California road trip itinerary 7 day sunset on the road with palm trees

California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days

Pacific Coast Highway

Dreaming of driving along the California coast for days on end? With the windows down and the cool sea breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean? We have the perfect California road trip Itinerary 7 days for you. The Pacific Coast Highway road trip winds along the California coast with endless spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Better yet stop and catch a wave or feel the sand between your toes, walk along the famous boardwalks, or out on the piers. There are endless Instagram worthy destinations on this road trip.

California Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

In this Pacific Coast Highway, California road trip itinerary 7 days, we will start in San Diego and drive north along Highway 1 in California. The Pacific Coast Highway does run all the way into Washington State along the Oregon Coast and Washington coast if you have more time. If you are interested in starting in Seattle or going further than Northern California, check out our Northern Pacific Coast Highway road trip here. By exploring both of these posts you can drive from Seattle all the way to San Diego along the Pacific Highway Coast road trip.

Take a look at this post from Florida Man on the Run for more awesome places to stop along these incredible road trips.

Pacific Coast Highway Map

The Pacific Coast Highway is made up of two highways and runs all the way from San Diego to Seattle. In California, you will follow Highway 1 until you get closer to the Redwoods then you will follow highway 101 from the border of California, along the Oregon Coast, up the Washington Coast to Seattle.

The Pacific Coast Highway is also known as Highway 1, PCH, Route 1, Highway 101, or California Coast Road Trip. There are a lot of different names but they all mean the same thing and will get you to the same destination. The Pacific Coast Highway goes through some of the best beach towns in the USA.

Pacific Coast Highway – California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days

The best time of year to drive the Pacific Coast Highway in California is any time of year that works for you. The beauty of traveling on the California coast is that the weather is almost the same all year round. My favorite time of year to travel to California is in the winter. Especially if you are coming from out of state and it is probably cold where you are at in the winter.

California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days

  1. San Diego – Coronado Beach – Balboa Park & San Diego Zoo
  2. Los Angeles and its beaches to Santa Barbara
  3. San Luis Obispo – Hearst Castle
  4. Big Sur – Monterey Bay
  5. Point Bonita Lighthouse- San Francisco
  6. San Francisco to Fort Bragg Glass Beach
  7. Humboldt Redwood Forest & State Park

How many days do I need to do the PCH road trip?

There are too many wonderful places to stop along the coast to even name. I would give yourself at least one week to travel from San Diego to the Redwood Forests of Nothern California. That is why this California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days is condensed and gets you to some amazing stops along the way.

If you just want to enjoy the coast and drive it straight through, it will take you about 11 hours, but then you’d miss all the great California Road Trip stops and destinations. The beauty of a road trip is that you can make them what you want. Just because we say this should be 7 Days doesn’t mean that you won’t want to add on another day or two for visits to Disney Land or maybe spend more time in San Francisco.

California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days – Cost

How do you budget for a California Pacific Coast Highway road trip? The first place you need to start is are you going to rent a car or drive your own? That will be one of your biggest upfront cost. Check to compare rates and find the best deal.

I suggest renting a car if you’re going to take a long road trip. The reason for this is because driving long distances puts a lot of wear and tear on your car. The cost of the rental car will be less than the long term wear and tear on your car. The other benefit of renting a car is you can shorten your trip. You can drive one way and then drop off the rental car and fly back.

Budget For PCH Road Trip

  • Rental car for 7 days: $225 – $400
  • Food cost: $50 per person per day
  • Hotel cost: $150-250 per night
  • Gasoline cost: $60 per day (depends on your car)
  • Total cost for 7 days for 2 people: $1,800- $2,200

California Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip on a budget

You can easily take the Pacific Coast Highway road trip on a budget. You can drive your own car. That will save you a lot of upfront money.

The next best way to take the Pacific Coast Highway road trip on a budget is to camp along the way instead of staying in hotels. That will save you the most money. The camping along the Pacific Coast Highway is some of the best in the world. You will definitely add to your road trip if you camp along the way. Check out this ultimate camping pack list so you don’t forget a thing! I remember camping in the Redwoods near San Franciso as a kid and the ground was so soft I didn’t even need the pad for the sleeping bag.

Another huge money saver is packing your own meals. Road trips have so many benefits and being able to pack your own food is a huge benefit and a great way to save money along the way.

