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Welcome to the golden shores of California, where stunning sunsets meet crashing waves and coastal bliss is just a stone’s throw away. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey as we unravel some of the best coastal retreats in this breathtaking region. From the iconic surfer’s paradise of Malibu to the untamed beauty of Santa Barbara, let us be your guide as we explore hidden gems, indulge in delectable culinary delights, and soak up endless moments of serenity along California’s magnificent coastline. So grab your beach towel, slip into your flip-flops, and let’s uncover the magic that awaits you from Malibu to Santa Barbara – it’s time for an extraordinary escape!

Introduction to the California Coastline

The California coastline is one of the most iconic and beautiful stretches of shoreline in the world. With its sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and turquoise waters, the California coast is a popular destination for travelers from all over the globe.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an action-packed adventure, there’s something for everyone along the California coast. From the sun-soaked beaches of Los Angeles to the dramatic cliffs of Big Sur, there are endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

In this guide, we’ll take you on a tour of some of California’s best coastal retreats, from Malibu to Santa Barbara. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or a place to catch some waves, we’ve got you covered. So grab your sunscreen and your swimsuit, and let’s hit the beach!

Malibu: Beachfront Luxury in a City Setting

Photographer: Jenna Day | Source: Unsplash

Malibu is one of California’s most iconic beach towns, and it’s easy to see why. With its stunning oceanfront setting and luxurious lifestyle, Malibu is a truly unique place to live.

The city’s beaches are some of the best in the state, offering pristine sands and beautiful views. There’s also plenty to do in town, from shopping and dining to exploring the many arts and cultural offerings. And of course, no visit to Malibu would be complete without spending some time soaking up the sun on one of its famed beaches.

No matter your taste, Malibu has something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking beachfront luxury or simply a great place to kick back and relax, this stunning city has it all. No matter how you choose to spend your time here, one thing is certain: Malibu is an unforgettable destination that offers something for everyone!

Santa Barbara: Off the Beaten Path Charm

While Malibu and Santa Monica get all the attention, Santa Barbara quietly holds its own as a top coastal destination in California. This beautiful city has everything you could want in a beach town – gorgeous weather, lovely beaches, great restaurants and plenty of things to do. And while it may not be as well known as some of its neighbors, that just means you’ll have a more authentic experience when you visit.

Photographer: Jeff W | Source: Unsplash

Here are some of the best off-the-beaten-path things to do in Santa Barbara:

1. Get lost in the Funk Zone

The Funk Zone is a hip little neighborhood near the waterfront that’s full of art galleries, breweries, wineries and boutiques. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring and people watching.

2. Sample the local wine

Santa Barbara County is home to some excellent vineyards and wineries. If you love wine, be sure to take a day trip out to one of the many wineries in the area for a tasting or two (or three). Cheers!

3. Hike up Telegraph Hill

For incredible views of Santa Barbara and the surrounding coastline, hike (or drive) up to Telegraph Hill. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Ventura County. The hike itself is short but strenuous, so be prepared for a bit of a workout. Trust us, it’s worth it!

Accomodations: Where to Stay for the Best Price

California’s Central Coast is dotted with charming towns and breathtaking vistas. From Malibu to Santa Barbara, there are plenty of places to stay along the way. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the area’s natural beauty. Here are some great options for where to stay:

Inn at Morro Bay: This cozy inn is located right on Morro Bay, offering stunning views of the water. Rooms start at just $99 per night, making it a great value for your money.

Sea Otter Cove Inn: If you’re looking for a quiet and secluded getaway, Sea Otter Cove Inn is the perfect place for you. Nestled in Cambria, this inn offers comfortable rooms starting at $140 per night.

Fogcatcher Inn: Located in historic downtown Cambria, Fogcatcher Inn is within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Rooms start at $179 per night.

Spas and Activities Near Each Destination

When it comes to finding the best spas and activities near each destination, look no further than California’s coast. From Malibu to Santa Barbara, there are a variety of options to choose from.

For those looking for a luxurious spa experience, here are some spas near Malibu and Santa Barbara, CA:

  1. The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village (Malibu): This luxurious spa offers a wide range of treatments and services, including massages, facials, and body wraps. Relax in the serene atmosphere and indulge in the ultimate pampering experience.
  2. The Pearl Spa at The Beverly Hills Hotel (Malibu): Located just a short drive from Malibu, this iconic spa offers a variety of rejuvenating treatments inspired by the natural beauty of California. From massages to skincare rituals, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and revitalized.
  3. Ojai Valley Inn Spa (Santa Barbara): Nestled in the picturesque Ojai Valley, this award-winning spa is known for its tranquil setting and top-notch services. Treat yourself to a massage or facial while surrounded by breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
  4. Bacara Resort & Spa (Santa Barbara): Situated on 78 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this luxurious resort offers an expansive spa with an array of treatments to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a deep tissue massage or a revitalizing body scrub, you’ll find it here.
  5. Float Luxury Spa (Santa Barbara): If you’re looking for a unique spa experience, consider visiting Float Luxury Spa. This boutique spa specializes in floatation therapy, where you can relax in a sensory deprivation tank filled with warm saltwater for ultimate relaxation.As for activities, California’s coast has something for everyone. Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking and biking trails in Malibu Creek State Park or kayaking in the Santa Barbara harbor. For those preferring a more relaxed pace, simply take a stroll along any of the picturesque beaches or enjoy some shopping and dining in Downtown Santa Barbara.

