The U.S. state of California is one of the most well-known states in the entire United States. California is the third-largest state by size (after Texas and Alaska, the largest state), but it is the most populous state in the U.S. Because it is such a large state, one could plan a two-week-long road trip in just the state itself. California’s most popular state road trip along Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a 656 mile/1,056km road that runs almost entirely down the coast of California. Starting from the North end, Highway 1 starts in Mendocino County, and you will be able to stop in several major coastal cities/notable places as you go.
San Francisco Bay Area
#1: San Francisco
San Francisco is a surprisingly small city in size, but it is jammed-packed with so many things to do and see. One of the most popular things to do is to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, arguably the most iconic view on the west coast. And, of course, no trip to San Francisco is complete without a ride on one of the famous cable cars.
While in the redwood region of the U.S., it is a must to stop at, at least one of the redwood parks in the Pacific Northwest. Oakland’s Redwood Regional Park has several 100-year old redwood trees. You can also go on hikes, enjoy a picnic, or even camp out for a night or two.
#3: San Jose
If you are in the mood for a unique shopping experience, check out Santana Row in San Jose. Here you will find designer shops, delectable restaurants, and even a movie theater to spend your afternoon.
#4: Napa Valley
Again, no trip to northern California is complete without taking the time to visit Wine Country, and Napa Valley is probably the most notable wine destination. Napa features hundreds of wineries, which can be overwhelming, but there are guided tours to help you get around.
Monterey Bay Area
#5: Santa Cruz
32 miles South of San Jose, you will find Santa Cruz, known for its beautiful coastlines. Make a stop at Santa Cruz Main Beach/Boardwalk Beach to soak up some sun, take a dip in the water, or even spend the day at the amusement park.
#6: Big Sur
Though not an actual city, Big Sur is worth mentioning because of all of the scenic views across this long, rugged road. With many bridges, narrow roads, and twists and turns, it’s important to make sure that you’re driving safely along this stretch of road. Make sure to follow all driving laws, including wearing a seatbelt and making sure you are covered with car insurance, as it is required in the state of California.
#7: Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara features some pretty impressive beaches, and if you want to spend a few days in the city with an oceanfront view, treat yourself to staying at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, which showcases stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
#8: Los Angeles
Though California’s Pacific Coast Road Trip doesn’t end here, it is definitely worth it to take some time to spend in Los Angeles. There’s an endless number of things to do in L.A., such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Venice Beach, Paramount Pictures Studios, and cruise down Rodeo Drive and Sunset Boulevard.
#9: Disneyland Anaheim
What’s a trip to Southern California without stopping at The Happiest Place on Earth? Though much smaller than Disney World in Florida, Disneyland is known as the “original” because it’s been around longer. Disneyland offers three “parks”: Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, and Downtown Disney, which offers food and entertainment.
#10: Huntington Beach
Head to “Surf City USA” if you’re a surfer looking to catch some impressive waves. Huntington Beach is also a great beach for families, with clean sands and waters and great scenery to enjoy.
There is no place in the U.S. quite like the California coast. Only here will you be able to visit a redwood park, wine country, an endless amount of beaches, and Disneyland all along one coastline.