The California Road Trip Adventure We’re Tripping on This Fall


Friend of Well + Away and inspiring outdoor adventurer Veronica Baas recently visited California for a long weekend of healthy road tripping to explore her favorite outdoor destinations along the 101 and Route 1. Below, she shares her trip notes, from the most stunning national parks and vegan eateries along the way, to the tourist attractions that really are worth a pit-stop.

by Guest Contributor Veronica Baas

As a native Coloradan and newly branded Arizonan, I love getting out of the desert to visit the west coast. And as a technical marketer and burgeoning engineer I need to switch up screen time for outdoor green time to feel balanced. And when I say outdoors, I mean outside in the woods running, hiking or swimming. Basically, what meditation does for some of my friends, a hike does for me. A non-rushed, multi-day drive down the 101 freeway, stopping to explore  national and state parks along the way, is one of my favorite self-care, slow-living rituals.

Driving from the top of California, like, say, in Redwood country, to the tip, say in San Diego for margaritas, takes roughly 14 hours. To give myself enough time to enjoy it and soak in as much nature as I can, I give myself a period of three or four nights for the drive, depending on how much PTO I have to spare. I’ll pick one or two major cities I want to hit along the way, as well as stops for hot springs and can’t miss trailheads. All of this gets mapped along a paper map to ensure I don’t get overexcited by any far-flung trails and stray too far from my route.

Read on for one of my favorite routes down the 101, with stops along the way to get out and explore some of the most beautiful Northern California outdoors.


1. Redwood National and State Parks

If you’re flying in, the adventure begins at the small California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport, just 30 minutes from the national forest visitor center. There’s something magical about seeing the country’s tallest trees tower over a horizon of full-on ocean..

The redwood protected area is made up of four state parks: Redwood national park, Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks. The entire territory lies within two counties, Del Norte and Humboldt. One of my favorite places to explore within the state parks is Fern Canyon. Or, if you’re strapped for time, the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail is a solid option for shorter hikes. It’s not too steep, and the trees are gorgeous. You’ll see tons of full-grown redwoods as well as old, hollowed-out trees.


2. Russian Gulch State Park

After nearly four hours of driving, stop off at Corners of the Mouth organic grocery store in Mendocino to grab healthy picnic items for a hike up to the Russian Gulch State Park waterfall. Skip the heavily trafficked loop and find a shorter hike only one mile or so each way off of Road 409. Park where the pavement ends and go behind the horse camp gates to find this trailhead. The hiking itself should only take you 30 or so minutes round trip but the majestic atmosphere is a nice place to stop and take a few deep breaths.  You can also camp, bike, hike, kayak, or dive elsewhere in the park. Anyone who has plenty of time should stop and stay for a few days, but at the very least the falls are a must-see.

If you do take the Google-recommended route, remember to bring cash for an $8 admission fee that goes to maintain the park. This area was easy for me to fall in love with, so I ended up sticking nearby and heading to the Mendocino Headlands state park next, conveniently located in the same county. The headlands trail is a fun 4-mile hike with cliffside ocean views and gorgeous wildflowers to marvel at. Dogs are welcome here, too.


3. Lands End Labyrinth

Hop back in the car and head south for three more hours to San Francisco. I like to stop by one major city on these drives, to  treat myself to a great meal and just a touch of hustle bustle (though I still try to keep myself from looking at my inbox). Here, I’ll often find myself headed to dinner at healthy restaurants such as vegan sushi spot Shizen or raw-friendly but not totally raw Nourish Cafe. And for an afternoon of slow-paced exploring, I love visiting the deYoung, San Francisco’s contemporary museum that’s surrounded by Golden Gate Park. Or Lands End Labyrinth, a locals’ favorite hike that sits on the northern tip of town.

If you do make it out to Land’s End, you’ll find one of my favorite San Francisco secrets: an oceanside labyrinth, at the literal land’s end. In the mornings and at sunset you might catch a few visitors meditating or practicing yoga here, I’ve yet to find a time of day where it’s not completely stunning. Though of course sunrise and sunset are peak prettiness. While in town, don’t forget to check out Well + Away’s favorite vegan meals in San Francisco, as well as some of my own favorite tasty vegan restaurants.


4. The Mystery Spot

The next morning, time to hit the road again, this time for a two hour drive south of San Francisco to the Mystery Spot, a mysterious site riddled with gravity phenomenon just north of Santa Cruz. The museum is hidden in the mountains though each time I visit it seems more and more people are discovering this little natural wonder. Fun fact: a few years back California native Lorin Ashton, aka Bassnectar, made a track called The Mystery Spot.

