Exploring I-1. The CentralCal Coast.

Big Sur and San Fran. It’s the parts of Central California we all know and love. It’s the pictures, drone shots, and every moment of a tourism board ad. However, there’s other parts of California that remain largely untouched. Driving west from Geyserville to the coast, in 11 miles you hit the stunning Pacific coast.

Our lunch stop: Stewart’s General Store.

Take a step back in time with this sweet stop heralding classic Americana and seaboard vibes. Situated in Stewart’s Point, this general store offers a quick stop for a small bite of lunch and a bit of sustenance for the windy road. I picked up a tea and vegan calzone that was freshly baked. Filled with artichoke hearts, olives, peppers, and other veggies, it was the perfect lunch. Both hearty, not overly heavy, and filling it hit the spot. Set along a corner in the road it sneaks up on you, but was the perfect setting. The Pacific Ocean in the background, the fresh sea breeze, wildflowers blowing in the distance, and a picnic table hosted lunch. After a morning hike along the sea cliffs, it was a welcome sight to stretch our legs and take in a few deep breaths.


Shoreline access and diving through Sonoma Coast State Park.

With an $8.00 day pass option, I can’t recommend stopping at Sonoma Beach Park for shoreline access. There are plenty of trails here and stunning rock formations to visit. The trails range from easy to difficult in length.


Tips for exploring.

Dress for more than the perfect shot.

While the perfect photo holds it’s own value, dress with shoes intended for hiking and a back. This part of the Central Cal coast, doesn’t really have immediate shoreline access unlike other places along the coastline. It’s far more rugged and takes a bit of work to get to the shore. On the day we were traveling, layers were essential. The morning was cold and foggy. By the time we began hiking and going down toward the coast, the weather was sunny, breezy, and warm. Wear your best hiking shoes or ones with solid traction and layers based on the season.

Fill up on fuel prior to starting your trip.

Remember when I mentioned this was far more untouched coast of California? Gold might be a more common sight than a gas station. I exaggerate, but for the sake of driving inland and the one lane roads you might encounter, it’s best to fill up on fuel prior to leaving Jenner as you drive north.

Predetermine all routes prior to starting.

Let’s be honest, much of this trip + drive is done off the grid. There isn’t cell phone service and the roads could use some serious maintenance. Navigate your route prior to departing. Sometimes a bit of backtracking is worth it rather than choosing a different and far more windy route back inland.

Pack plenty of water and stay hydrated. 

With the water nearby and the sea breeze, it’s easy to ignore your true level of thirst. Make sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen for the drive. That and note weather changes here quickly throughout the day with the tides and weather systems. For the day, I recommend packing 1 L per person, particularly if you’re completing your trip back inland (for us it was around 5.5 hours in the car.)

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