Coast Highway Highlights from San Francisco to Monterey

I’m so introverted, I planned to drive this (normally summer) road trip of California’s beautiful coast during the winter. I figured less people, kind of chilly but still decent views.

Usually a very strategic planner, I decided to be a little bit looser with the plans, not wanting to run the risk of missing something great just because it wasn’t in my plan. I paid for two nights in an Airbnb near Monterey because they were decently priced and offered free guest passes to the aquarium. Other than that, my boyfriend and I had no plans for our trip.

Days before our trip, a monstrous rainfall hit the coast. We were an hour north of San Francisco at the time, visiting family, and it did not look like rains had any plan to stop. Not one to waste money, we still stayed our two nights in Monterrey and drove Coast Highway down. It was nice to drive slow anyway with the intermittent rainfall and slippery roads.

On our way down we pulled to the side of the road in Pacifica to discover the Devil’s Slide Bunker.


This once was a lookout point for the military during WWII. It was raining so we didn’t want to get on the hill but this thing had graffiti on all sides. It’s such an oddity, all alone and sitting atop its own cliff.┬áThere really isn’t much to it┬ábut what I loved was the view from the bunker.


It was fairly cloudy when we were out there but it was a still beautiful sight to see.

The rains began quickly and we got back in the car and drove to Santa Cruz. We had plans to go to the boardwalk but, with all the rain, we figured it wasn’t safe to get on rides and we hoped the rains would let up enough for us to stop on our way back.

Mystery Spot

We followed directions to Mystery Spot which is in a hiding place of its own. The whole time we were driving there from the freeway exit I was worried our GPS wasn’t working and we would end up at someone’s weird house in the the middle of nowhere. Eventually, we found it.

Bare with me here because all I had was a phone camera in drizzling weather. Also I’m just naturally awful at taking pictures but I want to share the experience.

Mystery Spot
Mystery Spot car covered in bumper stickers

Kirby and I had a great time at Mystery Spot. It’s very obviously a tourist trap but we had fun from the ever patient gift shop guy listening to people knock over a display of magnetic rocks every ten minutes to the enthusiastic tour guide that peddled agonizing puns. It was wonderful! I think the rain made it better because when we finally went into the cabin, not only was it slanted but slippery too. It was hilarious watching strangers grasp on to each other and struggle to remain upright in the small cabin.

Destiny at Mystery Spot

I would definitely love to go back one day. If not for better pictures, for more laughs. And merchandise. We got this fun shot glass that’s slanted like the house. It’s perfect to pull out during the third round of shots.

After Mystery Spot we headed to Seaside and to our Airbnb for the night. We called it an early night and the next day we started at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as soon as it opened.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

First off, at a price of $49.95 for adults, I expected to have to knock this off of our lists of place to see. If I paid $100 for us to see the aquarium we would have to spend the entire day there and we just didn’t have the time to spend one whole day at one place. Luckily, our Airbnb had two guest passes. This is kind of a common thing and why I chose and Airbnb over a hotel. Monterey County residents get free memberships and free guest passes so naturally, many good-willed Airbnb hosts in the area offer their guest passes if you’re staying two or more nights. Needless to say, we got two nights of accommodations and entrance to the aquarium for much cheaper than I originally expected.

I hadn’t been to the aquarium in ages and it does not disappoint. Not only do they do a fantastic job with the variety of fish but they also have literally any kind of animal that touches the ocean including birds and whales.

After our time at the aquarium we stumbled into a mirror maze place. I love mazes like I love roller coasters. They sound fun but a few seconds into it, panic starts to set in. Once I realized there were random mannequins and the lights were strobing the entire time, I freaked out. I nearly lost it in there. My boyfriend helped me keep my cool and found our way out. They also had a laser room that Kirby and I failed miserably at but it was a lot of fun.

17 Mile Drive

We paid the $10 to drive on this road and it really wasn’t the magical experience I thought it would be. If anything, it felt more like you were paying to drive through very nice and expensive homes. We took a few pictures of the sights. It was’t raining but it was cloudy.

In all, we had a short trip but managed to squeeze in a lot of fun times (I even got a tattoo) and see many of the big tourist attractions in the area. We’re hoping to plan another trip soon and hope to finish what we started.


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