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6 Pitstops to Make on LA's Pacific Coast Highway

Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip
Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip
Discover the ultimate Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary — from secret surf spots to beachfront camping and fresh seafood restaurants.

Also called Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is known to the world as one of the most famous roads in the US for a sunny summertime road trip. The LA portion of this first-class drive offers multiple unique attractions close enough to be seen on a short city escape or used as a stopping point on an epic California-wide adventure.

These six must-see destinations will make your trip planning quick and headache free. Before packing up a van or hiring that dream convertible, check out these pitstops not to be missed on Los Angeles’s Pacific Coast Highway.

Patrick's Roadhouse

Diner, American, $$$
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Pacific Coast Highway-California-USA
Shea Salisbury / | © Culture Trip
Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, it is impossible to miss the bright green exterior of this unique retro American diner. The kitschy interior of this roadside stop creates a casual beachside atmosphere suitable for any time of the day. Patrick’s is the perfect stop for a sizeable breakfast before a long distance road trip, or as a hub for a midday stopping point. Either way, make sure to bring an appetite as portions are as huge as the menu offerings. Leaving for the next destination will be made easier after a stop at this eccentric PCH hideaway.
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Sun:
7:30 am - 9:00 pm
Mon:
7:30 am - 4:00 pm
Tue:
7:30 am - 9:00 pm
Wed:
7:30 am - 9:00 pm
Thu:
7:30 am - 9:00 pm
Fri:
7:30 am - 9:00 pm
Sat:
7:30 am - 10:00 pm

Meal service:

All Day

Atmosphere:

Casual, Cosy
Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip
Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip

Malibu Pier

Park
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Pacific Coast Highway-California-USA
Shea Salisbury / | © Culture Trip
The iconic Malibu Pier is the ideal stop to stretch your legs during a Pacific Coast Highway road trip. First built in 1905, this iconic pier boasts panoramic ocean views with plenty of people-watching. Take a short stroll along its many quaint shops or sit down for a healthy farm to table meal at Malibu Farms restaurant located at the end of the pier. Decide to spend a few hours and hire a fishing pole or simply lie in the sun on the beach below. Leave the pier feeling energetic, refreshed and ready to get back on the road.
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Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip
Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip

Surfrider Beach

Natural Feature
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Pacific Coast Highway-California-USA
Shea Salisbury / | © Culture Trip
Take refuge from the open road at this sandy beach known as a hot spot for Malibu surf breaks. Located at the foot of the Santa Monica mountains, cool off with a jump in the ocean or inspire your wanderlust with a photo opportunity at sunset. With board rentals like the Malibu Surf Shack just across the street, you can leave that favorite surfboard at home or hire an hour lesson and stand up for the first time. Surrounded by the pervasive Santa Monica Mountains, walk easily to extensive hiking trails with impressive lookout points in minutes. Explore these possibilities while checking off another destination on you Pacific Coast Highway itinerary.
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Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip

El Matador State Beach

Natural Feature
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Pacific Coast Highway-California-USA
Shea Salisbury / | © Culture Trip
This hidden gem is a must-see summertime stop along the Pacific Coast Highway. Limited bluff-top parking means this beach is never overcrowded. Get lost among the massive sandstone rock towers with arches large enough to stand underneath. The hidden beach caves and tide-pools add to the mystique of this exclusive Malibu destination. Pack a lunch and explore or stop the car for a spontaneous golden hour photoshoot. This stop offers a chance for an authentic adventure in a premier location that is free to explore with cheap parking. Checking this stop off on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary will be easy on the budget and fun.
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Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip
Shea Salisbury / © Culture Trip

Point Mugu State Beach Camping

Park
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fire-beach-camping
Beach campfire | © chrisaram2 / Pixabay
Camp directly on the sand at this laid-back state beach and campground. Whatever your interest, there are multiple options for recreation at this massive and well maintained state park. Spend the evening calmly chatting around the fire pits or throw a daytime beachside barbecue. With various outdoor activities available including surfing, sand dunes and extensive trails for both hiking and biking, consider planning a multiple day excursion here in your Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary. Wake up to the sound of rolling waves at the beachfront pitches at this ideal holiday getaway.
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Old Mission - Santa Barbara

Archaeological site
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This tranquil stop will feed the mind and calm the spirit. Founded December 4, 1786, by the Spanish Franciscans, discover the rich history of this historical landmark found in Santa Barbara along the Pacific Coast Highway. The beautiful pastel colored building blends perfectly with the lush garden area. For a more enhanced experience, take a guided tour and learn about the various artifacts found inside, or sit in on an evening mass. With ocean views from the building’s commanding position, sit and relax while taking in the view.
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Sun:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Mon:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sat:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm