Stephanie Starr/Alamy

Our epic journey reaches the end of the road in a final stretch from Laguna Beach to San Diego. This leg is all about exploring breathtaking coves, catching up with whales in Dana Point, taking in the vibrant fun of Del Mar, and, finally, setting the parking brake and getting to know the rich and varied neighborhoods of San Diego. It's been a great ride; let's head north tomorrow and start all over.

By Tracey Minkin

See all the segments of our West Coast road trip:
Leg one: Seattle to Cannon Beach
Leg two: Cannon Beach to Gold Beach, Oregon
Leg three: Gold Beach, Oregon, to Mendocino, California
Leg four: Mendocino to San Francisco, California
Leg five: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo, California
Leg six: San Luis Obispo to Santa Monica, California
Leg seven: Santa Monica to Laguna Beach, California

Mile 0 | Laguna Beach: Beach Walk

Nothing is more beautiful than Laguna Beach in the off season, so take advantage and take a 1.3-mile walk from Main Beach south along tawny sands to Pearl Street Beach and its Insta-spiring rock arch. Detour up the public stairs to check out the shops and restaurants on Pacific Coast Highway.

Courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach/Jackie Caradonio

Mile 2.5 | Laguna Beach: Stay and Play

Linger longer with a sumptuous overnight at Montage Laguna Beach. Not done beach walking? Stroll to Treasure Island Beach. Ready to cozy in? There are California-influenced French plates (and a 2,500-bottle wine collection) at Studio, the Montage's blufftop restaurant.

RELATED: California's Best Seafood Dives

Courtesy of Mike Johnson/DolphinSafari.com

Mile 8 | Dana Point: Whales + More

Many whale species make Dana Point's offshore waters part of their migration. Pay a visit via Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari. (The Manute'a catamaran has two underwater viewing pods.) Look for fin, minke, and even humpback whales in November.

Courtesy of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club/Ernie Anderson

Mile 53 | Del Mar: Play the Ponies

It's where the turf meets the surf, and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club remains one of Southern California's most colorful destinations. It's host to this year's Breeders' Cup (November 3-4), so there has never been a better time to take in the pageantry.

RELATED: The Best Beaches in San Diego

Zack Benson

Mile 60 | San Diego: Eat, Drink, and Do Tarry

Check out the arts scene and public market in the Liberty Station neighborhood, get down with tiki cocktails and poke at Good Time Poke and The Grass Skirt in Pacific Beach, and then bed down at the hacienda-style Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.

DETOUR WORTH TAKING:

Get desert fever with this jog east from San Diego on routes 56/67 past rural farmstands, along route 78 into the Cuyamaca Mountains, and down to the spectacular Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, with its renowned stargazing.

WATCH: 20 Beautiful Beach Views

BY THE NUMBERS:

60 Miles driven
3.1 mil Peak viewership of MTV's reality show Laguna Beach
1 Blue whale heart can weigh as much as a car
31k Tons of "El Segundo Sand" in Del Mar's dirt racetrack
#1 The ranking of San Diego County for avocado production in the United States
1,816 Total miles driven from Seattle to San Diego

RELATED: California's Best-Kept Secret