San Francisco to Monterey / 2017-04-23


Our time in San Francisco was going to be brief, but with a fairly early night the night before, we knew we could still experience a lot before we had to head south.  With that in mind, we woke up, packed, grabbed some coffee, used the hotel’s business office to print out our forgotten paperwork and hailed our car from valet all before 7 AM.  Our challenge today would be to find places that were open this early on a Sunday.  Our eating clocks were still on Eastern time, so an early lunch sounded like a good idea.  We researched the best dim sum and were lucky to find out that the Good Mong Kok Bakery was open at this early hour on a Sunday.  Everyone raves about the food and inexpensive prices, but complains about the line; 730 AM on a Sunday is the time to go then.  Almost no wait for some of the most delicious dumplings, bbq pork buns, sticky rice bun and a sesame brioche bread roll with chives (this was the highlight by far and didn’t make it to our picnic spot as we ate the whole thing in the car on the way).

Brioche Bread Roll
Good Mon Kok Bakery

We continued a drive through tour of China Town on our way to Lombard Street, the “most crooked street in the world”.

At the bottom of Lombard Street

We took what was left from the Chinese Bakery to Alamo Square so that we could enjoy the view of the Painted Ladies made famous by the opening scene in the TV Show Full House.  It was still a bit cool outside, but we found front parking and enjoyed some time in the sun with a beautiful view.

Exploring early on Sunday morning was making things quite a bit easier than our previous visits to San Francisco, so we decided to press on and visit the 16th Ave Tiled Steps, a set of 163 stairs which boasts a beautiful tiled mural.  The steps and installation were all done by the city parks trust and the neighborhood and the surrounding gardens are still maintained by the local neighbors.

At the top of the 163rd stair we realized that there were another set of stairs above the next road leading up to the top of Grandview Park.  Already out of breathe, we figured why not, and it was well worth the extra effort to take in the beautiful views from this park.


Going back down was much easier and the temperature had began to warm up.  Places of interest were beginning to open now, so we headed for the de Young Museum located in Golden Gate Park.

de Young Museum

Our NARM reciprocal passes got us in free ($30 saved here) and we enjoyed the North American Artifacts display and the photographs from David Levy.  Especially interesting were the photos he took inside a Texas penitentiary that documented changes over the course of 5 years or so.

What a difference 5 years makes in jail

After exploring the museum, we decided to visit one of our favorite stops from our last trip to San Francisco, Baker Beach.  Still being Sunday morning, the parking lot wasn’t yet open, so we parked along the street and made the short hike down to one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We were attempting to leave the San Francisco area around noon, but decided to sneak in one more site before heading out, the Sutro Baths.  The baths have a very interesting history and story, but only rubble and remains stand behind.  We explored the grounds and caves along Point Lobos.

Remains of Sutro Baths and the Cliff House Restaurant in the background

We trekked up and down more stairs here (this was certainly the day of stairs) and then back to our car to head out to San Francisco and down the coast to our destination for the night, Monterey.  On our way out, we made sure to hit up our favorite west coast fast food joint, In-N-Out Burger.

After eating and stocking up with some traveling food at Trader Joe’s, we elected to take the Pacific Coast Highway down toward Monterey as much as possible because a large stretch of the highway was closed due to a bridge falling out.  We had learned from our trip last year to be on the lookout for great views and stops along the way and always be willing to turn around to go back to them instead of continuing forward.  You never know when you will be back to explore again.  Our first case of this was Gray Whale Cove State Beach.  We parked, crossed the highway on foot and then made our way down more stairs to the cove.  It was like something out of a movie, towering hills, cliffs and mountains hemmed in a beautiful sandy beach paradise.  We took in the sight, sat down and relaxed and just enjoyed some time as this wondrous place.  I am not overstating the fact that this was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.

Not wanting to leave, but knowing that we had to get back to our journey, our next stop was at Pebble Beach at Bean Hollow State Beach.  This was a cool place to explore, look for tide pools and relax to the sound of the waves rolling the pebbles and larger rocks.

Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach close up

As we drove into Monterey, we first stopped at the Coast Guard Pier to pay a visit to the Sea Lions we knew liked to hang out there.  In fact, there were a great number of them hanging out in the water with a fin in the air.  They use this technique to regulate their temperature.

That’s a lot of Sea Lion fins!

We arrived at our hotel, Lover’s Point Inn (we saved $15 using AAA here), which was in a great location even if the hotel itself left a little to be desired.  Oh well, we were only staying here for one night.  We checked in, changed clothes and took the short drive to Carmel by the Sea to stroll the streets before finally arriving at dinner.  We used a Groupon at the Lugano Swiss Bistro to enjoy a fondue dinner (we saved $35.91 on dinner here).  Another fun-filled day exploring California ended with a short drive back to the hotel for the night.

This was Day 2 of our 8 night California Road Trip.  Check out the rest of the trip!

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