As much as I love living in LA, there are definitely times of the year where I need a serious break and change of scenery.  Thank God, that weekend arrived and now that I've returned, I feel renewed and inspired!  The California coast is truly exquisite whether you go north or south.  This time, it was north with three of my best friends. One night in Carmel-by-the-Sea and one night in San Francisco made for the perfect escape.

We hit the road at 7:30 am on Friday and found ourselves at the delightfully tacky Madonna Inn around early lunchtime.  Three of the four of us had never been, so duh, easy stop.  The "50 shades of pink" bathroom is not to be missed, nor is the BLT or corned beef hash with poached eggs and biscuits in the "Copper Cafe".  

This cafe is everything you would want in a roadside meal stop. As I just said, the BLT is a must-order, but you have to add avocado and order the sweet potato fries along with it.  They were not shy on the bacon and I am going to steal their method of placing the avo slices between the bacon and tomatoes, this placement made a big difference! Oh and the sourdough bread was perfectly toasted.  The corned beef hash was nice and meaty!  No skimping on the meat chunks here! Oh and it is a coffee shop, so you better fill your cup up with that drip!

Filled with bacon and hash, it was back to the car until our next stop, Nepenthe along Big Sur...

Nepenthe Restaurant is a magical stop along Big Sur, the beautiful stretch of coastline in central California. It is always worth a visit in my book!  It first opened in 1949! You can enjoy a meal at the restaurant, a snack at the cafe or find a unique piece of jewelry in the gift shop.  We didn't eat anything here, but we clearly enjoyed the view! 

*Warning, if you easily get car sick this stretch of the 101 freeway is VERY windy! Also we sympathize with you if you get stuck behind a car that drives VERY slowly and uses their turn signal at every. single. curve. Yes, that happened, it was lame. 

After a good leg stretch and viewing of the ocean, once again it was back in the car where we finished listening to the entire Hamilton soundtrack until we got to Carmel.  If you haven't bathed your soul in this musical, do it ASAP.

Carmel, aka Carmel-by-the-Sea, is probably the greatest town in America.  I have been visiting this quaint, charming, elegant town since I was a baby girl.  It is where my great-grandmother, Esma, had a home and where my dad attended boarding school as a rascally teen.  Anyway, I was super excited to be here for a night with three of my besties!

We stayed at the Carmel Mission Inn just outside of the town center, and cashed in on their impressive happy hour before heading to dinner.  All you have to do is buy one cocktail or wine/beer beverage and you get to help yourself to a buffet!  I was holding out for a big dinner, but my posse had no hesitation on the mussels and spaghetti.  Okay, I did have some cheese cubes.

For dinner we ended up at Mediterranean Restaurant.  It was a Mediterranean Restaurant!  I had a gyro salad, you know, trying to be a little healthy and get in some veggies.  The food was good, nothing out-of-this-world, but decent.  The manager was pretty badass.  He checked in on us all night and gave my friend Samantha a pretty generous wine-tasting round.  There are no pictures because it was very dark and the ones I did take look terrible.  

For breakfast we were pumped to try Cafe Carmel. We walked by it the night before and instantly decided, based on the ornate window display, that we would be back when the sun came up.  

We ordered an egg sandwich, breakfast burrito, the world's biggest almond croissant...and plenty of coffee. Everything was delicious!  I would definitely come back the next time I visit.