Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Best Stops To Make Along The California Coast

Are you ready for a California Coast road trip? Well, I hope you are because in this blog post I’ll be highlighting all the beautiful gems along the Pacific Coast Highway that you must absolutely NOT miss!  From beaches, to castles, and waterfalls, I guarantee you’ll fall in love with California!

If you plan to road trip outside of the coast, here’s a list of places to visit all over California!

Let’s get started! Here are some of the most beautiful

Stops to Make Along The California Coast!

Point Reyes

Point Reyes is a National Seashore Park just up north of San Francisco. Here you’ll find breathtaking seaside cliffs, shipwrecks, tree tunnels, little quaint towns, hiking trails, and panoramic water views! It’s the perfect spot for an outdoorsy adventure!

Point Reyes Tree Tunnel, photography, travel - Best Stops To Make Along the Californian Coast

Mt Tamalpais/Stinson Beach

Mt Tamalpais State Park offers jaw-dropping views of San Francisco and the shore, but it’s even better when the fog rolls in. You will find yourself hiking and frolicking through golden hills above the clouds. It is absolutely incredible!

After your hike, head down to Stinson Beach for lunch at the most charming little beach town.

San Francisco

This stop, of course, is a no brainer! San Francisco has it all and more! It’s full of life, culture, colorful murals, iconic landmarks, beaches, hills (oh the hills), Victorian homes, trendy restaurants and coffee shops, and everything else you could possibly imagine!

If you’re looking for the top photo spots in San Francisco, check out my list of Instagram-Worthy Spots In SF!

girl at Twin Peaks, SF - Best Stops To Make Along the Californian Coast


Davenport is a personal favorite of mine! Here you’ll find Shark Fin Cove, beach caves, and if you explore thoroughly, you might even find a hidden swing along the shore.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is known for its Beach Boardwalk and for good reason! You can have all the fun in one place! Laser-tag, roller coasters, waterslides, arcades, carnival type food and desserts, and free entertainment — all of it stretched across the Monterey Bay, just steps away from the beach!

And for all my movie nerds, some recent movies that were filmed here include Us and Bumblebee.


Capitola Beach

Right next to Santa Cruz is Capitola Village and Capitola Beach. This town features picturesque homes with multi-colred facades along the beach that form a perfect backdrop. You’ll also find plenty of boutique shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels that line up the shore.



Monterey was romanticized by novelist John Steinbeck when Cannery Row was once full of sardine-packing factories. Today, these factories have been converted into a popular strip of gift shops, restaurants, bars, and also features the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium! Perfect for a little afternoon outing!

Recently, Monterey has been attracting more crowds due to it being the filming location of the award-winning TV drama, Big Little Lies.

Old Fisherman's wharf


A charming little beach city along the Monterey Peninsula, known for its fairytale cottages and galleries, village-like center, and historic Carmel Mission. Every time I visit I feel like I’m somewhere in Europe! Carmel Beach is also lovely, clean, and perfect for surfing!

Big sur

I have to say, Big Sur is one of my absolute favorite places in all of California! The coast, the seashore, the tall cliffs, the waves, the sea lions and sea otters, the beaches, the mountains — it is truly a national treasure and one of the most scenic coastlines I’ve ever seen!

McWay Falls

Just south of Big Sur, you’ll find McWay Falls waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It’s a fairly easy hike for a very rewarding view. I’d definitely make a stop here!

McWay Falls, Big Sur, travel, photography

San Luis Obispo

This small, vibrant city is home to a beautifully restored Spanish Mission, tons of farmers markets and food vendors, a quirky alley where pieces of chewed bubblegum cover the walls, and a very enjoyable and walkable downtown.

You can also find Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, and Pismo Beach within San Luis Obispo County! I definitely recommend you check those out! Hearst Castle is a mansion previously owned by Willam Hearst, owner of a media and newspaper empire. Today, they host tours around the castle. Morro Bay is know for its huge rock formation located on the beach shore. And, finally, Pismo Beach is know for its wineries, monarch butterflies, and long stretch of sand dunes!

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a total dream! The Mediterranean-style white buildings with red-tile roofs reflect the Spanish colonial heritage, the Santa Ynez Mountains form a perfect backdrop, and the palm tree lined beaches will remind you of a European riviera! It truly is the dreamiest!


Malibu is a great place to stop for some beach fun! Make sure not to miss El Matador Beach, Point Dume, Malibu Wine Safaris, Escondido Falls, and Malibu Pier!

dreamy Malibu photography - Best Stops To Make Along the Californian Coast

Santa Monica

Head to Santa Monica for some sun-bathing at the beach, shopping down Third Street Promenade, and games and fun at the pier! This coastal city is always lively and entertaining!

Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel, Los Angeles - Best Stops To Make Along the Californian Coast

Laguna Beach

You’ll find some of the coolest beaches in California at Laguna Beach! You can expect tide pools, boardwalks, coves, and even a cool Pirate Tower.

San Diego

Finally, last on the list is sunny San Diego! A city where you can find a little bit of everything; mountains, beaches, city, historic old towns, immense lush parks and gardens, seaside cliffs, stunning islands, and fun boardwalks…all while enjoying the perfect sunny wether! Honestly, if my time in California was limited, San Diego would a top priority destination!

Hope you enjoyed this blog post! Comment below if you would add any destinations along the Californian coast to this list or if you have any questions!

Shop my favorite travel items and outfits!

Similar Posts

Leave a comment