5 Days in NorCal — A Recap

A trip filled with waves, big trees and grape juice!

8 min readApr 15, 2022


Flora & fauna at Big Sur, CA

Day 1 — A travel day (New York, NY to Big Sur, CA)

A fun day filled with a lot of travel. I left my apartment around 5AM to JFK for my flight to SFO. I landed and joined my other friend who was flying in from Boston at the airport. We were scooped up by our two other friends and we headed off to the Bay. My body was tired but I was so excited because I was in sunny California with some of my favorite people. We got some yummy falafel and an interesting Bavarian cream dessert. This was just the beginning of the day.

We set off to Santa Cruz. Our first stop was Shark Fin Cove, a beautiful little cliff-cove-area that you have to climb down to get to. The climb itself was a bit steep but the cove was incredibly beautiful. The water was very cold so we sat on the warm sand and enjoyed the views. We decided to continue chasing the sun and wandered 10 miles down to the West Cliff Ridge walk. This was SO BEAUTIFUL WOW. It’s such a well maintained stretch of walkway and the cliffs are stunning. Everything there felt like it was out of a movie because it was so dramatic. We sat on one of the cliffs and watched the majestic birds and sunset. Before heading off to our hotel in Carmel, we stopped for dinner at El Palomar in Santa Cruz. The main dining hall of the restaurant is located within an old missionary church. The food was also very good!

Day 2 —Big Sur, CA

Exploring Big Sur, CA

This was definitely one of my favorite days because it was filled with ridiculous views. The stretch of land between Carmel and Big Sur is pretty expansive and we didn’t realize just how much you could do there. Our first stop was China Lookout, a beautiful vista point with views of the rolling hills meeting the cliffs and the ocean. For the next few miles we wandered and stopped at any vista point that wasn’t busy and looked cool. One of my favorites was a trail that went up a tiny little mountain and came back down. The views from the top were really awesome. For the last part of the morning we went to the Calla Lily Valley. This is a must see if you go in the spring time when these flowers are blooming. At first we weren’t sure whether we were in the right place, but as we turned the corner, we saw an entire valley of massive lilies everywhere. These flowers were so incredible and I’ve never seen so many flowers right next to the beach. After all of this, we were tired and went for a little lunch break back in Carmel.

The next part of Big Sur that we explored was Pffeifer State Park. This was a lot further south on Highway 1. The road was so windy and beautiful. I’ve used the word beautiful too much, but I don’t know how else to describe it. Parts of that drive are lowkey scary. One wrong turn and you might end up in the Pacific Ocean. We drove all the way south to McWay falls, a short hike to where you can see a waterfall meeting the ocean. Then we explored Pffeifer beach, famous for its purple sands. That beach was something else. The volcanic forms and caves that are formed are truly other-wordly. After all of this, we headed back to Carmel, pretty tired from the day.

Carmel-by-the-sea is a very quaint town and it has a perfect beach for sunset. We brought some drinks and enjoyed a wonderful little sunset while a bagpiper played some tunes in the background. We ended the night with some pizza and promptly fell asleep.

Day 3 — A travel day (Big Sur, CA to Sunnyvale, CA)

More fun pics with friends and the Pacific Ocean

Started this day with a little brunch in Carmel. I had some tasty avocado toast. Everything tastes better and fresher in California. We drove to Moss Landing point to stalk some otters. We saw a couple of them diving for food. The drive back up to Santa Cruz was filled with endless fields of fruits and vegetables. It was very cool to see crops that weren’t just corn.

We made it to Santa Cruz and explored the boardwalk. This was a very different experience than where we had been just 12 hours earlier. The boardwalk has some of my favorite fried oreos in the whole world. That’s where I discovered my love for them. We had a late lunch and then headed over to the MYSTERY SPOT located in the hills of Santa Cruz.

The mystery spot is a funky place where physics and gravity don’t really make sense. It’s a short guided tour of a weird spot where there are a lot of optical illusions. The tour was very funny and I enjoyed it a lot. The area is filled with massive redwood trees, and I highly recommend hugging them.

After all of this, we headed back to Sunnyvale to enjoy BINGSOO and a tasty Indian street food dinner courtesy of a bunch of food trucks in a random parking lot. The pav bhaji was incredible and we also got to try a bunch of different chaats.

Day 4 — Napa, CA


Can you tell that we did a lot of THINGS on this trip. Yes, this next day was filled with grapes. Drove up to Napa and visited the infamous Castle of Love. This is such a unique little place. It truly feels like a slice of Europe in the middle of sunny California. We did a wine tasting paired with three little chocolate truffles (which were excellent). The wine, the views, the history, everything was impeccable. Oh! And they also have emus there which are really cool birds. I’m really happy that this was my first (of hopefully many) experiences in Napa. We wandered around downtown Napa, got some “power hour” wine and headed off to our hotel. The driving in Napa during sunset is so beautiful. The rolling hills with vineyards and the sunset makes you feel like you are in a legitimate TV advertisement. We ate dinner at a cute little family owned takeout Italian spot where we got “malfatti” with a really really good marinara sauce.

Ended the night with some late night chit chats about life and friendship and love and general confusion about being a 20-something. We also promptly fell asleep this night.

Day 5 — A travel day (San Francisco, CA to New York, NY)


The last day :( Traveled back to San Francisco and stopped at the Golden Gate Viewpoint on the other side of the bridge. THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST PLACE TO VIEW THE BRIDGE on a sunny day. I’ve always seen the bridge from the SF side and it is just not as cool as the GG Viewpoint. I would highly recommend wandering over to the other side to see the bridge.

After reaching SF, we walked around the piers and saw the famous sea lions (these guys are so cute I love them). Got some IN AND OUT yum yum. Then, we hopped in an Uber and headed over to where my friend lives in Alamo Square/Painted Ladies/Hayes Valley. I’ve never really seen this neighborhood and it is very cute and residential. It feels quiet and peaceful there. We got some tasty iced coffee at a coffee shop that literally embodied everything I imagined an SF coffee to shop to be.

Lastly, we got drinks at Anina (they have such an amazing drink called salad days, I know it doesn’t sound appealing but it tastes SO GOOD). Ended the night with some yummy Thai food close by and then I had to say my goodbyes. I hate saying goodbye but I think I will see my friends again soon! A truly wonderful trip packed with so many activities, laughs and good times.

Some reflections

Usually, I write a paragraph for reflections. Today, I’m gonna try writing bullet points.

  • Gas in California is actually STUPID STUPID expensive. I don’t get it.
  • Adulthood is seeing your friends that you love a lot every 6 months because people are busy and/or far away and no one told me that this is what adulthood was going to be like.
  • Being an early-mid-20-something is very confusing. No one really has anything figured out and if they do, they probably don’t.
  • I feel lucky and grateful to have some very good gal pals who not only support me but inspire me to be a better person!
  • Every time I visit California, I solidify that I could not live there, but I thoroughly enjoy visiting the sunny and beautiful state.
  • I really like red wine.
  • I genuinely love traveling, especially the act of getting from one place to another. I will do everything in my power to allow myself to keep traveling wherever I want whenever I want.