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From Coastal Beauty to Glitz and Glamour on a Californian Self Drive

Big Sur Coastline and Pacific Coast Highway Northern California
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San Francisco USA shutterstock_56972284

From Coastal Beauty to Glitz and Glamour on a Californian Self Drive

story by: Mike Williams

Unlike in New York, in Los Angeles, everyone drives. However, while some might feel that dealing with L.A.’s infamous traffic jams might form part of the quintessential L.A. travel experience, it’s actually the stunning self-drive opportunities in the surrounding region that make hiring a car a must when visiting the area. It’s the perfect place to begin or end a road trip due to the gorgeous scenery in between L.A. and other must-see West Coast cities. 

The picturesque coastal drive between Los Angeles and San Francisco is an attraction in itself. By adding a few days after San Francisco and driving onto Seattle, you could also visit Mt. Rainier National Park, Mt. St.Helens, the Oregon Dunes and Redwood National Park.

Cars travelling southbound, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, will be on the ocean side of the highway and enjoy a more unobstructed view of the coast and ocean. To make the most of the San Francisco to L.A. experience, consider spreading it across four or five days to truly soak up the stretches of golden sand and rolling green hills on the way to Hollywood glitz and glamour. This gives the opportunity to break up the journey with visits to Carmel Mission, Hearst Castle and Solvang.

The first leg, between San Francisco and Carmel, is 202 kilometres and takes in the 17-Mile Drive along the Peninsula Coast from Pacific Grove to Carmel and showcases magnificent seaside scenery. Day two boasts arguably the most scenic drive, as it takes in the California coast through the Big Sur peninsula to San Simeon. However, with 394 kilometres of driving, you’ll be looking forward to stretching your legs by walking the trails near Pfeiffer State Beach.

On the third day, be sure to spend some time exploring the quaint village of Solvang, with its bakeries, specialty shops and surrounding local wineries, before finishing the day in Santa Barbara after 237 kilometres of driving. Finally, on day number four, a leisurely 159-kilometre drive will see you take in the sights of Malibu before finally parking up in L.A., ready to mix it up with the rich and famous in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Sunset Strip and Beverly Hills.

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