclectic cities, San Francisco, California.
We touched down at SFO amidst clear blue skies and mild temperatures. We couldn’t wait to drop our bags at the hotel and hit the streets.
Our first destination
We started out at The Haight-Ashbury district, known simply as “The Haight.” If San Francisco has a soul, it’s The Haight. This area was the epicenter of the late-1960s, counter-culture movement in the United States, and still wears its hippie heart on its sleeve. Today, The Haight is a bohemian neighborhood filled with unique shops, colorful restaurants, and people.
Of all our stops, an unexpected favorite
That’s right, it was a little hat shop called Goorin Brothers that’s been open for business since the late 19th century. We tried on handcrafted cloche and wide-brimmed sun hats made of locally sourced wool. And like so many people we’ve met in this city, the storekeeper was incredibly welcoming, filling us in on the history of the shop and even posing for photos with us!
After shopping, we were up for some bridge-gazing
“The City by the Bay” has a couple of spectacular landmarks. The Ferry Building Marketplace offers a great view of the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco and Oakland, often referred to as “the Brooklyn of California.” Walk to the end of the pier, and the iconic orange Golden Gate Bridge looms in the distance—a postcard from San Francisco, come to life.
Fresh food galore
By this time, we had worked up an appetite. The Ferry Building is a great spot for a quick bite before walking the waterfront, so we headed back inside for fresh-baked pastries, delicious coffee and fresh picks from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. The word is that San Francisco’s top chefs shop the market for their fresh produce, and it’s easy to see why.
“The New York City of the West”
“Foodies” often refer to San Francisco as this, and it’s worthy of the title—a culinary paradise. The challenge is to agree on a cuisine and a restaurant. We debated a few choices before landing on a local favorite, Lers Ros Thai, known for its traditional Thai spices and portions to match our appetites. By the way, it’s a good idea to ask your server to recommend their favorites. We did, and she nailed every course: savory soups served in a flaming pot, spicy curries and delicious sticky rice desserts!
A memorable first day
We made our way back to the hotel with full stomachs and full hearts. We had fallen in love with San Francisco in a few short hours, romanced by its architecture, food, beautiful setting, and magnetic spirit.
Tomorrow, we hit the road on the Pacific Coast Highway, U.S. Highway 1, to be precise—and point the GPS toward Big Sur and our first destination, Carmel!
Insider’s Tip: To avoid irritating a native, never call San Francisco “Frisco.”