If you're looking for perfect weather, surfer eye-candy and great beaches, then drive out to California. They've got North America's best surfing in SoCal, miles of organic produce stands and picturesque light houses.
How did I decide to cover the entire west coast by car in 18 days? For me, it was simple. I had flown out to SoCal in February of 2014 to visit Pacifica. I fell in love with the Pacific Highway faster than I fell in love with my 2nd husband (well, it is southern California after all :) after driving a small fraction of the highway, I decided I wanted to come back and drive the entire highway. Not just California, no siree, I was thinking all or nothing: California to Washington state, loop around and drive all the way back to Utah in my VW Jetta wagon - with moonroof, of course!
I had also fallen in love with the beaches, but not just the beaches, ALL OF THE BEACHES AND THE PEOPLE AND THE WATER TOO! (At least no Sand People died here LOL). I knew that when I decided to come back, I would absolutely have to camp at these beaches! So I started google mapping my course based on Southern California parks on the beach that I could camp at.
Here is the itinerary I came up with:
Day 1 PARK CITY TO CHULA VISTA, CA
Stay: Loretta’s place
take 5N to 75W/N
STAY: S. Carlsbad State Beach
8N to Mission Bay Drive
La Jolla Beach
STAY: Doheny State Beach
Follow La Jolla to Prospect St. to Torrey Pines Road, L @ La Jolla Shores Dr., L @ N Torrey Pines Rd.
Torrey Pines State National Reserve
Torrey Pines State Beach
Take S. Camino Del Mar
Fletcher Cove Beach Park, Solano Beach
Hwy 101 N
San Elijo State Beach (snorkeling)
STAY: San Onofre State Park
5N to 1N. Take Lincoln blvd. to CA27 N in Topagna. Continue on CA27 to Entrada Rd.
Topping State Park
STAY: Malibu Bay Creek State Park
1N to 101 W/N to Santa Barbara
STAY: Whitney’s Place
Stay on 1N
Gavotte State Park
Coast Dairies State Park
STAY: Petaluma KOA
Point Reyes National Park
STAY: MacKerricher State Park
Day 9 & 10
1N to 101 N
STAY: Redwoods National and State Parks
Cape Blanco State Park
STAY: Humbug Mountain State Park
Nope, this isn't 18 days...this is the first 11 of which are California. You'll need to link to the Oregon page here if you are looking to find out the rest of the West Coast Road trip!
How do you get here? By car, you can start in Chula Vista as I did. Since I'm located in the western US, I was able to easily (relatively speaking) pack up my car for 18 days of food, beaches and camping (and of course, throw in hiking as well.) Not a local, so to speak? Then hop on a plane and you can fly into San Diego, San Francisco - either one will start you off in SoCal territory.
How to plan where to stay: You can make it easy and economical on yourself and stay at Air B'n'B's along the way. Click here to see my blog on Air B'n'B stays. If you want the full outdoor experience, you'll need to rent, buy or fly-in camping gear. OR if you have a friend in Cali, you can beg, borrow and steal your camping supplies!