Top 10 Stops on the California Pacific Coast Highway

A few weeks back, my sister Stacy and I took a fun vacation
to California to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway.
The reason I chose this particular location with my sister is because of her bucket list.
As long as I have known Stacy she has been in love with three things:
Pandas, the ocean and the moon.

Since she currently lives in New Mexico, she was only getting to see one out of three!
 I thought she had waited long enough and it was time to make that list a reality!
So I told her to pack her bags and I was treating her to a trip to California.
Pandas, oceans and the moon; all included. 🙂

There was so much to see and do in California it was really hard to limit
this list to only 10 stops!

We started our journey by flying into San Diego.
We decided to spend one day here to visit the first must-see stop of the trip.
 One of the reasons we had to see this particular zoo was for this…

 The mama and baby Panda were so awesome! Well worth the visit.
The zoo also features a Skyfari aerial tram that takes you 
over the treetops to the other end of the zoo. That was super fun too!
On our way out, I posed for a friendly bear hug. 🙂

We spent the night at the Solamar Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego.
 I highly recommend you visit for a great, clean place to unwind after sightseeing.

I loved their bathrooms with the lights behind the mirrors…so cool!
 (I know…I’m a dork. Maybe I need to get out more! lol!)

And they even have a 4th floor pool lounge area. 
We actually sat here and watched the sunset on our first beautiful day of vacation.

 Between those cool bathrooms and this pool area, 
this hotel quickly became one of my favorite hotels on the trip. 🙂

The next morning we got up and headed down the Pacific Highway to a gorgeous must see.
2) La Jolla Shores Beach

Known as the “The Jewel” of San Diego, La Jolla has AMAZING homes,
some incredible beaches and 300 feet sea cliffs!


The sounds of the ocean waves here were so peaceful, we didn’t want to leave.
Just listen…. 

We found a bench and just enjoyed the moment.
But then it was time to move on down the road and find our hotel for the night.
We made it to Newport Beach and found a place to rest our heads at the Fairmont Hotel.

A lovely hotel that was super nice and gave us a room on the 10th floor with great views!
Their room service menu is not bad either! (wink, wink)

The next morning we ventured down the road to my number three must see stop. 

3) Balboa Island 
Such a cute little island filled with fabulous homes, restaurants and little shops. 
We discovered a cute diner at the end of a pier called Rubys.

We enjoyed a good breakfast while listening to the local sea gulls.
Can’t do that everyday in Colorado! 😉

After breakfast we went down to ocean shore and dipped our toes in the water.

Love, LOVE that feeling of the water carrying the sand away from underneath your feet.
I could stand there all day doing just that! 


Behind me is the pier with the diner where we had breakfast.
After some ocean splashing time, we got back in the car and headed towards Malibu.
 Lots of super awesome houses in Malibu, unfortunately none of them are mine. lol.

Once we reached Malibu we left Highway 1 to take a little jig through
the mountains to West Lake Village. 
The reason we took a venture off course was to meet a wonderful lady named Ruthie.
She blogs at Ruthie’s Gift and over the years has been a 
faithful follower and encourager of my sister’s blog.
Ruthie has been courageously fighting cancer and we didn’t know
if she would be feeling well enough to meet.
But once we arrived we were able to enjoy a lovely time together. 

Since we have returned home from California, my sister told me
that Ruthie has been having a hard time.
If you wouldn’t mind, could you please say a prayer for her.
It was such a blessing to meet her and I know my sister will be forever
touched by her friendship. 🙂

After we left Ruthie’s home, we ventured down the road to Oxnard.
We stayed at hotel on the bay of Mandalay Beach.

Which leads to number four on the must see list.

4) Mandalay Beach at Sunrise

The little blue arrow above is pointing at the fast fading moon. 
This was another big item on Stacy’s bucket list….to see the moon fade into the ocean.
It was cold and early (we are talking like 6 am, remember on vacation!).
But I think it was worth it…check it for yourself…

Great way to start the day. All I needed to make it perfect was a Starbucks! 🙂
A really neat thing about this beach is that it’s purposly kept in it’s most natural state.
It’s kinda like you can experience the beach as it would have been hundreds of years ago. 
  After we could see the moon no longer, we hopped into the car and drove 
on down the road until we reached my fifth must see stop.

5) Santa Barbara
I loved this city. I already told my husband we might move here! 😉
We drove through the cute downtown and then ended up at the Old Mission.

Built in 1876, it’s such a beautiful place to visit. With it’s enormous size, it’s hard to take it all in! 

I know I have only shared five of my favorite spots,
but if I don’t stop here this post is going to be the longest post ever.
 So you can go HERE to read the remaining 6-10 must see spots!

Have you been to any of the spots I mentioned above? 
What’s your favorite spot on the Pacific Highway?

Linking Up At:
Between Naps on the Porch



  1. I live in Los Angeles and have also lived in San Diego. I went to school in La Jolla so I love it there. These are some great picks. It’s amazing how many beautiful beaches there are here. Found you on the #SmallVictories Linkup

  2. Awesome trip. I’ve always wanted to take a road trip through Napa Valley. Thanks for sharing on the Small Victories Sunday linkup.

  3. It looks like a great vacation! Good for you! Thanks for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things!

  4. What a fun trip! I love California and the only drawback to my MIL moving to Florida to be near us is that we can’t go there to visit her in CA now! Thanks so much for linking up with #ShareTheWealthSunday!


  5. Thanks for sharing these destinations at the #HomeMattersParty. We hope to see you again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *