Best of the California Pacific Coast Highway

I’ve lived in California since September 2012 and have been up and down the coast from San Diego to the California/Oregon border tasting some of the best wine, beer and craft cocktails the state has to offer. Some of my favorites:

Southern California Scene

This list starts in San Diego and ends in the North Coast. While in San Diego, I’d recommend checking out San Diego’s craft breweries.

Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station outdoor area (San Diego, CA)

Stone Brewing in San Diego makes some of the best beer in California and their patio/outdoor space is also incredible. Check out the San Diego Brewers Guild for more San Diego craft beer spots.

Delicious craft cocktails / The Good Lion (Santa Barbara, CA)

Things to see in Los Angeles include the Hollywood Sign hike, Downtown LA and the Venice Beach and Santa Monica boardwalk, among a variety of other spots. Take Pacific Coast Highway out of LA and head up to Santa Barbara to explore a cute coastal downtown.

The Good Lion on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara is a fantastic craft cocktail bar. My fiancé said they served him the best old fashioned he’s ever had! I love Santa Barbara. It’s a beautiful coastal college town — what more do you need? The nearby Funk Zone has lots of wine and beer tasting and downtown is full of tasty restaurants.

Central Coast Cruisin’

Beautiful Edna Valley vineyards / Kynsi Winery (Arroyo Grande, CA)

Head north from Santa Barbara to the Central Coast wine regions near San Luis Obispo. Kynsi Winery is one of my favorite places. I was there on a chilly, foggy rainy day right before Christmas and was greeted by the most pleasant staff. The let us sample a variety of wine and I loved everything I tried, which is rarely (if ever!) the case for me. If I had to pick favorites, they’d be the smooth 2012 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir and the delicious, well-balanced Nocturnum red blend.

Beautiful Big Sur, CA

Big Sur is an absolutely gorgeous spot between LA and San Francisco. It’s some of the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever seen, and the fact that cell phone signal is basically nonexistent makes it such a serene getaway.

Breathtaking Pebble Beach

Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach, and especially the 17-mile Drive are must-see spots along the coast of California. The Monterey Peninsula is amazing: downtown Carmel is adorable—check out art galleries and wineries, head to the Carmel Valley for more wine tasting, walk Pebble Beach (it’s a public course), relax on the white sand beaches in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and check out the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Sunsets on the patio / Half Moon Bay Brewing Company (Half Moon Bay, CA)

I love hiking, and Half Moon Bay has beautiful coastal hikes. Park at one of the public beaches and walk along the trail above the beach or climb down to the sand. The Ritz-Carlton is a few miles away and is a fun place to get a fancy drink or lunch (and I’m sure it’s great to stay and golf and play all weekend, too!). My friends and I usually reward ourselves after a coastal or coastal redwoods hike with some flights and garlic fries at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.

North Coast Adventure

Skipping the rest of the Bay Area altogether (that’s a separate post!), head north past coastal Sonoma County to Mendocino County. I took a solo weekend getaway there in late 2014 and it was just the kind of remote relaxation I needed.

Fort Bragg, CA (via onia.com)

Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach is a unique stop while heading north on the PCH. Sea glass covers the beach—a result of years of garbage dumping near the coastline. It’s one of the most interesting beaches I’ve seen.

The view at Pacific Star Winery (via Pacific Star Winery’s Facebook Page)

While you’re in Fort Bragg heading north through Mendocino County, Pacific Star Winery is a fun place to stop, sip wine and enjoy the view.

The Avenue of the Giants x my Fiat 500, Bella

Lost Coast Brewery is in the coastal town of Eureka, way up north in Humboldt County. Stop there during your drive through the Redwoods. The Avenue of the Giants is one of the most scenic and gorgeous drives I’ve done in California.


What are some of your favorite spots on the Pacific Coast Highway? I’m planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest as well as other non-coastal spots on my West Coast Bucket List: Mount Shasta, Yosemite and Joshua Tree.

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