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Must Explore: An Underrated Town on the California Coast (Road Trip Itinerary)

To celebrate my husband's birthday, we wanted to do a quick getaway that was safe and away from crowds... for obvious reasons. I found a tree hut in Elk, CA that was perfect - but where in the heck was Elk? I've never heard of this small town on the California Coast.

Coming from the East Bay, it was a 3-hour drive away. Whether you're coming from the East Bay or Sacramento, you may essentially hit the same cities on the road to Elk, California so included in this blog is our mini road-trip itinerary as well as our Elk itinerary.

PSA: Please make sure you wear your masks and have hand sanitizer on deck!

The Road to Elk, California

One of the most popular restaurants in Sonoma. Their food is so good; but especially don't miss out on their chocolate chip cookies! One of my top 5 faves. Make sure you have the correct restaurant address (W Spain St) and not their office. Reservations required due to limited outdoor seating.

Second Stop: Grab coffee and sandwiches

We went to Ike's in Santa Rosa to have something simple to eat in our cabin. Make your own food or purchase dinner on the way!

If you get car sick easily, be prepared. There are very windy roads on the way to Elk. The scenic route is beautiful, but not as enjoyable if you get sick easily.

Arriving at Elk, California

To view more details about our stay at the tree hut, view my blog post about it here. Want to know my Top 5 glamping spots? Subscribe to my newsletter to get access to it later this week!

My husband and I rewatched Game of Thrones during this quarantine, so that gave me the idea to book horseback riding on the beach. This was our first time and we were pretty nervous but it was SO fun. My horse's name was Cisco who loves the ocean water, likes to tailgate and loves to gallop out of nowhere. Matt's horse's name was Cowboy who has to be in the back because he's the slowest horse. Horseback riding at Ross Ranch is $60pp for 2 hours which is a GREAT deal!

PS: Why was my horse the only one who was thirsty after our ride? The thirst was real, y'all.

Located on the highway, this cafe is really one of the only quick restaurants to order from. Though they have great reviews online, we didn't have the best experience. Their food was okay - the chili was pretty worth it on the cold day we were there, but their service wasn't great. They seem pretty unorganized and it took an extremely long time to get our coffee and food.

Unsatisfied with Queenie's, we walked over to the Elk Store to see what they provide. They luckily had a menu to order from! We ordered our dinner from the Elk Store and was happier with their service. Don't skip out on their hazelnut chocolate chip cookie! SO. GOOD.

One of our favorite memories was relaxing at Harbor House Inn. This is a resort stay and they hold Elk's only Michelin star restaurant. We could say we wish we stayed here but we loved our treehouse experience so much. If glamping isn't your thing though, definitely look into staying at Harbor House! To dine and enjoy their view, I had to make a reservation and pre-order online. I ordered their gourmet popcorn (a must), furikake chicken wings (can pass) and two oysters.

The best part about dining at Harbor House Inn is that they really limit their interaction with you to keep their distance. We couldn't tell if it was intentional because of COVID or because this is how they want your experience to be - unbothered. We stayed longer than anticipated because there was no one around and it was so serene and peaceful. Matt even took a nap at our seats! They have a private beach but we couldn't access it because it was closed.

We actually cancelled our reservations here because we wanted to spend more time at our tree hut; but we met the chef and he was so nice so it's worth mentioning in my blog. This is another place you can stay in. For dinner, they have a 3-course menu for $50pp and it's so worth the view!

Leaving Elk back to Sacramento or Bay Area

As we headed home, we wanted to make a few stops because we were really hungry. Again, those windy roads can make you feel sick so make sure you're prepared!

The Wicked Slush - Healdsburg, CA

LOVE this place where slush meets soft serve. The concept is similar to Rita's Italian Ice. The regular size is pretty big so if you want to just have a taste, get the pip squeak size. They have so many flavors and combo options, it's hard to choose one! I got the orange creamsicle slush with cheesecake soft serve, and Matt got their mango slush with banana soft serve. Both were really refreshing as we enjoyed it in their outdoor garden they created.

Vinoma - Rohnert Park, CA

Vinoma. Argentine empanadas. HELLO! My goodness. We are SO glad we found this place on Yelp. This family-owned, local business has the GOODS, y'all. We ordered four empanadas, only to order another dozen because it was too delicious to pass up. Word of advice: just order the dozen. Make sure to call in your order when you're about 20-30 minutes away so it's ready for you by the time you arrive. You can't walk up to order. The Al Pastor and Steak & Cheese are our faves!

Hope you enjoyed our itinerary to Elk, California. My takeaway from this quick trip is that California is BEAUTIFUL and there are so many areas in this state that we still have yet to explore. Although my international and other state plans have crumbled this year, it doesn't mean we can't explore our own state, our parks, and our backyard. Just you know, wear a damn mask and keep ya distance. :)

If you want to read more details about the tree hut experience, read my other blog post.

With love & confetti,


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