5 Day Road Trip on the Pacific Coast Highway

Over Memorial Day Weekend, Drew and I road tripped down the Pacific Coast Highway with Drew’s parents, Suzanne and Matt, and we had a blast. However, planning the trip proved to be a bit more challenging than we anticipated – there are just so many cool things to see and do that it was hard to narrow down our choices and find good (and reasonably priced places) to rest our head along the way. For those of you considering a trip down the PCH, hopefully our itinerary can help you plan!

We started our journey in San Jose since Drew was attending a work conference out there before our trip and concluded our road trip in Los Angeles. Below are all of the fun things we did along the way:

Day 1

  • We first stopped in Santa Cruz to have breakfast with some of Matt’s cousins at the Crow’s Nest – it’s a cute spot overlooking the harbor and sea.
  • Next we drove to Monterey, which was about 119 miles of driving and took about 2.5 hours. We walked Fisherman’s Wharf to Cannery Row.
  • 17 Mile Drive and Pebble Beach were highlights for us. The surrounding area was beautiful – we got out at all of the scenic spots along the route for pictures. We stopped at the Pebble Beach club house to shop and grab a bite to eat.
  • Our last stop of the day was at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. It was beautiful! I only wish we had more time there.
  • We grabbed dinner and drinks at Cannery Row Brewing Company to close the day and stayed at Lighthouse Lodge & Cottages in Carmel. When it came time to select lodging for this trip, most spots in Carmel were sold out. The Lighthouse Lodge & Cottages suited our needs, but I’m betting you can find a better spot to stay for your trip!

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Day 2

Day 3

  • We booked tickets to Hearst Castle first thing in the morning, so we backtracked there from SLO. The grounds are beautiful, but we didn’t get to appreciate it as much since it was raining.
  • We grabbed lunch at Pizza Port in Morro Bay and checked out the Morro Rock while in town.
  • We checked out Ostrichland on our way into Solvang. It was a unique experience and we all had a good laugh! Check it out if you have time.
  • Our evening was spent in Solvang doing wine tastings, indulging in danishes at the various bakeries, and checking out some of the shops.
  • We spent the night in Lompoc at a Hilton Garden Inn.

Day 4

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Day 5

  • On our final day, we started with breakfast at 26 Beach – their breakfast menu is unreal!
  • We spent most of the morning wandering Venice Beach before heading to LAX for our flight.

Venice Beach California sign light hanging

If you’re on a time crunch, you can easily consolidate days 4 and 5. Additionally, I would recommend exploring the Santa Monica beach area over Venice Beach as it’s a nice experience. I used to travel to LA regularly for work, so we didn’t do much sightseeing there. However, happy to provide recommendations, if needed!

Overall, we had a great time on our road trip. Originally I was apprehensive about spending so much time in the car on a trip, but the California coast was stunning and we made so many little unplanned stops along the way to take in the beauty of the cliffs and ocean.

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