March 2016

5 Day Itinerary for San Francisco and Big Sur

Here’s a confession: I love creating itineraries. It’s a sickness. Trust me, you don’t want to see the “Travel” folder in my Google Drive. So. Many. Itineraries. 

In my past life, I bet I hit it big as the World’s Best Cruise Director because planning is my jam.

Here in my current life, I’ve yet to make a career out of being an Itinerary Planner Extraordinaire.

That doesn’t stop me from searching Google, TripAdvisor, and Pinterest for other people’s itineraries when I’m attempting to come up with my own. I like to see how other travelers grouped together various activities, what places they visited and when, and what they recommend doing.

This puzzle-like process helps me figure out how I can make my trip plan the best it can be.

Type A much?

Digital Itinerary Planning


Given my fervor for developing itineraries, I’ve gained quite the reputation among my friends and colleagues for this, er, hobby. When people ask me to share past trip plans with them, it gives me a chance to dig back into past travels, and my itineraries allow me to reflect on memories from past experiences.

This will be my first post in a new series that focuses ONLY on itineraries— no recaps or stories (I’ll link to any that I write about, of course!), just a list of what I did and where I went to help anyone who might be planning a similar trip.

Earlier this month, I traveled to San Francisco with my boyfriend to visit my best friend. Since we’ve both been to SF a couple of times, we weren’t overly concerned with doing all the tourist activities in the city. We spent a lot more time wandering around that I’d do if I were visiting for the first time. But, if you’ve been to San Francisco before, here’s an idea on how to get another look at this beautiful city.

Our 5 Day San Francisco and Big Sur Itinerary


  • Arrive SF around 11 AM
  • Lunch at Palmyra Mediterranean Cafe in the Lower Haight
  • Walk to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies of Full House fame
  • Take Uber to the Presidio: LucasFilms Studio & the Yoda Fountain, Palace of Fine Arts
  • Walk to Pier 39 via Fort Mason (this was a bit of a walk, about 2.5 miles;  if you’re not feeling up for a lengthy trek, I recommend catching the free Presidigo shuttle!)
  • Take Uber to Ferry Building Marketplace: my favorites are Blue Bottle Coffee, cheese at Cowgirl Creamery, ice cream from Humphry Slocombe
  • Dinner at Umami Sushi in the Marina
  • Overnight at a friend’s place in the Lower Haight

Palace of Fine Arts Presidio San Francisco


  • 5 mile run in Golden Gate Park
  • Coffee and breakfast at The Grind on Haight St.
  • Bus from Lower Haight to Moraga St. to see 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
  • Climb all the stairs to Grand View Park (this is an intense climb; I was huffing & puffing by the end!)
  • Take an Uber to Baker Beach near the Presidio
  • Dinner at Original Joe’s in North Beach (even though this is an Italian restaurant, I had the best and biggest burger I’ve ever had here)
  • Overnight at a friend’s place in the Lower Haight

View of Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach San Francisco

Grand View Park San Francisco


  • Breakfast in the Marina District of SF at the adorable Rose’s Cafe
  • Uber to SFO airport to pick up rental car
  • Drive to Airbnb in Pacific Grove (I highly recommend this Airbnb that we stayed in during our trip! It’s perfect for 3-4 adults, is well-decorated with an outdoor patio, and is within walking distance to the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail and the Monterey Aquarium)
  • Do 17 Mile Drive (there’s a $10 entry fee, but it’s so worth it!)
  • Stop in Carmel for dinner at Flying Fish (Please make a reservation and eat here. This is the best seafood I’ve ever had, and I grew up in Florida. I’m still dreaming about the ginger salsa appetizer and almond-encrusted sea bass weeks later!)



  • 3 mile run on the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail because I couldn’t get enough of these views the day before
  • Breakfast at First Awakenings near the Monterey Aquarium
  • Monterey Aquarium (our Airbnb came with 2 free passes, which made this a worthwhile 2-hour adventure)
  • Coffee & shopping at Bright Coffee on our way out of Monterey
  • Drive from Monterey to Santa Cruz
  • Late lunch in downtown Santa Cruz
  • Drop rental car off at airport
  • Redeye flight back to Tampa

Monterey Bay Aquarium Jelly Fish

Are San Francisco and Big Sur on your travel bucket list? Have you been before and have recommendations to share in the comments?

Running Route: 7 Mile Run on the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail

I’ve run in a lot of pretty places, but the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail has worked its way into the top spot with its jagged coastline and almost-tropical fauna that had me saying, “Wow,” every 10 seconds.

