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Plan A Trip Down the California coast

Plan a Trip Down the California Coast

We LOVE driving down the California Coast. My dad is from Northern California, and my parents lived in Santa Cruz as newlyweds back in the 1970s. One of their favorite places to take me as a little girl was on road trips down the stretch of coastline from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. It’s dotted with cute little towns, amazing natural beauty, great little restaurants, and epic surf spots.

I recommend flying into San Francisco and spending three days in the city. Then rent a car and head south on Highway 101 to explore some of our favorite spots on the California Coast.

 

Santa Cruz

Image via Flickr by nchunsaker

 

Santa Cruz is about two hours south of San Francisco on Highway 101. Santa Cruz is right on the ocean, and it has a beachy, hippie vibe with a really fun surf culture.

 

To Do

Visit the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, stroll the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and explore Natural Bridges State Beach.

To Eat

Get breakfast at Linda’s Seabreeze Café, lunch on the best burgers and shakes at Surfrider Café, and check out Tony & Alba’s Pizza.

To Stay

Book a room at the Dream Inn.

 

Monterey

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Image via Flickr by nchunsaker

 

Monterey is just an hour south of Santa Cruz, right on the southern edge of Monterey Bay. Its proximity to the ocean has made a big impact on the city. The fishing heritage and natural environment make Monterey an interesting and fun place to visit.

To Do

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the world. You could easily spend the better part of a day here. Don’t miss the Cannery Row Tour or the self-guided Sea Car Tour either.

To Eat

Get the awesome pancakes, seafood Benedict, or fresh fish lunch at LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle. Try the fresh fish and soup at Monterey’s Fish House or poke at The Poke Lab.

To Stay

Use HotelPlanner to book a room at InterContinental The Clement Monterey.

 

Pismo Beach

Image via Flickr by nchunsaker

 

Pismo Beach is about a 2.5-hour drive south of Monterey. However, it should take you the better part of a day to get here because you’ll travel through Big Sur, one of the most dramatic and beautiful stretches of coastline in California. You’ll want to take time for pictures, go on a hike, and eat at one of the darling little cafés along the highway.

I love Pismo Beach. I visited for the first time when I was 12 years old. I remember staying at a cute roadside motel, playing on the beach for hours, and strolling through the cute little town. It left an impression on me then and continues to do so every time I return.

To Do

Don’t miss the Monarch Butterfly Grove or Eldwaylen Ocean Park. Rent sea kayaks at the Pismo Beach Surf Shop.

To Eat

Try the cinnamon rolls with nuts at Old West Cinnamon Rolls, the soup and calamari at Splash Café, and the Golden State at Brooks Burgers.

To Stay

Book a room at the Inn at the Cove.

The Central California Coast is such a beautiful place. I’ve visited my entire life, and I love it every time I return. You’ll be in awe of its beauty, and you’ll create amazing memories to last a lifetime.

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