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Santa Cruz to Santa Monica via Cambria

driving   /   2 days   /   no pets   /   no RV

Santa Cruz to Santa Monica road trip planner

Here's a sample itinerary for a drive from Santa Cruz to Santa Monica. If you're planning a road trip to Santa Monica, 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 3 hours

1:52 pm  Cambria
stay overnight and leave the next day around 10:00 am

day 1 driving ≈ 3 hours
find more stops

 Day 2

10:00 am  leave from Cambria
drive for about 2 hours

12:10 pm  Santa Barbara
eat at McConnell's Fine Ice Creams
stay for about 4 hours
and leave at 4:10 pm
drive for about 1 hour

5:22 pm  Malibu
stay for about 1.5 hours
and leave at 6:52 pm
drive for about 39 minutes

7:31 pm  arrive in Santa Monica
eat at Gjelina
stay at Shutters On the Beach

day 2 driving ≈ 4 hours

drive this trip in  



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Where should I stop along the way?

Cambria  (58 answers)
    Hearst Castle  (86 mentions)
    Moonstone Beach Dr  (3 mentions)
    Burton Inn  (3 mentions)
    San Simeon State Beach  (2 mentions)
    Ball & Skein & More  (2 mentions)
    restaurants around Cambria:
        Lombardi's Pasta Familia
        Sebastian's General Store
        Wild Ginger Cafe

Santa Barbara  (192 answers)
    Butterfly Beach  (7 mentions)
    Bacara Resort & Spa  (6 mentions)
    Hendry's Beach  (4 mentions)
    Stearns Wharf  (4 mentions)
    The Funk Zone  (4 mentions)
    restaurants around Santa Barbara:
        McConnell's Fine Ice Creams
        La Super-Rica Taqueria
        The Lark - Santa Barbara
        Boathouse at Hendry's Beach
        The Palace Grill
    questions about Santa Barbara:
        Favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara?
        Bachelorette Weekend Getaway in Santa Barbara
        Best Beach in Santa Barbara?
        24 hours in Santa Barbara, what do I have to see/eat/do?
        How far from santa barbara to palm springs and PS to Phoenix?

Malibu  (67 answers)
    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)
    restaurants around Malibu:
        Nobu Malibu
        Paradise Cove Cafe
        Malibu Seafood
        Geoffrey's Malibu
        Malibu Farm Cafe
    questions about Malibu:
        Places to eat in Malibu?
        Lunch recommendations near Getty Villa - Views? Kid Friendly?
        Wine tasting in Malibu?


Where's the best place to stay in Santa Monica?

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 Santa Monica.

If you're looking for a quick answer, you can check out Shutters On the Beach, which was mentioned 36 times on Trippy.

Here are some more hotels people talk about:

Hotel Erwin  (30 mentions)
The Huntley Hotel  (15 mentions)
Hotel Casa Del Mar  (12 mentions)

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




Where's the best place to eat in Santa Monica?

Need some recommendations on somewhere to get food?

Trippy members suggest Gjelina, which was mentioned 44 times.

Here are some more restaurants people talk about:

Urth Caffe  (13 mentions)
The Apple Pan  (12 mentions)
Joan's on Third Cafe  (12 mentions)
Gracias Madre  (11 mentions)

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




What are some things to do in Santa Monica?

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:

Santa Monica Pier  (70 mentions)
Venice Beach Boardwalk  (62 mentions)
Abbot Kinney  (56 mentions)
Third Street Promenade  (55 mentions)
LACMA  (50 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 Santa Monica. Click on any question to see answers from the community!

profile  Courtney from Los Angeles asked:
Drinks in SM?  (4 answers)

profile  Allie from Portland asked:
Fun things to do in Santa Monica?  (3 answers)

profile  Andrea from Rockville Centre asked:
Fun Santa Monica hotels under $400/night?  (3 answers)

profile  Brew from Manhattan Beach asked:
Good breakfast spot for a business meeting?  (3 answers)

profile  Pat from Cambria asked:
Avoiding sticker shock in Santa Monica  (3 answers)

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




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 Santa Monica 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 Santa Monica. Or get a full Santa Cruz to Santa Monica 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 382 miles
driving time of 6 hours, 22 minutes
87 Santa Cruz travel answers
58 Cambria travel answers
192 Santa Barbara travel answers
67 Malibu travel answers
229 Santa Monica travel answers





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