There is nothing better than a road trip up the iconic California Coast. White sand beaches, jagged cliffs and stunning coastal scenery will roll past your window as you cruise along the renowned Pacific Coast Highway. There is also plenty of places to stop from thriving cities like Los Angeles to small coastal towns like Pismo Beach.off
Our list of 6 stops for your road trip along the California Coast will provide inspiration for your trip and ensure you do not miss a thing.
San Diego is a thriving city that has something for everyone. It is the most southern destination on our list of Californian Coast stops and is known for both its daytime activities and its nightlife.
Things to do in San Diego
- Visit the USS Midway Museum
This naval museum is unique in the way it is literally located on an aircraft carrier! Located in Downtown San Diego, the USS Midway Museum has lots of educational exhibitions that will keep you entertained.
- Wander Old Town
Old Town is the site of the first European settlement in California. Get on your walking shoes to explore this area, making sure to visit Historic Park and Presido Park.
Tips for visiting San Diego
As a major city, San Diego is no stranger to bad traffic. Pick your location carefully as you want to be close to the places you are going to visit. We also recommend taking the trolley, so you do not get stuck on the roads.
No California Coast itinerary would be complete without a stop at the City of Angeles. Los Angeles is famous for Hollywood and its epic beaches, so it is worth checking out both!
Things to do in Los Angeles
- Visit Hollywood
We have all seen the Hollywood Sign on television, now it is time to see it for yourself! Take a walk down Hollywood Boulevard while you are in the area to see the stars on the footpath and indulge in some people watching.
- Stroll along Santa Monica Pier
Enjoy the impressive coastline as you walk down the iconic Santa Monica Pier. If you are in the mood, head to the amusement park to get your adrenaline pumping.
Tips for visiting Los Angeles
Many people fly into Los Angeles as it is a major travel hub. This is particularly true for international travellers, who are likely to come into the country at the huge LAX Airport. If you are headed to California from an overseas destination, we highly recommend that you get informed on entry requirements so that you do not experience any problems at the border.
For anybody belonging to one of the countries that is a member of the Visa Waiver Program, you will not need a visa for your trip. People of these nationalities are exempt from the visa entry requirement, but you will need an ESTA. An ESTA is a screening process that helps customs officers to process your entry more quickly. It is kind of like an online pre-screening that is used to assess whether you are eligible to come into the United States against basic criteria. The entire esta application us is managed online, and it is easy to do. Simply fill out your personal details, answer some questions and pay your fee. That is all there is to it!
Your esta check will be received by US customs, who will process your paperwork. Once approved, they will let you know either through a message or you can look at your status through the online portal. If you are headed to the USA, complete your ESTA application at least two weeks prior to your trip so that you can deal with any problems if they arrive. You do not want to have your trip ruined by getting turned away at the border!
Take note that an ESTA does not automatically guarantee you entry into the country. You will still need to go through the standard customs process, which will involve more questions from border control staff.
For residents of countries not belonging to the Visa Waiver Program, different entry requirements will apply to you. We recommend checking relevant websites to get the most up-to-date information.
The upscale destination of Santa Barbara exudes Spanish vibes and will be sure to impress all travelers!
Things to do in Santa Barbara
- Indulge in some retail therapy at Stearns Wharf
Wander down Stearns Wharf for some picturesque views and numerous shopping opportunities.
- Visit Santa Barbara Mission
The Santa Barbara Mission dates back to the 18th Century. It is worth a visit for the well-maintained architecture and surrounding gardens.
Tips for visiting Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is quite compact, and you can easily get around the main part of town without a car. We recommend putting on your walking shoes and heading out on foot to experience everything the town has to offer.
This picturesque coastal town is sure to charm every visitor. With sweeping beach views and quaint cafes, it is the perfect place to relax.
Things to do in Pismo Beach
- Walk along the pier
Pismo Beach has a big pier that offers a peaceful walk with stunning views. It is a must-see when in town.
- Visit Monarch Butterfly Grove
The Monarch Butterfly Grove will have you gazing in wonder at all the different types of flowers. It is fun for the whole family!
Tips for visiting Pismo Beach
Pismo Beach has no shortage of places to eat and you should definitely try some seafood while in town. It is always best when it is fresh!
Big Sur is known for its beaches and state parks. If you are after some outdoor activities, this is the place for you.
Things to do in Big Sur
- Visit McWay Falls
This 80-foot waterfall is one that should not be missed. Falling directly onto a beach, its beauty is something only seen on postcards.
- Go hiking in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
With towering Redwoods and stunning valleys, you will be rewarded by excellent views if you choose to get active and go hiking in this State Park.
Tips for visiting Big Sur
Go prepared, especially if you plan on doing some hiking. You never know when the weather will change so it is best to be prepared for everything.
The famous bayside city of San Francisco is full of urban entertainment and coastal attractions. With a mixture of major tourist sites and hidden gems, you will never get bored in this city.
Things to do in San Francisco
- Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
If you are in San Francisco, a visit to this famous bridge is a must!
- Wander Fisherman’s Wharf
With plenty of bars, restaurants and shops, Fisherman’s Wharf is a perfect spot for exploring.
Tips for visiting San Francisco
San Francisco is extremely hilly, so we recommend that you factor this into your daily plans. Bikes are super easy to rent and can be found on most street corners if use an app like uber.
The California Coast is one of the most popular road trips in the USA and for good reason. It provides the perfect balance between big cities and small beach towns, ensuring that you have an unforgettable trip.