Just remember to pack a good cooler for the road trip snacks and food. Here’s a great option from Amazon. You’ll want a good cooler so that you are not having to stop all the time, and it can keep food fresh. Packing your own food on a road trip will save you money and it’s healthier than typical road trip food.

Let’s get started on this California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days!

Day 1: San Diego

We are going to start our epic road trip in beautiful San Diego. If you have never been to San Diego, make sure to take at least one night to enjoy this beautiful city. Let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in San Diego!

white and blue paddle boards on the beach and skyline of san diego skyline in the background on the pacific coast highway road trip

Top things to do in San Diego

Balboa Park & San Diego Zoo

The number one thing to do in San Diego is Balboa Park. You could easily spend days at Balboa Park. There are many things that are free to do and see in Balboa Park. The park is right in the heart of the city. The most famous part of the park is the world-famous Zoo. You should plan on visiting the San Diego Zoo. You can spend all day here and it would be worth every minute, but do plan at least a half-day at the zoo. There is so much to do and see in Balboa so I’ll narrow it down to the best of the Balboa here:

  • The world-famous San Diego Zoo.
  • Take epic Instagram photos with the Spanish architecture at The California Tower or at the Spanish Village.
  • Visit their awesome museums.
  • Walkthrough the Japanese Friendship Gardens.

Coronado Island and Coronado Beach

This is one of the most picturesque beaches you will see in California, especially if you include the iconic Coronado Hotel. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun on the beach in front of the famous Coronado Hotel. Then you can go inside for dinner or just quick ice cream.

Wander the main streets of Coronado and go in and out of the endless local shops. As a kid, one of my favorite things to do was just driving over the bridge from San Diego to Coronado. This large structure and driving over to the beach bring back great memories and now my kids love it too.

The island has amazing views of downtown San Diego, take a drive and soak it all in. The best time of day to be on Coronado Island is at sunset. Then you can sit on the beach and watch the sunset slowly into the sky.

Old Town San Diego

If you have wondered what it would be like to travel back in time to the old west or better yet, old Mexico, then Old Town San Diego is a fun and historic stop. Old Town San Diego has endless activities for kids and adults. Your kids will love making candles and the endless souvenir shops. The adults will love the restaurants where you can get great Mexican food, watch tortillas being made fresh, and margaritas.

Other notable stops around San Diego to visit

San Diego has so many notable places to visit that you could spend your entire Pacific Coast Highway road trip just in and around San Diego. If you do happen to spend a couple of days here.

  • Wild Animal Park – Discover herds of animals in a more natural habitat.
  • Sea World San Diego
  • La Jolla Cove
  • Del Mar

If you are on a tight schedule you can always book a tour. Sometimes it is easier for someone else to plan your itinerary and you just enjoy the ride. Book your tours and reservations to one or all of the places above ahead of time here!

Time to hit the road

We are now going to officially start our Pacific Coast Highway road trip. Find your way to Interstate 5 and drive north. The Pacific Coast Highway actually starts one hour north of San Diego in Dana Point. You can stay along Highway 1 but you will hit a lot of beach towns that will add extra time, but it could be fun to expire. You decide what works best for on this road trip, but to stick to the 7 days we are going to take you on Interstate 5 for a while.

Day 2: Los Angeles

The Beaches of Southern LA

When you think of California, you think of Hollywood and beach bodies. Endless white sand beaches for surfing and boardwalks for walking, skateboarding and rollerblading. Just one hour north of San Diego, you will arrive at Laguna Beach. This is quintessential California. So make sure to throw in your beach essentials to enjoy your time at the beach.

As you drive north on Highway 1, the next 50 miles are packed with infamous beaches, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Long Beach. You name it, they’ve got it. So what are the best places to stop for the perfect beach spot? This all depends on what you want to do. Are you into surfing, maybe you like the secluded beach, maybe you want to make your way to the gyms of muscle beach?

Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach vs Laguna Beach

So which one of these amazing beach towns should you stop at on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip? Here are a few things to consider. First of all, out of these three, Huntington Beach is the least attractive. Unless you are a surfer and then this would be at the top of your list. Huntington Beach is also known as Surf City. You will also find the international surf museum in Huntington Beach, but I would recommend skipping this one out of the three unless you can surf.

