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Santa Cruz to Malibu via Carmel By the Sea

driving   /   2 days   /   no pets   /   no RV

Santa Cruz to Malibu road trip planner

Here's a sample itinerary for a drive from Santa Cruz to Malibu. If you're planning a road trip to Malibu, you can research locations to stop along the way. Make sure you check road conditions to double check the weather. Traveling with a dog or cat? Find pet-friendly stops. Camping along the way? Search for RV campgrounds. Find the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions based on the most talked about places recommended by Trippy members.

customize this trip
 Day 1

11:00 am  start in Santa Cruz
drive for about 53 minutes

11:53 am  Carmel By the Sea
eat at Passionfish
stay for about 1.5 hours
and leave at 1:23 pm
drive for about 2.5 hours

3:50 pm  San Luis Obispo
stay overnight at The Madonna Inn
leave the next day around 11:00 am

day 1 driving ≈ 3.5 hours
find more stops

 Day 2

11:00 am  leave from The Madonna Inn
drive for about 1 hour

12:10 pm  Solvang
eat at Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 1:10 pm
drive for about 1 hour

2:15 pm  Ventura
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 3:15 pm
drive for about 46 minutes

4:01 pm  arrive in Malibu
stay at Malibu Beach Inn

day 2 driving ≈ 3 hours
find more stops

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Where should I stop along the way?

Carmel By the Sea  (69 answers)
    Monterey Bay Aquarium  (41 mentions)
    Pebble Beach  (21 mentions)
    Point Lobos  (9 mentions)
    Point Lobos State Reserve  (8 mentions)
    17-Mile Drive  (6 mentions)
    restaurants around Carmel By the Sea:
        Passionfish
        Katy's Place
        Epsilon Fine Greek Restaurant
        Flaherty's Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar
        Old Fisherman's Grotto
    questions about Carmel By the Sea:
        Romantic restaurant and hotel in Carmel
        Things to do that'll interest 17-year-old brother

San Luis Obispo  (122 answers)
    Bishop Peak  (4 mentions)
    San Luis Obispo Mission  (3 mentions)
    California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo  (3 mentions)
    Edna Valley  (2 mentions)
    F. McLintocks Saloon and Dining House  (2 mentions)
    restaurants around San Luis Obispo:
        Firestone Grill
        Novo Restaurant & Lounge
        Bello Mundo
        Splash Cafe
        Avila Valley Barn
    hotels around San Luis Obispo:
        The Madonna Inn
        Madonna Inn Resort & Spa
        Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort
        Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
        Seacrest Beach Resort
    questions about San Luis Obispo:
        What is your favorite restaurant in San Luis Obispo?
        Lodging
        Exploring SLO in March to scout moving there - what should I check out?
        Where to stay outside of San Luis Obispo for Cal Poly graduation

Solvang  (46 answers)
    Firestone Vineyard  (3 mentions)
    Fess Parker Winery  (3 mentions)
    R Country Market  (2 mentions)
    Blackjack Ranch  (2 mentions)
    Saarloos And Sons Tasting Room  (2 mentions)
    restaurants around Solvang:
        Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe
        Olsen's Danish Village Bakery & Coffee Shop
        Industrial Eats
        Panino
        Petros
    questions about Solvang:
        What to do in Solvang... good places to stay, eat, etc.

Ventura  (16 answers)
    Downtown Ventura  (2 mentions)
    C Street  (2 mentions)
    questions about Ventura:
        What to see, do & eat in Ventura, CA
        Romantic weekend events/entertainment


Where's the best place to stay in Malibu?

Are you going straight to a hotel, or looking for a vacation rental or Airbnb?

The best resource on neighborhoods, areas, and hotels is the Trippy page on where to stay in Malibu.

If you're looking for a quick answer, you can check out Malibu Beach Inn, which was mentioned 6 times on Trippy.

Want to research more popular hotels in Malibu? Click the blue button below.




Where's the best place to eat in Malibu?

Need some recommendations on somewhere to get food?

Trippy members suggest Nobu Malibu, which was mentioned 15 times.

Here are some more restaurants people talk about:

Paradise Cove Cafe  (13 mentions)
Malibu Seafood  (11 mentions)
Geoffrey's Malibu  (10 mentions)
Malibu Farm Cafe  (6 mentions)

Want to research more popular restaurants in Malibu? Click the blue button below.




What are some things to do in Malibu?

This section could be endless, so rather than trying to suggest every local activity or attraction, we'll leave it open-ended.

These are some of the places people talk about on Trippy:

Malibu Beach  (44 mentions)
Zuma Beach  (22 mentions)
Point Dume State Beach  (14 mentions)
Malibu Country Mart  (12 mentions)
El Matador State Beach  (12 mentions)

Of course, Trippy is the perfect place to ask questions because there's an entire community of travelers talking to each other and sharing tips and advice. Trippy is where you can get answers personalized for your tastes, budgets, trip dates & more!

For example, here are some questions people have asked about Malibu. Click on any question to see answers from the community!

profile  Courtney from Los Angeles asked:
Places to eat in Malibu?  (8 answers)

profile  Andrew from Manhattan Beach asked:
Lunch recommendations near Getty Villa - Views? Kid Friendly?  (4 answers)

profile  Laura from San Francisco asked:
Wine tasting in Malibu?  (3 answers)

Click the button below to explore more questions and answers related to Malibu.




Do I really have to go back home?

Yes, even this step is optional, because if you're on vacation who wants the trip to end? It's okay, you can start planning your next trip!

Want to plan the trip back? Get the reverse directions for a Malibu to Santa Cruz drive, or go to the main page to plan a new road trip.

You can also compare the travel time if you're flying or driving by calculating the distance from Santa Cruz to Malibu. Or get a full Santa Cruz to Malibu flight plan.

Don't forget about exploring your own hometown with a staycation. You can also find some cool day trips or get away for a weekend. Maybe try typing in a faraway location like London, Hong Kong, or Sydney, and get inspired for your dream trip around the world.

And if you know Santa Cruz well, please help your fellow travelers and answer their questions about Santa Cruz!





At a Glance
without making any stops
total driving distance is 349 miles
driving time of 5 hours, 54 minutes
85 Santa Cruz travel answers
69 Carmel By the Sea travel answers
122 San Luis Obispo travel answers
46 Solvang travel answers
16 Ventura travel answers
66 Malibu travel answers





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