But I would contest that the towns sprinkled along California's Central Coast, like Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo, offer an even richer vacation experience, without the globetrotting crowds. So hop in and let's take a drive down the coast.
On this warm October day, back when everyone was wearing masks 24/7, we took a break from never leaving our house and moseyed down 101 to beautiful San Luis Obispo, loving called SLO by locals.
SLO is a mission town, one of the 21 famous California missions along the coast, but it's also home to a thriving college scene, which keeps it young and vibrant.
Walking downtown, we discovered an exciting mixture of classy restaurants, small boutiques, and chain shops, like Pottery Barn and Jamba Juice. Brandon and I consider ourselves treasure hunters after scouring every Ross, TJ Maxx and HomeGoods in the area that weekend for white marble and metallic gold home decor.
Our favorite find is a set of gold salad spoons engraved with retro starbursts in the marble handles.
For dinner the first night, we tried a feast of fresh sushi rolls from Goshi Japanese Restaurant. Packed with unexpected flavors, like smoky salmon and pickled onions, these gorgeous rolls wowed our self-proclaimed expert sushi taste buds.
A few doors down from Goshi, we bought two sets of these huge macarons from Joliene Bakery, an adorable sweet shop that also serves brunch items and makes stunning custom cakes for any occasion.
These melt-in-your-mouth French cookies teased our sweet tooth with flavors of pistachio, strawberry, and caramel.
After dinner, we pulled up to Sunset Drive-In for an old-fashioned movie night in the back of our car, facing the big screen against a cloudy sky. We could have stayed for a double feature, deep into the night, but the long day of walking around made us ready for a soft bed.
Brandon, my personal travel agent, always finds quaint places for us to stay on our trips, instead of the typical tower hotels for the same price. This time, our weekend getaway brought us to the Garden Street Inn.
Built in 1887, and just steps from downtown, the bed and breakfast retains its original Victorian charm and decor while offering modern amenities.
"The Italianate/Queen Anne design was originally the single-family home of German/Jewish immigrants, Morris and Helena Goldtree." (gardenstreetinn.com)
Our spacious room came with a complimentary homemade breakfast from the onsite scratch kitchen; a savory parfait of spiced beans, rice, eggs and salsa in a cute mason jar.
We ate our breakfast out on the second floor patio, next to a family whose toddler was named Wolf and dog was named Jeff.
Moving downstairs to sit in the hotel lobby, we mapped out our day.
First, we visited SloDoCo donut shop for an apple fritter and dark chocolate old fashioned cruller.
Then, we explored the thrift shops at the west end of downtown, where I found the cutest mini pineapple tea pot for my collection.
Our snug, vintage bedroom for the long weekend.
After dinner each night, we curled up in our queen bed to cuddle and read, the perfect, cozy end to a long day of window shopping.
The communal lobby breakfast table.
As you would expect, the Garden Street Inn has this secret garden nook around the side, the ideal relaxing spot to enjoy fresh smells and dappled sunlight.
Before we left town, we drove to the southwest side of SLO for a glimpse inside the famously quirky Madonna Inn. We had heard great things about the outlandish guestrooms decorations in bright, gaudy colors.
Each room has a unique theme, color scheme, and identifying name, like the "Just Heaven" suite with a spiral staircase in the middle of the room, and the "Madonna Suite" with bright pink rose carpet and cave rock walls.
If you ever get a chance to stay at the Madonna Inn, send me a photo of your room!
That's a wrap for our weekend getaway in San Luis Obispo. Let's continue our road trip down California's Central Coast to Santa Barbara and all the fun places in between: