California Road Trip: San Luis Obispo & Santa Cruz

Good morning everyone!  I am currently writing you from a cafe on Valencia Street in San Francisco, California!  I’m so happy to be here, I love this city quite a bit.  I’m leaving in a few hours for my most northern destination, but I’ll be back here tomorrow for more San Franciscan fun.


The trip has been spectacular so far.  I have particularly enjoyed this last leg – northern California is so incredibly beautiful.  In some ways, I feel like this part of the state suits my personality better.  The topography and vegetation of this area are so green and lush and grand.  San Diego ain’t so bad either though… ahh hell, I love it all.

I’m a couple of days behind in my posts because my hotel in Santa Cruz had the slowest Internet ever.  I fully realize how addicted I am to the Internet when it stops working.  I get so incredibly frustrated that it’s actually hilarious.  Except that in this case, I really wanted to write a post!  No matter though, all in good time.

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This post will lump together my time in San Luis Obispo, as well as Santa Cruz – mainly because all I did in San Luis was stay at an amazing hotel.  It was incredible, but wouldn’t make for much of a post.  Santa Cruz though… so much fun!  Please enjoy:

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  • Stayed at the world famous Madonna Inn – this place is absolutely wild.  All of the rooms have different themes and look like Disneyland rides on the inside.  My room looked like a chamber from Game of Thrones… kind of creepy, but it had a waterfall rock shower!  So awesome.
  • Had drinks with a friend in the Madonna Inn bar – try The Pink Cloud, it was ridiculously indulgent, but so damn delicious
  • Picked strawberries at Gizdich Ranch just outside of Santa Cruz – an entire bucket only came out to a little less than $2.50, which is an amazing deal on its own, even without the pick-your-own experience.  Highly recommended!
  • Upon arrival in Santa Cruz, I drove right to the boardwalk and proceeded to have the BEST time – to my delight, they sell beer there which you can walk around with!  Try the local IPA called Big Dipa.
  • Rode rides, played all the (rigged) games, watched a magician pull an actual rabbit out of a hat
  • Ate dinner at one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants ever, Saturn Cafe (and went back for lunch the next day!)
  • Took an early morning stroll on the quiet boardwalk, then walked all the way down the shoreline to the wharf
  • Grabbed coffee and listened to the harbor seals singing in the stillness of the morning
  • Walked all over downtown Santa Cruz – highlights included The Bagelry, Bookshop Santa Cruz, and a myriad of street performers
  • Took an unfruitful hike across town to visit Uncommon Brewers, only to find that it was their production warehouse and not the tasting room – it was still a beautiful walk!

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  • My room at the Madonna Inn was called “Rock Bottom” and it was like sleeping inside of a cave.  All of the wall and floors were made of rock, including in the bathroom!  It felt like living in medieval times or something.
  • The morning I woke up at the Madonna Inn, I put on my bathing suit, went to the pool, and had the whole place to myself for at least half an hour – the pool overlooks the town, what a gorgeous view.
  • I loved playing all the stupid boardwalk games by myself – I even tried that thing where you hit the big stump with a mallet to see how strong you are.  Spoiler alert:  I’m not very strong.
  • I used my boardwalk game tickets to buy a pack of cards and 5 little plastic army men.  Score!
  • Saw a middle school jazz band playing for tips in the downtown area – obviously gave them some bucks, they killed it!
  • Shoutout to my friend Heather who is from Santa Cruz and wrote me a very detailed list of all her favorite spots there – her suggestions definitely guided my itinerary!

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Arriving at the Santa Cruz boardwalk was one of the most exciting moments of my trip so far.  I was acutely aware of how giddy I got when I saw all of the colorful buildings and cheesy fair attractions.  The atmosphere at places like that are so fun-filled and care free.  I love hearing the eclectic din of the crowd – far off screams on a rollercoaster, laughter from a group of teenagers, children begging their parents for some change so they can play just one more game… I walked around with my canned IPA while observing my surroundings and it filled me with an odd sense of knowing peace.  Something about being around hundreds of other people who were enjoying themselves with friends, but being along myself – it was something like a sense of separate connectivity.  I hopped on the ferris wheel drink in hand, and when it stopped at the top I felt complete bliss for a moment as all of these thoughts and feelings merged into one.  It was divine.  

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Entrance to the Madonna Inn lobby – the most ornate carved doors I’ve ever seen!


The architecture of this place is something else!


Just to the left of my hotel parking spot – NBD.


Lots of rock, carved wood and stained glass in this place


Gorgeous California plant life


Oh you know, just a waterfall and gazebo overlooking the pool


The very pink, very campy restaurant inside the Madonna Inn


While my friend and I had cocktails, we were lucky enough to have a side row seat to some group dancing classes!  It was adorable. 


Bathroom selfie, because that bathroom was crazy


The morning I woke up – so quiet and calm


Baby face


Ate a delicious breakfast in the cafe – their colored glass goblets are famous!


Does anyone know what kind of tree this is?  I loved it.


Solo pool-goer


The amazing walkway to the pool


Farm country


The air smelled so strongly of strawberries!


Cute little babes


Boardwalk time!


And really bad eggs…


The boardwalk feeds right onto the beach




Cheesy beach motels – love it


Everything was quiet the next morning – it was fun to see it in both states


Oh hey dude


I really do take beaches for granted – they’re such breathtaking things to behold


Wharf vibes


Really great book store in downtown Santa Cruz


The Santa Cruz Michelin man rides a fixie and smokes a cigar… because #yolo

6 thoughts on “California Road Trip: San Luis Obispo & Santa Cruz

  1. LOVE! ❤

    I have been obsessively checking your page for this post (more than my usual three times a day)! And I JUST now officially Subscribed as a follower.. I guess I can wait for the email notification like the rest of the 100+ #ThatCaliforniaStyleaholics instead of spending my work breaks peeking.

    I really want to visit the Madonna Inn now & stay in EVERY room!!!!! That place looks amazing inside, out, & all around, and I CAN'T believe it's never been on my to-do list before!

    I love your view of "my" town! It brings the magic of childhood back for me. I used to spend HOURS listening to the Sea Lions.. I probably still could. And although I don't think I could move back there unless I'm retired, it still holds a very special place in my heart and I LOVE to visit & play #touristinmyhometown. Bummer about Uncommon Brewers! The good thing about some missed opportunities is they can become the reason for another road trip.
    ..winkie face..

    Side note(s):
    ~I too love the calm of the Boardwalk when it's closed.. SUCH a contrast to it's active state!
    ~Did the automated ticket bitch at the entrance to the wharf give you attitude?
    ~I think that tree looks like it could be a Magnolia.
    ~SC Michelin man looks like a Badass Beach Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas
    ..and #yolo? "False, you live every day. You only die once!" #YODO

    Side side note:
    ~You give good picture.
    ..insert heart eyes emoji face here..


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