My husband and I are hoping to plan a Pacific Coast trip over 1 week next May. We are turning 30 next year and looking to do it for under $2k. We are interested in smaller, historic/interesting coastal towns, beautiful drives, relaxing beaches, and seeking out great food.
First of all, we are weighing whether to go from Seattle/Portland to San Diego, or to just flying to San Francisco (it looks like the rental car would be a lot cheaper if we kept it in CA). Would anyone recommend the Amtrak from Seattle/Portland to SF?
We have spent time in SF, Muir Woods, Napa & Sonoma in the past, so we aren't planning on spending a lot of time in the North or in any big cities, for that matter. Is there anything we need to see north of Marin County in CA?
We are hoping that we could reserve a few nights at hotels but also find a few places (hopefully cute coastal motels?) on our way. Is this a good plan or should we schedule every night's stay?
Any cheap/interesting/fun hotel/sightseeing/restaurant recommendations along the coast?
Here are the points of interest and tips from others that we have marked as of now:
Cape Perpetu, OR
Heceta Head, OR
Ano Nuevo Beach
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Monterey Bay kayak tour
San Luis Obispo
Oregon Dunes National Park - near North Bend, Oregon
Hwy 101 - follows the coastline from Seattle to LA (the WA/OR stretch is gorgeous)
Anacortes and Whidbey Island
Point Reyes National Seashore, Bodega Bay are places to see. this part of the coast is beautiful and is as beautiful as the Oregon coast.
In Monterey you can visit the aquarium and adjacent to Carmel : Point Lobos SR.
Well, the Redondo Beach/Pier essentially is no more what it used to be, so I'd suggest you skip that one and maybe go on down to Newport Beach near 21st street on the peninsula instead.
Also, when you pass Hearst Castle--take a second to visit Moonstone Beach in Cambria--then head east through Paso Robles wine district (alongside Highway 46 between Cambria and Paso Robles) and stop at one or two to take in the ambiance. Then go on south to San Luis Obispo after that.
I also suggest a stop to see the windmills of Solvang (a danish town in the middle of California--just 70 miles north of Santa Barbara. Then in Santa Barbara visit the historic mission (best one in California, with the possible exception of the one in San Juan Capistrano). If you are going to see the Cabazon dinosaurs, continue on into Palm Springs and take a trip up the tram to the top of the mountain, where it will be about 30 degrees cooler at the top (about 60 degrees F) when it is about 90 degrees F in Palm Springs in May. (P.S. I will probably be in Palm Springs in May myself for a trip).