Where to Stop Along a California Coast Road Trip


No journey to the west coast is full with out an epic highway journey journey alongside California’s lovely coast.

Assuming you’re on this for the journey (you take a California coast highway journey in spite of everything), you need to plan on spending not less than every week exploring to see what the completely different locations California’s Northern, Central and Southern areas have to supply and get the total expertise.

Get prepared for an exhilarating, cliff hugging, home windows down, music loud California highway journey!

See additionally: Interesting Facts About California

Most generally requested questions on California coast highway journeys

Is it higher to drive up or down the California coast?

Personally, we predict it’s greatest to begin North and head South. This weblog is organized so as of cities you’ll hit driving on Route 1.

How many miles is California’s coast?

California’s coast spans over 800 miles!

How lengthy does it take to drive California’s coast?

Without stopping, it’ll take you between 10 – 12 hours to drive the complete California coast from begin to end. However, this highway journey is about making these superb stops! So, plan accordingly.

Northern California coast highway journey itinerary

Your California journey begins on Pacific Coast Highway, higher referred to as “PCH”.

The ocean views from above are so beautiful that you just’ll have to tug over to take all of it in. You don’t need to drive off the cliff. 😉

Along the highway, driving on the California Hwy 1, you’ll additionally encounter the gorgeous Navarro River Redwoods State Park which has a novel, prehistoric really feel, nearly like a scene from Jurassic Park, with ferns peaking by the thick, stalky Redwoods.

See additionally: Best Beaches in Northern California

Humboldt County: “The Redwood Forest”

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

The Redwood Forest is each bit as epic because the photographs you see in magazines and Instagram, solely 10x higher. You must see it in particular person. You’ll see the Redwoods just about till you attain San Francisco. Have your digital camera prepared!

Avenue of the Giants

This is the place a number of the largest and tallest Redwood timber on the earth are.

From Avenue of the Giants, you’ll drive on California Hwy 1 which finally turns into PCH. These are a number of the most unimaginable views you’ll see in your California coast highway journey.

You’ll additionally need to cease in these cities for the total expertise:

Meyers Flat

Cooler in principle than in actual life. Max measurement is 7’ x 7’. I watched as a Tesla barely made it by. On the opposite hand, my SUV didn’t stand an opportunity.

If you actually need to drive by a tree, you may strive the “Chandelier Tree” in Leggett whose opening has match SUVs.

This is an lovable treasure. It felt so reasonable, at any given second, I used to be anticipating to see an elf come out of the door.


Enter to the left of Dyerville Overlook for secluded views of the water. It’s a pleasant place to park your automobile and acquire your ideas or have a snack.


Check out the Victorian fashion structure on this 19th c. seaport city.

  • Carson mansion
  • Explore Old Town Eureka & waterfront
  • Drive throughout bridge to Woody Island

Where to eat


In this unassuming little city identified for its backdrop in some large Hollywood motion pictures, you’ll get to get pleasure from some odd curiosities like a store housed inside a former financial institution and California’s oldest pharmacy.

  • Rings Pharmacy (Rexall Drugs)

California’s oldest, constantly working drug retailer

  • Humboldt’s Hometown Store

You may even step contained in the financial institution’s vault which is fairly superior. Then, stroll by the room that’s devoted to Food Network Star, Guy Fieri, who was born proper on the town.

Beautifully saved fairytale-like backyard with a life-sized doll home and a hidden backyard walkway fabricated from crops.

Fort Bragg


You don’t need to miss this lovely seaside city overlooking Goat Island and Cypress. It provides the vibes of a Mediterranean coastal city.

  • Mendocino Headlands State Park

Standing on the bluffs searching to sea is probably the most calming feeling because the waves are crashing and wind blows throughout you.