Laguna Beach is probably one of the most famous beaches in California. When you see movies and tv shows in LA, this is typically beachfront you will see. This awesome beach has a gorgeous boardwalk and tons of charm. The downside is that it can be extremely crowded! My favorite beach here is the Treasure Island beach, you’ll find beautiful white sand and fewer crowds.

Newport Beach is the best out of these three for swimming. In my opinion, it has just as much charm as Laguna but not as many crowds. There are fire pits if you’re lucky to grab one and roast some marshmallows on the beach.

Day 2: More stops in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the city of Angels, has a ton to do and see. Take a few side trips to see some of these attractions that are infamous in US history. So where should you stop in LA on your California Pacific Coast Highway road trip?

  • The Hollywood Sign. You can really stretch your legs here and hike the Hollywood Hills to the infamous Hollywood Sign.
  • Walk the Hollywood Walk of fame. See the handprints of all the Hollywood stars!
  • Take a stroll on the Santa Monica Pier
  • Pop over to Venice Beach and Muscle Beach
  • Window shop on Rodeo Drive

Let someone else do the driving so you can really take in the sites. Check out the awesome tours that Klook has to offer in Los Angeles. They have lots of different tour options in LA. My favorite tour in LA is the Hop on Hop off the bus. I love it because you can just ride and listen to a tour of the city. If you see something you like, you can get off and walk around, then get back on when you’re ready.

The Hollywood Sign with green grass and palm trees

Honestly, you can spend 7 days in LA and still not see everything you want, but take the time here that you need and so that you don’t miss anything that you’d like to see.


As you continue north on the Pacific Highway, the next stop has to be Malibu! Malibu has endless miles of stunning and swimmable beaches. Make sure to throw in your swimming suits so you can cool off in the ocean.

Although this isn’t the Sonoma Valley, Malibu does have some vineyards. Many Angelenos will come here on the weekends to escape the city. If you are traveling with kids. Maybe stop the Malibu Wine Safaris. This combines the experience of an upscale winery and zoo nature tour. See Giraffe’s, Zebras, and much more. Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that!

I would suggest stopping at El Matador State Beach. I love this beach because it has an awesome sea arch that makes for great pictures! It is known as Malibu’s best-kept secret. This beach also offers the perfect white sand that dreams are made of. The only downside of this beach is that the parking lot is small. Be prepared it does get crowded on the weekends and in the afternoon.

Spend the night in Santa Barbara

We’ve driven a lot of miles for one day and seen a lot of awesome things. It’s time to settle down for a night. Santa Barbara makes the perfect place to stop and rest for the night.

Day 3: Santa Barbara – San Luis Obispo – Hearst Castle

Where to stay in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has a lot of unique hotels to stay in while you’re passing through town. Santa Barbara is divided up into smaller neighborhoods, there are many great places to stay in each neighborhood. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • West Beach: Harbor View Inn, I love this one because it is right on the beach and just 5 minutes from the Wharf.
  • Upper East Side: Simpson House Inn. This luxurious inn will not disappoint. It is a beautiful luxury estate in the heart of Santa Barbara.
  • Montecito: The Montecito Inn is a classic hotel that you will love. This hotel was actually built by Charlie Chaplin and will give you a classic Californian experience.

For more information and other great hotels check out The Crazy Tourist’s list of the best hotels in Santa Barbara.

What to do in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is like most of the Pacific Coast Highway because it offers amazing beaches where you can easily spend the entire day relaxing and soaking up the sun. But if you’d like to see some sites, Santa Barbara has this to offer as well.

  • The number one thing to see is the Mission Santa Barbara. They are open every day and you can take a self-guided tour of the mission for free.
  • Ride bikes on the boardwalk along the beach. There are always vendors ready to rent a bike to you lined up along the beach.
  • Go to the top of the Santa Barbara Court House for amazing views.
  • Get your hands wet at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center. You really do get hands-on experience with the local sea life.
  • If you have time for a side trip, take a drive to Solvang. It is about a 45-minute drive from Santa Barbara. This Danish like home feels like you traveled to Denmark. You will love wandering the streets and taking pictures with the windmill.

Continue your California Road Trip Itinerary 7 days – Pacific Coast Highway

It’s time to hit the road again. Now that you’ve enjoyed beautiful Santa Barbara, it’s time to get back on the road. Find your way back to Highway 1 and head North. Drive along the coast and take in the views for a couple of hours until you get to San Luis Obispo. It is about 2 hours north of Santa Barbara.

