Lucie Loves… Travel // California road trip ~ part four: Everybody loves SLO aka San Luis Obispo
Oooff! It’s been 6 months since I shared another instalment from my Lucie Loves California road trip. Apologies for that… It was only on St Patrick’s weekend, when out for a friend’s leaving do, that Roz and I bumped into someone who’d actually read my post on Yosemite, and subsequently booked to stay with her fella, at Evergreen Lodge too, where we stayed! It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that our adventure (and my ramblings) had helped inform someone’s travel decisions.
If this is the first you’re hearing about it, have a read of our full Lucie Loves11 day California road trip itineraryand check out parts 1, 2 and 3 to see what you’ve missed so far.
From the unforgettable, neck-craning sights of Yosemite – with all that lush wilderness, waterfall hikes and fresh air – we left our little forest cabin in pursuit of something altogether more… erm… pink!
Day 8 - Yosemite/San Luis Obispo (Sunday)
The drive from Yosemite to San Luis Obispo, more affectionately known, by Californian natives, as SLO, is mammoth. We experienced a combination of some of the longest, straightest roads known to man, and ones as wiggly as those you see on TV shows like Top Gear.
Setting off shortly after breakfast, we listened (read as: wailed along) to Mariah Carey’s greatest hits for a solid 1 hour 40 minutes. Basically until we could warble no more.
Again, Marcos took the steering wheel of our Ford Mustang. I hadn’t yet done any driving, but was very aware that as soon as we left SLO I’d be the one responsible for ferrying us down to L.A. *GULP*
All in all, with a short stop off at Kettleman City, it was about 5 hour drive from Yosemite to San Luis Obispo.
We arrived at The Madonna Inn in hysterics. This was probably due to a combination of going slightly stir crazy, spending so much time in the car – and the fact that we’d been waiting with anticipation for our stay at this hotel, since landing in California. And what a hotel it is!!
When we initially asked for recommendations for our road trip, more than once was The Madonna thrown into the mix. It was probably one of the pricier choices of accommodation on the trip, BUT so very worth it.
You see… The Madonna Inn is pretty famous. Famous for its flamboyance, fuchsia facade and, unsurprisingly, A list clientele. Described as ‘whimsical’ and ‘enchanting’ it boasts 110 themed rooms and 26 suites. To give you an idea of what you’re getting yourselves into, when booking a stay at The Madonna Inn, the rooms all have equally fabulous names too.
American Beauty, Austrian Suite, Barrel of Fun, Bridal Falls, Captain’s Bridge, Caveman, Cloud Nine, Everything Nice, Fabulous Fifties, Floral Fantasy, Hearts & Flowers, Hideaway, Love Birds, Love Nest, Old Fashion Honeymoon, Pioneer America, Pony Room, Sir Walter Raleigh, Time of Your Life, What’s Left, Wilhelm Tell and Yosemite Rock – to name just a few of my faves!
We checked into China Flower – room 106. Roz and I took the super comfy king bed and Marcos took the double in the adjoinng room.
“Designed to reflect the subtle beauty of Asian decor evoking a hint of fragrance in the quiet floral pattern found in the jade colored wallpaper. Rich gold ceilings, soft stained wood borders and dramatic black lacquered furnishings mirror an aura of Eastern culture. Located in a single story building with lovely landscaped corridors, this room has a king and a double bed, double sink vanity and shower….”
After quickly unpacking, and changing into our swimwear, we walked outside to the rooftop pool area and grabbed a couple of Moscow Mule cocktails from John the Barman. It’s got incredible views, a hot tub, an (obviously fabulous) artificial waterfall, a number of hikes and trails that you can enjoy and bikes to hire, if you fancy it. They also do onsite wine tasting!
In true holiday spirit, we booked an evening meal at The Madonna Inn’s restaurant – Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House.
Imagine if the designer of Sketch had taken acid and then fallen down the rabbit hole, like Alice, and then decided to start drawing up plans for a restaurant… Yep, that’s what this place is like.
So bloody cool! Your eyes are literally on stalks trying to take it all in. It takes forever to order, just because you’re all so distracted by the interior design and trying to plot how to steal the giant coloured goblets.Turns out they do actually sell these in the gift shop… which is well worth a visit too!
Eventually, after focusing our concentration, but still a little in awe of all the pink and glitter – we ordered way too much food. The portion sizes are massive! We probably could have shared one between three of us. For example, Roz wasn’t feeling too hungry and so ordered a salad… turned out it was bigger than her head - watch the video! We drank Pinot Noir from Monterey, and clapped the waitress for her exceptional customer service and for being a mistress of persuasion: despite being stuffed, we couldn’t resist sharing a GIANT PIECE OF PINK CHAMPAGNE CAKE!!!
After spending a zen-filled couple of nights in Yosemite, we were ready for a night out on the town. As it turns out, SLO is not only home to Zac Efron, but also a pretty lively studentville. I continued my quest to tap into as much hipster local knowledge as possible, and – using Tinder as Trip Advisor – managed to get some great bar recommendations from a few hotties. Needs must…
Uber was our best friend during the road trip, especially since you can now split the fare between the three of you. En route, Roz fell in love with our driver, Robert, partly due to his charm, and partly due to his mouth full of magnificent $8,000 veneers.
We ended up doing ‘Kiss From A Rose’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ on karaoke with complete strangers at Mother’s Tavern, witnessed a dance off scene worthy of Save The Last Dance – complete with head spins, the worm, twerking, somersaults and all!
We were pretty tired after our long journey and headed back to our hotel to sleep, before hitting the beach the next day. THE NUDIST BEACH! There’s a couple of rather wild-looking stretches of sand along this coast – and, at least, one of them is nudist-friendly.
Day 9 - SLO (Monday)
After a great night’s sleep and decent lie in, we went down for breakfast at The Madonna Inn’s Copper Cafe. Our waitress was called Sequoia, and this prompted Marcos to ask her to do a tree dance (I think you had to be there…) AND as well as our yummy breakfast, there was the fittie silver fox, called John the cook ❤️
With our stomach’s fit to burst, we drove to Pirate’s Cove, Avila beach where we met Texas John (another bloody John!) and his dog, Belle. It was like a scene from an American movie. Group of friends, new to the area, walk along a beach. Handsome young army guy, on leave from his duties and carrying a cool bag, says hi and offers them free beers all afternoon. Sweet, eh?
That night we grabbed a couple of pizzas from Blast Pizza, and then went to see The Jungle Book, at Sunset Drive-In movie theatre. Utter perfection! They were showing The Jungle Book and Zootopia back-to-back, but we were too tired after our day at the beach, and left after the first film.
Day 10 - SLO (Tuesday)
Ah, Tuesday – Goodbye SLO, Hello LA. We had our last breakfast at Madonna Inn, and chatted away to our glamorous waitress, Dana – as I steeled myself for the 3 hour 30 minute drive south, along the US-101, to Los Angeles and our Airbnb in Silverlake. It was a nerve wracking journey – driving for the first time along the busy freeway, but pretty exhilarating too. Up until this point, I’d never driven a car as powerful as the Mustang before. And I loved it!
So, if you’re looking for where to stay in between San Francisco and Los Angeles, then San Luis Obispo is well worth considering. But you MUST stay at The Madonna Inn, promise!
Stay tuned for the final instalments of our California road trip itinerary, where we hit LA’s hotspots and lose our Coachella virginity.
- Part 5 - Los Angeles
- Part 6 - Coachella (coming soon)
Photography © Lucie Kerley