California Dreaming: Southern California Coast

Boardwalks and piers.

Sunny skies and sandy beaches.

California Dreaming

The smell of sunscreen wafting through the air.

Southern California is alive, bursting with beauty and calling out to me, still, following an unforgettable weekend exploring the coast this past fall.

Food, fun, a picturesque drive along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway – the awesome folks at Toyota know how to hook a girl and her friends up!

We started off with a bang, wining and dining at The Penthouse restaurant in the beautiful Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica.

the penthouse restaurant,

Contemporary cuisine, creative cocktails, intimate cabanas, fireside hangouts

California Dreaming - The Penthouse Restaurant

and a stunning view of the city as the Harvest Moon rose high above the twinkling city lights below.

California Dreaming

I was giddy with excitement when I turned in for the night, anxious to begin our amazing weekend along the southern California Coast. Sleep didn’t come easy and getting out of bed proved to be difficult, but the sunrise was worth the effort.

I curled up in my chaise with a cup of hazelnut coffee while the morning light filled the sky ever so slowly. A thick fog rolled in and settled over the Santa Monica Pier as seagulls squawked overhead.

California Dreaming

What a great way to start the day!

By the time we hit the Pacific Coast Highway, I was grinning from ear to ear. Toyota hooked us up, as per usual, with an awesome selection of vehicles. My roadie partner, Andi of My Beautiful Adventures, and I traveled along the coast in a sleek and sexy Toyota Prius IV.

Talk about a fun ride!

We lunched at The Harbor Restaurant on the Santa Barbara Pier,

California Dreaming

squeezed in some fun, sun and charity work – donating 634 pounds of food and miscellaneous essentials to the Santa Barbara Food Bank.

Giving back is so much cooler when you’re traveling in some of the sexiest cars on the road.

toyota emblem,

The scenic Pacific Coast Highway didn’t disappoint.

California Dreaming

We couldn’t help but pull over to take in the gorgeous view – sun, sand, waves,

California Dreaming

California Dreaming

surfer boys

California Dreaming

and their toys.

California Dreaming

Now that’s what I call a view!

California Dreaming

Our weekend in Southern California was filled with surprises – wine tastings, kayaking, bike rides along the seashore and an unforgettable camping experience…

I can’t wait to share more with you soon.

If you could take the scenic drive of your dreams, where would you go and what kind of car would you drive?

Disclosure: As a member of the Toyota Women Influencers Network, my Southern California trip was provided by Toyota. I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.

*All photos taken with my Canon 7D and Tamron 18-270mm lens.


  1. by Veronica on December 28, 2012  8:18 am Reply

    What a fun trip! Amazing pictures as always. Absolutely kills me to see since I'm snowed in over here under a few feet of snow. You do such a great job with these posts. Xoxo

    • by Kristi on December 28, 2012  2:15 pm Reply

      Thanks, Veronica! We're buried in snow here in Washington too. I miss the beach like crazy! Hope things are going well. Been thinking about you and your family. :)

  2. by Amanda Jillian on December 28, 2012  8:22 am Reply

    Aww I miss the beach so much, I didn't go at all this year.

    • by Kristi on December 28, 2012  2:15 pm Reply

      I'm missing the beach too! Can't wait til it warms up here in Washington so I can work on my tan! :)

      • by Amanda Jillian on December 28, 2012  8:55 pm Reply

        I can't wait till next summer, I should be in Texas and I can try out some new beaches besides the Jersey Shore.

        • by Kristi on December 28, 2012  8:56 pm Reply

          Fun! I've only ever flown into Texas. I've never actually stopped and explored. So jealous!

  3. by Andi of My Beautiful Adventures on December 28, 2012  10:20 am Reply

    Hotest surfer dude in the world! Why oh why didn't I get a pic of him too? Or dammit a pic with him??? LOVED that drive with you!!! <3

    • by Kristi on December 28, 2012  2:17 pm Reply

      It was such a fun drive! You totally should've taken a pic of him too! I'm sure you'll find tons of people to photograph while in Buenos Aires! Speaking of which... Stop reading blogs and enjoy your trip!

