My husband and I will be visiting our son and his wife at UCLA in October from Alabama. While they are busy during the day, we would like to venture either north or south, preferably on the PCH to see some of California. In addition, we would love to find an interesting boutique or historic hotel to stay in near the UCLA campus..
I am not sure what you and your husband enjoy doing but I will give you a few different options of things I have done.
First(probably my favorite) I would start with making your way up to Malibu. Malibu itself is absolutely beautiful and you can gawk at the amazing beaches for hours. Point Dume State Beach is another great little spot to stop off either on your way there or way back. It is a nice little hike down to the beach. Make sure you go at low tide. The experience will be a lot better. If you like hiking then you must go to Sandstone Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is the highest peak in the SM mountains but the hike from the trail head is only 1.4 miles. Round trip it is about 3. But the views from up top are amazing. I would suggest going earlier in the morning before it gets to hot but in October it may not matter when you go. On clear days you can see for miles and miles. The hike isn't too strenuous and you usually get a nice breeze off the ocean. I would suggest doing this first and then going to Point Dume or Zuma Beach afterwards. There are many cute little resturants or really nice places you could stop at to grab a bite to eat. Neptune's Net is a famous stop, Duke's Malibu, or the famous Nobu Malibu.
Going south I would suggest taking the PCH down to La Jolla Cove. In Oceanside there is a really cool look out point before Camp Pendleton that has the most adorable little squirrels you can feed. The drive itself is very beautiful down here. La Jolla is a cute little town. Make sure to go explore around the cove there are seals everywhere! At first you think they are large rocks but then you realize they are actually seals. I have not eaten anywhere around here. But, if you want to keep going down to San Diego they have amazing mexican food down there. My favorite is at Casa Guadalajara. I had the best seafood enchilada of my life there.
You can't go wrong driving up and down the PCH really. The traffic WILL be bad and everything usually takes longer than the directions suggest but the beautiful scenery and the cute roadside dinners or dive restaurants are totally worth it. Explore and enjoy California!
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I'd recommend driving the coast north to Santa Barbara! It's about a 1.5-2 hour drive from UCLA. The downtown area is walkable with a bunch of shops and eats. Stop at the Tupelo Junction Cafe for lunch and try the fried green tomatoes. If you happen to spend the night, go for the boutique Canary Hotel. They have a great rooftop, and it's a perfect location close to State Street.
Also, if you enjoy wine country, head to Los Olivos where you can try some amazing local wines, and take in the beautiful countryside. Keep in mind that Los Olivos is about an hour north from Santa Barbara, so might be over the 5 hour round trip time. I think it's worth it though!
Also, if you enjoy too much wine, I'd recommend staying at the Ballard Inn & Restaurant. It's really charming!
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