Where to eat

Insider Tip: On the drive down, you’ll inevitably be passing well-known websites like Big Sur’s Bixby Bridge. It’s all a part of the California coastal highway journey! Pull over to the facet to snap some epic pictures. But, no matter you do, don't cease in the midst of the highway. Yes, I've seen this performed. It’s a security hazard to your self but in addition, everybody round you.

Wine Country

If you get pleasure from wine, take a tour by wine nation and check out completely different Californian wines. You’ll discover a variety of enjoyable, interactive experiences at completely different vineyards and wineries alongside the best way.

We’re going slightly inland right here, going from Route 1 to the 128, however with many wine producers situated only a brief drive off the coast, you may hop from vineyard to vineyard and see what completely different wine rising areas have to supply.

Napa County


If you haven’t seen the film “Bottle Shock”, you’ll need to earlier than heading to wine nation. This is the place California wine turned heads worldwide and began being taken significantly.

Good Read: Read the ebook the movie was (loosely) based mostly on explaining the massive California win that modified wine perpetually: Judgment of Paris: California Vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine.


Napa is probably the most well-known of the wine areas. Prepare for a Disneyland chaos type of vibe. At least that’s what it felt like at Domaine Carneros. There are additionally different spots value trying out.

Here are a number of nice Napa experiences to check out:

Explore the gorgeous grounds which features a backyard whose contemporary produce is utilized in most of the dishes served on property. You may also dine right here, get pleasure from a self-wine tasting expertise and discover their museums and study extra about wine and cooking inside.

A couple of extra locations to take a look at in Napa:

  • Napa Mill
  • Shops, eating places. Stop into Vintage Sweet Shoppe for some wine and decadent truffles.
  • Napa Welcome Sign

Where to eat

CIA at Copia has some superb eating places.

Brunch: The Grove

Dinner: Le Petit Chef 3D Experience

A whirlwind of an expertise! Definitely to not be missed. This is a very magical night. It’ll actually transport you to a special world.

St. Helena

Sonoma County

Napa is known for its wine but in addition a bit crowded and overdone when you ask me. Try a number of the lesser identified areas right here in Sonoma, the true deal.

Join a guided vineyard tour with picnic lunch within the space!


  • Alexander Valley Vineyard

Santa Rosa

If using by a winery on a bar bike whereas sampling grapes off the vine and sipping on completely different varietals seems like a enjoyable California afternoon to you, you’ll love St. Francis whose historical past is simply as attention-grabbing as its fortunate escape from the California hearth that attempted to take them down.

San Francisco & Sausalito

Take Highway 101 North throughout the Golden Gate Bridge until you’ve entered San Francisco, the land that wants no introduction.

We’re all conscious of the issues that made SF famously right down to earth and funky. But, if you need one thing slightly extra particular, be authentic and spend a while in Sausalito, SF’s lovable little sister. She’s simply as nice and…you gained’t must struggle vacationers for photograph.

For the adventurers, begin in SF & journey throughout the bridge all the best way to Sausalito. Take the ferry or bike again. I’ll warn you, it’s a little bit of a distance. I used to be exhausted after going 1 approach.

Where to eat

Central California

Now you’ll get again on Route 1 and proceed down the coast getting into the middle of California which is an ideal mix of the Northern and Southern areas its sandwiched between. You’ll get slightly little bit of all the pieces… nature, journey, ocean, metropolis, culinary delights and extra.

Santa Cruz

  • Amusement Park
  • Pizza & drink sail to see the seals, Chardonnay Charters is a superb firm
  • Walk the pier and watch seals

Monterey & Pacific Grove

Where to eat

Not solely does this restaurant have unimaginable views, it has scrumptious seafood! Grab a desk exterior and take all of it in. You may even watch kayakers, birds and seals from above.

Carmel by the Sea

This is slightly storybook coastal village if I ever noticed one! Here, you’ll benefit from the certainly one of a form really feel that’s uniquely Carmel. Explore quaint retailers and fairytale-like properties then, hit the seashore and go for some lunch at one of many city’s bistros with outdated world allure.

