If you’re looking for a bucket-list adventure unlike any other, look no further than California’s Highway 101 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway)! California U.S. Route 101 stretches all the way from San Diego to the Oregon border, so there are plenty of stunning sights and fun things to do along the way. Some of the best are right here in Southern California! We’ve listed some of the best Highway 101 stops around San Diego so you can plan ahead. For more local tips, be sure to access our complimentary Destination Guide to North County San Diego!
The 6 Best Highway 101 Stops around San Diego
The 790-mile long highway winds alongside the Pacific Ocean and through countless charming beach towns that emanate SoCal surf culture. Begin or end your trip in San Diego and experience funky surf shops, local cafes, and beautiful beaches. Here are just a few of the stops you need to make near San Diego!
One of the most unforgettable stops along Highway 101 is Encinitas, a unique beach town in North County San Diego! Making a pit stop here will allow you to discover forward-thinking (vegan-friendly and gluten-free) downtown Encinitas restaurants, unique boutiques, and local coffee shops. Come on the right day and you can even swing by an Encinitas farmers market or two for some fresh veggies to take along! Finally, if you’re feeling road-weary, pop into an Encinitas yoga studio for some stretch-and-release time.
One of Encinitas’ most coveted gems is Moonlight Beach! Thanks to this lively spot (and Swami’s, a break made famous by the Beach Boys’ hit song, “Surfin’ U.S.A.”), Encinitas has become known as one of the best places to surf in the world. Moonlight Beach is centrally located near downtown Encinitas. Bring the little ones along on your road trip, because this beach is also perfect for families!
The San Diego Botanic Garden
Another can’t-miss attraction located along the Pacific Coast Highway is the San Diego Botanic Garden. Here, you’ll discover 37 acres of international plants, including the country’s largest bamboo collection! This stunning spot makes for a perfect pit stop or day trip detour.
“La Jolla” means “the jewel” in Spanish. When you pass through on your Highway 101 road trip, you’ll see why! This picture-perfect coastal community boasts dramatic cliffs overlooking beautiful beaches, boutique shopping, award-winning restaurants, and more. We highly recommend paying a visit to Torrey Pines State Beach for some family-friendly, Instagram-worthy fun.
The Carlsbad Flower Fields
Plan your Pacific Coast Highway road trip between early March and early May so you can experience the Carlsbad, California, flower fields! This hidden gem is located along the east side of Interstate 5, just a quick and easy detour from Highway 101. Once you merge onto Interstate 5, you’ll notice nearly 50 acres of rolling hills covered in colorful wildflowers. Keep an eye out for the Giant Tecolote ranunculus in particular!
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to include The Inn at Moonlight Beach as you plan your Highway 101 stops around San Diego. We promise you’ve never seen anything quite like our boutique inn! Plan to stay a night (or two, or five…) in one of our unique accommodations and enjoy an ecotourism experience that revolves around physical, spiritual, and environmental nourishment. Ours is the first hospitality building in the world undergoing the WELL Building Standard™ certification. Thoughtfully designed architecture and biodynamic gardens make for a truly unique, elegant retreat just blocks from the beach, downtown Encinitas, and other Highway 101 attractions. Thanks to the clean air, purified water, circadian lighting, nutritious food, and on-site spiritual wellness activities, discovering your healthiest, most eco-friendly self begins here. You may never want to go back home!