Published: 01 November 2016 by: Kate Webster

Road trip through California for an incredible holiday

Beaches, sunshine, hair flowing and amazing scenery, it’s what movies are made of. In California the Pacific Coast Highway, known by locals as PCH, is one of the most impressive scenic drives in the World.

Couples can find real romance on this spectacular stretch of road. Start your trip up in San Francisco and cruise on down to San Diego, but don’t forget to stop at these destinations that are sure to leave you loving the West Side.

From San Francisco to San Diego (or vice versa) it takes roughly ten hours in the car without stopping, but there is nothing fun about that! So allow yourself around 1-2 weeks to really soak it up and see what the Sunny State has to offer.

Over the 1000km ride you’ll pass amazing beaches, untouched forests and lush vineyards to enjoy a hard earned Cab Sav. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.

San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Bridge really is a must-see

San Francisco

The beginning of a very good time: the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is a great place to start your road trip. About three hours east to the city is Yosemite National Park that sports stunning scenery and wildlife that is worth a look. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears! On your way out of the hilly city be sure to stop at San Jose, an hour south.

The Winchester Mystery House is a weird and whacky “Fun House” with 165 rooms that has dead-end hallways and staircases that lead up to the ceiling… the question, how do you get back down?

Related article: California love: Romance in the sunny state

 Check out fun-filled Santa Cruise for an unforgettable day

Santa Cruz

Another hour’s drive from San Jose is this coastal haven. The beach boardwalk has a cool 60s American vintage vibe with an amusement park that’s sure to have you entertained after being cooped in the car.

Don’t miss the ‘Mystery Spot’, a circular area about 46 metres in diameter which is a gravitational anomaly. Here, the laws of gravity, height and perspective don’t seem to apply and will boggle your mind with visual illusions.

 Be enchanted by the sheer romance of Carmel-by-the-sea and Monterey Bay

Carmel-by-the-sea and Monterey Bay

These two gorgeous little spots boast beautiful panoramic shots of the Pacific Ocean. Carmel is a beach town on Monterey’s peninsula where you can explore its fairy-tale cottages that are nestled into their own little forest. Certainly don’t miss Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. It is one of the richest underwater habitats in the world so you’ve got the chance to see whales, seals and sea otters.

If wildlife isn’t your thing, it’s an adventurers heaven with sailing, kayaking and biking trails in abundance.

Be sure to drive along California's most famous stretch of road

Big Sur

Prepare to stop every five minutes once you’ve crossed the Bixby Bridge to the Big Sur coast. There are so many incredible beaches and trails along this coastline, some of our favourites are: Pfeiffer Beach, Point Sur State Historic Park and Ragged Point. In particular, McWay Falls, located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, is an 80-foot waterfall that is beyond stunning.

There are a number of trails to choose from to see the waterfall; if you’re short on time, choose the ‘McWay Waterfall trail’ as it’s just over 1km. If you’re keen to stretch your legs, try the ‘Ewoldsen trail’, which is 7.2km.

Related article: Yes Sur! Take a Spin Along California's Highway One

 Don't forget to leave your mark on Bubblegum Alley

San Louis Obispo

A 15-foot high, 70-foot long alley covered in stranger’s gum isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but trust me it’s cool. Leave your mark on Bubblegum Alley alongside other travellers from around the World.

On a different note, there are some cool hikes up Black Hill, Islay Hill, Bishop Peak and around the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden that sport some great views. Also not to miss is the “Clam Capital of the World” – yum! – Also known as Pismo Beach.

Soak up the sunshine in Santa Barbara 

Santa Barbara

Before you hit the bright lights of LA, take a refreshing stop in Santa Barbara. Keep to the right lane to take in the best views along PCH. Sticking along the coastline, you’ll see Stearn’s Wharf and East Beach – a great spot to stop for a picnic. For something a bit more cultural, head to the Lobero Theatre or the Santa Barbara Museum.

 Feel like a celebrity when you go shopping on Rodeo Drive

Los Angeles

Just like the movies, you’re in Hollywood baby! The shopping here is a must, so take a stroll down Rodeo Drive and check out the biggest names in far-shon! But, if you’re on a budget steer clear and head to Melrose Avenue for high street labels and the best Op shops! If you’re looking to rub shoulders with the A-listers head to the Hollywood Walk of Fame – you’ll get to meet Batman, Superman, Spiderman and Marilyn.Also, take a ‘Homes of the Stars’ tour and you might be bumping into the Kardashians.

Before you leave L.A., take a hike on Runyon Canyon and you’ll get the chance to see the Hollywood sign up close. An absolute must do.

See a spectacular sunset at Huntington Beach 

Huntington Beach and more...

Remember Ryan, Summer, Seth and Marissa? Keep your eyes out for them because you’re in the OC. Breeze past Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Dana Point and try your hand at surfing at one of Cali’s top surfing spots Huntington Beach.

If you are a keen surfer, there are loads of surf comps held throughout the year so be sure to look them up so you don’t miss one. Get ready to top up your tan on Newport Beach and you can finish the day at the end of the pier at Ruby’s Diner.

Discover beauty and adventure in San Diego 

San Diego

The drive down to San Diego Bay means you’re close to the end of your trip, but it also mean you’ve hit the two-mile-long Coronado Bridge. As you head past Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla, spot the beautiful lagoons emerging from the ocean.

Also, it might not be your scene, but the San Diego zoo is world famous and the flamingos are definitely worth it. Lastly, to end the trip on a high, head up to Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma and take in the stunning view of San Diego and the Bay.



If you have an appetite for regular, bite-sized travel content we invite you join our online VIP community and sign up to receive your FREE Holidays for Couples Weekly Edition.

Holidays Shortbreaks


No favourites yet!

Explore More

5 Romantic Wine Escapes

To mark the end of Aussie Wine Month 2015, we bring you five of the

The ultimate guide to a romantic Northern Territor

Few Australian destinations offer couples as many once-in-a-lifetime

Mollymook: A Romantic Getaway Perfect For Couples

You may not have heard of the charming town of Mollymook, NSW, 

Add comment


Security code