San Luis Obispo

Another great place to stop is at San Luis Obispo. This town is right by Morro Bay. It is the perfect place to stop for lunch. Take a walk through bubble gum alley and leave your mark on the wall. If you are passing through on a weekend, make sure to check out the SLO farmers market for some local favorites.

Morro Bay

Morro Bay is an excellent stop along Highway 1. This place has awesome beaches and there is also a giant mound of ancient volcano ash standing in the middle of the ocean. This mound makes for awesome Instagram photos. Check out this great post by Practical Wanderlust all about Morro Bay.

Moonstone Beach

Just 30 minutes north of San Luis Obispo make sure to stop at Moonstone beach. This beach got its name because it is often covered in shiny gemstones. My kids love to stop at this beach and collect as many shiny gemstones as they can fit in their pockets.

Hearst Castle

Just an hour north of San Luis Obispo sits one the most spectacular castles in the United States, Hearst Castle. This 165-room estate was the former estate of William Randolph Hearst, a wealthy newspaper tycoon. There are few places in the United States that can capture the beauty of this place.

Ariel view of the Hearst Castle in California

The property, has its own theater, billiard room, beauty salon, and pair of dazzling swimming pools. The Neptune Pool, in particular, is something you would see on the Alfimi cost of Italy or French Meditraian. Let’s not forget the Italian relief sculptures that line the property.

This is a must stop for your instagram feed or to view and see a part of American history.

Day 4: Big Sur – Monterey Bay

About 2 hours north of San Luis Obispo, you will find one of the most magnificent sites in all of California. Big Sur is a stretch of beach on one side and the gorgeous mountains on the other side of you.

*Beware if you are prone to carsickness, this stretch of road will not be kind to you. The road winds through the mountains and around the coast. It is beautiful but make regular stops so you don’t get sick.

The best things to do in Big Sur

Big Sur is filled with amazing hikes and State Parks. Take your time in this area of your California Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip. We’ve given you almost a full day to explore this area or even take a full day. I would suggest planning a few hikes in this area. It’s a great way to stretch your legs and the sites are worth it.

My favorite hike in this area is the Limekiln Trails. I love these trails that go through the Redwoods. This is my favorite hike because I love all the shade that the giant trees give off. The kids love this hike too because they can jump around the mall river and in and out of the trees. There are a series of short trails in this area which also makes it perfect for kids.

Take a look at this post from Ragged Point for 10 of the best hikes in Big Sur.

Don’t forget to pack a few things for your hike. I love a great hiking backpack to throw in our snacks, my phone, and tissues. This is my favorite kind on Amazon. I prefer a small weight backpack when I’m hiking because I usually have a kid on my shoulders at too.

It’s always a good idea when you’re hiking and on a road trip to have a small first aid kit. I swear my kids are always falling and skinning a knee or an elbow. Or they just need a band-aid to feel better. So I throw this awesome little first aid kit in my backpack so I’m always prepared.

McWay Falls

Ocean cove with blue water surrounded by rocky cliffs. Mckay falls also has a waterfall going into the ocean.

Before you get to the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur you will not want to miss this waterfall. The waterfall is stunning, dropping some 80 feet onto a beach in a secluded cove. How many waterfalls have you seen that go right on to the beach? It is a short half-a-mile round trip hike to a viewpoint for McWay Falls, which can be reached directly from Highway 1 or from parking areas within Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park.

Bixby Creek Bridge – Big Sur

Bixby Creek Bridge is a white stone bridge crossing a small river into the ocean.

Bixby Creek Bridge is probably the most famous icon or site of Big Sur. Most visitors come just to capture a shot of the Bixby Bridge, but don’t skip all of Big Sur just to get here. Take your time as Bixby Bridge is on the North end of Big Sur.

Rocky Creek Bridge

Large bridge going over the rocky cliffs on the ocean.

Rocky Creek Bridge is an arch bridge on the Big Sur coast of California on the Pacific Coast Highway. Don’t mistake Rocky Creek Bridge for Bixby Creek Bridge. It is an attractive bridge in its own right and still worth the stop and to take a couple of photos. The views from Rocky Creek Bridge are better than Bixby Creek. The cliffs are steep so be careful if you are traveling with little kids and decide to hike around. Keep a close eye on them. In the spring the flowers drape down along the cliffs making it a beautiful backdrop.

Where to stay in Big Sur

There is so much to see and do in Big Sur, so let’s stop here and spend the night. Where are the best places to stay in Big Sur? If you are keen to camp, this is the perfect place to find a campground and pitch your tent. I also suggest staying here because it is less expensive than the San Francisco area which will be our next stops.

My favorite camping spot in Big Sur is the Treebones Resort. They have luxury yurts so you don’t have to pack all your camping gear. They also have an onsite organic garden, restaurant, and epic views of the Pacific Ocean! This place does not disappoint.

Take in the views and get your rest because we have a lot of amazing things to see tomorrow. We are going to continue north to the stunning Monterey California.

Best things to do in Monterey, California

Monterey is the perfect stop between Big Sur and before arriving in San Francisco. Once again the Pacific Coast Highway does not disappoint when it comes to beautiful beach towns. Maybe you have heard of Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is one of the best in the world, and that’s not just a tourist pitch. I have been to it multiple times as a kid and as an adult, it never disappoints!

First and foremost is the fact that the Bay itself is a geological and ecological phenom that boasts some of the most amazing species of aquatic life all gathered in a relatively small space. Additionally, the Bay has an extremely deep drop off that allows for deep-ocean exploration in a relatively safe environment.

The Aquarium sits at the end of Cannery Row in Monterey. Cannery Row is also another destination to visit in Monterey. Made famous by Author Jon Stienbeck, the streets are lined with sardine canneries that have now become known as Cannery Row. The row has changed over the years, but it is a great place to shop and to get some delicious fresh seafood.

There is so much to see and do in Monterey, you could book a tour for one day. This will help you maximize your time so that you can get the most out of your day in Monterey.

Other very notable stops around Monterey Bay to check out if you have the time:

  • The River Road Wine Trail – Salinas Valley
  • Pinnacles National Park – 1 Hour from Monterey
  • Moss Landing State Beach – Sea Otters come here in clusters
  • Carmel-by-the-sea
  • Pebble Beach – If you are a golfer it’s a must stop on this road trip.

Day 5: Best things to see in San Francisco

We’ve now completed 5 days of our California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days. We’ve been able to see so much along the Pacific Coast Highway. We have now arrived in the infamous San Francisco.

San Francisco is an incredible city that brings in people from all across the United States and from around the world together. In 2019 San Francisco saw 25.8 million visitors. And who wouldn’t want to stop here?

Now San Francisco is a big compact city. If you are not comfortable navigating a big city. I recommend taking a tour. This way you can see many of the wonderful sites without the hassle of traffic and crowds.

CAUTION: Parking in San Francisco can be difficult to find and it is expensive. Plan your parking in central locations so you can walk to many sites. This is another advantage of taking a tour, you can park in their lot and let them drive around the city.

Don’t forget a rain jacket when you go to San Francisco, you never know when it will rain! For me, I love this Columbia jacket on Amazon, it is super lightweight and easy to throw in my bag. They also make the same jacket for men here.

Also, San Francisco’s weather is unpredictable, it can be warm during the day and cold in the evening. Always carry a jacket with you. Dressing in layers is the best way to stay comfortable in San Francisco weather.

Best stops in San Francisco

  1. The Golden Gate Bridge: The iconic orange arches against the rocky seaside stretching over the San Francisco Bay. The bridge is not only beautiful but an American symbol. The bridge is beautiful but if you want to get a couple of great pictures, head to the Vista Point. It is high on the hill overlooking San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
  2. Golden Gate Park: This park is equivalent to Central Park in New York City. Have a picnic here or visit the Japanese Tea Garden. Maybe rent a bike or just walk along the trails and take in some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the city.
  3. Alcatraz: Sitting in the bay on a small rocky island, the former prison was well known for housing famous American Criminals. Between the ferry ride to the island with views of San Francisco and the up-close history with the prison make it a fun and educational attraction. If this is your first time to San Francisco, I would definitely recommend taking the time to go out to Alcatraz.
  4. Riding Cable Cars: The Cable Cars of San Francisco are the last of its kind in American history. Cable cars used to be all over big cities but as cars became more accessible cable cars began to disappear. I love to pick it up by Fisherman’s Warf. Get a ticket and hop on and off as you climb over the hills of San Francisco.

