California Dreaming: Santa Barbara, Montana de Oro, Cayucos

13 June 2014

While we considered eating breakfast at Tupelo Junction Cafe or Jeannine’s, we decided getting our day started early was the priority, and our homemade muffins would do. I snacked on mine in our private courtyard, while John took a shower under the blue sky nearby!



Once we had packed up our bags, we drove over to Santa Barbara and wound our way up the Alameda Padre Serra, or APS. Its sinuous path takes you through the foothills to the Old Mission Santa Barbara, with views around each curve. We arrived around 10am, and were surprised to see folks directing traffic – we didn’t expect it to be that busy. Unbeknownst to us, though, we were visiting on the day of an Italian street painting festival!




We poked around outside but couldn’t go in because a church service was in progress. While it would have been neat to attend, we decided to worship at the First United Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, which was also lovely, and in the cutest neighborhood!


For lunch, we indulged John’s taco craving again with a visit to La Super Rica. It’s a very unassuming, very small, and very teal spot, but it also holds the distinction of being Julia Child’s favorite.


We arrived 15 minutes after they opened and still stood in line for about 45 minutes, so make sure you have enough time in your schedule if you’re thinking about going! It was neat to watch the tortilla lady in constant motion behind the window, and our food was delicious (thank you, Julia).

After lunch we left Santa Barbara behind and drove north through beautiful, golden rolling hills. We would have loved to stop in Solvang, Los Olivos, or San Luis Obispo, but we had another destination in mind: Montana de Oro State Park!


The hike we chose (the Bluff Trail) followed the edge of the cliff for about a mile. We were a little bummed by the marine layer that rolled in, but it didn’t block our views too much.


And happily, by the time we arrived at the beach at the far point of the hike, it was all blue skies and sun!!


We had so much fun poking around in the tide pools – they were filled with anemones, periwinkles, and sea urchins! There were also lots of coves and beach canyons to explore, all set against a mountain backdrop.




Before heading back to the car we had to loop back around to take another peek at the cove in sunshine :)



Our last stop for the day was brief, but totally worth it. Morro Bay is the name of a town, state park, and very large rock. It’s about ten minutes from Montana de Oro. We didn’t really know what to do with the very large rock (look at it?), but as soon as we parked the car, we followed the small crowd to the edge of the harbor and saw… otters!! A small pod of 10-12 swimming, playing, grooming, and sleeping. They were unbelievably adorable.



Our accommodations for the night were just a hop and a skip away from Morro Bay, in the tiny, sleepy seaside town of Cayucos. There’s not much in it except for the Cass House Inn – but the Inn is enough. Our friend Meredith recommended we stop here, and I’m so glad she did!


There are only six rooms in the house. We stayed in the Ocean Terrace, and it did indeed have a private terrace with a gorgeous view of the ocean! It also had brown butter cookies upon check-in, and really delicious-smelling bath products.


Since Cass House is only about a block from the waterfront we had time to stroll out onto the pier and through their gardens before dinner. I had never seen anything like the coastal rosemary hedges – they were twelve feet tall!



Though our trip had no shortage of delicious meals, our dinner at Cass House was one of the most memorable. Their tiny dining room (about ten tables) only serves one locally sourced, seasonally inspired tasting menu a night. Many ingredients actually come from their garden, and it includes 14 – yes! – courses, each beautifully presented. Our meal lasted about three and a half hours :) We were full and happy when we went to bed on day two!


Up next: Cambria, San Simeon, and Big Sur!

Part one: Malibu, Ojai, Montecito

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
June 15, 2014 9:06 pm

Look at those otters! So cool!

June 16, 2014 10:08 pm

Otters — my faves! I remember that coast from Pebble Beach — stunning.

June 17, 2014 8:45 am

Otters, tacos, giant rosemary hedges! This post is just too much. I love these photos – your cute selfie even rivals the sweet otter images!

June 17, 2014 8:57 pm

All of these stops on your route are so beautiful and natural – I’m loving this glimpse into your trip along the coast! And otters!!

[…] California Dreaming: Santa Barbara, Montana de Oro, Cayucos – Em … […]

July 11, 2014 4:33 pm

I’m so happy you stopped at Montana de Oro! I went to college in San Luis Obispo. To get away and spend time alone and with God I would drive out to MdO and sit on the beach. Brings back memories…