Updated for 2019!
3 day Northern California Road Trip Itinerary
Grab someone you love and whom you want to make some fun and meaningful memories with and GO on this road trip!!
It is absolutely perfect for those who want to get away and just be spellbinded by nature’s beauty. One of my best friend’s, Kerrie, and I took this road trip over my birthday weekend (she planned it! Love your Kurr!!) and it was SO DAMN FUN. And incredibly relaxing. Exactly what we both needed. We came back feeling lighter on our feet for sure!
The trip is:
-Full of nature
-Views at every turn
-Plenty of moments for self-care
-Stops to eat for healthy or non-healthy foods!
–The BEST glamping road trip ever with my best friend Kurr–
Planning A 2-3 Day Roadtrip To The Northern California Coast:
So where exactly would you be headed should you choose our route? To the Sonoma / Mendocino coast! Starting from the Bay Area. F*cking BEAUTIFUL. Just as a reference, below I provided a VERY BASIC google map for ya if you were to come from the San Francisco area. From there, if you go all the way to Mendo, it’s about 4 hours. You only have to go that far if you wish though.
Your main roads are going to be Highway 1/Pacific Coast Highway aka PCH. But on one of the ways, either there or back, you can also take part of Highway 116 for even further exploring. It’s longer (or shorter, depending on where you’re going to/coming from) but provides other things to do and see if you want to pack more stops in. Not necessary, just an option. You do you booboo!
The Duration: we were gone for 3 days/2 nights but if you wanted to do it in 2 days and 1 night (still so worth it) you could easily pick and choose what you do and thus be more efficient with your time. This proposed road trip is very go with the flow and easy to change up. There’s just so many cool places to stop! (Here is another similar Mendocino road trip if you want to do it up more boujee!)
Costs To Consider:
Just like time spent on this road trip, you can be flexible with cost too and how you split things. Transportation is, give or take, 1.5 tanks of gas depending on where you’re coming from, how far you go and how long you stay. If you don’t have a car and you’re over 25– you can rent one sometimes as cheap as $20 a day. But $35-$50ish is more likely what you can expect. Especially if it’s kind of last minute.
As for where to stay, you can camp, glamp, or lodge it (if you don’t want to stay outside.) Or RV it too?! Camping is less expensive, give or take $30 a night per campsite depending on where you go. Glamping is more expensive (duh, to be expected.)
FOOD: You can cook your own food or eat out at the little restaurants in all the beach towns. You can make it as pricey or as budget-friendly as you please. Other additional costs would just be camping gear if you needed it, and any extra costs for random things like renting a canoe somewhere, or having a mini spa day like we did! Or for booze, whatever. 😉
Some Recommended Camping Locations:
—Salt Point State Park
—Point Reyes if you don’t want to go too far. (Recommended by The Bon Traveler.)
—Russian Gulch SP (awesome hikes and water activities here if that’s your thing!)
—Gualala Point/Sea Ranch Area
Possible Road Trip Itinerary Day 1:
***See map for all locations mentioned
We stopped every half hour or so once we reached Bodega Bay all the way to our campsite. There were so many #VIEWZ. Seriously wherever you pull over IS A GORGEOUS VIEW. These are perfect places to just chill out and get in a nature zen or soak up the happy little forest beach town vibes. Possible things to do other than just sit and stare at nature’s beauty (which is a fabulous idea, PS.) Maybe read a book, have a little picnic or stop for lunch or at a random attraction, do a little exploring around by foot, stop in get *A* drink somewhere (be smart with the driving!)… the world is your oyster! You don’t even have to plan where you stop along the way, just wing it! If you want. (Easy for me to say as I’m much more type B lol.)
Our first stop was at Patrick’s Taffy in Bodega Bay. You’ll see the pink building on the side of the road and a little parking lot. This taffy is so good! The pomegranate and the cinnamon were our favorites!
Address: 915 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923
Random beach bluff we pulled over at. There are miles and miles of beach bluffs like this and places to pull over! We stopped at various unplanned locations for random exploring and let me tell you, there was literally no bad stop the entire trip.
In the early evening, we stopped at a random restaurant in Gualala and got to our glamping location near Sea Ranch. It was foggy and sooo pretty when we arrived.
***All about our Glamping experience HERE. Sadly this place only exists in New York now- but man, if you are interested in seeing what GLAMPING is all about… this will give you a glimpse! Again, not sponsored… just can’t get over how cool this place was.
Possible Road Trip Itinerary Day 2:
About 30 minutes North on Highway 1, we went for lunch in Point Arena at The Pier Chowder House and Tap Room. Their clam chowder bowls are so damn delicious. We split a bowl and it was more than enough. (…Granted we also got fries. 😉 )
We sat for a good half hour laughing and doing a crossword puzzle…. because we’re basically 80 year olds at heart. The nice part about road trips is the quiet quality time you get with people you love.
Then we drove for another hour (ish) to Glass Beach! With a few stops in between. On this stretch prepare for some of the cutest homes, farms, and tiny little towns strewn about.
Even on a foggy day, Glass Beach is worth it. It reminds me of a North Carolina Nicolas Sparks novel type beach. Just those kind of vibes. Here there is real sea glass that yes you can even walk on if you want as well as multiple trails leading to fun little lookouts.
Then we were off to final, most northern destination: Mendocino!
It was here that we went to this CUTE little spa/bathhouse called Sweetwater Gardens which was the perfect amount of hippy goodness and zen-like luxury. Things to note: It’s very clean (you take a shower before entering), it’s coed, and if you wanted to do more than just the sauna-spa bathhouse access then there are treatment and massage options too. <—-We didn’t do any of those though and still left feeling very well taken care of.
Sweetwater Gardens was sooo cozy and charming. And only $12 for an hour and a half!
Address:44840 Main St., Mendocino, CA 95460
***Definitely call to make a reservation. We called the day of and got in but that was taking our chances!
After this, we headed back to our glampsite! Which was a 1.5 hour drive (ish) back to Sea Ranch. Not bad at all. We stopped for dinner too.
Possible Road Trip Itinerary Day 3:
Woke up and started heading back south on Highway 1.
Stopped at a super vintage-y beach coffee shop called Cafe Aquatica at Jenner By The Sea. Jenner is a quaint little beach town with the kindest locals!
Address: 10439 CA-1, Jenner, CA 95450
We then decided to take the 116 home just to switch up the scenery.
After about an hour south on Highway 116, our last stop was Sebastopol. Here, we spent a few hours at The Barlow, which is this modern (and at the same time kind of rustic) open-air marketplace. Here you’ll find breweries, the healthiest most amazing hippy-dippy juice shop, a sub-zero ice cream shop, a giant health food store (that happens to make bomb sandwiches), a few modern restaurants, a cool coffee shop… patches of grass to sit on. It’s just a really cool place with fun stuff to check out! There are a few retail stores too, but they’re expensive as heck. Like $196 for a clutch purse kind of expensive. No thank youuuu. Not ballin yet lol.
I died for The Nectary. One reason being their cold-pressed juices are raw and organic and have crazy cool superfood ingredients like rose petals, goji berries, lavender, noni fruit, etc. I love hippy dippy health food. 😉 (And chocolate. Balance!)
Address: 6770 McKinley Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
…And off home, we went!
What are your guy’s favorite road trips? Share your recommendations below!