Family Travel Ideas

5 Fun Southern California Road Trip Stops To Make On Your Way Up The Coast

Who loves a good road trip? These Southern California road trip stops are great to explore on your way up the coast.

5 Fun Southern California Road Trip Stops To Make On Your Way Up The Coast

Road trips in California

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to drive up and down the coast of California, you know what a wonderful treat it is. From San Francisco down to San Diego and everything in between, California is packed with family-friendly destinations to explore. There are tons of road trip stops in California, so we decided to check out some new to us stops on the way to our destination: Pismo Beach!

2018 VW Atlas SUV front dash interior with navigation

5 Fun Southern California Road Trip Stops To Make On Your Way Up The Coast

If you love exploring with your family on the road, there are so many fun road trip ideas in California. Whether you’re coming from Southern¬†or from Northern California, these stops to make on a road trip are tons of fun for the whole family! Check out our family road trip that we took up the California coast, it took just 3 days!

Kids climbing a tree in Carinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve

Southern California road trip ideas

Get up early, pack up your vehicle, and hit the road! We live in San Diego, so we decided to skip a road trip stop in Los Angeles since we have visited the surrounding areas a whole lot. We did stop once in LA to pick up my sister on Friday morning, grabbed a bite to eat, and drove about 2 hours to Ojai!

Archway at The Arcade Plaza, Ojai, California

Family road trip stop 1: Ojai, California

Ojai is a cute little town that I had heard of but never visited. When we arrived, it was just about lunchtime. We strolled around the Downtown Ojai area and there were a bunch of super cute little shops, restaurants, galleries, boutiques, sweet treats, and more fun stuff to explore in the Arcade Plaza! There is a cute green park area across the street, and we spent some time at the playground before hitting the road to Santa Barbara. I feel like the city has a historic vibe to it, boasting what looks like original Spanish archways and an old tower at the Post Office in the middle of Downtown.

Family Southern California road trip stops, Santa Barbara Pier

Family road trip stop 2: Santa Barbara, California

Next stop – Santa Barbara! Just about an hour up the coast brings you to this fun city full of things to do, I think this is one of the most popular Southern California road trip stops. Santa Barbara is a seaside city known for the pier and beautiful beach and its laid-back vibe. In this city, the palm trees meet the mountain scenery and it looks so neat!

When we got to Santa Barbara, we walked out to the ocean on the pier and played in the sand just before dinner time. We found a restaurant in a historic building on State Street and enjoyed the evening people watching and romping around the palm tree-lined street! We spent the night here. On the way there, be sure to plan another stop for a day trip to Solvang, CA!

Beautiful view of the pier in Pismo Beach, California

Family road trip stop 3: Pismo Beach, California

Saturday morning, it was time to get up and at em early! We continued our California road trip and arrived in Pismo Beach, immediately drove down to the beach, and loved the smell of the sand and sea in the air! Pismo Beach is your typical beach city, but with many fun things to do in the area. We hit the boardwalk and found some amazing cinnamon rolls, then wandered around the beach a little bit near the pier.  This is the furthest north that we would head on our Southern California road trip, so we spent the night here at a nice seaside hotel, splashed around in the ocean, and enjoyed the city.

Carpinteria Harbor Seal Preserve

Family road trip stop 4: Carpinteria, California

On Sunday morning, we woke up at our leisure and headed back down south. Our stop in Carpinteria, CA was a quick one to break up the long drive back down the coast. It lies just south of Santa Barbara and offers beautiful ocean views! Make it a point to visit the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve to stretch your limbs on a walk through the trails, and catch the baby seals down below in the Harbor Seal Preserve. Carpinteria is one of the lesser-known, yet one of the coolest coastal California stops to make on a road trip!

Strawberry picking at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark, CA

Family road trip stop 5: Moorpark, California

Another hour south, our last stop was a bit away from the coastline in Moorpark. There’s a super cute family farm there that we wanted to visit on our way back to Los Angeles to drop off my sister. We picked fruits and vegetables, took a hayride, and spent time in the petting zoo. What a fun way to end our weekend family road trip!

Don't miss the beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean in Pismo Beach, California

We loved these Southern California road trip stops!

We had such a great time on the open road as a family, and exploring all of the fun Southern California road trip stops along the way! It was such a good way for us to bond and connect with each other more than we’re usually able to. We will cherish the memories we made for years to come! Road trip tip: try this fun road trip hack to entertain the kids in the back seat – make an easy DIY tablet holder for the back seat headrest!

Enjoy your next road trip in California!

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We’re partnering with Firestone Complete Auto Care in a sponsored post to share these fun destinations and help you plan your next¬†road trip in California!

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