Point Bonita Lighthouse

Located in Golden Gate National Recreation Area and not far from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, heading north on Highway 1, Point Bonita Lighthouse sits. Only the 3rd lighthouse built in California in 1855 and still used today.

This is a Californian secret place in the Bay Area. To the lighthouse, it is a short walk from the parking lot, but the views are breathtaking of the Pacific Ocean and of the city. You might even catch a glimpse of some passing sea life, like a humpback whale or sea lions.

Point Bonita Lighthouse walk is lots of fun. You can only reach it on a path the passes through a rock-cut tunnel and then you pass over a suspension bridge. Just the walk alone is worth a stop.

The whitewashed bridge and white lighthouse make for Instagram worthy pictures. The lighthouse has limited hours to visit inside but you are free to walk around the grounds. Make sure to check the hours before you visit Point Bonita Lighthouse you can find the hours here on the Golden Gate National Parks website.

Where to stay in or around San Francisco?

Just about 30 minutes north on Highway 1 you will get your first taste of the Redwoods. Here you will find Muir Woods National Monument. There are not any camping locations in Muir Woods National Monument but there are many options around in the Redwood Forest. A couple of places to camp in the redwoods would be; Pantoll Campground & Alice Eastwood Camping.

We will be getting to the Redwood Forest in the next day. If you want to stay closer to the city you will want to check out Rob Hill Campground. Perche above Baker Beach and at Presidio’s highest point this is one of only two campgrounds in San Francisco.

Day 6: San Francisco to Fort Bragg Glass Beach

Driving north from San Francisco and Muir Woods on Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. From here the roads become a little windier and might take a little longer between destinations, but that doesn’t mean that the drive is any less beautiful. Actually I never get tired of the coast and the mix of redwoods. We are now on day 6 of our California road trip itinerary for 7 days.

Hog Island Oysters

Red plate with oysters on ice and lemons on it

I’m not a huge fan of Oysters, but even I had to try them and so should you. As you head to the town of Marshall, along the Tomales Bay, you will find one of the best oyster-eating experiences anywhere.

Many people say that they haven’t had real oysters until they’ve had Hog Island oysters. Look for the Hog Island Oyster Company. This is the best place where you can sit out on the deck with your fresh oyster.

Sonoma Coast Vineyard & Salt Water Taffy

If you are looking for Sonoma wine adventure you don’t have to travel off the Pacific Coast Highway. Sonoma County stretches across highway 1 to the Pacific coast.

About 10-20 minutes up the coast from Hog Island you will find a wonderful small bay, Bodega Bay. It has wonderful views of the bay and the pacific coast, but it also has your first chance to experience Sonoma Wine.

Along highway 1 you will find Sonoma Coast Vineyards. Stop by and sample some of the fine wines in their tasting room. Check the website for more wine tasting experiences. Indulge in some amazing wines as you sit back and relax in Sonoma.

If you are road tripping with kids you might want to make a stop at Patrick’s Salt Water Taffy shop. The brightly painted pink stripes stand out in the coastal city. The taffy is delicious and the prices are low for candy.

Jenner California

There are not a lot of large towns in this part of California and the Pacific Coast Highway, but Jenner is one of the larger towns that is worth a stop along the Pacific Coast Highway. This is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner.

Jenner has plenty to see and do on its own. If you’ve packed your kayak and haven’t had a chance to use it along the coast, you can pull it out here and play along the Russian River. The water is calm here at the mouth of the Russian River. Here is the inflatable kayak that we pack along with us. We picked it up on Amazon. It is easy to pack, fast to inflate, and makes for great adventures along the way.

Pygmy Forest & Point Arean Lighthouse

Pygmy Forest in northern california Pacific coast highway road trip to see the mendocino cypress trees

This is a great fun place to stretch your legs and take a little hike. This is a unique forest along the coast. The forest is created through something known as an ecological staircase.

From the top, you find the Redwoods and as you come down the ecological staircase towards the coast the formations are newer. Here is where you will find this Pygmy forest. The trees in this area are smaller than normal, almost like someone shrunk them.

Point Arean Lighthouse

Point Arean Lighthouse
Point Arean Lighthouse

If you are like me, I love to see lighthouses. No matter their size or location. I think they are such a unique sight and usually, they have the best views of the ocean.

For a small fee, you can climb up this lighthouse. You have to travel down a 2-mile dirt road but it’s not bad. This 115 Foot Tall Lighthouse is historic built-in 1870.

Glass Beach – MacKerricher State Park

Yes, the beach is full of glass. An interesting fact about this beach is that it was once a trash dump many years ago. In 1967 city leaders closed the area for clean up, but the glass and pottery are all that remain of the old dumping grounds.

The glass bottles have now become smooth colorful pebbles on the beach. The beach is truly one to witness. Unfortunately, it is illegal to take any glass from the Glass Beach, but visit some of the other nearby beaches if you want to discover washed up sea glass.

Once you get to the beach you will see small pieces of glass that are strewn all over the sand. People have take most of the blues, greens, and other colored glass, so most of what is left is clear or white. Besides the beautiful glass beach, there are awesome tide pools that have sea anemones, crabs, and starfish, mixed with sea glass that is still being washed up.

Pudding Creek Beach & Wooden Train Trestle

Pudding Creek Beach & Wooden Train Trestle close to the Glass beach in northern California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days

After spending time exploring Glass Beach, you will venture up the coast a couple of minutes to Pudding Creek Beach. There are many multi-use trails that lead down to the beach. The beach has a wonderful view of an old wooden train trestle arching the creek entering the ocean.

You can explore outcropping and other tidal pools. At low tide, you will find treasure. As the sea retreats back it makes for views of crabs, mollusks, anemones, mixed with beautiful pieces of smooth glass.

Day 7: Humboldt Redwood Forest & State Park

We’ve made it! Our last day of our California road trip itinerary 7 days. We’ve seen so much along the way and I am super excited about this last place. We’ve been through some of the biggest and most populous cities in America, and now it’s time to stretch our legs and get some fresh air.

From Fort Bragg and Glass beach, you will drive north on Highway 1 for about 2 hours before reaching Humboldt Redwood Forest. If you are still a kid a heart you will want to say that you have driven through a redwood tree. Lucky for you these redwood trees are large enough to drive through.

Drive through a redwood tree – Chandelier Tree

Chandelier Tree, one of the tallest and most beautiful redwood trees that you can drive through

Chandelier drive-thru tree stands 276 feet tall (84m). With a width of over 6 feet wide. The tree gets its name from the unique limbs that resemble a chandelier. The limbs of the tree begin at 100 feet above the ground. The branches drape down like giant arms. There is a gift shop, day-use picnic area, duck pond, and 200-acre park deer, ducks, and other wildlife and plenty of redwood forest trails to explore.

The redwood tree is believed to have been carved through in the early 1930s by Charlie Underwood. Tree carving is now prohibited but in the late 1800s and early 1900s, this became fairly common throughout the redwoods and sequoias, as carving severely damages the trees. So take advantage of this rare and unique experience.

Tip: try to avoid visiting Chandelier Tree on the weekends as it can get busy from people getting out of the city. It could take an hour or two extra to drive thru the redwood tree.

If you’d like to continue your road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway, we have the perfect Northern Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip for you. Continue on this once in a lifetime road trip!

Wrap Up On Pacific Coast Highway – California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days

Wow-what a road trip! This is by far some of my favorite places in the world. I love the California coast, there is nothing like it in the whole world. I hope you enjoyed your Pacific Coast Highway California Road Trip. If you want to continue this road trip, you can check out our Northern Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip. This takes you from Northern California all the way to Seattle. Driving along the Oregon and Washington coast.

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California Road Trip Itinerary 7 Days Pinterest Pin


July 7, 2020 at 12:55 am

This would be a dream trip for me! I’m spending a few days out in California this fall and I hope to visit a couple of these places.

July 7, 2020 at 11:14 am

Reading this was so exciting, it’s my dream to do a road trip of the East Coast! Great to know that you can do it on a budget, and lovely photos. Hopefully one day! x

July 7, 2020 at 1:01 pm

This is such a great idea for a California road trip! I’ve been wanting to venture out there for a while now, but still have never been. This post inspired me to get back to planning that trip! 🙂


July 8, 2020 at 9:13 pm

Amazing, love Cali!!

-The Blogging Zoomer

July 12, 2020 at 3:35 am

This is the perfect road trip along the California coast. I’ve been to many of those locations but not on a road trip. Looks fabulous!

January 28, 2021 at 11:31 am

Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.

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