Coastal California Road Trip Stops at A Glance

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, United States
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, United States.

From mural-lined alleyways named after poets and flamboyantly painted Victorian homes in the foggy north to all-seasons outdoor playgrounds for surfers in the sunny south, Coastal California is a knockout destination you can explore during your next road trip adventure.

Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California, United States.
The famous “Painted Ladies of San Francisco” in California, United States.

Apart from the edgy Mission district and Marina’s chic waterfront, San Francisco has many other unique neighborhoods to explore. The so-called “Paris of the West,” iconic for its filigreed Victorian roofline, will impress you with its brightly painted alleyway murals and its hidden stairways offering magnificent bay view panoramas.

About 75 miles (121 kilometers) south of San Francisco, you will find Santa Cruz, an area known for its crunchy coffee shops, one-of-a-kind shops, white sandy beaches, and quirky personalities.

An English fairytale cottage in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, created by Hugh Comstock, now hosts Tuck Box eatery.
“Tuck Box” eatery in Carmel-by-the-sea, California, in the only commercial property Hugh Comstock ever made.

Founded as a seaside resort in the 1880s, Carmel-by-the-sea, hosting more than 100 art galleries and a plethora of Comstock cottages, will be an exciting stop along your journey.

Big Sur, California, United States
Big Sur in California, United States.

Nestled up against mysterious-looking redwood forests, Big Sur is a precious piece of land shoehorned between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Range. In the 1950s and 1960s, the rocky Big Sur coast became a popular destination among artists and writers.

Just south of Big Sur, Hearst Castle is the biggest showboat attraction on the Central Coast, showcasing William Randolph Hearst’s obsession with Old World treasures collected from Europe.

Santa Barbara, California, United States
Santa Barbara in California, United States.

In Santa Barbara, you can see sugar sand beaches, waving palm trees and red-roofed, whitewashed adobe buildings that were built in Spanish colonial revival style.

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, United States
Venice Beach in Los Angeles, United States.

Los Angeles is a great city that has nurtured famous artists, writers, film directors, and performers, alongside alternative-health gurus, and yogis. If you want to interact with goth punks, New-agey bohemians, and muscled bodybuilders head to Venice Beach. For miles of white-sand beaches backed by million-dollar oceanfront mansions, Malibu is the perfect destination.

La Jolla, San Diego, California, United States
La Jolla in San Diego, California, United States.

In San Diego, “America’s Finest City” according to many travel guides, you can grab a fish taco and hit one of its fabulous beaches with your surfboard. Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, Pacific Beach, Old Town, Gaslamp Quarter, SeaWorld, Hotel del Coronado, La Jolla, Hillcrest and North Park, and Del Mar Racetrack are only some of the highlights of the area.