Ah, the California Coast !
Stretching around 840 miles, the California coast can take you from the beaches of San Diego to the Giant Redwoods of Northern California. With the major cities of Los Angeles and of San Francisco, you would almost think there are two types of California; Southern and Northern.
The first point of interest cannot be reached by car because it consists of 5 of the 8 California Channel Islands; Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. This is a window into old California. Each Island has one campground and can be reached by boat or by airplane. Activities include hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, birdwatching and photography.
The mother road of the California coast is State Route 1; 123 miles of twisty, winding road with unmatched views. Sometimes collocated with U.S. Highway 101, other times it is a narrow, twisted road, hugging the cliffs, such as the section near Big Sur.
There are some beautiful towns to visit on the way, with fun things to see and do. Starting from the Southern end, Santa Barbara is a great place to see a town built in the Spanish tradition. One of the best highlights is the Mission Santa Barbara, built in 1786 as part of El Camino Real. Also nearby is the charming Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Past the interesting city of San Luis Obispo, with it’s associated mission, are the two beach towns of Morro Bay and then Cambria. Further up is San Simeon and Hearst Castle, the once home of Newspaper Magnate William Randolph Hearst. Carmel, with amazing shops and Monterey, with the aquarium, are excellent stops. Then you come to the Granddaddy of California, San Francisco!
Located 325 miles North of San Francisco, this park stretches approximately 50 miles and contains 4 campgrounds, 40 miles of pristine coastline and 56 miles of hiking trails in the National and 108 in the State Park section.
For inspiration of a trip up the California coast with some of the unique sites, look here.