RVing

5 Reasons to Road Trip on the California Coast

California Coast at Dawn

The California Coast holds so many magnificent sights, sounds, and places to stop in and relax. The road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles is one of the more popular trips for California visitors and the Big Sur coastline is arguably one of the most beautiful areas in the entire state.

California is the third-largest state in the U.S. (at nearly 156,000 square miles). Despite the fact that it’s also the most populated state in the country, there are many locations to explore without worrying too much about the crowds. If you’re considering a road trip in the near future, here are five compelling reasons to road trip on the California coast.

California Sunshine

Sunset on Big Sur Coastline
Image by Hariesh Rajagopal via Unsplash

California is well known for sunny beach days. While some places are regularly beset by a regular phenomenon known as the marine layer, most of California receives an average of more than 250 days of sunshine annually.

When a thick cloud layer does roll in from the ocean, the coast is set in a new, diffused light. With an extra layer, you’ll still be comfortable, and it can actually make for some incredible photography opportunities.

If you live in an area where you deal with regular rain and consistent days without the sun poking through the cloud cover, the California coast can almost always provide a respite from those dreary, sunless days.

Getting out on the road and soaking in the sunshine is a good enough reason in itself to get out and road trip on the California coast.

Amazing Surfing Opportunities

Surfer in the Pocket
Image by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

California’s worldwide reputation is largely built around our state’s surf culture. While there’s everything from ocean to high alpine mountains in the state of California, many visitors come from all over the world to surf some of California’s best breaks.

The California coast offers surfing from north to south, although the conditions will vary greatly from the state’s northernmost beaches to the popular spots in Southern California.

A road trip on the California coast will allow you to access many of the state’s best surf spots. Although you can surf year-round all along the California coast, the best season tends to fall between the months of March and May. For these three spring months, you’ll fight smaller crowds in order to ride more, high-quality waves.

Seaside Villages

Marina with Skyscrapers
Image by Ameer Basheer via Unsplash

From Crescent City to San Diego, there are a great number of seaside locations along the California coast to explore. They range from small to large, but each is unique in its own right.

When planning your road trip on the California coast, you might start by researching the ten most adorable coastal California towns to stop through on your vacation.

In addition to this list, some under-rated (and much less visited) towns on the California coast include Cayucos (just north of Morro Bay), Carpinteria (home to the world’s safest beach), Imperial Beach (the southernmost beach on the entire West coast), Capitola (the oldest seaside village in California), and Fort Bragg (where trash becomes treasure!).

Breathtaking Sand Dunes

Woman Standing on Sand Dunes
Image by Joshua Sortino via Unsplash

Whether you want to feel like you’re trudging through a vast desert, try your hand at sandboarding, or get your kicks on a motorized bike or ATV, the California coast has several amazing sand dune areas to check out along your road trip.

The California coast offers both recreational sand dune areas (the kind where you’ll find more ATVs and fewer plants and animals) and dune areas that are in the national wildlife refuge system (where motorized vehicles are not allowed and you’ll find a greater diversity of plants and animals).

Oceano Dunes is one of the best-known recreational dune areas along the California coast. It’s a popular destination where you can rent ATVs or dune buggies to explore more than five miles of long, sandy beach. If you’re looking for quieter, more protected dune areas to explore along your road trip, check out destinations like Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, Eel River Wildlife Area, and Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge.

Fantastic Campground Accommodations

RVs on Beach
Image by Joe Schlabotnik via Flickr

One of the best aspects of a road trip on the California coast is that there’s no shortage of campgrounds to choose from.

Whether you prefer state parks, private RV resorts, or public beach areas that allow camping, you’ll have a plethora of options as you meander your way along the beautiful coastline. More popular state beaches that provide full hookups include Carpinteria State Beach, Brannan Island State Recreation Area, and Dockweiler State Beach.

If you’re looking for private resorts with a discount for Good Sam members, there are still plenty of options along the California coast.

Some of the highest-rated RV resorts near the California coast include Mad River Rapids RV Park(Arcata), Chula Vista RV Resort(Chula Vista), Pomo RV Park & Campground(Fort Bragg), Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina(Newport Beach), and Pismo Sands RV Park(Oceano).

Road Trip The California Coast!

Palm Trees at Sunset
Image by Matthew Hamilton via Unsplash

These are just a few of the reasons why Local Adventurer ranked the California coast as the #1 trip on their list of the Best American Road Trips to Put on Your Bucket List. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway, which stretches along the coast for 123 miles in the center of the state, is a breathtaking experience in and of itself.

You’ll see waterfalls pouring out of the cliffs into the ocean, cross bridges that hang over deep chasms carved by centuries of river action, and gaze out into the seemingly endless vastness of the great Pacific Ocean.

If you’re looking for an adventure, a road trip on the California coast checks all of the boxes.


Have you visited California’s coast? What were your favorite parts? Leave a comment below!

5 reasons to road trip on the california coast

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