Best California Road Trips series –
This is an annual trip we have been taking since about 2010. It has turned into one of our favorite “Road Trips”. It was around 2016 when a friend told us about Hwy 198, that is when every thing changed.
My wife had discovered Justin Wines on a girls weekend get-a-way to the Paso Robles wine region. She liked it so much she became a wine club member which has led to our annual trips for a variety of Justin Wine Events. Justin Wine’s Isosceles has become my very favorite wine!!
When our friend told us about Hwy 198 and how much she thought I would enjoy the road, we had to incorporate this road on our annual trip. Since the discovery of Hwy 198, this has become one of our favorite Best California Road Trips.
This year we decided to go down for Justin Wine’s “Vineyard View Dinner”. This was going to be in August. We asked our friends Mike and Jill if they would like join us this year (Mike’s a “car guy”). They agreed and we made our plans. Our trip would begin in Monterey Ca. Once again we will not talk about the 2 to 3 hours of traffic on the interstate to get to Monterey.
We planned on getting to Monterey around Lunch time and then head down Hwy 1 along the California Coast to Cambria Ca where we would stay for this two night trip. The drive home would take us east on Hwy 46 to Hwy 101 which would take us to Hwy 198, which is about 50 miles of some of the best driving roads anywhere………… Lets Go!!
Yes, we are in the Z06 again. This trip is a perfect example of why I love this car so much. As I have said before we could have some debate on the Z06 being an “exotic car”. Exotic cars are typically rare, expensive and impractical while being great performance cars. The Z06 is not rare and it is not overly expensive. The Z06 can match almost any exotic car in performance and is more practical then most exotic cars. On this trip we were able to travel with the top roof removed and stowed in the back with two pieces of luggage and of course the shoe bag.
Our friends, Mike and Jill were in their 2015 Porsche Cayman. I love these cars, they are so great for road trips. Mike’s Cayman has the good six cylinder engine, before the Cayman went to the turbocharged 4 cylinder version. The Cayman is also a great road trip car with storage available in the front and in the rear. If I was to have another favorite road trip car it would be a Porsche Cayman, in fact the 2020 Porsche Cayman GT4 with a six speed manual is the new car I am most interested in driving. When I get my chance to drive this car I will tell you all about it.
Hwy 1 can have overcast skies and fogging days most of the summer months of June, July and August. This trip was taking place in August which means the weather could be good or bad. On this trip the weather was perfect with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine
This was also Pebble Beach car week for the 2019 Concours d’Elegance. We had thoughts of checking out one of the cas shows on the way………… but after realizing that the line for the car show was taking 3 hours to get in we decided to just head down Hwy 1 to our destination. This turned out to be a great car show on its own, there were cars everywhere as we began our trip. Pretty sure we saw Clint Eastwood in a blue Ferrari as we were leaving the Monterey area. As we headed south on Hwy 1, almost every car heading north was some type of exotic or vintage car heading to Pebble Beach. The weather this day was spectacular with the ocean crashing against the jagged rocks below and blue skies above. Hwy 1 could be a spectacular driving road, however it typically does not happen, Hwy 1 is almost always busy and the views are such that it makes the most since to enjoy the views and have a safe drive.
Hwy 198 was a great discovery. This is about 50 miles of some of the best driving roads anywhere………… it is definitely one of my favorites! In fact, Motor Trend uses this road for their annual “Best Driver’s Car” competition with the track portion taking place at Laguna Seca. Motor Trend actually closes off about a 4-mile section of the road with the assistance of the California Hwy Patrol.
We take Hwy 198 on our return trip home. We leave Cambria and head East on Hwy 46 for about 20 miles to Hwy 101 and then north about 30 miles to the exit for Hwy 198. The exit for Hwy 198 off Hwy 101 has no services……. no gas station, no convenience store…….. nothing. This is fantastic because hardly anyone takes this exit. It is about 50 miles on Hwy 198 to Coalinga Ca. Coalinga is a small farming community………….. the bottom line, there are very few cars on this road. We will typically not see more than 4 cars for the entire 50 miles. Hwy 198 is a wide well maintained two lane road, with big sweeping turns, some great twisties and several elevation changes. It offers some of the best opportunities for some aggressive driving anywhere you can find!!
There are a lot of places to see and enjoy on this trip as you travel down the coast. Along the way about 6 miles north of Cambria is Hearst Castle. If you have never stopped there it is a must see! The property is over 250,000 acres and it truly is a Castle!! The view from the top is amazing. It is almost impossible to see everything in one trip. The year we stopped by they were refurbishing the “Neptune pool” so we will definitely be going back to see it again.
We stayed at the Cambria Landing Inns & Suites. This is a great place to stay right on the Ocean’s edge with great views. Right next door is the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, we’ve had a many great meals here!
There are almost 200 wineries in the Paso Robles Wine Country, you could spend days finding them all. We enjoyed some really good wine at the Tooth and Nail Winery, which has a “castle” theme with an actual mote.
The Justin Wine Dinner was an amazing event. It was one of the best wine pairing dinners we have ever had. Our wives had the Reserve Wine selection while Mike and I had the regular………. it didn’t matter as all of Justin wines are spectacular!! Though the reserve wines are just a little better.
On the way home we typically stop for lunch at the Los Reyes Mexican Restaurant in Coalinga after our drive on Hwy 198. It always hits the spot.
After Coalinga, it is about 10 miles east to I -5 and the boring 3 hours drive on the interstate home.
Another Great Trip
As with most of our trips the road is the star and the reason, however this one is a little different as the destination was great before we discovered what a great driving road experience it could be. We look forward to this trip every year as we know how much we enjoy the road and there are so many more places along the way to discover!!
Enjoy The Road!!