Travel Diaries

Road Trip: Vancouver to Los Angeles

by Joy Pecknold

When in doubt, head south. A friend and I grabbed our passports and set a course for the City of Angels, making a few strategic stops along the way (i.e. to drink craft beer, eat delectable deep-fried seafood and lay on the beach.) Come along via photographs and chart your own course with my recommendations herein. L.A. or bust was no bust.

After a six hour drive we make our first pit stop in Portland, and first priority in this craft beer capital is a good pint. On the recommendation of Portland-based food writer Ivy Manning, we dine at gastropub Produce Row Café. For lovers of variety like me, I suggest their three snacks for $15, which include scrumptious fried oysters with bacon jam and Mac & Cheese among others, to accompany your cold glass of local brew.

Where to overnight: The NinesHotel deLuxe or Hotel Lucia.

The next day, with a 10-hour day of driving ahead of us, we hit the highway early. On the way, the weather cooperates, giving us a gorgeous view of Mount Shasta. In the summertime, this is a superb spot to camp, or even just pause for a quick dip in the lake to cool down.

Mount Shasta

On this trip, we crashed in Santa Rosa with friends and just cruised by San Francisco, but having stayed and played there before, it’s the prime place to rally after racking up the road miles. Check into a hotel, pick a place to dine off of the Eater 38 list. In the morning grab a good, strong cup of coffee. I love Fourbarrel, but the city’s chock full of brilliant java joints.

Golden Gate Bridge

Where to overnight: Cavallo Point.

It’d be a cryin’ shame to take the I-5 all the way down, so after San Fran, we head west onto the Pacific Coast Highway for a good, long look at the ocean. Be forewarned this is the slow way to L.A., but boy is it pretty. Pull over in Big Sur for a break. Have a bite at the quaint Big Sur Bakery, and a little past that, partake of some culture at the Henry Miller Memorial Library. Tack on a night or two here (after all the single lane twists and turns, stuck behind apprehensive camper vans, you might need it).

Big Sur

Where to overnight: Post Ranch Inn.

We spend an afternoon in Malibu, soaking in the sun and body surfers at Point Dume. I’ve been here before and love it, because it’s not as busy as Santa Monica and Venice Beach, particularly in the winter. If you get peckish, you must pull over for the most amazing deep fried seafood at, the straightforwardly named, Malibu Seafood. Their Surf ‘n’ Turf is some of the best I’ve ever had.

Point Dume

While Malibu’s beaches are my fave, you can’t miss out on Santa Monica, for the pier, the people-watching and the reliably awe-inspiring sunsets. While L.A. proper was our end point on this trip, I plan on staying closer to the beaches next time, because, well, I can’t get enough of the beach, any beach. Whether you’re lingering or just swinging in, work Milo and Olive in—it’s a bakery-café by day and intimate restaurant by night (featuring ridiculously delicious fire oven pizzas).

Santa Monica sunset

Where to overnight: Huntley Santa Monica BeachShutters on the Beach or Hotel Casa del Mar.

Final destination reached, there’s no shortage of things to do in La La Land, but here’s a short list. Start with brunch at the Alcove Café and Bakery, followed by a little shopping—hitting up either the Steven Alan Outpost and other boutiques in the Los Feliz neighborhood, or heading over to The Grove for a Disneyland-like, bigger-box experience—then find yourself at The Beverly Hills Hotel for cocktail hour. I recommend their Moscow Mule. And hey, why not check-in for a few nights since you’re already there. Like the drive down the California coast, staying at this iconic property is one of those things you’ve just got to do once in your life.

Beverly Hills Hotel

Where to overnight: The Beverly Hills Hotel and BungalowsHotel Bel-Air or Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills.

Until we meet again California.

Santa Monica beach