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RE: TIPS: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip - SF to LA
February or March? Can be much of a muchness, neither is ideal. Days are short. Weather unpredictable.
What makes a place interesting to you? Here are a few that worked for me, off the top of my head. Your tastes may be different, but you didn’t bother to say, so...
I had a great time staying at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse hostel near Pescadero, hiking, photographing, birdwatching - see www.norcalhostels.org/pigeon/directions
Then there is Santa Cruz - a curious blend of the last of the hippies of this world (you’ll see the most body-art adornments anywhere), the beach bums, the academics, the super-rich refugees from Silicon Valley... Check out the oh-so-retro boardwalk for a bout of nostalgia.
Look up Monterey and see if there’s anything of interest to you - the acquarium maybe?
Big Sur is famous of course for its rugged and photogenic nature looks etc (Henry Miller, Hunter S. Thompson et al) - look for the ranger station by the main road, no more than a hut, and ask about access etc. Could be iffy in winter, so stop and ask. If you can go down to the water, take your camera! (Careful, your rental-car agreement may not let you!)
San Simeon is, in my book, a must - book ahead EARLY for Hearst Castle and make lodging arrangements accordingly.
I like Pismo Beach - say Hi to the cantankerous pelican who thinks he owns the pier...
Further down there is the Danish village replica of Solvang, cutesy and all that, but still, different, good for a stop and coffee with sweet bakery items. It is in the wine-growing area, maybe that appeals?
In Santa Barbara I love the cottages at the Harbor House (harborhouseinn.com), worth a night or three for sure. The nearby pier is very touristy. Instead, walk the other way, to the harbor, and walk out on the concrete watchamacallthem, getting a bit of sea spray. Good eating in that harbor, too, I remember splendid seafood meals.
Closer to L.A., take the road up to Ojai and drive all the way through town to come out the other end, down into the fertile valley at Santa Paula, head east then south over the surprisingly drastic hills (bare rock areas looking like moonscapes) to Moorpark and down into L.A. from that direction. Much more to see and have fun with than staying on the 101 all the way from Ventura!
But if you want to follow the coast road for the last stretch through Malibu into L.A. (well, Santa Monica at first), make sure you stop at Neptune's Net for some seafood. http://neptunesnet.com
Hope this helps.