Travel News Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip – The Best of the Cali Coast

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Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip – The Best of the Cali Coast

Rent a car and make your way down the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway! A gorgeous location to visit any time of the year, here are our top recommendations on where to stop and stay.

Upgrade to a convertible for this incredible Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip. Check out our deals on car rentals below.

The Pacific Coast Highway spans just over 650 miles long and is located on the coast of California. The highway starts in San Franciso and ends in San Diego, running through eight major cities. This road trip covers five of those cities on where to go, what to see, and where to crash for the night. 

Getting to the PCH

If you’re a California native, then just jump in your car and go or rent one through one of these deals. For those flying in, we can help you arrange that too. Check out the flight deals below! 

Santa Cruz

Santa CruzFlights to San Jose
starting at $57
Car rental in
Santa Cruz from $37*
a day
Hotels in
Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach is great for families because there are nearby attractions and restaurants. The Boardwalk merges with the beach where you can find amusement park rides and games right on the water. It’s a free spot to hang out for the day and not far from the highway so you can jump right back on to get to the next destination. Aside from the beach, there are a couple of popular vineyards in the area to check out: Beauregard and Birichino. 

Bantam & Babbling Brook Inn

On the west side of Santa Cruz is Bantam – serving up wood-fired pizzas to locals and tourists alike. The menu changes with the season and everything is made from scratch. One of their unique pizzas comes with spicy honey and anchovies, are you up for it?

After dinner and a nightcap, head to Babbling Brook Inn for a good night’s rest. This Inn has thirteen rooms to choose from and all feature a fireplace and sitting area; the wrap-around balcony is a nice touch too. 

Monterey

MontereyFlights to
Carmel Monterey
Airport starting at $76
Car rental from $38* a dayHotels in
Monterey

Grab your selfie stick and head to Selfieville Experimental Museum in Monterey. Yes, it’s an actual museum and one of a kind. It’s filled with fun and unique backdrops and props that create picture-worthy moments.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium also has some great spots to take a picture. There are 45 interactive exhibits and the cost to get in is $40 for adults, $35 for teens and $25 for children.  

Passionfish & Portola Hotel & Spa

Passionfish transforms food into art and is well-loved by guests of all walks of life. The menu changes daily but most of the time you can find mussels, scallops, and a fish stew. Their Straus Organic Mint & Espresso Mud Pie should be a staple and a must-try for everyone.

After all that driving you’re probably feeling it in your back and need a good massage to put you back together. Book a night at the Portola Hotel & Spa for a spa and relaxation evening. The nautical-themed rooms are delightful, airy, and cozy.   

Relax at the Portola Hotel & Spa

Pismo Beach

Pismo BeachFlights to San Luis Obispo
County Airport
starting at $181
Car rental
from
$47* a day
Hotels in
Pismo Beach

Bubble-gum alley in Pismo might be weird, might be cool, but it’s definitely interesting. This 70-foot long alley has collected thousands of pieces of chewed gum that visitors add to commemorate their visit. Gross or neat, you decide!

The Monarch Butterfly Grove and Dinosaur Caves Park are also great spots to stop and visit. There are around 10,000 friendly butterflies each year and the Dinosaur Cave Park is popular for photographs as there are large props scattered throughout. 

The Monarch Butterfly Grove

Chipwrecked & Cottage Inn by the Sea

This little but fierce sandwich shop located in Pismo is a family-owned and operated business. Serving up homemade chips and delightful sandwiches, there is something on their extensive menu for everyone.

Call it a night at Cottage Inn; a beach hotel located right on the ocean. The outside is gorgeous but pales in comparison to the beautifully crafted rooms and outdoor terrace landscape. 

Santa Barbara

Santa BarbaraFlights to Santa Barbara
Airport starting at $127
Car rental from
$57* a day
Hotels in
Santa Barbara

Paseo Nuevo and State Street shopping is a real treat when in Santa Barbara. It’s an outdoor mall with both boutiques and well-known brick and mortar stores. Cafes are scattered along the streets for visitors to escape the heat and grab a snack.

Kayaking the painted cave is another great activity to plan for while here. The scenic route takes you from Santa Cruz island to painted caves, where you can swim and snorkel through the natural beauty.  

McConnell’s & Cheshire Cat Inn

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream gets rave reviews for their hand-crafted treats, some of which are one of a kind. The honey & cornbread cookies, eureka lemon & marionberries, and wild sweet clover are just a few examples of the non-traditional flavors they offer. Good old-fashioned chocolate and vanilla are on the menu for those who don’t want to venture off the beaten path too much.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream is a hit for children and adults!

When you think of the Chesire Cat, I bet Alice in Wonderland comes to mind as it should. Individual rooms at the Cheshire Cat Inn are named after the popular tale’s characters and places. There are 18 to choose from and breakfast is included in your stay. 

Malibu 

MalibuFlights to Los Angeles
starting at $77
Car rental at
LAX from $38* a day
Hotels in Malibu

For the last destination on this curated road trip check out Malibu. In Mailbu you can take a scuba excursion where you can learn, play, and take photos.

If you’d rather stay dry then head to a wine safari – a 1,000-acre cruise through Saddlerock Ranch and Vineyard. This little trip combines wild animals and wine, what more could you want, right? 

Ollo & The M Malibu

At Ollo you can expect a Mediterranean and Italian focused menu with produce sourced from local farms. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and happy hour.

The M is all about simplicity and convenience. The location is great due to it being a 5-minute walk from the beach, close to shopping and restaurants, and also hiking trails and bike paths. Rates are a little on the high end at around $270 a night, but it’s worth it.  

Drifting Down PCH

The Pacific Coast Highway is a smooth ride with great views. Hopefully, you can put the top down and enjoy the ride as much as the destinations. These top picks are just some of what you can do while traveling the California coast. There are tons of must-see and do adventures in the area. Buckle up and take this road trip with your best guy or gal pals.