Road trip! California Coastline

CA coast main

Feeling antsy for a road trip? Do you live in my beautiful home state of California or are you visiting soon? If so you must do the drive along the California coastline. Dramatic cliff tops, the sparkling blue ocean with white-capped waves, sprawling rock formations and huge sea lions in their natural habitat are just some of the beautiful things you will see while driving along the breath-taking California coastline.

Ozdane and I had the pleasure of enjoying this great adventure last month. It was a first for Ozdane and he was awe-struck by the incredible beauty of the drive. I felt very proud being from such a truly gorgeous place and even more proud to still call it home.

Ready for your road trip? Here are my tips of places to see and stay along the way.

Road trip rule #1: make sure you’re stocked with drinks, snacks and whatever you do don’t forget the camera! Start in one of my favorite cities in the world, San Francisco! This is an easy place to use as your base and to begin your drive especially if you’re visiting from out of the area.

Santa Cruz. This is a great destination south of SF. Here you will find many surfers, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (great for little ones), UC Santa Cruz, The Mystery Spot and of course the funky, laid back Santa Cruz vibe. If you’re in the mood for pizza head to Pleasure Pizza on 41st Ave or Portola Ave. Huge melt-in-your-mouth pizza slices!

Monterey Bay. Jump back in the car and continue south down to Monterey. If you’re lucky you’ll get a sunny day and minimal wind. The Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row with a plethora of restaurants, tourist shops are the main attractions in Monterey, along with the gorgeous water views and wildlife. If you passed on the pizza stop in Santa Cruz there are a variety of seafood restaurants along the water. I’d steer clear of the chain restaurants though!

Pebble Beach. Just a few exits south of Monterey is Pebble Beach and the famous 17-mile drive. This is definitely worth doing for some pretty ocean views, spectacular homes and amazing golf courses. Any U.S. Open fans out there? Stop at The Lodge at Pebble Beach for an afternoon coffee or cocktail and admire the huge trophies. You can opt to stay at The Lodge also. Heads up there is a $9.75 fee to enter the drive so make sure you have cash on hand. It’s worth every penny!

Carmel. Just beyond Pebble Beach is upscale village of Carmel-by-the Sea. Here you’ll find the quaint village streets filled with boutiques and restaurants. Don’t forget to take a stroll along the beautiful beach. Carmel is a very dog-friendly place and you’ll find many of the inns and hotels allow Fido to stay overnight as well! We arrived on a weekday evening without a reservation and were able to find a cute, little inn to stay at for the night. We stayed at the Briarwood Inn Bed & Breakfast in Carmel. It was very cozy and comfortable complete with a fireplace. The hosts were lovely and it is walking distance to the main streets of the village.

Big Sur. After Carmel you begin the memorable drive into the sprawling area known as Big Sur. Be sure to have your car loaded with water and goodies to prepare for a leisurely drive through this magnificent area. Take your time stopping at the various vista points along the way. The spectacular views and dramatic scenery isn’t something you see very often. There are a number of accommodation options in the Big Sur area ranging from camping to cabins to luxury resorts with gorgeous views. We spoiled ourselves and stayed at the beautiful Ventana Inn and Spa.Set up on a mountain this luxury resort is a secluded hide-away that makes you feel like you’re worlds away from reality. Complete with two pools, spa, Japanese baths and an award-winning restaurant. I highly recommend Ventana Inn for a luxury stay in Big Sur. Another luxury option is the Post Ranch Inn, which I’ve heard great things about.

From this point south there are a few different places to stop depending on what you want to see and do. Some include Hearst Castle, Cambria and San Luis Obispo.

Santa Barbara. Ozdane and I continued south to one of my favorite spots in California, beautiful Santa Barbara. Anybody remember that cheesy soap opera “Santa Barbara?” It looks exactly like that, no joke. Situated right on the beach you get the best of both worlds with the relaxed beach option and the downtown area with many delicious restaurants, loads of boutique shopping, bars and cafes. Personally I adore the architecture that has a very Spanish feel to it. Take a stroll down State Street and you’ll be right in the thick of it all to eat and shop to your heart’s content. Some of my personal favorites: Joes of Santa Barbara for a big, American breakfast. Shout out to Mrs. Nicole B for the great recos! For truly authentic Mexican hit up La SuperRica which Julia Childs frequented weekly. There are some gorgeous boutique shops not to be missed on State Street. Again there is a range of accommodation options here depending on what you’re looking for.

We opted for something by the harbor our first night and stayed at the Harbor View Inn. Our second stop in Santa Barbara we splurged and stayed at the beyond amazing Bacara Resort and Spa.This is by far one of the most beautiful resorts I’ve stayed at EVER! Look for my detailed reviews of over at The Trend Tribe soon!

Of course there is much more to see further south of Santa Barbara so if you’ve got the time keep going and see some very pretty spots in Southern California like Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano, Del Mar and La Jolla. Check out my detailed review of one of my favorite luxury resorts of our trip, L’Auberge Del Mar over on The Trend Tribe. One of the best things about this drive is whatever you missed on the way down you can see on your way back up. Be sure to take your time and don’t rush. You can also do the drive north of San Francisco, which is very pretty as well. The entire California coastline is truly a thing of beauty.

Have you been lucky enough to experience this memorable drive along the California coastline? What are your favorite places to stop along the way?


One Comment on “Road trip! California Coastline

  1. Love all those places mentioned (some of the hotels I haven’t stayed but looking forward to) truly anything along PCH is my fave! Being raised in So. Cali, having that ocean air to relax your mind, body & spirit – free of charge – is always amazing!
    Love how you mentioned that if you missed something going down you can catch it on the way back up! So true. That’s part of the beauty in taking the ever gorgeous PCH in.

    Thanks for the beautiful walk down memory lane. Now I need to go visit Carmel and get in some shopping this weekend! I’ll dream anyways.

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