Best Road Trips In CA
You’ll understand the saying, “West Coast, Best Coast” when you make the road trip from San Diego to Santa Barbara. It is easily one of the most beautiful road trips, and offers everything from good eats to ocean front views to luxurious hotels. Road trips always seem fun in your head, yet feel daunting when you begin to plan them. However, don’t let that stop you from taking one of the most beautiful road trips in the United States. Pack up your favorite carry-on, throw on a pair of sunglasses, and read on for the perfectly planned trip up the Golden Coast.
Stop #1: San Diego (2 Nights)
Your first stop on the road trip of a lifetime is sunny San Diego. From nightclubs in the Gaslamp District to beachfront eats on Coronado, you simply can’t go wrong. On any visit to San Diego, there is no better hotel to stay at than the Pendry Hotel. The Pendry Hotel is located right in the middle of Gaslamp District. With it’s spacious rooms, poolside restaurant, tasty food, and old school lounge, there is almost no need to ever leave the hotel. However, if you are looking to explore San Diego, there is no shortage of food and entertainment walking distance from the hotel.
Queenstown Public House: If you’re looking for the perfect brunch spot, this is it! Whether you are in the mood for lamb skewers, fried rice, or poutine, you’ve come to the right place. Queenstown Public House offers a perfectly curated menu for brunch, lunch, or happy hour.
Searsucker: If great food, good music, and beautiful decor are your style, Searsucker is just the place for you. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a tasty brunch or a quick happy hour, Searsucker will not let you down.
Parq: If unique is your style, Parq is your restaurant. Located in the same building as a nightclub, this dinner restaurant offers lit up cherry blossoms, locally sourced bites, and handcrafted cocktails.
Born & Raised: If a classic steakhouse is your idea of a perfect dinner, Born & Raised is the place for you. Located in the middle of Little Italy, upscale service and perfectly cooked meats will leave you feeling satisfied and ready for a night on the town.
Room 56: If secret speakeasies are your jam, you will LOVE Room 56. Find your way to the Moxy hotel and through a little thrifty searching, you’ll be able to find your way to this secret bar.
Coronado: Just a 15 minute drive from Gaslamp District lies Coronado Island. Take the ferry from the Broadway Pier and enjoy a day walking around the island.
Misc: There is no shortage of activities in San Diego. Whether you’re looking to bike around, kayak, go to a pool party, or end the night at a club, San Diego has it all.
Stop #2: Beverly Hills (2 Nights)
No road trip up the coast is complete without a stop at The Beverly Hills Hotel. This iconic LA hotel is home to the stars. From its old school glamour, spacious rooms, and bungalow options, The Beverly Hills Hotel is perfect for romantic couples and families alike. Don’t forget to try out the famous Polo Lounge for lunch before heading to the pool for the day. Staying in a hotel so famous will make you never want to leave.
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura: There is nothing better than food from the best Chef in the World, Massimo Bottura. And, no trip to Beverly Hills would be complete without a little shopping at Gucci. Gucci Osteria perfectly combines the two and is a welcome treat after a day of shopping on Rodeo Drive.
Ivory on Sunset: Located a short drive away in West Hollywood, Ivory on Sunset perfectly pairs tasty food with gorgeous views of the city. Ivory on Sunset is an ideal brunch option when exploring the city.
Wally’s Beverly Hills: No trip to Beverly Hills is complete without a fine dining experience and Wally’s Beverly Hills offers just that. From caviar appetizers to black truffle pizzas and fine steaks, your palette will be exploding with flavor throughout the whole meal. Exceptional service is the cherry on top.
Spago: You can never go wrong with authentic Italian food. Whether you’re craving pasta and pizza or Japanese Waygu, you can find it all at Spago.
Shopping: Beverly Hills is famous for the luxurious lifestyles of the rich and famous who live there. If you want to live the true Beverly Hills lifestyle, a trip to Rodeo Dr. is absolutely necessary. Whether you are window shopping or looking for a new pair of shoes, Rodeo Dr. is the perfect place to live out all your shopping desires.