Within the gravitational anomaly you can lean fully forward without falling over or watch lighter objects hang in mid-air.


5. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Head south for another two and a half hours until you hit Big Sur State Park. This stop might be a household name around the world, and for good reason. It’s too beautiful to skip if you’re passing by. Visiting this luxe, coastal town is a nice way to slow down and relax after a busy visit to SF. The town is home to less than 1,000 people, but the plant-based bites at the Big Sur Bakery compete with vegan hot spots in the city. I recommend the veggie saute with baby zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, and fennel confit or the creamy vegan risotto.

After an energizing meal it’s time to hit the trail again. This park boasts six popular trails ranging in length from a half mile to the most advanced, eight-mile Mt. Manuel Trail. For a good middle point in difficulty and a local favorite try the Valley View and Pfeiffer Falls trail. It’s an intermediate hike, three miles long that brings you to a 60-foot waterfall.

The state park itself is famous for its misty views, steep cliffs, and rocky shorelines. It is also formally known as the longest undeveloped coastline in the U.S, which should not come as a surprise with such endless vistas on hiking trails and from campgrounds. Before packing up, be sure to spend an hour or two sunbathing and swimming at Pfeiffer Beach.


6. Hearst Castle

Worth a slight detour off of the 101, and three hours south of Big Sur, is Hearst Castle, one of my favorite architectural landmarks in the state. If time allows, be sure to take a scenic detour via CA-1 and stop at Slates Hot Springs while en route. The mansion itself is notable for its extravagant decor, both ocean and mountain views, and its iconic indoor and outdoor pools. Both pools are gorgeous but the indoor pool reminds me of something you’d find in a European castle. The Hearst Castle attract millions of visitors every year, so brave the crowds and you’ll be rewarded with a pretty mind-blowing architectural experience.

If you’re feeling peckish after your visit, pop down to Centrally Grown in downtown San Simeon for a wide variety of organic and vegan options. If you do choose to splurge on a meal onsite at the castle, know that most ingredients used are organic and locally-sourced. Plant-based options include a sweet and sour tofu, roasted artichoke, roasted butternut organic squash, and more.
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Please let me know what you think about my favorite road trip here. Taking time to get out and explore the outdoors and breathe in non-city air has such a big impact on my stress levels and happiness, and I hope you find it helps you, too.. For more details on route and drive time, check out the map!

Healthy Weekend Plans to Kick off your 2018 Resolutions

Courtesy @caligirlgetsfit

Courtesy @caligirlgetsfit

Oh hey, 2018! Now that we’re all living our wellness resolutions to the letter: eating lean and clean, going to the gym 5x/week, meditating 4x/week, Marie Kondo-ing everything and sleeping 8.5 hours a night (right??) - what is left to do on the weekends? If you’re local to California, here are our picks for inspiring, local wellness events this weekend. And wherever you are, check out the launch of our favorite new, game-changing fitness and wellness app Everfit!

Jan 5-7

Bay Club: Fitness Open House | daily
Free for members and a guest
Have you had a Bay Club membership and let it sit there, unused, while you galavented from holiday vacation to family celebrations to January 4 ‘ohmygodmyinboxiscrazzzzzy’? Then make a point to stop by this weekend’s Open House festivities at all Bay Clubs from Northern California down to San Diego for new class previews (foam roll, HIIT, Plyojam)and light bites from onsite Cafe Vida. //  All Bay Club locations 

Jan 6

Mattress Firm: Be Well, Sleep Well fair | 10am - 3pm
Take a one-on-one “upgrade your sleep” assessment (with the chance to win a new mattress) and learn some fit tips from local pros while munching on healthy snacks. Sleep specialists will be on-hand to talk neck support, ideal temperature between the sheets and the quality of your current mattress to ensure you have all the comfiest tools to optimize your sleep resolutions. And because who can sleep well if tomorrow’s healthy meals are unplanned, local blogger Cali Girl Gets fit will be talking meal prep and serving her favorite energy bites. Icing on the wellness resolution cake is a fitness Q+A with trainers from OrangeTheory Fitness, as well as an invite to take a free post-fair class at the nearby FiDi location from 11:45am – 12:45pm. Additional sips and snacks will be provided by organicgirl.  //  Mattress Firm Nob Hill, SF

