Taking the trip from San Francisco to LA is iconic, filled with gorgeous views, towering mountains, and fun times. The Pacific Coast Highway is a great 450-mile stretch and guides you down the California coast.
Here are our favorite stops along the way for either an hour or a day:
First Stop: Santa Cruz
As the wonderful views of the city of San Fran slip behind you and the ocean views stretch before you get ready for some fun in the beach town of Santa Cruz. The classic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a half-mile long beachfront amusement park is filled with 34 rides and numerous arcades. The town’s vibe is funky. Don’t forget to stop by the original Santa Cruz skateboard shop for a piece of history.
Carmel and Big Sur
If you’re looking for a great snack or amazing home-style breakfast, Carmel has amazing cafés and is the perfect stop before heading into the nature enclave of Big Sur. This coastal gem is full of some of the best hikes, waterfalls, and hidden beaches. If you can find the one with purple sand, you’re in for a real treat.
Cayucos to Santa Barbara
Cayucos and a charming little town to stop for a night full of quirky boutiques, homemade food, and wood-fired pizza. If you’re looking to dip your toe into surfing, Santa Barbara is a great place to stop. The bustling city, cute shops, picture-perfect beaches, and world-class seafood is a great place to spend some time.
The Final Stretch to LA
Start the day off right with a walk along Butterfly Beach. To ease back into the bustling city life, take the long route and drive through Malibu and Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier is a great stop with the pier’s Ferris wheel and the end of the iconic Route 66.