  4. by Kari on December 28, 2012  10:32 am Reply

    That is a gorgeous photo of the pier, wow! I actually got to visit Santa Monica earlier this year with my youngest son. We were just on a quick PR trip so we didn't stay very long. I would love to go back and spend more time there. Great pics, thanks for sharing!

    • by Kristi on December 28, 2012  2:24 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, Kari! I wish we'd had more time to hang out in Santa Monica too. :)

  5. by Angela on December 28, 2012  5:06 pm Reply

    I didn't know that you're a Washington gal! I am also and there aren't that many of us Washington bloggers! It seems like most bloggers are down south or on the other side of the country! Which area of Washington do you live in?

    • by Kristi on December 28, 2012  8:46 pm Reply

      We *just* moved to Washington from Missouri (but I'm originally from Hawaii and have lived in North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri before moving here). We're living on Lake Chelan in North Central WA. Whereabouts are you?

  6. by Susi on December 28, 2012  7:07 pm Reply

    These images are amazing. Love the coastal pics. Sounds like you had so much fun on your Toyota adventure.

    • by Kristi on December 28, 2012  8:55 pm Reply

      Thanks, Susi! I had such a great time. Fun and Toyota certainly go hand in hand! ;)

  7. by Hanan on December 29, 2012  10:21 am Reply

    Amazingly gorgeous photos, and sounds like you had a wonderful trip!

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  11:18 am Reply

      It really was such an awesome trip! :)

  8. by Becca - Our Crazy Boys on December 29, 2012  1:19 pm Reply

    LOVE all of these photos, and the fact that Toyota spoiled you like that :)

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  11:19 am Reply

      Thanks, Becca! I enjoyed being spoiled. It was kind of a let down to come back home and not have someone make my bed or pack my snacks for the day. lol

  9. by Bridget A on December 29, 2012  1:52 pm Reply

    Oh... it's been almost 20 years since I've been to the southern Cali coast. It's so beautiful down there. The ocean is one of my favorite places!

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  11:19 am Reply

      Isn't the SoCal coast so pretty? I hope to go back again soon!

  10. by Tesa @ 2 Wired 2 Tired on December 29, 2012  2:16 pm Reply

    Gorgeous photos! It looks like it was a wonderful trip. I'm glad to hear you were able to enjoy the sunshine, the car, and some charity work - what a perfect adventure!

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  11:20 am Reply

      It was such an awesome adventure!

  11. by Kerri on December 30, 2012  5:53 am Reply

    Your photos really capture the essence of So Cal. And the vintage Toyota pic, well that was a sight!

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  11:23 am Reply

      That vintage Toyota (and the friendly surfer guy attached to it) were an awesome find! :)

  12. by Cori on December 30, 2012  9:05 am Reply

    As I sit looking out at the snow, I'm dreaming of sandy beaches and sunshine!! Looks like you had a fantastic mini-vaca!

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  11:24 am Reply

      You and me both! It's been snowing here in our little piece of Washington for over a week and it's 19 degrees outside at the moment. I'm doing some serious California dreamin'...

      • by Cori on December 30, 2012  5:09 pm Reply

        still waiting for you to visit Seattle :)

        • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  7:29 pm Reply

          Haha! We were just talking about driving to Seattle. I think we're going to wait until the spring when it's easier to get through the mountain pass. I'll definitely let you know!

  13. by Melanie on December 31, 2012  9:52 pm Reply

    What gorgeous photos! You have me California dreamin' for sure... Oh and that Tamron lens rocks! Wow! I want one. Amazing!

    • by Kristi on January 1, 2013  11:01 am Reply

      I love my Tamron lenses! You should really look into getting one. Let me know if you have any questions. Happy New Year, Melanie!

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