The Ultimate 2 Week California Road Trip – Week 1


California Road Trip Week 1: San Diego to Morro Bay


We made it all the way across the country from D.C. and had two more weeks to enjoy our road trip before we made California our permanent state for a few months. We decided that the best way to get to know our new place was to explore it fully, so surrounded by towering mountains and glistening ocean views we journeyed North along the coast in the name of discovery. Here’s a roundup of the top spots you too can check out on the ultimate two-week California road trip.

San Diego

See and Do

  • Visit Little Italy and explore delicious authentic restaurants and markets. Take pleasure in a laid back stroll along the quaint streets or people watch while sitting at a sidewalk cafe.
  • San Diego is known for having some of the best weather in the country and you can truly enjoy it while relaxing in one of the city’s many green spaces. Start at Waterfront Park and saunter on down the Marina for some killer views and some fresh air.
  • Check out Old Town- Visit Heritage Park to gawk at Victorian Homes, see the San Diego Old Town Market and explore La Casa de Estudillo (a historic adobe home dating back to 1827).
  • Don’t miss a trip to Cabrillo National Monument to see the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. (cost $10 click here to see how you can save with the NPS annual pass)
  • For great nightlife check out the Gaslamp Quarter. Be sure to try one of San Diego’s many local craft beers.

Stay

  • Book a night at the Kimpton Solamar in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. Enjoy the laid back San Diego vibe at this hotel, try some tasty craft beers during their “wine hour” and chill by the fire pit at their rooftop lounge     
Little Italy

Little Italy

Relaxing at Waterfront Park

Relaxing at Waterfront Park

Victorian Home at Heritage Park

Victorian Home at Heritage Park

One of the replica rooms in La Casa de Estudillo

One of the replica rooms in La Casa de Estudillo

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

Lovely little garden behind the keeper's quarters

Lovely little garden behind the keeper’s quarters

Spiral staircase leading to the top of the lighthouse

Spiral staircase leading to the top of the lighthouse

Whale replica exhibit

Whale replica exhibit

Trying one of San Diego's many great beers

Trying one of San Diego’s many great beers

Enjoying Solamar's Happy Hour

Enjoying Solamar’s Happy Hour

Venice Beach

See and Do

  • People watch while wandering around the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk and enjoy shows put on by street performers.
  • Take in a basketball game, bike/rollerblade down the boardwalk or watch athletes work out on Muscle Beach.
  • Admire the street art along the walls as you stroll along, you may even spot a talented artist at work.
  • Check out the beachside skate park to see athletes of all ages try out their best tricks.
  •  Tired after so much fun? Just relax on the sand while enjoying the fantastic weather and wait for a stunning sunset.

Eat and Drink

Catch a live basketball game

Catch a live basketball game

See the art walls

See the art walls

Skateboarding in Venice beach

Skateboarding in Venice beach

A relaxing bike ride

A relaxing bike ride

Sunset at Venice Beach

Sunset at Venice Beach

Santa Barbara

See and Do

  • Spend a day basking in the sun at one of many fantastic beaches in Santa Barbara then head into the water for some sailing, kayaking or stand-up paddling.
  • Visit State Street in Santa Barbara for a lavish and colorful farmers market on Tuesdays.
  • Enjoy the nightlife in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. Check out great local breweries and be sure to visit The Lark restaurant for the terrific food and fun atmosphere.
  • Take in a fun game of beach volleyball and soak in some rays at Hendry’s Beach. After you’ve worked up an appetite visit The Boathouse at Hendry’s steps from the beach (they have an excellent and expansive happy hour!)

Stay

  • Although technically in Goleta, the Goodland hotel is just a short drive from Santa Barbara. With a record player in every room, a record store in the lobby, a vintage car and even an airstream parked out front this place will give you all of the cool and quintessential California vibes.
Spend a day on the water- Santa Barbara

Spend a day on the water

Great entertainment on State Street during the Farmers Market

Great entertainment on State Street during the Farmers Market

Enjoying drinks at The Lark in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone

Enjoying drinks at The Lark in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

Record store in our hotel- Goodland Kimpton Goleta

Record store in our hotel

"Rita" - The Air Stream at Goodland

“Rita” – The Air Stream

Vintage Car out front- Goodland Hotel- Perfect for a California Road Trip

Vintage Car

Solvang

See and Do

  • Feel like you’ve taken a trip to Denmark while walking along this town’s quaint streets known for its Danish Heritage.
  • Rent tandem/group bikes to tour the town or ride the Solvang trolley.
  • Celebrate Solvang Danish Days in September. This year from the 16th – 18th the festival will be commemorating its 80th year.

Eat and Drink

  • Try a delectable meal at Succulent. Everything from the traditional Æbleskivers served before your meal to their scrumptious bread pudding is perfect!
  • You had some food now stay for wine! Visit one of the many wineries and vineyards in the area. Grab a picnic and sip wine at Sunstone Vineyards while enjoying their lovely outdoor space.
Solvang- known for its Danish heritage

Solvang- known for its Danish heritage

Solvang Trolley

Solvang Trolley

"The good folks at the Health Department..."

“The good folks at the Health Department…”

Enjoying a mouth-watering dinner at Succulent

Enjoying a mouth-watering dinner at Succulent

The bread pudding at Succulent is delicious!

The bread pudding at Succulent is delicious!

Stay another day to enjoy the wineries nearby! - Solvang

Stay another day to enjoy the wineries nearby!

Sunstone Vineyards

Sunstone Vineyards

Enjoying great wine and great company- Sunstone Vineyards

Enjoying great wine and great company- Sunstone Vineyards

Deep in a wine conversation...

Deep in a wine conversation…

Enjoying yummy desserts at Solvang Bakery

Enjoying yummy desserts at Solvang Bakery

Morro Bay

See and Do

  • Visit Morro Rock Beach and take a closer look at Morro Rock (a volcano plug).
  • Go whale watching or kayaking/canoeing around the bay.
  • Observe sea lions in their natural habitat up close and personal as they lounge on the rocks.
Morro Rock

Morro Rock

Tons of Sea Lions lounging about -Morro Bay

Tons of Sea Lions lounging about

See these <del>little</del> BIG guys up close!

See these little BIG guys up close!

Short claws- Sea lion Morro bay

Their short claws up close

Flapping in his sleep

Flapping in his sleep

This little playful one came out of the water to put on a show

This little playful one came out of the water to put on a show

Quick Tips

  • With so much natural beauty along the California coast it serves as the perfect place to camp. Check Reserve America or Hipcamp for open spots and reservations.
  • Plan ahead or book last minute with Airbnb. Click the link below to save on your next stay!

airbnb logo 2 blue

Stay tuned for week 2 of the trip

  • Monterey
  • San Francisco
  • Sonoma

Route: San Diego to Sonoma

◊ Have you driven down the California Coast? What was your favorite part of the trip? Let us know in the comments below!