  • Carmel Beach
  • Get your golf on at certainly one of Carmel’s many state-of-the-art golf programs
  • Do the 17 mi. drive, cease at Pebble Beach
  • See the storybook homes which have completely different names as an alternative of numbers


  • Stroll the boardwalk of Moonstone Beach and dip your ft within the ocean
  • Main Street retailers, eating places & historical past
  • Hearst Castle
For one other enjoyable cease additional inland, go to an enthralling village named Solvang, higher referred to as the Danish capital of America and the city the place the wino film Sideways was filmed.

Southern California

Then, you’ll get onto Highway 101! This is while you’ll actually begin to really feel these surfer, seashore vibes which are quintessential to SoCal.

Here, you’ll discover beautiful artist colonies, surf spots and seashores made well-known on TV collection like The OC, Laguna Beach, The Hills and each Beach Boys tune.

See additionally: Best Hiking Trails in Southern California

Santa Barbara

Here, we enter the Northernmost level of SoCal.

  • Take a browsing lesson
  • Visit Old Mission Santa Barbara in-built 1786
  • Walk down one of many longest deep-water piers between LA & SF – Stearns Wharf

Where to eat

  • In-N-Out of Course! It’s a Californian staple.

Huntington Beach

Welcome to “Surf City, USA”!

  • Rent a surrey bike at Zack’s Rental. It’s a variety of enjoyable to journey previous the seashore! Just be careful for the pedestrians.
  • Visit the surf retailers for some nice beachwear
  • Stroll the Boardwalk

Where to eat

Laguna Beach

While Laguna Beach is after all identified for its seashore, I encourage you to skip it (not the prettiest, I do know, I grew up right here) and as an alternative, try these different spots…

  • Stroll to Hesler Park gazebo, look out to the ocean, see an artist portray the scene

See Paegaent of the Masters which is a superb present! Walk round and see completely different artwork galleries. You may even paint a vase and take it dwelling with you.

  • See St. Francis by the Sea- Guiness Book of World Record’s smallest cathedral on the earth

Where to eat

Sit exterior for beautiful ocean views. The seafood was contemporary and attractive.

La Jolla

Talk a few enjoyable spot! This is a basic Cali beachtown with a mixture of upscale and lowkey retailers and eating places with the seashore as the middle focus. You’ll know you’re in the suitable place while you hear the seals!

  • Stroll Avendida de la Playa
  • Beach sundown
  • Go kayaking at La Jolly Cove
  • Birch Aquarium

Where to eat


If you need a style of glamour and beautiful seashores, head to Malibu.

  • Stroll Malibu Pier, numerous retailers & eating places
  • Point Dume
  • Matador Beach
  • Surf at Zuma Beach

Where to eat

Don’t depart with out trying out this superb restaurant! Reservations are extremely really helpful. I watched the large waves do their very own little present and obtained sprayed with sea mist whereas sipping cocktails earlier than diving into an incredible 8 course seafood & sushi meal.

San Diego

This is an attractive location away from the remainder of town.

  • Walk round (or keep at) Historic Hotel de Coronado
  • Have a drink and take heed to reside music on the seashore
  • Sea World
  • Balboa Park
  • Point Loma
  • Old Town San Diego

Some nice spots to hit are Old Town San Diego Historic Park and Whaley House.

  • Woflie’s Carousel Bar
  • Breakfast & Bubbles
  • Rockin Baja Lobster

See additionally: How to Plan an Epic Baja California Vacation

And there you’ve gotten it! Where to cease alongside a California coast highway journey! Hopefully you get some concepts to your upcoming highway journey!

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  • ARealGirlReview


    Hey ya’ll! I’m Geeves, a Life Enthusiast, Huge Foodie, Lupus Warrior, & Travel Junkie (170 days+/yr & counting). The reality is, I’m no influencer. Just an actual lady, sharing my actual life and that is Real Girl Review.


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