Road Trip: San Luis Obispo to Santa Monica, California
Part six of our Seattle to San Diego journey leaves San Luis Obispo in the rear view mirror and heads south to mine even more treasures of California's Central Coast, including wine (and opulent floral vistas) in Lompoc, fantastic food and shopping in Santa Barbara, island adventure off the Ventura coast, and finally, an exploration of the wilds and wonder of the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu.
See the previous segments of our year-long trek:
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
Mile 60 | Lompoc: Wine Time
Take U.S. Route 101 to Pismo Beach, where you'll pick up California Highway 1 to lovely, laid-back Lompoc, which is known for three things: art, flowers, and wineries. Schedule a lazy stroll of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, a collection of more than 20 boutique tasting rooms just off the Pacific Coast Highway.
Mile 114 | Santa Barbara: Tacos and Treasures
Christen your arrival at one of California's most beautiful cities with fresh fish tacos on the beach (literally right on the sand) at Shoreline Café. Bed down in hideaway splendor at the Belmond El Encanto, and spend the next morning shopping Santa Barbara's superb galleries and shops.
Mile 143 | Ventura/Channel Islands: Island Adventure
Make Ventura your base camp for exploring the pristine Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary. Book excursions with Island Packers and kayak tours with Channel Islands Adventure Company. For an Instagram dream of an overnight, head 30 minutes north to the hip and irresistible Ojai Rancho Inn.
Mile 164 | Point Mugu State Park: Happy Hiking
With sand dunes, five miles of beach, and rocky bluffs backed by the Santa Monica Mountains, this is recreation the way the California gods intended it. Choose hikes from among more than 50 miles of trails; for big ocean views, check out the three-mile scenic loop.
Mile 196 | Santa Monica: Beach Basking
Slow down as California Highway 1 passes through Malibu to grab fish-and-chips at Neptune's Net, a low-key spot where celebrities often hide out. Roll into Santa Monica and book yourself some feel-good time at bohemian-cool The Now massage boutique. Luxuriate in the chic and beachy Oceana Beach Club Hotel for a SoCal-perfect final night.
DETOUR WORTH TAKING:
From Highway 1 south of Lompoc, make the 14-mile drive to Jalama Beach County Park, a remote and rugged stretch of coastline. Refuel at Jalama Beach Store & Grill with homemade clam chowder and Aunt Ruth's raw apple cake.
BY THE NUMBERS:
196 Miles driven
40 Murals in downtown Lompoc
24,000 Sheep once roamed the Channel Islands' Santa Cruz Island
42 Percentage of California's Squid Catch That Came into Ventura Harbor (through May 2017)
1 Solar-Powered Ferris Wheel in the World (It's on the Santa Monica Pier!)
RELATED: California's Best-Kept Secret