Malibu to San Luis Obispo: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip Guide

After your day driving along the beach yesterday, this drive will only be along the beach for the first half before it heads back inland. This is another full day so I would recommend picking the things you really want to stop at so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. This stretch of California coast has a lot of famous cities, beautiful views and great places to eat. Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment with your favorite stop.

Petes Breakfast House – Pancake Roll (45 minutes)

Petes Breakfast House 4

After getting on the road from Oxnard or Leo Carrillo I would recommend stopping at Pete’s Breakfast House for breakfast. It was featured on Diners Drive Ins and Dives and for good reason as the pancake roll is ridiculously good. Be warned, this diner can get busy on the weekend though.

Serra Cross (15 minutes)

Serra Cross 9

After breakfast at Pete’s, head up to the famous old Serra Cross at the top of Ventura. This spot provides a beautiful vista of Ventura and the coastline, so it is a great way to get a panoramic shot before heading on. Read about Serra Cross here

McConnels Ice Cream and State St

McConnells Ice Cream 5

After a beautiful hour drive along the coast past Carpenteria, you will arrive in Santa Barbara. This is a great place to just walk around on State St and shop, see a mission or visit McConnel’s Ice Cream. McConnel’s is one of my favorite places to stop as the ice cream here is amazing. I recommend the chocolate con churros but everything I have had is good. Read more about McConnels here.

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company 12

If you are ready for lunch then head down to the end of the pier (which is fun to eat at anyway) and stop at Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. Often the pier restaurants in California can be not that great since the location is so good, but this spot redeems the others. Everything here is fantastic but I recommend the Cioppino. I have told many people about this and never had anyone tell me I lead them astray. Read more about it here.

Gavota Wind Caves

Gaviota Wind Caves 7

Right where the beach meets the mountains, the wind caves of Gavota can be a great stop if you are looking for some hiking. The hiking here is pretty much uphill the entire way and I would not recommend it when it is hot, but other times of the year it is a great way to see wind caves and a beautiful visita of the coastline. Read more about the Gavota Wind Caves here.

Restoration Oaks Blueberry Picking

Pick Blueberries on Highway 1 6

As you head inland consider stopping at Restoration Oaks and picking yourself some blueberries for the drive. This place is only open half the year but it is a lot of fun for the whole family and the blueberries are great as well. You pay by the weight so you can fill the pale as full as you would like. Read more about it here.

Murals of Lompoc

lompoc murals 14

From here the drive is sparse and there is not a lot to see until you reach the town of Lompoc. Lompoc has a mission, wine area and a series of murals. I like the murals in downtown and you can easily walk around and see them all without much effort. They are beautifully created each year and each one has a unique look. It is a great way to stretch your legs and see some history. Read more about the murals here.

Lompoc Ghetto

Lompoc-Ghetto

The main stop in Lompoc is a place called the Wine Ghetto. It is a collection of over 50 wineries that rent these commercial buildings behind a Home Depot and share their wines with anyone that is interested. You can walk between all of them and try a lot of new wines while learning about the wineries themselves.

Luffa Farm

Loofa Farm11

While not really on Highway 1, a short detour will take you to a farm that grows its own Luffas. Yes, those things that you shower with are grown on plants. They provide tours of the luffa farm and it is a fun and unique stop. Be sure to check their hours though as they are not open all the time. Read more about the Luffa Farm here.

Splash Cafe and Pismo Beach

Splash Cafe Pismo Beach

By this time you are probably hungry for dinner and I recommend heading to downtown Pismo Beach and grabbing a bowl of clam chowder at the famous Splash Cafe. It is my favorite clam chowder in all of California and the downtown area is a fun place to walk around. You can also head out on the pier and enjoy the sunset as well. Read more about Splash Cafe here.

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn 14

If you are looking for a hotel recommendation I would say to check out the Madonna Inn. It is a pricey option but this is my recommendation for a splurge on the drive as it has hundreds of different rooms all decorated super unique and is a lot of fun to explore the eclectic hotel. Read more about Madonna Inn here.

Now you have officially finished your second day on PCH can you believe it? It is a crazy road and tomorrow’s drive thru Big Sur may be the most beautiful stretch of road you have ever seen. Be sure to leave your favorite spot in the comments and let me know what I left off.

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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • Rufus T. Firefly

    Hi Josh,

    A really outstanding blog and one that I’m glad I stumbled on while planning our trip along the California coastline. The pictures, descriptions and insights are invaluable and I got lost for hours picking through what we would be able to see and planning the stops accordingly. We’ll see how it goes!

    I do have a question that I wasn’t able to discern from your descriptions and am posting it here because it has to do specifically with this area: After passing Gaviota, it looks like CA1 and 101 diverge at Las Cruces (appropriately named) and meet up again around Pismo Beach. Since visiting/sightseeing time is critical, would you suggest taking 101 for a faster trip to the coastline at Pismo Beach or do you think it worthwhile to continue with CA1 (through a path that seems to take it away from the coast) until reaching Pismo Beach?

    Again, thanks for taking the effort to create this site and making everyone’s life a lot easier!

    Paul

    • Thanks for the comment and glad you like the site! I would probably recommend taking the 101 to Pismo Beach (maybe even stopping in Solvang). This section of the 1 is nice but there isn’t a lot to do and if time is of the essence then it would be fine to skip. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Betsy Johnson

    This is amazing! Thank you for doing the work for me…I am looking forward to following your recommendations this weekend with my family (two teenagers included…YIKES) I will come back and let you know how it went!

    • Thanks for the comment, let me know how it goes!