The famous Californian road trip! It doesn't get better than this. 800 kilometers along the coast packed with both great cities, magnificent nature and beautiful ocean view. Here's my favourite stops between Los Angeles and San Francisco. You can decide for yourself how much time you want to spent here - that's the best thing about a road trip: You can stay if you love it or just move on to the next amazing place along the way.
Santa Monica is located right next to Los Angeles. It is a beautiful place full of "Baywatch" beaches and iconic palm trees. The most famous one of the beaches are Venice Beach. When you're done sipping on sunshine, there's more than beaches to see. The famous Santa Monica Pier hosts the amusement park Pacific Park and is also where the route 66 trail ends. If you are down for some shopping then a few hundred meters away, you'll find the 3rd Street Promenade. Perfect for lunch and shopping.
State Parks in Santa Barbara
The next stretch is full of State Parks. Gaviota State Park is one of these and the place we decided to have breakfast. There's also Point Dome State Beach, where you might see a dolphin and tidepools. Or Leo Carillo State Park, where you'll find caves at the beach.
Big Sur State Park
The most famous stretch is the one called Big Sur. Big Sur State Park is a real road trip just by itself. It's winding roads and dramatic coastal landscapes with steep cliff faces. There were roadwork when we visited, which made our trip even more dramatic! There's not a lot of other ways to get to Big Sur except for Highway 1, but it was closed and our GPS gave us another route. It turned out to be going through mountains with roads that were not used to having lots of campervans and campers coming through... It was the scariest part of the road trip! But we found our way back to Highway 1 and a few must-sees in Big Sur is the famous Bixby Bridge and the McWay Falls. McWay Falls is a waterfall that falls unto the beach and out in the ocean. It's really beautiful, but unfortunately I never found a way to get down to the beach.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
At Pfeiffer Beach you'll find the famous "keyhole". A hole in a huge rock in the water. In some seasons, the sun will set right in the keyhole. Unfortunately it did not do that in June. It's still a beautiful place to watch the sunset. Next to Julia Pfeiffer Burns you'll find Point Lobos, where you'll find tons of sea lions enjoying their lives on rocks in the water.
The 17-Mile Drive
Carmel-by-the-Sea is named "the prettiest small town in America". Head down to Carmel Beach and look at the purple flowers and the soft white sand. Unfortunately it was too cold and windy in June to take a swim, so we settled with a look. Carmel-by-the-Sea is also one of the entrances to the famous 17-Mile Drive. It costs $10 to get through, but you'll be rewarded with nature, beaches, houses that belongs to millionaires and golf courses every where. When you are done with the 17 miles, you'll end up near Capitola Beach and all of its colours, which is also a stop worth.
A few hours later, you can be in the windy city, San Francisco. The city is full of contrast, colours, culture, cute neighbourhoods and nice restaurants. A must see in San Francisco is of course the Golden State Bridge, but also The Painted Ladies, which are small Victorian-charm houses, Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, the Mission District and Chinatown. Something you can't miss even if you tried are: The Hills. The city is full of steep hills, which is why I don't recommend renting a bike. Try the cable cars instead!
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