Coasting: 5 Must Stop Cities On The California Coast

5 Must Stop Cities on the California Coast
Photo: Rian Castillo/Flickr CC

As road trips go, it’s safe to say that taking a journey along the Pacific Coast Highway on the California coast is one of the best around. Not only do you get to benefit from the glorious California sunshine, but the 1000 kilometres or so that you get to explore is a natural paradise too.

Incredibly scenic, the California coast drive sports some of the most amazing coastal views the USA has to offer. But you’ll also spot smaller villages, forests, and a vineyard or 10 along with way. If you were to take your time, the drive is around ten hours not stop. But if you’re hoping to make a few stops along the way, then here are five that you should think about going with.

5 Must stop cities on the California coast
Photo: Ragnar Vorel/Unsplash

California Coast stop 1: San Francisco

First of all, you’re going to want to start from, or make your first stop at, San Francisco. Or San Fran for short. San Fran has so much to offer as a vacation spot. You’re definitely going to want to take a drive over the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge, which is definitely one of the most notable parts of the city. But you’ve also got a trip to Alcatraz Island to make while you’re in town too. And you’re definitely going to want to take a trip on the iconic city trams too. If you’ve got time for one last thing, make it Lombard Street and thank us later.

Cali Coast stop 2: Santa Cruz

Next, there’s Santa Cruz to consider. Find yourself some accommodation, such as Aqua Breeze Inn, and stay awhile. Because this retro town is completely full of character. It’s definitely got an air of all things ‘60s about it. From the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to the stunning beach, you’ll enjoy a relaxing time when you’re in town.

Malibu: 1/5 Must stop cities on the California Coast
Photo: Jenna Day/Unsplash

Beach life: Malibu

And you’re definitely going to want to make a stop in Malibu too. This place is like no other. There’s so much to do on a Malibu beach day, that you’re not going to want to do an awful lot else. So be sure to book a hotel and stay here if you want to enjoy that kind of laid back Californian lifestyle. With incredible beachfront houses and health food restaurants, being in Malibu is really like living the Californian dream.

The Sparkliest Jewel of the California Coast: Los Angeles

Then there’s always LA. Los Angeles could take awhile. So if you’re planning on staying in one spot for a long time, make it LA. You’ve got the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame and you have to take a stroll down Rodeo Drive too. Not to mention the studio tours. There are so many incredible places to eat while in town too, that even foodies will love it here.

Southernmost stop: San Diego

And finally, you’ve also got the southernmost stop on the list; the lovely San Diego. Here you’ll some incredible views and a wealth of sights to see too. You’ve got the Balboa Park and Old Town to see on foot, and you should definitely head to the Cabrillo National Monument if you want the best 360 views of the bay too.

Where are your must-stop spots on the California Coast? 


20 responses to “Coasting: 5 Must Stop Cities On The California Coast”

  1. Emmalene Avatar

    Great list although I’d definitely have added Monterey and Cambria to that list!

  2. Jenia Avatar

    How about going up towards Fort Bragg? Some seriously beautiful scenery!

    1. mpost Avatar

      Oh my gosh, I just googled it. Looks pretty beautiful. Adding it to my next Cali road trip To-do list.

  3. Erica Edwards Avatar

    As a California native, I’ve made this trek more time than I can count and it NEVER gets old! For the last few years I’ve lived in Spain, and in 2016 I was finally able to bring my partner over to make the journey with me – San Diego, Temecula, Laguna Beach, LA, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monteray and San Francisco. Needless to say, he fell in love as well!

    1. mpost Avatar

      Nice! Must have been so nice to play tour guide for him. 🙂

  4. Anja Avatar

    I’d love to take thit trip- it really does look incredibly scenic on the photos. Also, I follow along a blogger that often writes about San Diego, and it’s always so sunny! Some Californian weather would be much appreciated right now here in Europe. 🙂

    1. mpost Avatar

      I’ve been to San Diego – it is one of the sunniest, happiest places I’ve been. 🙂

  5. Chris Behrsin Avatar

    Sounds great. I’ve always looked upon the US road trip that I see in the movies with a sense of awe. From where I’m from, in the UK (Scotland and the national parks are an exception), they build motorway bankings on each side of the road, and you rarely see anything when you drive along. But US roads look so open, with so much to see. It was like that when we were living in Andalucia, Spain too, and it certainly adds joy to the travel.

    1. mpost Avatar

      I think I know what you’re talking about – the Pacific Coastal Highway or PCH as some call it, is truly wide open. But there are some other highways that are pretty gridlocked.

  6. Josh Avatar

    I’d really love to go to San Francisco, I think being there in the 60’s would have been one of the coolest places in the world!

    1. mpost Avatar

      I agree! I would’ve loved to time travel back to that era.

  7. Ghia Lorenzo Avatar

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this post! Well I love looking at these trams, great photo! Malibu is such a perfect getaway, I love how people enjoy every minute in this beach, indeed a Californian dream!

  8. Kavita Favelle Avatar

    Totally agree with your list, particularly because these five choices really show off the diversity that can be found along California’s amazing coast. I have a particular fondness for San Francisco, but I liked San Diego a lot too!

    1. mpost Avatar

      I love them both and they are so different. San Francisco is edgy and cool and San Diego so laid back, hot and sunny.

  9. Samantha Sparrow Avatar

    All of these places seem amazing to stop, and whilst I think I’d want to go to all of them, I do really want to experience the madness of LA just once in my life! I’d love to go down Rodeo Drive, I’ve been a bit obsessed by this since watching Pretty Woman!

    1. mpost Avatar

      LA is definitely one of the sparkliest places in the USA.

  10. Rachel Avatar

    Id love to hire a car and do a drive somewhere in the US – maybe this is the route!

    1. mpost Avatar

      Go for it!

  11. Brianna Avatar

    I’ve heard really great things about Santa Cruz! It seems like it would be less busy that many of the other popular California cities!

  12. Carmen Edelson Avatar

    I agree with all of these beautiful stops! Each of these places are SO different to. San Francisco is my favorite city in the U.S., I miss it!

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