You’ve heard it before. The West Coast is the Best Coast. As a New Jersey native working in the bustling city of New York City this summer, a road trip along the famous Pacific Coast Highway seemed like an exciting way to spice up my summer. Stretching 147 miles along the California coast, this dramatic coastal drive passes through an abundance of stunning vistas, beach towns and breathtaking cliffs. During my trip, I booked a day use hotel with HotelsByDay. It allowed for me and my family to have a place to recoup and unwind in between stops before setting back on the road.

1. The Shop Cafe – Santa Barbara

The Shop Cafe Santa Barbara

A well planned itinerary is key to having a successful road trip. After waking up in the midst of the morning, we packed our car and headed out of Los Angeles. We began our journey at 8 a.m. as the morning mist hugged the coastal cliffs of Malibu. You can feel the moisture of the ocean in the air and view the waves as they crashed along the shoreline. We planned for a simple breakfast in the beautiful town of Santa Barbara. With the lovely help of Yelp, we enjoyed a scrumptious meal at The Shop Cafe. This simplistic joint offers a delicious menu for brunch including avocado toast, smoked salmon and french toast. It was hard to control myself after ordering the Salmon In-Yo-Face, featured above, served on whole wheat toast with cured salmon, dill creme fraiche, red onion, capers and a poached egg.

2. McWay Falls – Big Sur

McWay Falls

On our way we go entering the central coast of California. This rugged stretch known as Big Sur was the most breathtaking part of the road trip by far. Filled with seaside cliffs and winding turns, the drive is exhilarating. Hidden amongst the cliffs is the stunning McWay Falls. After parking in the lot, we made our way through the dirt trail to find a magnificent view. An 80 foot waterfall cascading onto the private beach as waves crash along the sand. This picturesque area is a must for your Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

3. Point Lobos Natural Reserve

Point Lobos

Located on the north end of Big Sur is Point Lobos Natural Reserve, the “crowned jewel” of California States Parks. We drove a few miles through the dirt paths, where we were greeted with magnificent seaside cliffs and the ocean blues. Every trail throughout the park is unique leading to hidden gems scattered throughout the park. Follow the trail to China Cove for intimate and secluded hideaway. Listen to the sea lions calls echo off the cliffs as they bathe on the beach. My personal favorites were Cypress Cove and Bird’s Island.

4. Carmel-by-the-Sea

Dametra Cafe Carmel-by-the-sea

Art galleries, cafes and boutiques galore. This enchanting town is just north of Point Lobos. With fairytale cottages and quiet atmosphere, Carmel is the perfect destination to head to with your loved one. First wander to the beach. Rated as “One of America’s Top Rated Beach Town’s,” Carmel’s shore line is absent of heavy crowds and tourists, yet filled with dogs, quaint picnics and runners. Dig your toes into the powdery sand and take in this beautiful sight. Travel back to the village and shop through its galleries, boutiques and gift shops. For food I recommend the highly rated Dametra Cafe specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. I ordered the Frutti di Mare, a popular Italian seafood pasta dish made of mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp and salmon. It was to die for.

5. San Francisco


It’s the final stretch. Our last leg of the road trip we ended up in the famous city of San Francisco. There’s tons to discover in the City by the Bay whether its sightseeing, shopping, entertainment or dining. First stop was Twin Peaks. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the whole city. We then made our way to The Mission District. There, we food hopped our way through the neighborhood, popping our heads into some unique boutiques. Looking to enjoy some of the best coffee? The Four Barrel Coffee offers the best drip coffee in town with a sleek and rustic ambiance. Don’t ignore that sweet tooth of yours. Dandelion Chocolate is filled with the aroma of Theobroma cacao. Enjoy their homemade sweets and rich European hot chocolate. In between excursions we were able to relax in our day use room at The Mosser Hotel.

All in all the road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway was an unforgettable experience, discovering beautiful coastal towns and magnificent views. Whether you’re day tripping to San Francisco or find yourself on a state wide road trip, HotelsByDay made our travels 100% better.  It will make yours too. I guarantee it.

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Katrina Ticse

Currently a Marketing student at the University of Delaware