Travel plan: Road trip along California’s Pacific Coast

We all know that California’s economy right now is in the tanker so, to help stimulate “The Golden State”, a good old fashion road trip might be in order. The California coast is perfect for a driving tour full spectacular scenery and great attractions along the way. I’d recommend staying at least a day at each destination point. Although we all love our cars, the point is to get out and see the sites…right?

Day 1. San Francisco

San Francisco is the perfect place to start. It’s easy to get to for anyone who happens to live on the west coast and is a perfect spot to fly in to and grab a rental car. The city is best known for its steep streets and panoramic views of the beautiful San Francisco Bay and the surrounding mountains.

If this is your first time in the City make sure you head down to the Fisherman’s Wharf where there’s sure to be something for everyone. Head over to Pier 39, a festival marketplace with more than 110 stores, 12 Bay view restaurants and loads of outdoor stuff like the Aquarium of the Bay, bike rentals, street performers and even a new Carousel with famous miniature San Fran landmarks. If fun and laughter don’t suite your fancy you can always hop on an Alcatraz Cruise from Pier 33 that will take you to Alcatraz Island. In case you don’t already know, Alcatraz used to be the home of some of America’s most notorious criminals like Al “Scarface” Capone and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud.

This city has a great Asian influence and being right on the water, sushi in this city is to die for. Take yourself out for dinner in Japantown or J-Town as the locals like to call it, to Kiss Sea Food Japanese Restaurant (1700 Laguna St.) The restaurant is a little small so be prepared to wait in line or make sure to head there early.

After a fun filled day you are going to need to rest up at one of the best hotels in San Fancisco. The Clift is a great spot located in the heart of the city’s Union Square district and is inspired by old-world hotel elegance. This is also the perfect spot to park your car and check out some great Jazz and Blues clubs. Or do some early morning shopping before you hit the road.

Day 2: Santa Cruz and Carmel by the Sea

Highway 1 (CA-1) is the road you’re going to want to get on to get out of San Francisco and make your way south. A string of state beaches hug the coast and as this isn’t a point A to B journey, if you ever feel like hoping off the trail, these beaches are easily accessible off the highway.

If you love to surf, or want to learn, about 2 hours out of San Francisco you will hit Santa Cruz. This has got to be one of the best surf spots along the coast. Make sure to stop by Cowells which is right next to Santa Cruz Pier. Although crowded like any popular surf spot it’s a great place to learn. You can even rent a board from the beach and hit some slow rollers.

If you’re up to it in the evening, continue south along the coast for about an hour till you get to Carmel by the Sea, just past Monterey. They have L’Auberge Carmel. This is a great spot for dinner as local farmers deliver fresh produce daily at their award winning restaurant. They also feature an underground wine cellar which is even better now that your driving is done for the day!

Day 3: San Luis Obispo

Once you’re back on the CA-1 it will be a good 4-5 hour drive passing the high cliffs of the mountains and secluded beaches tucked in tiny coves till you hit the fabulous San Luis Obispo. This is Wine Country! Park the car at one of the many local hotels or B & B’s and head out for a wine tasting adventure. It’s said that this area may remind you of Tuscany! Shadow Canyon Cellars and Hospice du Rhone are just a few local tastings to enjoy. The local food in the area is also heavenly.

Day 4+5: Los Angeles

Get ready for a nice 6 hour cruise into the big city of LA. With so many things to see and do here you may even want to extend your trip by an extra day to fit it all in. LA is composed of many interconnected communities and thankfully the city and area has constructed a very efficient road system so getting around should be generally easy.

A few places to defiantly check out are along the Pacific shore. Santa Monica is great to stroll on the beach or participate in the festivities going on at the pier. Venice beach is a good hot spot if you want some beach deals or rollerblade near the water. If you love local art, Laguna Beach is also a great place to visit as there are always events going on.

If you are the Hollywood type then head on over there for sure. Check out the boulevard, go to Burbank for a show or check out Universal Studios to see how the movies are made. Give yourself some time to be spontaneous because there’s a lot to see and do here.

Some of Los Angeles’ best hotels to stay at are either The Huntley Hotel if you are in the Santa Monica area or the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in West Hollywood. Both places are great depending on which area of the city you decide to spend your time in.

Day 6: San Diego

The last leg of your journey is going to be about a 6 hour drive to get to the wonderful city of San Diego. If you are an animal lover like I am you should defiantly consider checking out the world famous San Diego Zoo. With every animal you can think of living there you don’t want to forget your camera.

If you need to have a lazy day to recover from your driving, San Diego has an abundance of beaches to choose from and spend your day. Mission Beach is a great one to go to for a nice stroll. It has a boardwalk that runs between the houses and the sand. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also check out the country’s most popular clothing optional beach called Blacks.

Museums are in abundance in this city and there are 30 of them for you to choose from. Some of my favorites include the Timken Museum of Art and the Air & Space Museum.

The perfect end to the perfect road trip wouldn’t be complete without staying in one of San Diego’s luxury hotels. If you are looking to stay somewhere in the heart of the city, Se San Diego is a great place, especially if you are looking for something with genuine West Coast style. If you are looking for a place with a great pool overlooking the city, the Ivy Hotel on F Street will satisfy you.

This ravel plan was written by the folks over at the Kiwi Collection of luxury hotels.

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