Driving the California Coast on Highway One is a quintessential American road trip; one I was happy to make this spring. When planning our trip, I thought it would be easy to find a place to stay along the way, but the more I researched, I realized that wasn’t quite true. There were a few very expensive, luxury hotels, a number of campgrounds, and a couple of rustic lodges, but not a lot of mid-range family-friendly options.
As you make the drive, you realize why the selection is limited. On one side, you have the gorgeous rocky coast and on the other, you wind around cliffs and mountains with very little else. Luckily we found two hotels along the way where we didn’t want to make just a pitstop, we wanted to stay and enjoy the property and the town for a while.
Hofsas House in Carmel-by-the-Sea
If you drive down the California Coast from North to South, you will be on the outside of the highway and enjoy unobstructed views of the stunning coast. Starting in San Francisco, I’d recommend spending a day in Monterey and Pebble Beach before checking in to the Hofsas House in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The village of Carmel has managed to hang on to its small town charm with art galleries, upscale shops, cafes, quiet courtyards and a gorgeous beach.
The Hofsas House has been family-run for 60 years. True to their family roots and the style of the village of Carmel, the Hofsas House offers Bavarian style, from the architecture of the main building to the mural painted on their entrance.
Ideal for families and those traveling with pets, Hofsas House offers 38 rooms and suites with plenty of room for everyone. Kids will enjoy the heated pool, while parents will appreciate the in-suite kitchenette and complimentary continental breakfast. Decorated simply yet comfortably, what Hofsas House specializes in is family hospitality. With packages like their s’mores on the beach or wine and cheese, owner Carrie Theis does all she can to make your stay comfortable.
We stayed in a fourth floor, two-room suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean in the distance through the trees. The main room offered a kitchenette, dining table, wood-burning fireplace and two daybeds. The balcony even included a charcoal grill for cookouts. With two full baths and large closets, it would be easy to stay a week or more. The master bedroom of our suite had a king bed and private bath, with enough space to at least another bed or crib.
If you talk to Carrie, she’ll be more than happy to point out a shortcut to the beach, some of the better restaurants in town, and other points of interest like the Carmel Mission or hiking paths at Point Lobos State Park nearby.
The Pelican Inn and Suites in Cambria
If you spend a full day driving the coast, with plenty of scenic stops in Big Sur, McWay Falls in Pfeiffer State Park, the elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas, and Hearst Castle, you’ll wind up in the cute little town of Cambria, California. Located just across the street from the gorgeous stretch of Moonstone Beach, you’ll find the Pelican Inn and Suites. The Pelican Inn and Suites combines style, comfort and location in one very attractive package.
We were lucky to stay in a two-queen suite with a beach view. The small balcony was the perfect spot to watch the stunning sunset or just enjoy the fog rolling in across the water. On chilly nights or foggy mornings, you can warm your toes in the stepped down sitting area with a corner gas fireplace. Beautifully appointed with wide, carpeted interior corridors, this small luxury boutique hotel was a far cry from a typical beach hotel.
If you aren’t a beach person, the Pelican Inn also offers a small pool. For happy hour, you can stop by for a complimentary glass of wine, cheese, crackers and fruit; and in the morning they offer a full complimentary breakfast buffet with eggs, waffles, cereal, fruit, toast and more. Before heading back on the road, be sure to enjoy a walk along the boardwalk at Moonstone Beach and soak in your fill of the rocky coastline.
From Cambria, you can continue along the coast toward Santa Barbara, or head inland for some wine tasting in Paso Robles.
Disclosure: Tamara and her family were hosted by Hofsas House and received a media rate of the Pelican Inn. All opinions are her own.