California Coast

A trip to the Californian coast offers a rewarding holiday experience for those wanting to avoid the big city life and explore the abundant gems which lie between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A road-trip down the Coast Highway 1, offers spectacular scenery with sheer cliffs dropping into deserted beaches, whilst verdant hills, hot springs, sprawling vineyards and vast forests thick with giant redwoods lie just a little further afield.

The hippyish Santa Cruz and historic Monterey offer delightful stopovers between San Francisco and Big Sur, the stretch of rugged shoreline that offers hiking and camping opportunities amongst the breathtaking views. Meanwhile, the century-old Hearst Castle is a fascinating stop to explore the opulent complex of mansions built by newspaper-magnate William Randolph Hurst which both bewitches and bemuses visitors with its extravagance and ambition.

Further south, drive through endless acres of wineries and citrus groves as you enter California’s agricultural heartland, the King’s Highway (El Camino Real), passing beside quaint Colonial missions dating back to the time when Spanish explorers and Franciscan clergy ruled the roost. The college town of San Luis Obispo is flanked by stunning volcanic mountains and yet more of California’s delightful golden sands.


What you’ll love most about the Californian Coast

  • Marvel at the rugged beauty of Big Sur, one of the most iconic stretches of coastline in California. Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and soak up panoramic views of dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and dense forests, with stops at landmarks like Bixby Creek Bridge and McWay Falls
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium: Explore the wonders of the ocean at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, located on Cannery Row in Monterey. Discover interactive exhibits showcasing marine life from the Monterey Bay, including sea otters, jellyfish, sharks, and colourful coral
  • Santa Barbara: Experience the laid-back charm of Santa Barbara, known for its Mediterranean-style architecture, beautiful beaches, and vibrant arts scene. Relax on the sandy shores of East Beach, explore the boutiques and galleries of State Street, and visit historic landmarks like the Santa Barbara Mission and Stearns Wharf
  • Wine Country: Indulge in wine tasting and vineyard tours in California’s renowned wine country regions, including Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Discover award-winning wineries, picturesque vineyards, and scenic tasting rooms, and sample world-class wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir
  • Channel Islands National Park: Escape to the pristine wilderness of Channel Islands National Park, a remote archipelago off the coast of Southern California. Explore rugged sea caves, hike scenic trails, and snorkel in crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life, including dolphins, whales, and colourful fish
  • Malibu: Soak up the sun and surf in Malibu, a glamorous beach destination known for its celebrity homes, upscale restaurants, and stunning coastal scenery. Relax on the sandy shores of Zuma Beach, catch waves at Surfrider Beach, and enjoy fresh seafood with ocean views at one of Malibu’s waterfront eateries

Where to Book

  • Julia Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California

  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

  • California's Laguna Beach

  • Bixby Bridge on Highway 1, California

  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - Visit California/Myles McGuinness

  • Malibu Beach, California at sunset

  • La Jolla Sunset, Southern California

  • Santa Barbara in California

  • Heisler Park, Laguna Beach in California

Average temperature

Information below is based on average highest temperature for each month.

  • 13℃
  • 15℃
  • 16℃
  • 17℃
  • 17℃
  • 19℃
  • 23℃
  • 22℃
  • 21℃
  • 20℃
  • 17℃
  • 13℃
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2
  • 0
  • 0
  • 2
  • 4
  • 7
  • 10

Information above is based on the average number of days which experience some form of rainfall for each month.


When to Visit

Below gives you information and a rating of the best time of year to visit.













Our Ratings

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  • Highly Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Where to book

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Riviera Travel is the UK’s leading luxury river cruise & tour company with over 38 years’ experience in crafting worldwide tours, luxury river cruises, rail holidays and UK tours. Their commitment to quality & thoughtfulness has earned them a coveted Which? recommendation.

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For more than 60 years, Travelsphere has been crafting amazing itineraries to destinations around the world. They take care of all the details so you don’t have to. From flights, hotels, the services of an expert Holiday Director, and a range of incredible experiences, each tour is designed to immerse you in local culture, cuisine and take you to explore all the very best sights.

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