Top 5 Coastal Motorcycle Touring Stops Between San Francisco and Los Angeles, California

Jan 12, 2022


Bixby Bridge in California.

For any trip along the California coast, there are plenty of noteworthy sites to visit, including incredible lookout points and popular beach cities that dot the Pacific Coast Highway

You can easily rack up hundreds of things to do, places to eat, and excursions to plan at each stop. Because there are so many possibilities, we’ve narrowed your choices. 

Start with a motorcycle rental in Los Angeles and make your way up the beautiful coast to the historic city of San Francisco, stopping at these five beautiful locations along the way. 

1. Santa Cruz, California

Traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Santa Cruz is an ideal first stop as it’s known as the beach city that hosted the first surfers when the sport was originally brought to the mainland by Hawaiian royalty. 

Depending on how early you start this trip, it could be a fun idea to stop and take a surfing lesson. After hitting the waves, grab a hearty meal at Zachary’s, a 2020 Traveler’s Choice award winner. Known for its large portion sizes and fantastic food, this is a great spot to fill up.

If you plan on spending the day in Santa Cruz before continuing down the coast, we highly recommend the Santa Cruz Mountain Tour Loop. You can read more about this 60-mile loop through the mountains in our Top-5 Motorcycle Routes Near San Francisco.

Staying the night in Santa Cruz also allows the opportunity to sample local wine or hop on the Brew Cruz bus for a microbrewery tour and tasting session.

2. Big Sur, California

About 67 miles south on PCH from Santa Cruz lies Big Sur. This is a great place to stretch your legs and take in some breathtaking coastal views. 

One popular spot is the historical Bixby Bridge, where you’re sure to encounter some crowds who are also stopping to get a look. From the viewing point, you’ll glimpse a long stretch of coastline where the waves brush up against a long stretch of green hills. You might even see some elephant seals basking on the sandy shores if you're lucky. 

More active folks should plan an easy hike at Limekiln State Park. The terrain is mild enough that you won’t need all your best hiking gear, and you can still enjoy the lush green landscape, towering trees, and numerous creeks that flow through the area. 

3. Hearst Castle, California

This place isn’t your average history lesson. Hearst Castle, tucked away in gorgeous San Simeon, is a lavish historical estate boasting 165 rooms on 125 acres of land. 

Many tours cover various parts of the estate and range from one to two hours each. There are also evening tours if that aligns with your itinerary. 

Anyone with an appreciation for ancient art, architecture, and design is going to want this on their list. Make sure you reserve in advance to get the tour you’ve got your eye on! 

While in San Simeon, you should check out Sebastian’s Cafe. This is another Traveler’s Choice award-winner, which means it consistently earns great reviews from its visitors. Patrons of this cafe say it’s a great spot for quick and easy comfort foods like pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, and more.

4. Ostrich Land and Solvang, California

The village of Solvang is only a quick detour off this route, and it’s definitely worth the extra time. The buildings are in the style of Danish architecture, and you can find a number of antique shops, pastry shops, restaurants, and wineries to enjoy. 

Visiting Solvang is like stepping into a different land. There is a lot to see and experience in this small but busy city. Just before you arrive in Solvang, you may start seeing signs for Ostrich Land. Yes, you can feed and take pictures with real ostriches and emus at this popular destination. If that experience isn’t a conversation starter, we don’t know what is.

5. Malibu, California

You’re nearly at your final destination, but there’s one more coastal stop we advise you to make. Malibu lies in western Los Angeles County, about 30 miles from downtown L.A.... This city is known for its natural beauty and its appeal to movie stars and celebrities, many of whom have made their homes here. 

To really take in the sites, you can ride through the mountains to see it all at your leisure. Alternatively, you can check out this beach city from the opposite direction and take a sailboat excursion or check in for a short cruise along the coast.  

If you’d rather go your own way without the issue of booking a tour or reserving a mountain bike, there’s a 30-mile scenic motorcycle route you can take down to this area. Instead of staying on PCH all the way down to Malibu, you’ll branch off early and make your way through a gorgeous canyon with plenty of good twists and sweeping turns.