California Coast Holidays

The stretch of coast between San Francisco to the north and Los Angeles to the south plays host to one of the world’s most famous self-drive routes – State Route 1 or the Pacific Coast Highway. Heading south out of the city you will pass towns such as Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea before heading in to the most spectacular region of all – Big Sur. Here the twisting road hugs the hillsides and cliffs that dip down to the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

The best times to visit California Coast

California's Central Coast is a year-round destination, with relatively mild weather year round
As you would expect the temperatures rise the further south you go and the likes of Santa Barbara tend to have relatively stable temperatures year round

Fog can affect the coast at any time, however it is more common during the months if July and August; this will affect the temperatures further north (nearer San Francisco) with few days getting much warmer than 20 degrees

There are less crowds from mid-September to December so if you wish to experience the beautiful coast with fewer people around this is the time to visit.

The California Coast

Big Sur
Stretching from the Carmel River in the north, the San Carpoforo Creek in the south and stretching inland into the Santa Lucia mountains, the region of Big Sur is a real treasure of the iconic Route 1. Its name derives from the Spanish settlers who dubbed this wild and uncharted environment ‘el país grande del sur’ or the ‘Big Country of the South’. Following World War II Big Sur saw a boom in visitor numbers and to this day it welcomes travellers from all over the world as they follow one of the world’s most iconic drives.

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur - Kuoni (More Information & Booking)

Awe-inspiring might be an overused term, yet for this luxury inn on the heart of the Big Sur region it’s an apt description. And that’s mainly because of the views over the Pacific that the hotel affords from its elevated position – whether it’s from the infinty pool, the restaurant or, if you are lucky enough to upgrade to an oceanview guestrooms, your very own terrace. There are a range of included activities such as yoga and guided nature walks; and then there’s the beautiful spa.

Situated two hours south of San Francisco, Monterey boasts a world-famous aquarium and the historic Cannery Row. The town served as the Californian capital of both Spain and Mexico and it was here in 1846 that the American flag was raised over the Custom House as the United States of America claimed California as its own. Numerous historic monuments, such as the Custom House and the Royal Presido Chapel, can be witnessed as well as the famous Cannery Row.

Intercontinental The Clement, Monterey - Kuoni (More Information & Booking)

In an enviable position on Monterey’s famous Cannery Row, this hotel has fantastic bay views. You will be just steps from the main atttractions of Monterey yet you will have a comfortable base to return to. Ocean-view dining is available at the C restaurant and bar, and a favourite spot here is by the firepit on the water-front Pacific Courtyard. There are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby if you want to soak up the town’s laid-back nightlife.

Casa Munras Hotel & Spa, Monterey - Kuoni (More Information & Booking)

This welcoming hotel sits at the heart of Monterey’s charming Old Town, ten minutes walk from Fisherman’s Wharf Monterey and a short drive from historic Cannery Row. There is a wide range of facilities which includes an outdoor heated pool, spa, fitness centre and Estéban Restaurant and Lounge, where you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a Mediterranean tapas-style dinner. Bicycle hire is available and there is complimentary Wi-Fi and a DVD library. During summer months, Saturday ‘movie nights’ take place on the lawn showing family-friendly films.


With deep roots as a Bohemian destination with a particularly artistic history, Carmel-by-the- Sea is a quaint and charming city with a slow pace of life. Situated approximately 120 miles south of San Francisco, this delightful settlement was home to many writers, poets and artists in the early 20th century and even today Carmel is still infused with an infectious artistic ambience. Ocean Avenue the main centre of Carmel has many interesting art galleries, quaint shops and it also leads to a pristine white sandy beach.

La Playa Carmel, Carmel By Sea - Kuoni (More Information & Booking)

Just a short walk from the Carmel-by-the-Sea beach, this turn-of-the-century mansion has been lovingly restored to its former glory. The hotel is filled with character and has beautifully landscaped gardens which encompass terraces, a pool and charming courtyards. A Champagne breakfast is served each morning – the perfect way to start your day. Our favourite rooms are the Ocean View rooms on the upper floors.

Sant Barbara

The coastal city of Santa Barbara has a real Spanish charm with a relaxed pace of life. Sometimes referred to as the ‘American Riviera’, this university town and former Spanish mission boasts a collection of delightful neighbourhoods. Enjoy the relaxed beach vibe in The Mesa, where you can catch some rays or breaks on the Mesa Lane or Thousand Steps beaches. The Waterfront offers visitors a number of restaurants and bars while Lower State Street is home to the thriving nightlife destination of Stearns Wharf.

Canary – A Kimpton Hotel, Santa Barbara - Kuoni (More Information & Booking)

In the heart of Santa Barbara, close to an array of bistros and shops, and just steps away from the lively State Street, this charming hotel reflects the Spanish style of the city. With ocean views, spacious rooms and personalised touches the Kimpton brand is renowned for, the Canary – a Kimpton Hotel seamlessly fuses high standards of service with California’s laidback charm.

Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara - Kuoni (More Information & Booking)

The luxurious Belmond El Encanto sits in beautiful gardens in the hills above the city of Santa Barbara. The orginal 1920s features have been recently restored adding to the elegance and glamour of this A-lister’s favourite. From the hotel’s elevated position you can enjoy views over the city and the Pacific Ocean beyond, particularly from The Dining Room’s al fresco terrace. Accommodation here is either in charming bungalows or spacious suites.
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