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a VirtualTourist member asked on May 31, 2013

Santa Monica

Day trips from Santa Monica

New question! My husband and I will be renting a car for one day to go somewhere else other than Santa Monica and Hollywood. Any recommendations on someplace along the coastline that's under a two-hour drive? We're up for good restaurants, a nice beach, or some sightseeing.

7 Answers

answered on 5/31/13 by
a VT member from Hesperia

Hey again......d:o)

Venice bbeach is just a few minutes to the south, but a bit further are hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Laguna Beach, and Newport Beach, all of whom have a unique athmosphere. Manhattan Beach was the original home of VT HQ.

To the north are of course Malibu, with all that entailes. Take a look:

Take a leisurely drive up the coast. First you go through Malibu and then there is a ocean road for a bit (25 miles), and you come into Oxnard where the mountains you have been driving next to end. Continue on to Channel Islands Blvd, to the Harbor Blvd. and stop at the Ventura Harbor for a lunch and a stroll.

After that, just head directly away from the ocean and no matter howe you do it, - you will end up on Highway 101. Continue up north on the coast to Santa Barbara, and get off, there and drive up State Street, all the way to the end of businesses, and turn around and park and walk. Take a few minutes to check out the Stearns Wharf, and the iconic Santa Barbara Mission.

Well that is my advise for a drive out of Santa Monica. Have you ever seen the TV show "Psych" on USA TV? It is filmed in Santa barbara where it takes place.

Have fun.........d:o)

answered on 5/31/13 by
a VT member from Hesperia

Just on the other side of the hills above Santa Barbara, is the Santa Ynes Valley, with the old Ronald Regan Ranch, and the infamous Neverland ranch that belonged to Michael Jackson. Going into the countryside around Santa Barbara is excellent wine country.

I highly recommend the Firestone Winery. (Yes it is the Firestone tire name. One of the sons was a reble and did not want anything to do with the family business, and followed his heart, and the rest is history.


answered on 5/31/13 by
a VT member from Hesperia

One more thing to make things easy. On your way back if you stay too long on the 101 south, you will get stuck in the traffic flow. So you don't try to retrace your steps in Ventura. Just keep going on the 101, until you get to Las Virgenes off ramp. Take that through what is called Malibu Canyon, right back to the Malibu ocean road, which you can then back track back to Santa Monica. Much easier way.

answered on 5/31/13 by
a VT member from Cerritos


answered on 5/31/13 by
a VT member from Westlake Village

Heading north from Santa Monica on Hwy 1, you will drive past the Malibu area and the Malibu Pier, where you can watch the surfers where many movies in the 50's featured surfing. Gidget was one of the most successful of these movies. See my VT Malibu page video of the pier and surfrider beach: [original VT link]

Up a little way is Paradise Cove with a beach and a casual restaurant with a fee parking area and beach use. Pricey, but interesting. See:

Just a few miles further takes you to one of the largest beaches in the area. Zuma Beach is a wide stretch of sand and has many lifeguard stations with good swimming. Great for sunsets. See:

About a couple of miles further on Hwy 1 is a favorite beach seafood casual restaurant called Neptune's Net on the hillside of Hwy 1. I love the fried as well as steamed seafoods. See my VT page: [original VT link]

Further up Hwy1 (PCH) is a good beach at Leo Carrillo State Park. Campgrounds to the hillside and beach to the ocean side. See:

Continuing north on Hwy 1 and you will see the Sand dunes of Ormond Beach in Ventura County.. See:

Of Course, you can wind up in Ventura that has a California Mission on Main St in the center of town with many boutique shops and restaurants on Main St. as well. The Ventura Harbor Village is the highlight with boat tours, shops, restaurants and a beach. See:

All of this is under a 60 miles one way, but if you were to stop at these locations a full day will be taken up. You could head north on Hwy 1 (PCH) just cruising along viewing the ocean views and cliffs till you spotted a place to stop or continue on to Ventura and start in Ventura only 1 hour away and then tourist view your way back. a great way to see the 26 miles of Malibu and our beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Have fun. BTW, PCH or Hwy 1 is not as crowded with cars as is the so called freeways that have heavy traffic. Enjoy the ride. :-)

answered on 6/12/13 by
a VT member

Thanks everyone! I wound up going to Zuma Beach and eating at Neptune's Net, with a little drive just into Ventura. It was a great trip!

answered on 6/12/13 by
a VT member from Hesperia

Next time you watch the very first "Fast and Furiouis" movie, there is a scene where Vin Diesel, and Paul Walker take a drive through Malibu, and then eat and talk at the Neptune's Net.

This is what Neptune's looks like on a weekend.....

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