view of car racing through the forest on a california road trip

6 of the Best Places to Stop on Your California Coast Road Trip

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Outdoor Adventures

State Route 1 is a major north-south highway that runs along the Pacific coastline of California. It spans over 655 miles and travels past shining beaches, dense forests, and countless attractions along the way. Go whale watching in Mendocino, drink martinis in San Francisco, or admire the golden hills of Santa Barbara during your journey. Whatever you choose, we promise your California Coast road trip will be an adventure you’ll never forget! Here are a few stops to add to your itinerary.

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1. Eureka

The first stop on our route is the picturesque city of Eureka. Located on the Northern Coast, Eureka is one of California’s best-kept secrets and offers plenty of things to do and see. Top attractions include the Sequoia Park Zoo, the Clarke Historical Museum, and the Eureka Boardwalk & Marina. Outdoor recreation is also abundant, with activities like boating, kayaking, and whale watching all available close by.

Where To Stay: Carter House Inns

2. Mendocino

After exploring Eureka, continue south to Mendocino, a quiet seaside village that boasts a dramatic cliff landscape. The charming downtown area is dotted with Victorian homes, and Main Street is lined with bookstores, museums, toy shops, and eateries. Mendocino Headlands State Park blanket the edges of town and features miles of trails that lead to secluded beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for spouting whales and surf-riding sea lions!

Where to Stay: Sea Rock Inn or Glendeven Inn

3. San Francisco

Grab your coat and a handful of glitter! San Francisco is the land of fog and fabulousness. Known for its cable cars, Victorian homes, and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, San Fran is a must-see on your California Coast road trip. Spend the day shopping, dining, and sightseeing on Fisherman’s Wharf, or stroll through Chinatown. You can even visit Alcatraz Island, the site of the notorious former prison. The options are endless!

Where To Stay: Washington Square Inn Bed & Breakfast

4. Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay is located between forested hills and some of the most beautiful coastlines that California has to offer. It’s just 35 minutes south of San Francisco and lies within the westernmost portion of San Mateo County. With panoramic vistas, farm-fresh cuisine, and genuine hospitality, Half Moon Bay is a wonderful destination for couples and solo travelers alike.

Where To Stay: Mill Rose Inn Bed and Breakfast

5. Monterey

Known as the “language capital of the world”, Monterey blends natural beauty with rich culture and history. The city’s Cannery Row was once known as the center of the sardine-packing industry, and today, those factories have been converted into gift shops, seafood restaurants, and bars. Also famous is Monterey Bay Aquarium, which showcases thousands of marine animals and plants.

Where To Stay: Old Monterey Inn

6. Santa Barbara

The last stop on our road trip is the city of Santa Barbara. Here, the Santa Ynez Mountains cascade into sparkling seas, and Mediterranean-style buildings reflect the city’s Spanish heritage. Visitors can stroll State Street and explore a variety of upscale boutiques and restaurants. You can also find out what’s going on during your visit with the help of the city’s events calendar.

Where To Stay: Simpson House Inn