7-Day California Coastal Road Trip Itinerary

Thinking about embarking on a 7-day California coastal road trip? California is a diverse state with plenty to see and do, so you can customize your trip based on your interests and preferences. Here’s a sample California coastal road trip itinerary that covers some of the state’s most popular destinations:

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Day 1: San Francisco

Start your trip in San Francisco, a city known for its iconic landmarks, vibrant culture, and delicious food. Some must-see sights include the Golden Gate Bridge, The Walt Disney Family Museum, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Painted Ladies. If you have time, you can also check out the shopping districts and parks in the city.

Day 2: Monterey and Carmel

Drive down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea. These coastal towns offer stunning views of the ocean, as well as opportunities to go whale watching, kayaking, or hiking. In Monterey, visit the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, and in Carmel, stroll through the quaint downtown area.

One of the top beaches in Monterey is Carmel Beach, known for its pristine white sands, picturesque bluffs, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a perfect spot for leisurely strolls, sunbathing, picnicking, or simply enjoying the mesmerizing sunset. Another notable beach is Asilomar State Beach, located in Pacific Grove, which boasts a rugged coastline, scenic trails, and fascinating tide pools to explore. For those looking for a family-friendly beach experience, Lover’s Point Beach in Pacific Grove is an excellent choice with its calm waters, sandy shores, and convenient amenities.

Day 3: Big Sur

Continue your drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur, a rugged and picturesque stretch of coastline that’s home to towering cliffs, pristine beaches, and redwood forests. Some of the top attractions in Big Sur include Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, McWay Falls, and Bixby Bridge.

Big Sur boasts an array of stunning beaches where you can bask in the sun, explore tide pools, and even catch a wave. Pfeiffer Beach, with its iconic Keyhole Rock and purple sand, is a favorite among photographers and nature enthusiasts. Garrapata State Park offers scenic beaches with rugged cliffs and crashing waves, perfect for a peaceful stroll along the shoreline. If you’re seeking a bit of seclusion, visit Andrew Molera State Park, where you can enjoy miles of pristine coastline and untouched natural beauty.

Day 4: Santa Barbara

Head south to Santa Barbara, a charming beach town that’s known for its Mediterranean-style architecture, vineyards, and beaches. You can visit the Santa Barbara Mission, explore the Funk Zone, and relax on the beach. If you’re a wine lover, you can also take a tour of the local wineries.

Arroyo Burro Beach, also known as Hendry’s Beach, is a local favorite for its relaxed atmosphere, dog-friendly policy, and stunning coastal views. Leadbetter Beach is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts, with its gentle waves perfect for swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking. For a more secluded and serene experience, head to Rincon Beach, renowned for its world-class surf breaks and breathtaking sunsets.

Day 5: Los Angeles

Drive to Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world. There’s no shortage of things to do in LA, from visiting the iconic Hollywood sign and Walk of Fame to exploring the Getty Museum and Universal Studios. You can also check out the trendy neighborhoods of Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Beverly Hills.

If you have some time Orange County is another magical area to explore. Take a day to wander through Disneyland Resort!

Day 6: Joshua Tree National Park

If you are tired of the coast and want a change consider Joshua Tree National Park! Leave the city behind and head to Joshua Tree National Park, a desert oasis that’s home to unique rock formations, cactus gardens, and stunning vistas. You can hike, rock climb, or stargaze in the park, or simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Day 7: San Diego

End your trip in San Diego, a laid-back city with beautiful beaches, historic sites, and a thriving food and craft beer scene. Some of the top attractions in San Diego include Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Legoland and the USS Midway Museum. You can also enjoy a sunset cruise or relax on the beach before heading home.

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