Highway One is open! Here are your can’t miss stops for the ultimate road trip.

Aerial view of the coastline in Ventura California

by Fiorella Calderoni

Highway One is known as the ultimate road trip for a reason -actually, for many! There are beautiful beaches and coves, stunning views around every turn, and wildlife in the ocean, among the trees, and flying in the sky. Here are a few can’t miss spots between Los Angeles and San Francisco in California’s gorgeous Central Coast.

As you’re leaving Los Angeles, stop by one of the most photogenic beaches in Malibu: El Matador State Beach.

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Ventura County

Once you leave Los Angeles, Ventura is your respite for unspoiled, uncrowded beaches and great surf year round. Catch a few waves and then find yourself a seat at one of many craft breweries and order authentic Baja-style fish tacos from the food truck outside.

Emma Wood State Beach is a favorite surf spot:

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Be warned: Choosing only one brewery will be hard!

As you drive north from Ventura, don’t forget to look for Channel Islands National Park dotting the horizon! If you want to make time to visit North America’s Galapagos, please make reservations ahead of time!

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Santa Barbara County

Following 30 minutes of beautiful ocean views, you’ll reach the City of Santa Barbara. Great stops include the Queen of the Missions and the top of Santa Barbara County Courthouse for a classic view of Santa Barbara’s red-tile roofs.

If you love wine, don’t miss wine tasting at vineyards in Santa Ynez Valley or tasting rooms in the picturesque Dutch town of Solvang.

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San Luis Obispo County

As you enter San Luis Obispo County, you’ll soon pass by the Village of Arroyo Grande. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it! This hidden gem is home to the most beautiful roosters who roam the streets freely. They are fed and maintained by the Village and will make for a kooky stop.

Up next: the best donuts around! You’ve got to plan a stop at SLO Donut Company.

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Seriously.

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Great wines continue through San Luis Obispo County but if you need a beach break, there are also tons of great beach towns to choose from. From Pismo Beach to Morro Bay and Cayucos, these small beach towns offer that authentic, laid-beack, California vibe. It is especially mesmerizing if you stay to watch the fog roll in.

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If you like art, architecture, and guided tours, don’t miss Hearst Castle State Park. Perched atop the hills, this castle is full of art from around the world. It was in its prime in the 1920s and 30s when celebrity guests visited for extravagant parties and stayed in one of 165 rooms. The castle is now a museum and worth a visit!

A few miles down, you’ll find signs for Elephant Seal Vista Points. Throughout the year, hundreds of elephant seals line the beaches along this coastline. Their grandeur is astonishing though they’re still working on being graceful.

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Monterey County

It’s hard to overlook the star of the road trip, Big Sur. We’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

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Remember to leave lots of time to stop, hike, take in the views, and grab photos to remember them by!

Further north, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, and Santa Cruz are all fun. Look for kelp forests and sea otters along the coast and if you love aquariums, don’t miss the Monterey Bay Aquarium, stroll down Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf, and then get your fill of amazing crepes at Crepes of Brittany nearby!

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Before you know it, you’ll be in San Francisco ready to see what all the buzz is about Bi-Rite Creamery.

Happy road tripping!! And remember to share your trip using #theoriginalroadtrip.

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