California coast RV road trip

What's it like to haul an Airstream 300 miles up the California coast? Romantic, nail-biting, and yes, cooler than driving a convertible. Get our road rules and route

Anna Nordberg

Our route

Leg 1: Start out at Ocean Mesa RV Resort ($90; three-night minimum during summer and holidays; 100 El Capitan Terrace Lane). This is on the pricier end of RV parks, but it has a pool and clean bathrooms and showers, plus all 80 sites have full hookups (aka water, power, and dumping stations) and ocean views. Bonus: It’s across the street from El Capitan State Beach and 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara.

Leg 2: Check into Morro Dunes RV Park ($42 for full hookups; 1700 Embarcadero) in Morro Bay, two hours north of Santa Barbara. It’s across the street from the ocean and a short walk to the bay, making up in location what it lacks in privacy (trailers are parked close together). Explore Cambria and Cayucos, a tiny gem of a surf town 10 minutes north. Have dinner there at Duckie’s Chowder House ($; 55 Cayucos Dr.; 805/995-2245), which serves super-fresh fish tacos, steamer clams, and yes, chowder—all of which go well with the local ale.

Leg 3: It’s only 64 miles from Morro Bay to Big Sur’s Kirk Creek campground ($22, no hookups; two-night minimum), but it takes two hours with a trailer. (This road gets twisty and challenging; you can always make just a day trip with your tow vehicle.) Unhitch your trailer, and hit the trailhead directly across the road from Kirk Creek or explore Big Sur. Soak up the views at Ragged Point, about 25 minutes south; on your way back, you’ll see pullouts for the Salmon Creek trailhead, which leads to two huge waterfalls. Lucia Lodge ($$$; 62400 Hwy. 1; 866/424-4787) serves good but pricey comfort food in a country inn–style setting.


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