8 days in California's Central Coast Itinerary

8 days in California's Central Coast Itinerary

Created using Inspirock California's Central Coast trip builder

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Route & dates

8 days in California's Central Coast Itinerary

Start: San Francisco
Drive:  1​h 30​min
1
Santa Cruz
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
2
Cambria
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 30​min
3
Santa Barbara
— 3 nights
Fly:  4​h 30​min
End: San Francisco

2
nights
Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz ©
Santa Cruz remains synonymous with surfing, but this counterculture bastion offers plenty even if you don't plan to catch any waves.
Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Santa Cruz: Monterey (Monterey's Tasty Olive Bar, Monterey Bay Aquarium, & more), Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard (in Pacific Grove) and Carmel (Point Lobos & Fairy Tale Cottages of Hugh Comstock). There's more to do: walk around Garland Ranch Regional Park.

For more things to do, other places to visit, ratings, and tourist information, you can read our Santa Cruz planning tool .

San Francisco to Santa Cruz is an approximately 1.5-hour car ride. You can also take a bus; or do a combination of train and bus. Traveling from San Francisco in April, expect a bit cooler with lows of 46°F in Santa Cruz. Finish your sightseeing early on the 27th (Mon) so you can drive to Cambria.

Things to do in Santa Cruz

Parks Outdoors Zoos & Aquariums

Side Trips

Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard, Garland Ranch Regional Park
Highlights from your plan
Monterey Bay Aquarium ©
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos
Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard ©
Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard

2
nights
Cambria

Cambria ©
Cambria is a seaside village in San Luis Obispo County, California, United States midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles along California State Route 1 (Highway 1). Kick off your visit on the 28th (Tue): trek along Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, kick back and relax at Moonstone Beach, and then explore and take pictures at Moonstone Beach Dr. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 29th (Wed): identify plant and animal life at Elephant Seal Rookery, step into the grandiose world of Hearst Castle, then take in the exciting artwork at Fiona Bleu Gallery, and finally take in nature's colorful creations at Cambria Nursery & Florist.

For photos, reviews, and other tourist information, go to the Cambria trip planner .

Traveling by car from Santa Cruz to Cambria takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and train; or take a bus. While traveling from Santa Cruz, expect a bit warmer days and about the same nights in Cambria, ranging from highs of 78°F to lows of 43°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 29th (Wed) so you can go by car to Santa Barbara.

Things to do in Cambria

Parks Outdoors Historic Sites

Side Trips

San Simeon, Fiona Bleu Gallery
Highlights from your plan
Moonstone Beach ©
Moonstone Beach
Hearst Castle ©
Hearst Castle
Friends of the Elephant Seal ©
Friends of the Elephant Seal

3
nights
Santa Barbara

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara is a solid vacation destination with its wide beaches, renowned wineries, and some of California's finest shopping and dining options.
On the 30th (Thu), contemplate the long history of Old Mission Santa Barbara and then indulge your senses at some of the top wineries in the area. On the 1st (Fri), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: get to know the resident critters at Santa Barbara Zoo, take in the waterfront at Stearns Wharf, then take in panoramic vistas at Santa Barbara County Courthouse, then appreciate the extensive heritage of State Street Underpass, and finally look for all kinds of wild species at Douglas Family Preserve.

Plan trip to Santa Barbara with our itinerary maker to find out where to go and what to do.

Getting from Cambria to Santa Barbara by car takes about 2.5 hours. Other options: take a bus; or take a train. When traveling from Cambria in April, plan for a bit cooler days in Santa Barbara, with highs around 71°F, while nights are a bit warmer with lows around 50°F. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 2nd (Sat) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Santa Barbara

Tours Parks Zoos & Aquariums
Highlights from your plan
Wine Tours & Tastings
Old Mission Santa Barbara ©
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Zoo ©
Santa Barbara Zoo

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