I mean, does it get any better than this? 

Coastal View Run Monterey Bay Rec Trail

Oh, it does.

Because there are seals, too.

Seals Monterey Bay Recreation Trail Run

While visiting my best friend (also a runner!) in San Francisco last month, I had a 7-mile training run on my plan the day we were driving from Monterey to Big Sur. We didn’t have a ton of time to spend in Monterey, so I thought the run would let us get in additional sightseeing before we hopped in the car.

Before trips, I normally check out Map My Run and Trail Link to see if there are any routes to inspire me. I also like browsing Trip Advisor forums for ideas, and occasionally get lucky with a Google search for “running blog route + location name.”

It didn’t take too long before I learned about the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail. From the rave reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp, I knew I had our route picked out.

From our lovely Airbnb (try Airbnb using my link & get $20 in credit here!), we only had to run about half a mile downhill, past the cutest house EVER, before reaching the trail.

Cute House Monterey Bay Recreation Trail Run

And, this was the view of the sunrise we were greeted with:

Sunrise Monterey Bay Recreation Trail Run

At that point, we knew were in for a great run that would be filled with photo stops. Luckily neither of us were training for any sort of time goal because this “run” would have been a wash.

There was a stretch of trail so captivating that we stopped every 90 seconds to simply stare out at the violent sea, mesmerized as sea kayakers and sea birds darted around the mist cascading from the crashing waves.

For our 7 mile run, we did a figure-eight from our Airbnb: We headed north toward downtown Monterey before looping back south to Point Pinos Lighthouse, backtracking to where we started. Even with some out-and-backs, I wouldn’t have changed anything about our route. We got to see so much in an hour (sunrise! seals! beaches! cliffs! lighthouses!), and I could have stayed on that trail all day.

It almost made me wish I’d had a longer run on my schedule. Almost. 

Point Pinos Lighthouse Monterey Bay Recreation Trail

Route Overview

  • Location: Monterey Bay, CA
  • Distance: 29 miles of trail, and you could easily get more mileage with neighborhood loops
  • Terrain: Mostly paved, some hard-packed dirt track
  • Traffic: No cars! Pedestrian & bike traffic is quiet in the mornings, but it gets busy near Monterey later in the day
  • Water: Limited – advise you to bring your own if you’re running long
  • Bathrooms: Limited
  • Gear Required: A camera!
  • Run The World Rating: 5 Running Shoes out of 5 Running Shoes

Have you ever run the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail? What’s been your favorite place to run? 

Detailed running route in Monterey Bay, California from Meg Runs The World

Another Travel Blog: Or, Why I’m Starting a New Blog Now

Just when you thought the last thing you needed was one more travel blog, one more running blog, one more blog authored by me (RIP the 15 others I’ve started and abandoned over the years), I’m starting a new blog that’s got all these things.


Thought so.

Seriously, though, why am I starting a blog/website in an over-saturated market in 2016, about 10 years too late, when everyone is basically screaming, “Don’t do it!”?

Because I want to.

And, after a lot of pondering and researching, I decided that’s enough of a reason.

Even if no one but my mom (Hi, Mom!) reads this, even if I only post sporadically, even if I use too many parentheses, I’m doing (trying) the damn thing.

I want a side project that forces me to be curious, to keep learning, and to expand my skill sets.

I want to write more. Especially about things I love: traveling and running.

I want a reason to learn how to take better pictures, and not to rely solely on Instagram to remember adventures I’ve had.

During the day (and a lot of nights), I’m usually cranking away at my full-time gig as Associate Director of Content Strategy at an advertising agency in Tampa, Florida. It’s an amazing job, and I absolutely love the work, my company, and my colleagues.

Tampa Bay Florida Tampa Riverwalk Downtown Tampa

Every weekday morning, I bike or walk to work along the water to our jealousy-inducing workspace, and am surrounded by intelligent and creative people who are constantly keeping me on my toes. We’ve created some mind-blowing and award-winning work.

Ad Agency Tampa Florida Office

Being around so many superstars and having a Type A personality means I’m always trying to get better at my craft.

When you work in content strategy, marketing, and social media, what better way to improve and learn than to start a blog (again) 8 years after you launched your first one?

Thus, the birth of Meg Runs the World, a blog for me to share stories about traveling and running, while learning even more about publishing, content, SEO, WordPress, community building, and all those good things that go into managing a website.

Let’s call it getting my hands even dirtier.

I’m ready. Are you?


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