The California coast is a wonderful place to explore from the north around San Francisco all the way south to San Diego. The ocean and the beaches on the west coast are so different from the east coast that you just have to experience it to appreciate the beauty. Stretching more than 650 miles, California Highway 1 has long been the best way to take in all the sights the California Coastline has to offer. When you think of the West Coast, you’re probably familiar with images of beach attire and surf culture. And while it’s perfectly acceptable to conjure these images of the coast, not everything about the California coast is big cities and bigger personalities.
The California coast offers visitors its own idea of rest and relaxation like only California can with quaint towns and cities that are the perfect destination for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation. These towns are only enhanced by forests and towering mountains that provide the backdrop to the blue hues that make up the ocean. The best part about these coastal towns is that they’re all easily accessible from Highway 1.
Here are five coastal towns to explore and spark adventure on your road trip along the California coast.
1. Moss Landing - With a population of around 200 people, Moss Landing is the quintessential quaint town. In addition to the arts, the city offers access to Slough Reserve, one of the most extensive wetlands in California. There you can look to the sky and spend hours bird spotting.
2. Carmel-by-the-Sea - With a village-like atmosphere, this coastal town is sure to sweep you off your feet. Not only are there luxury inns and hotels to help you get pampered, but there is also Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. This museum has extensive knowledge of the mission, as well as a peaceful garden where you can get lost in your thoughts and meditate.
3. San Simeon - Within the relatively small town, two major attractions are worth checking out. Hearst Castle allows you to explore the hilltop estate of media maven William Randolph Hearst. The other attraction is the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, which sees numerous seal mammals come atop the rocks to breed, molt, give birth, and get some much needed R&R.
4. Morro Bay - One of the few remaining fishing villages along the coast. You can take your time exploring the Embarcadero, the town’s major waterfront boardwalk, or take part in a harbor cruise that will allow you to catch a glimpse of sea creatures in their natural habitats.
5. Oxnard - While much of Oxnard is more urban than quaint and quiet, the western side of town offers visitors a sandy beach area with many dunes and walking trails. A portion of this beach has earned the name Hollywood Beach due to the abundance of celebrities living there. Oxnard is also known for producing some of the sweetest strawberries around the country.
When you are ready to plan a trip to the West coast and map out that a road trip that will allow you to take in each and every one of these impressive coastal towns,, we can help find the best accommodations and attractions to create your California seaside dream.
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Darby’s Destinations LLC an independent agent for Nexion, LLC, a California registered seller of travel (2071045-50); located at 6225 N. State Hwy 161, Suite 450, Irving TX 75038. Telephone 800-949-6410. While our clients have had great experiences with the travel suppliers featured on this website, Darby’s Destinations is not an employee, agent, or representative of these suppliers and therefore cannot make any promises regarding the service clients will receive with a particular supplier. Clients are responsible for reviewing the services offered by the supplier, along with any terms, conditions, and exclusions, before booking a trip.