Part seven of our Seattle to San Diego excursion sets off from Santa Monica and makes a lazy path along some of Southern California's most memorable stops before ending up in idyllic Laguna Beach. From the historic grandeur of the Queen Mary to surf-loving stretches of Huntington Beach, from Newport Beach's seafood palaces to the alluring cottages of Crystal Cove, it's a sunlit sojourn.
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
Mile 32 | Long Beach: Liner Love
Follow California Highway 1 as it skims south from Santa Monica, taking in the fun surf scenes of Manhattan and Redondo beaches before hitting the mother ship, as it were. The Queen Mary was once the grandest ocean liner in the world, and you can choose among a variety of tours, from historic to haunted.
Mile 49 | Huntington Beach: Surf-City Stay
It's called "Surf City, U.S.A.," and with 10 miles of five broad beaches, that's a fair moniker. Rent a bike and cruise the shoreline, followed by a break for beer, seafood, and shopping at the recently opened Pacific City complex. Make your bed one with a view at the hip new Paséa Hotel & Spa.
RELATED: 10 Best Little Surf Towns in America
Mile 55 | Newport Beach: Seafood Stop
After a morning beach walk, head south for lunch at a true seafood shrine: The Crab Cooker. Explore Balboa Island, a charming enclave set right in Newport Harbor, and enjoy old-fashioned amusements at the nearby Balboa Fun Zone. Overnight at Balboa Bay Resort.
Mile 61 | Crystal Cove State Park: Nature Break
This beloved cove has inspired painters, beach lovers, and bohemians for generations. Protected now as a state park, it's held in loving perpetuity. Ogle the historic cottages to rent, which become available far in advance.
Mile 67 | Laguna Beach: Artful Lodging
Make this storied art colony your pleasure HQ for a whole day. Do breakfast or lunch (or both) at Zinc Cafe & Market, poke around the historic downtown, stroll Main Beach, and then settle in for drinks and dinner with a view at Driftwood Kitchen and Stateroom Bar. Sleep in Morocco-inspired splendor at Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa.
DETOUR WORTH TAKING:
It's a short detour inland, but miles away in setting. For a taste of the area's historic ranching style, play among the steep hillsides of Aliso and Wood canyons at The Ranch at Laguna Beach, a new resort with a gift for golf and spa treatments.
WATCH: Take a 15-second Escape to Malibu, California:
BY THE NUMBERS:
67 Miles driven
1,001 Queen Mary transatlantic crossings
66 People rode one giant surfboard (at the same time) near the Huntington Beach Pier
9k+ Boats in Newport Harbor
400+ Working artists and studios in Laguna Beach
RELATED: California's Best-Kept Secret