A Road Trip Along California's Rugged Coastline

Sep 29, 2016

The towns of coastal California are great escapes. Far from the gridlocked expressways of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, they provide relaxing time without the crowds.

But knkx travel expert Matthew Brumley says for him, this trip is all about being behind the wheel of a car.

“It is one of the great drives on the planet,” he said, from a stop in San Luis Obispo. “Today when I was driving, I could see surfers just bobbing out in the waves, and I was longingly looking at them.”

Not Expensive, Unless You Want That

Brumley learned in college that you can do this on the cheap. He made this trip, several times, on a motorcycle.

“My goal was to drive, at 20 years old, in one stretch, from Seattle to Los Angeles, because I didn’t have money for a hotel,” he said. “I would not advise that.”

Nowadays, you can save some bucks and get some rest. Brumley recommends looking at Airbnb options along your route. Hotels and inns can also be much more affordable here than in the population centers of San Diego, L.A., and San Francisco. Flights to and from the area are generally pretty good, too. Brumley spent about $120 each way.

That said, if you want to go all out, with fancy boutique hotels and elegant meals, no one will stop you. And you’ll have plenty of choices here.

Matthew’s Itinerary:

Fly to San Diego, then take I-5 to Los Angeles. Spend as much time as you want there, then head out on U.S. 101 (the Ventura Freeway) toward Santa Barbara. Continue on 101 to San Luis Obispo. You’ll hop on State Route 1, and go up the coast next to San Simeon (look for the Hearst castle here), and then continue through Big Sur to Carmel-by-the-Sea, and finally to Half Moon Bay before heading to San Francisco.

Fly home from there. Or just keep heading north, if you have the time and you’re having fun.

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"Going Places" is our weekly exploration of travel topics on knkx. Matthew Brumley is the co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions on Bainbridge Island. The firm provides small group travel to clients including knkx.