Treasure hunting on the Pacific Highway

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the USA in terms of vintage finds and if I’m honest, it turned out to be a mixed bag.

James and I were in California for just over two weeks, travelling from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, then down to Yosemite and then finally back to the coast to drive north on Highway 1 back to SF. We had a truly amazing time and we just saw and did so much that it was all a little overwhelming.

I’m going to focus solely on the vintage and antique scene so that if, like me, you love mixing your holidays with a little treasure hunting, you can get an idea of what to expect from central California…


We really didn’t have much luck with thrift shops, flea markets or antiques shops until we got to the coast road so if you’re going to be doing a similar trip to us don’t be disheartened, you’ll find the treasure in the end!

We stopped off in Cayucos for the night and stayed in the coolest Airstream caravan which was decked out with amazing kitch decor and had an outdoor shower, it was a stay we won’t forget and was probably our favourite accommodation throughout the whole trip.

find details on Airbnb ‘Little Gem, Cayucos’

We arrived in Cayucos at around 3pm so we parked in town and had a wander down the Main Street. There were two large antique malls which are deceptively massive. They had tiny shop fronts but seemed to go back forever with multiple floors, it was great hunting ground.

I’d been desperate to find some blue glass mason jars and we managed to pick up three on that first evening, two ‘Ball’ with zinc screw tops and one with a bail clip. I would have been happy enough with those but the next day we headed up to Cambria where there was another clutch of tardis-like antique shops to get lost in…


How ridiculously cute is that terrier door-stop!? I debated whether I ‘needed’ it long and hard but decided I probably didn’t… **pines for treasures missed**

Price wise, things were quite mixed. If I use the mason jars as an example, I saw them for $39 each in Cayucos whereas in Cambria we managed to pick up identical ones for $9 each. My advice would be to just go with your gut. The exchange rate fluctuates and it depends how much you really want that item on that day so just go with how you feel. I didn’t try and haggle at all and saw a few stroppy signs in shops discouraging it but hey, if you’re feeling brave…

Final tip is there is ‘retro’ everywhere so if you’re in to brights, melamine and vintage Pyrex be sure to leave plenty of room in your suitcase! It seems to be really well preserved and there was tonnes of it everywhere we went.

a little scoop of California for us to take home…

I’d love to know if you’ve been to these places or similar, or if you’re planning a trip so please get in touch. Happy treasure hunting!

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