The Pad: Power then Restore with Bryant | 2-4pm
Bryant Resch is leading an hour of high charged, high vibe power yoga followed by a restorative practice designed to help you relax and reset. For us, 2018 is all about recovery, so we’re all about deepening our yin yoga practice!  //  The Pad, SF

Yoga Flow: New Years Resolution & Detox Flow with Libby Murfey | 6-8pm
$30 in advance, $35 day-of
Libby’s detoxifying and intention-setting flow class is meant to solidify 2018’s commitment to breathing in goodness and exhaling toxicity. Lots of twists and balances are used to embrace challenge (and sweat).  //  Yoga Flow, Union Street, SF

Northern California's New Retreat Center has the BEST Teacher Lineup and Awesome Food


Northern California's most ambitious new wellness destination—aimed at solving everything from vitamin D deficiency to jiggly tush to addictions to sugar and screen—quietly opened this past May just 60 miles south of San Francisco.

On 75 acres in the redwoods outside Santa Cruz in Scott's Valley, 1440 Multiversity is bringing a dose of modern mindfulness to a former bible college with a higher-education-meets-retreat-style model of classes, workshops, healthy eats, and overnight stay options to fit all budgets. Beyond the old school and every day retreat programming like Qigong and Tai Chi, the magic is in class sizes that feel almost private, and a calendar full of more contemporary offerings features a faculty that reads like a Coachella lineup for yoga and meditation enthusiasts. After a weekend yoga workshop, I left feeling like 1440 is one of the best domestic havens for the 21st century.


As someone who plans family vacations around wellness retreats (it's for their own good!), I got a serious case of FOMO when I first saw the property's massive catalog. This season 1440 will host leading meditation instructors Sharon Salzberg and Davidji; Hollywood favorite yogi Steve Ross and SF's own Wanderlust headliner Jason Crandell. I elected to try Crandell's Optimizing Your Vinyasa weekend yoga retreat—because to this health nut, nothing sounds more luxurious than a weekend full of lunges and anatomy jokes with one of our city's best.

When I checked in for my 36-hour stay, I popped into a general welcome session in the property's stunning, converted mid-century chapel, and then to dinner, where I ate enough tofu and cassoulet to feed a health-conscious army. After dinner, on a very full stomach (I didn't know our first session started that night until a new friend mentioned changing for class over chocolate cookies), I joined about about 25 students for our first two-hour yoga session with Crandell. We dove into the weekend's coursework of opening and strengthening all of the muscles and joints used during traditional Vinyasas (downward dog, chaturanga, lunges, etc). The following morning, midday and afternoon sessions followed a similar pattern of lecture on the day's topic followed by an active yoga session to put into practice what was just discussed. Most of the class plunked down around $700 to stay on campus for an all-inclusive weekend, while a few others were Airbnb-ing or taking advantage of a locals-only day pass. I loved staying on-campus, but also appreciate that they are so flexible in how people want to mold their own stay.

1440 Rooms.jpg

1440's hotel rooms—a mix of converted dorms with rustic shared bathrooms and former public spaces now with private bathrooms and balconies overlooking the surrounding redwoods—might be as close as the Bay Area gets to a five-star wellness resort. But at the end of each day of hours-long yoga practice, all that really mattered was having solid A/C, comfy linens and a view to distract me from my exhaustion as I applied an entire tin of Tiger Balm. Soon there will be an infinity pool and a full spa geared toward soothing those sore muscles (will report back on that one soon); for now, you can try walking it off on the handful of short hiking trails that crisscross the property, or meditate in the redwood "cathedral."

1440 Food.jpg

If you prefer to eat your pain—and happen to be vegan, gluten-free or both —you will have come to the right place: 1440 serves thrice daily buffets of health-conscious omnivorous eats that tread the line between corporate offsite and eco-stylish. While not totally plant-based (I wish they were, but I'm assuming this was a business decision to not scare off the South Bay's big tech company meeting planners), high brow takes on traditional retreat fare is served at each meal, which plenty of vegan options. During my visit, I dug into vegan pastries and locally made coconut yogurt each morning; there was also customizable vegan pad Thai and vegan pot de creme. Nearly everything offered is gluten- and sugar-free.

During my last meal, while stuffing my bag with 1440's vegan, gluten-free banana bread, I was already bookmarking pages in the property's catalog for a future visit - to Sadie Nardini's long weekend - COME! As happy as I was as a solo traveler making a yogic pilgrimage, the creature comforts and heavily staffed event production team seem fit to attract big companies—and there is plenty of room and course options to keep us all happy.