Remember to check each spa’s website or call ahead to confirm availability and book your appointment in advance. Enjoy your relaxing escape along California’s stunning coastline!

Cuisine: The Food Scene Between Locations

Though separated by a mere hour drive, the food scene between Malibu and Santa Barbara provides quite the contrast. In Malibu, you’ll find some of the best seafood shacks and farm-to-table restaurants in all of California. You can’t go wrong with any choice on the menu at these amazing restaurants.


  • Nobu: A world-renowned restaurant known for its exquisite Japanese cuisine and stunning ocean views. Don’t miss the swordfish sashimi!
  • Malibu Farm: A farm-to-table restaurant offering fresh and healthy dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Try their famous avocado toast or the grilled fish tacos.
  • Geoffrey’s Malibu: Located right on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Geoffrey’s offers a fine dining experience with a menu featuring seafood, steaks, and classic American dishes.
  • Moonshadows: Enjoy a meal with breathtaking views of the ocean at this iconic Malibu restaurant. Indulge in their seafood specialties or try their signature dish, Moonshadows Sea Bass.
  • Mastro’s Ocean Club: Known for its upscale dining experience, Mastro’s offers an extensive menu of prime steaks and fresh seafood. Don’t forget to save room for their decadent desserts!

Santa Barbara:

  • The Lark: Located in the heart of the Funk Zone, The Lark offers a farm-to-table dining experience with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and innovative flavors. Don’t miss their famous Brussels sprouts!
  • Loquita: This Spanish-inspired restaurant serves up delicious tapas and paella in a vibrant and lively atmosphere. Pair your meal with one of their handcrafted cocktails for the ultimate dining experience.
  • Brophy Bros.: A local favorite, Brophy Bros. is known for its fresh seafood and waterfront views. Enjoy classic dishes like clam chowder or fish tacos while taking in the beautiful scenery.
  • The Black Sheep: For a unique dining experience, head to The Black Sheep where you’ll find a menu that combines Asian and Latin flavors. From sushi rolls to ceviche, there’s something for everyone at this eclectic eatery.
  • Santa Barbara Shellfish Company: If you’re craving seafood, look no further than Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. This casual spot offers fresh oysters, crab legs, and other seafood delights straight from the ocean.

No matter where you choose to dine along the California coast, you’re guaranteed to find delicious cuisine that will satisfy your taste buds. Bon appétit!

Shopping and Sightseeing: What To Do While Visiting

When visiting California’s coastline, there are plenty of shopping and sightseeing activities to keep you busy.

  • Explore the Malibu Country Mart, a charming outdoor shopping center with a variety of high-end boutiques and specialty stores.
  • Visit Malibu Lumber Yard, a trendy shopping destination featuring upscale fashion brands and unique home decor shops.
  • Don’t miss the Malibu Farmers Market, where you can browse local produce, artisanal goods, and handmade crafts.
  • Take a stroll along the iconic Rodeo Drive of Malibu, known as Billionaire’s Beach. Marvel at the luxurious beachfront mansions and enjoy window shopping at designer stores.

best retail stores in Santa Barbara:

  • State Street: Wander down State Street in downtown Santa Barbara for an array of shops ranging from local boutiques to well-known brands.
  • Paseo Nuevo: Explore this open-air mall located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. With over 50 shops and restaurants, there’s something for everyone.
  • La Arcada Plaza: Discover this hidden gem tucked away off State Street. It offers boutique shops selling art, jewelry, clothing, and more in a picturesque courtyard setting.
  • The Funk Zone: Not only is it great for wine tasting but also features unique galleries and boutique shops showcasing local artists’ work.

Remember to take breaks from shopping to soak up the stunning coastal scenery and explore other sightseeing opportunities such as visiting historical landmarks like the Santa Barbara Mission or taking a walk along Stearns Wharf. Enjoy your time exploring these vibrant coastal towns!

Ventura, Malibu, and Santa Barbara all offer a different flavor of California’s breathtaking coastal retreats. From golden beaches to lively towns and stunning wildlife reserves, these cities have something for everyone. Whether you are looking for the perfect holiday destination or just need an escape from everyday life, there is no better place than Southern California’s beautiful coast. So grab your sunscreen and a few friends and prepare to experience the best that nature has to offer.

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