Visit Greystone Mansion: The Greystone Mansion was designed by famous architect Gordon Kaufmann and completed in 1928. The grounds are perfect for a mid-day stroll to take in the sights and learn about LA history.
LA County Museum of Art: This visual arts museum is the largest in the western United States. Visitors could get lost for hours wandering around the museum or hit a few key pieces before continuing their LA adventure.
Stop #3: Malibu (2 Nights)
Malibu is a small city tucked along the Californian coastline. Driving up PCH is a dream and feels like you’re in a movie. From Zuma Beach to Malibu Lagoon State Beach, you cannot go wrong with with a trip to Malibu. No trip to Malibu is complete without a stay at the Malibu Beach Inn. This boutique hotel is located along “Billionaire’s Beach” and provides the perfect home base for exploring the city.
Geoffrey’s Malibu: If you’re craving top of the line seafood and expansive ocean views, Geoffrey’s Malibu is the place for you. From carefully sourced oysters to seafood paella, every dish on the menu will leave you wanting more. Geoffrey’s Malibu is perfect for lunch or a sunset dinner.
Duke’s Malibu: This casual eatery is a perfect stop for brunch or lunch before a day on the beach. Fresh poke and cheeseburgers ensure there is a little something for everyone.
Nobu Malibu: No trip to Malibu is complete without a stop at Nobu Malibu. The yellowtail sashimi with jalapeños and beautiful cocktails are made even better with the gorgeous oceanfront real estate.
Go To The Beach: Malibu is famous for its beautiful stretch of beaches. No trip to Malibu is complete without a day spent at one of the beautiful beaches.
Malibu Wine Safaris: Malibu Wine Safaris attracts people from all over. Guests can ride in an open-air safari vehicle will sipping on wine and spending the day with zebras, bison, and even a giraffe.
Stop #4: Santa Barbara (2 Nights)
Santa Barbara is the final stop on this beautiful Southern California road trip. While staying in Santa Barbara, there is no better hotel than the luxurious Belmond El Encanto. Perched atop the hills, dining under the stars and relaxing at the rejuvenating spa is the perfect way to end the road trip of a lifetime.
Finch & Fork: Bottomless mimosas and beautiful food makes Finch & Fork one of the best brunch spots in town. Don’t leave without trying the eggs benedict!
Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach: It doesn’t get any closer to the beach than the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach. Whether you’re in the mood for uni or a cheeseburger, you can find it all at Boathouse with a beautiful beach backdrop to make your day that much better.
Bouchon Santa Barbara: Executive Chef Greg Murphy misses no detail when it comes to the elevated cuisine of Bouchon. If you are looking for fine dining without the stuffiness, there is no better place to go.
Loquita Santa Barbara: Loquita offers beautiful tapas that are perfect for sharing with friends and family. Subtle Spanish decor sets the mood for a unique and tasty dinner. Don’t skip out on dessert at Loquita. The churros are a MUST!
Stearns Wharf: Santa Barbara has beautiful weather and Stearns Wharf is the perfect place to take a stroll and enjoy the outdoors.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: This 78 acre garden is home to over 1000 species of plants. Spending the day in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is both relaxing and educational.
Tasting Rooms: Santa Barbara is home to a variety of tasting rooms. Many are close enough together where guests can walk from tasting room to tasting room and enjoy quality wine.
What To Pack
The goal of road trips is to pack light since you’ll be doing multiple stops along the way. The best way to do this is by finding pieces to transition from day to night. Think maxi dresses that can be paired with a cute blazer at night, leather leggings that look perfect with a white t-shirt and jean jacket during the day, and lace top at night.
So, there you have it! If you have been itching to go on a road trip up the coast of Southern California, but feel the planning may be too daunting, stress no more. This itinerary will take you on an active and culinary exploration of the Southern California coastline. Diving up PCH and staying at some of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in California will have you feeling like a star.