The drive between Los Angeles and San Francisco can take six to eight hours (or longer along scenic routes) but is well worth the effort at least once in your lifetime to take in the beauty that is California. Many travelers choose to extend the experience by staying overnight in a rustic inn or B&B. Here are 10 scenic places to stay between San Francisco and Los Angeles, ranging from yurts to rustic cabins to yoga retreats. For a sense of where these hotels are located, view the hotels on the map.
Just steps away from Avila Beach on the San Luis Obispo Bay, this inn claims that its rooftop sundeck is the "best living room on the West Coast." Rooms, which are appointed with bright, casual decor, have views of the coast or courtyard. Family suites, as well as the many activities nearby, make this hotel an ideal inn for those traveling with kids.
One of the most uniquely outfitted hotels on the Central Coast, the Madonna Inn is a destination unto itself. The 110 rooms are each decorated in a quirky style, including Caveman, which features an animal print decor and rocky walls, and the Old Mill, which has a reproduction mill with water wheel and fairy tale mural. A spa and steakhouse are on-site.
In this all-suite B&B, all the rooms have private entrances, fireplaces, and most have views of Morro Bay. With only 18 guest rooms, the Baywood is perfect for those looking for a bit of tranquility. Sights in the area include the Morro Bay Bird Sanctuary and the Hearst Castle.
Cozy and casual accommodations are the centerpiece of Cambria Pines Lodge in Cambria. Rooms have views of the surrounding forest and extensive gardens. The Fireside Lounge has a giant river-rock fireplace, full bar, and nightly entertainment. The lodge's restaurant, which uses herbs and produce from its own organic garden, is popular with locals and guests.
Surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest and the Pacific Ocean, Treebones Resort features yurt accommodations. These upgraded tent structures have pine wood floors and redwood decks with views of the coast. Yurt accommodations certainly aren't for everyone—for example, restrooms are located about one minute away from each tent—but they provide an interesting adventure for those who want to get closer to nature. A pool and hot tub are on-site. Two-night minimum stay.
A yoga retreat in Big Sur, Esalen provides a gorgeous space on the Central Coast for meditation. For those taking part in Esalen's programs, on-site accommodations are typically shared, but there are private rooms for couples. Guests can also upgrade to more private, premium rooms or to "point houses" that look out over the cliffs.The Institute also provides communal meals grown in their gardens to all guests.
Esalen also has access to natural hot springs, which non-guests can use for a small fee.
Down-to-earth types visiting Big Sur may like Ripplewood Resort, which features 18 rustic cabins off of Highway 1. The no-nonsense cabins are minimally furnished but have kitchens and most have fireplaces and/or outdoor firepits. A restaurant on the premises serves breakfast and lunch.
Luxury combined with the intimacy of a bed-and-breakfast is what the Seven Gables Inn offers. Appointed in a style reminiscent of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, rooms, and cottages all have spectacular views of Monterey Bay.
A retro-California decor makes the Santa Cruz Dream Inn a standout. The inn is located on Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz and a private patio or balcony off of every room has views of Monterey Bay.
Located off of Route 1 near Santa Cruz, Davenport Roadhouse offers no-fuss accommodations, some with ocean views. There's an on-site restaurant with regular food and wine events and a store selling locally-made goods.