Pacific Coast Highway

Elephant Seals | Pacific Coast Highway | California

We almost missed the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, as it is barely marked and not visible from the highway, but, it was totally worth the diversion! We arrived shortly after the birthing season which meant that all of the mammas were snuggled up with their pups. At a glance, the beach looked riddled with large boulders but upon closer inspection, you could see the mammals spooning with each other. I was fascinated to see that they were using their front fins to scratch themselves and throw sand on top of themselves to keep them warm.

In case you, like me, know nothing about Elephant Seals, here is an infographic to bring you up to speed:

And, here is an angry male Elephant Seal trying to claim his territory from two other males:

Have you ever seen two elephant seals fight?

A video posted by Lauren Irons (@laurenirons) on

Hearst Castle | California

Our next stop along the west coast was a place I have been dying to go for years, Hearst Castle. It was every bit as wonderful as I had pictured it, made even more magical with Christmas decorations all in place. On a side note, you need reservations in advance in order to tour the grounds (which you can do here). Nothing I read before we got there said hinted at that but upon our arrival we were informed that the tickets are sold out weeks in advance. Luckily, we arrived just as another couple had called to cancel their spots and we got to tour the grand rooms. Should you find yourself traveling up the Pacific Coast Highway, this eclectic collection of historical artifacts from all over the world is a must-see!

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Santa Barbara | California

Our two week Pacific coast road trip extravaganza first took us to the charming town of Santa Barbara, California. We were on a tight schedule so we had just enough time to walk to the edge of the pier and do a bit of shopping on State Street before getting back on the road.