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Saint Paul, Minnesota

Big Sur, San Francisco, Trinidad (California), Crescent City

California Road Trip: Santa Barbara to Oregon Border

My husband and I are taking a road trip this winter, christmas through new years. Starting in Santa Barbara and we want to drive up the 1 and end up at the border for Oregon. Planned stops so far are Big Sur, San Francisco, and Trinidad. What are other great places along the coast to see? Best hotels? Best restaurants? We love the outdoors and are looking for an adventure.

7 Answers

top answer by
Krista from San Francisco

You already have my heart with this question -- Big Sur is just everything! It's great that you've already planned to stop there. :)

While there, check out:

  • Coast Gallery & Cafe : the rooftop cafe is prime for whale watching and has great food! The gallery (made of an old redwood tree, which is amazing in itself) is home to an amazing selection of Henry Miller's work.
  • Henry Miller Memorial Library
  • Nepenthe : order the Ambrosia burger, and don't miss the Phoenix gift shop. :)
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
  • Andrew Molera State Park
  • Treebones Resort : glamping at its best, these yurts offer ocean views. The onsite sushi restaurant is also insanely awesome.
  • Pfeiffer Beach : this can be tricky to find, but is actually on the opposite side of the road from the park sign (so on the right when on 1S or the left when on 1N) and is accessible next to a small, unmarked row after a row of mailboxes. Once you've taken the turn, the beach is about 1.5 miles in by car. WORTH IT.

More on my Big Sur faves (w/pics) here!

Here's a list of my favorite things to do in San Francisco, too. I've lived here for more than five years and love sharing the best things about the city.

Have a great road trip!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Coast Gallery & Cafe (restaurant)
  2. Henry Miller Memorial Library (attraction)
  3. Nepenthe (restaurant)
  4. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (attraction)
  5. Andrew Molera State Park (attraction)
  6. Treebones Resort (hotel)
  7. Pfeiffer Beach (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Jillian from Los Angeles

Hi Carmody!

I realize that it's a little out of the way, but I'd definitely recommend stopping at Ostrichland USA Inc to feed some ostriches! Because why wouldn't you want to feed ostriches?! It's a memorable experience.

Close by you can head to some vineyards for wine tasting, my favorites are Demetria Estate Wines (reservation only) and Foxen Vineyard. For dinner, I highly recommend the Ballard Restaurant. It's on the expensive end but definitely worth it if you want to treat yo selves! I recently stayed at HOTEL CORQUE and I'd also recommend staying there-- it's right in the heart of Solvang.

If you wanted to get farther out of Santa Barbara, I'd definitely stop in San Luis Obispo. My favorite vineyard is Niner Wine Estates. It's soooo good. Lastly, Elephant Seal Vista Point is worth stopping at. It's a beach with a bunch of cute elephant seals just chilling. :)

Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ostrichland USA Inc (attraction)
  2. Demetria Estate Wines (restaurant)
  3. Foxen Vineyard (attraction)
  4. Ballard Restaurant (restaurant)
  5. HOTEL CORQUE (hotel)
  6. San Luis Obispo (city)
  7. Niner Wine Estates (restaurant)
  8. Elephant Seal Vista Point (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
John from Los Angeles, California

The best and most expensive hotel in Big Sur is the Post Ranch Inn.  Camp sites are the best value but fill up quick. Big Sur River Inn is also great and has more reasonable prices.  Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant is a great stop for some delicious treats.  Nepenthe has the best view and McWay Falls is a must see.  Don't forget to grab a shot of the Bixby Creek Bridge.  Happy trails!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Post Ranch Inn (restaurant)
  2. Big Sur River Inn (restaurant)
  3. Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant (restaurant)
  4. Nepenthe (restaurant)
  5. McWay Falls (attraction)
  6. Bixby Creek Bridge (attraction)
3 thanks

answered first by
Michael from San Leandro

Big Sur lodges in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are outstanding. They book quick, call now. The restaurant in the park is very very good. Surpsingly so. As for another dinner place, Nepenthe, offers outstanding views and food. A bit pricey however. Further up the coast, the Elk Cove Inn & Spa is an outstanding b and b. The Albion River Inn and restaurant are also good, just before Mendocino.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (attraction)
  3. Nepenthe (restaurant)
  4. Elk Cove Inn & Spa (hotel)
  5. Albion River Inn (attraction)
  6. Mendocino (city)
2 thanks

answered by
Scott from San Francisco

IMHO, if you're not an outdoorsy type person, Big Sur might be one of the most over-rated "destinations" around.  It's gorgeous, don't get me wrong, otherwise it wouldn't be the setting for so many movie scenes and of course its bread and butter, car commercials - nothing sells cars better than shots of it negotiating those twisty turns of PCH alongside the breathtaking views.  Just consider it a really really really beautiful scenic rest stop/45 minute drive through and you won't be majorly disappointed.  Unless you wish to go camping or hiking there is almost nothing to do there, and quite frankly I would find another town to stop and grab a bite to eat in too.  Carmel is a worthy destination.  One great thing to do is to take a horse ride (yes, I am not outdoorsy, but this is only a few hours) through Pebble Beach down to the sea.  You'll get to see the beautiful homes, and amazing views.  Google Pebble Beach Horseback Riding and you'll find some good places.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. Carmel (attraction)
  3. Pebble Beach (attraction)
1 thankscomments (2)

answered by

Elk Cove Inn & Spa in Elk is amazing! Make sure to check out Mendocino too. Also will need to keep in mind that Hwy 1 does not go all of the way through to Oregon. It ends north of Fort Bragg (Manchester State Park, Point Arena Lighthouse and Museum, , Russian Gulch State Park, Glass Beach and Usau Beach  are all favorites). Once you head inland to 101 you will go through the Redwoods. At Garberville take a day and head to - shhhh, Shelter Cove, aka the "Lost Coast". Tiny and mainly locals but it does have a beautiful beach; it is a pain to get there though. Hope you have a terrific road trip! ·

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Elk Cove Inn & Spa (hotel)
  2. Mendocino (city)
  3. Fort Bragg (attraction)
  4. Manchester State Park (attraction)
  5. Point Arena Lighthouse and Museum (hotel)
  6. Russian Gulch State Park (attraction)
  7. Glass Beach (attraction)
  8. Shelter Cove (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
MacKenzie from Los Angeles

If you're up for a big adventure, near Pfeiffer Beach you can hike to Sykes Hot Springs. It's a ten mile hike each way, but parking is only $5 per night and camping is free at the hot springs. It's a beautiful hike and a great place to camp. Be sure to bring plenty of water or a way to purify it since there are no water access points other than the creek you'll hike to. Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pfeiffer Beach (attraction)
  2. Sykes Hot Springs (attraction)
1 thanks

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