Weekend and weekday workshops can be booked with a room and board package, or a la carte. For locals or those who don't require accommodations, a $95 day pass is available for dining and grounds access. Single rooms start at $175 per night.

// 1440 Multiversity, 800 Bethany Dr. (Scott's Valley),

Iconic California Dude Ranch Alisal Adds a Touch of Wellness

Source: Alisal

Source: Alisal

The one time my family of native Angelenos tried to go camping together, it turned out like Troop Beverly Hills or The Parent Trap—an embarrassing comedy of errors. After trying to take one for the team, my city slicker dad got overwhelmed by outdoor noises, lack of heated toilet and low sleeping bag thread count. He checked us into a hotel after he patted himself on the back for making it through two DIY campfire meals. Instead of trying that again the following year, we checked into The Alisal, the classic guest ranch in Solvang, where turndown service, nearby wine tasting, and 10,000 acres of trails to hike and ride got us hooked; a trip to The Alisal became an annual family escape during my childhood years.

It's been nearly 20 years since I last visited The Alisal as a kid on a family trip, so when I heard there had been a large renovation to the spa and a healthy menu upgrade, I grabbed my mom and headed to the ranch resort, located 40 miles north of Santa Barbara. The footprint is the same as it was on my last visit, and just as it was in 1949 when Clark Gable was married on the property; just as it was when the Jackson family opened the property to guests in 1946. A long driveway lined by sycamore trees ends at the barn and a row of cottage-chic guest rooms. At first glance, the only thing that had really changed was the itch that the ranch would scratch for my modern adult self: With nary a bar of network coverage, this trip obliterated any resistance I had for a total digital detox.

There's no major signage or dramatic foyer with sophisticated floral arrangements to receive you upon arrival, just a low-key front desk and a couple of college-age staff to hand over keys and a map of the grounds. The historic ranch, which has hosted the likes of Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck, has been wooing people with simple creature comforts and a five-star ranch experience for generations.


Of the many ranch-appropriate activities offered daily, including archery and air-rifle target practice, morning and sunset horseback trail rides remain the biggest draw. Offered three times per week, a classic Alisal breakfast ride is an hourlong trek across the ranch's stunning acreage.

The wranglers are experts on everything Alisal, from its history to the way they track local animals such as bears, owls and two resident bald eagles. Wranglers will point out things that might otherwise go unnoticed—bald eagle nests and their feathers on the trail. The breakfast that takes place halfway through the ride is a traditional continental affair, featuring pancakes, cereals, fruit and other usual suspects. While a slam dunk for those who prize hearty and classic over healthy and organic, they do their best to accommodate dietary restrictions and the ride itself is so rewarding that breakfast is really just fuel for the way back. 


Opened in 2016, the ranch's 6,000-square-foot spa has been designed to feel like a zen-style barn, with exposed beams and cozy Pendleton blankets in the central lounge, in addition to a fitness center and treatment rooms. Go-to services for the saddle weary include the Trail Blazer, a scrub/massage combo, and a deep muscle massage that gets right down to business post-afternoon activities—there's tennis, hiking, swimming and one-on-one yoga and Pilates classes. The nearly endless options help ameliorate the urge to open your Instagram app. If non-hotel yoga is what you're after, nearby Bloom yoga offers creative and challenging flow classes (and cell service!) - a real delight during my visit.

Alisal's bar and dining rooms are classic California ranch-style: stonework and fireplaces and horse bridles and repurposed barn gear. The nightly live music and bottomless chips and guac make it easy to forget about inboxes and Netflix queues. New chef Anthony Endy is refreshing the food and beverage program with more plant-based fare. Vegan and vegetarian options will be offered nightly in late 2017, with a full refresh appearing in spring of 2018. Until then, the staff are happy to prepare something delicious off-menu to accommodate dietary preferences.


After a traditional ranch-style dinner featuring beautiful seasonal produce from the Santa Ynez valley—a memorable heirloom tomato salad was inhaled in about three seconds, and hearty dishes included fried samosas and luscious risotto. There are no late-night dessert bars or DJs or anything to disrupt the perfect quiet here—just open space and the best excuse to stay in: cozy cottages (35 of the 73 have been recently redone) with cowboy-cool furnishings, Pendleton coverlets, wood-burning fireplaces and gorgeous views from every one. // Studios start at $550/night; The Alisal, 1054 Alisal Rd (Solvang),