The Ultimate California Road Trip

Originally from Southern California, I’ve subconsciously mapped out a road trip from Davis all the way south down the coast. Skip a couple stops, or go ahead and do all of them; either way, hopefully it triggers some inspiration for your own!

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1. San Francisco

Museums, parks, landmarks, and the pier — there is so much at this first stop to explore. Take a picture with friends at the 16th Avenue Mosaic Steps, or stroll with them through the Fisherman’s Wharf. Get dinner and explore Chinatown, or see a nighttime view of the city at Twin Peaks. The options are endless.

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2. Santa Cruz

On your way down, this is a good place to spend at least some of the day. Visit other friends at UC Santa Cruz, or have fun with Davis friends at the Beach Boardwalk. Group discounts may even be offered for 15 people or more.

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3. Monterey

Another great pit-stop. Head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and grab dinner at Cannery Row or the Fisherman’s Wharf. Boardwalks at night are somewhat underrated scenery.

4. Big Sur

Big Sur looks absolutely stunning in pictures; I can’t even imagine how beautiful it is in person. Camping there to better explore the scenery is definitely a goal of mine. Though there is so much to see, visiting the gorgeous Point Lobos State Reserve and watching the sunset from a great vantage point is definitely a must.

Image source: Nathan Dumlao

5. Pismo Beach

Going further down south, Pismo Beach is another great location. You can even stop by the Hearst Castle in San Simeon or grab lunch in Cambria or San Luis Obispo on the way. Make sure to hit the beach once you get there!

6. Santa Barbara

Closer to home, Santa Barbara is generally a great place to stop for the day. Relax at Stearns Wharf, and take pictures at the less known Knapp’s Castle during sunset. I stumbled across it with my friends last summer, and the ride through the mountains gave off amazing views.

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7. Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a wide variety of iconic spots and excursions. See the Murphy Ranch Trail in Pacific Palisades and the nighttime view of L.A. from the Griffith Observatory. Explore Santa Monica and Venice Beach, or the many amusement parks further down in Orange County. Pro tip: while passing through, have a beach day at Huntington Beach or Newport Beach. The stop would definitely be worth it.

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8. San Diego

And finally — sunny San Diego! Spend the day at La Jolla Cove or Pacific Beach and explore the numerous boardwalks all throughout the area. Like L.A. and the O.C., there are so many places to visit; the choice is ultimately yours.

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