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Everyone loves a road trip: so we thought we’d plan some for you, by posting a monthly itinerary right here on the Smith Travel Blog. Our focus for February? A breezy boutique road trip in Northern California that packs big city, coast and country thrills into one perfect package.

Northern California road trip: San Fran to Big Sur Gourmandise your way through the great outdoors, from San Francisco‘s colourful streets to Big Sur‘s sweeping coastline, with pitstops for pampering spa time and exhilarating fresh-air fun… Scroll to the bottom for our pick of the best Mr & Mrs Smith hotels along the way.

A cultured, cosmopolitan melting pot, San Francisco is as alluring for art-lovers and museum-hoppers as it is for party-seekers and street-food junkies. Criss-cross the city via cable car and stroll the SoMa district for a whistlestop tour of out-there modern art. Stay a couple of blocks from bustling Union Square at Starck-designed Clift, and toast this vibrant city with a mandarin lemongrass martini in the hotel’s see-and-be-sceney Redwood Room bar.

San Francisco – Big Sur road trip mapHit Highway 1 and head south to Big Sur, the 90-mile stretch of cliff-lined Pacific shore that swoops between Carmel and San Simeon, three hours south of San Francisco. Redwood-lined valleys and wildflower-filled meadows are a soul-uplifting antidote to caffeinated city time. Follow in the footsteps of Big Sur’s literary hero, Henry Miller, with an visit to the sculpture garden at his cliffside library.

Wine-lovers, sip award-winning vintages right where they were created. We love Bonny Doon Vineyards in Santa Cruz; Le Cigare Volant is their must-try earthy herbal red. Sybarites, be sure to pause at Post Ranch Inn for some serious pampering in their shaman-staffed spa, followed by inventive Californian cuisine at Craig von Foerster’s award-laden Sierra Mar restaurant.

There’s never a bad time to fly to San Francisco or to hit Northern California’s easy-to-navigate highways: March to May and September to early November see mild, sunny days; rain creeps in from late November to February, but between storms you’re rewarded with bright sunshine. And from December to March, you can add whale-watching to your agenda…

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St Regis Hotel San FranciscoROAD TRIP ADDRESS BOOK: WHERE TO STAY

St Regis Hotel San Franciso

Style Arty modern elegance
Setting San Fran’s cultural hub

There are a lot of good reasons to stay here: butlers to do your unpacking for you, a Bentley to cruise around town in, a hi-tech spa to wallow in, a renowned restaurant to indulge in and a cool bar to hang out in. Sophisticated, tasteful, refined, glamorous… the St Regis will not disappoint.

Doubles from US$399. More details
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Clift hotel San FranciscoClift San Francisco

Style Theatrical Starck-ism
Setting
Where Downtown meets Tenderloin

This hotel is the epitome of Friscan decadence – the monumental scale of the lobby, the drama of the double-storey Redwood Room bar, the theatrical elegance of the restaurant means that this place has the glam factor in spades. But escape upstairs and the rooms are fresh, simple and stylish – a tranquil haven for when you slip off your Louboutins.

Doubles from US$290. More details
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Cavallo Point San Francisco hotelCavallo Point Sausalito

Style Multi-house marvel
Setting Base of the Golden Gate

This historic boutique hotel spread across old officers’ quarters and solar-panelled new builds just south of the shops and seafood of Sausalito. If it’s Golden Gate views you’re after, go for a contemporary room with a deck.

Doubles from US$295. More details
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Post Ranch Inn, Big SurPost Ranch Inn Big Sur

Style Terrace-toting treehouses
Setting Californian clifftops

The cabins and cottages at Post Ranch Inn are strung along a rocky-ridged slip of Californian cliff; these recycled-redwood rooms offer total seclusion and nothing but soaring condors, starry nights, breathtaking views and a wood-burning fire for company.

Doubles from US$550. More details
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Look out for more Smith-style road-trip itineraries, coming soon…

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