A trip to San Francisco is never complete without a road trip down the California coast back home to LA. The warm summer sun, the rocky cliffs, the cute beach towns, the wildflowers and stunning coastal views will put you in such a grateful, dreamy and dazed state of mind.
If you dream of summers with the sun kissed wind wisping your hair, surrounded by good company, good music, the best views, and new places to let your wandering feet explore then this is a trip you must take.
The most popular California coastal trip to take is from Los Angeles to San Francisco. There are so many gorgeous places to stop along the coast its hard to choose what to see (if not everything!!). I have done this drive more then my fair share amount of times and it never gets boring. There is so much to do and see, and the views seem to get more and more stunning each trip! These are 7 of my favorite stops to make when road tripping between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Tip: It is best to do this drive going south down PCH because you will be on the beach side. Also when planning your trip be sure to count for all the extra stops you will want to take to see the stunning coastal views (leave bright and early).
A vintage feeling beachy surf town, with tons to do in nature (land and sea), unique shops/ cafes, and a fun boardwalk complete with rides, games, and carnival food year round. (image source)
I adore Monterey. There’s amazing shopping and restaurants on Cannery Row, beautiful beaches and landscapes and it is also home of the best aquarium!
Not too far from Monterey is Carmel. This charming whimsical beach town will make you feel like you stepped out of California into a fairy tale. With cobblestone paved sidewalks and the nicest people, I’m sure you will fall in love with Carmel as I have. Slow down and enjoy yourself here. Be sure to drive the famous scenic 17 mile drive from Monterey to Carmel for the best views.
The drive through Big Sur has the best views of California’s coastline in my opinion, and is great for camping/hiking. Be sure to top at near by Pfieffer beach to see purple sand, and McWay falls where a gorgeous waterfall falls straight onto the sand. Big Sur is an amazing stop you won’t want to miss.
Cambria is the quaintest seaside town with great shopping known for its antique shops and local art. Head near the beach to see the elephant seals, or stop by Nitt Witt Ridge, a quirkier alternative to the near by Hearst Castle. Tip: keep your eyes peeled for zebras on the left side of PCH if you’re headed south towards Cambria from the Hearst castle. Yes…. Zebras. (image source)
If you know me, you know I love wine, so Santa Barbara is definitely a must stop for me. I love the Mediterranean style architecture and vibe here. There’s tons of beach activities, hiking, amazing restaurants, wine tasting, shopping and so much history and culture.
Famous for it gorgeous coastlines, warm weather, great hikes, amazing beaches and very expensive houses a lot of celebrities call home. Be sure to visit nearby El Matador State beach known for its amazing cliffs, sea caves, beautiful rock formations, and crystal blue water.
(all photos are mine unless otherwise stated)