Roadtrip with RVshare Pismo Beach to Santa Monica

A road trip from Pismo Beach to Santa Monica is a great way to see the beauty of California. While you are in Pismo Beach, check out the local wineries and beaches. Head south toward Santa Barbara, known for its white stucco buildings with red tile roofs. Once you reach your destination of Santa Monica, you'll get breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean at Palisades Park. With this Pismo Beach to Santa Monica road trip itinerary, you will see the Golden State's incredible landscapes and attractions.

Pismo Beach to Santa Monica Road Trip Itinerary

  • Trip Length: 4 hours
  • Mileage: A road trip from Pismo Beach to Santa Monica is about 188 miles.
  • Fun Fact: The country's Mother Road, Route 66, has its western terminus in Santa Monica.

Nearby National Parks

California has more national parks than any other state in the U.S. You can easily spend a few days just visiting these natural wonders. 

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California, and it is about a two-hour drive from Santa Monica. The park is nestled between the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. This park is known for its stark desert landscapes and rugged rock formations. While you are in the park, you will see Joshua trees in all sorts of configurations. While in Joshua Tree, head over to Keys View. At this spot, there is a magnificent overlook of the Coachella Valley. For a little recreational fun, you can hit the trails that will take you past the boulders of Hidden Valley. 

Yosemite National Park

Located in the Sierra Nevadas, Yosemite National Park is known for its giant sequoia trees. If you want to see some amazing scenery, then head over to the Tunnel View. This spot is the perfect place to look over Yosemite Valley. The cascading waterfalls at Bridal Veil Falls make a picturesque backdrop for your photos. Check out the granite cliffs near Half Dome and El Capitan. Within the national park, you can also visit the Ansel Adams Gallery and Yosemite Museum. Note that Yosemite is nearly a four-hour drive from Pismo Beach.

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park is also located in the Sierra Nevadas. This park is known for its tall sequoia trees, including the General Grant Tree in the Grant Grove section. If you want to see more than giant sequoias, Cedar Grove is surrounded by towering granite canyon walls. Adventurers can take a hike on the trails along the Kings River. Some of the paths will lead to the Zumwalt Meadow, which has some of the best scenic views in the park. Kings Canyon is home to bears, rattlesnakes, and cougars and you can watch for these creatures when traveling through the park. Kings Canyon is close to four hours from Santa Monica.

Nearby State Parks

Along with the national parks, California is home to several gorgeous state parks. At these parks, you can breathe in the fresh air and marvel at the splendor of the California landscape. 

Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park is surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains, and it is just 25 miles from Los Angeles. There are plenty of hiking trails that will take you past the oak woodlands and sycamores. If you want to see some beautiful scenery, then this is the place for you. Malibu Creek is home to rolling tallgrass hills, mountain peaks, and canyon vistas. You can even swim in a lake that was once an ancient volcano. For those outdoor enthusiasts, there are plenty of opportunities to mountain bike or rock climb. Deer, foxes, bobcats, owls, and mountain lions are known to roam this park. 

Pismo Beach State Park

If you are starting out in Pismo Beach, pull over and visit this state park. Pismo Beach State Park is a 17-mile waterside recreation area and is a popular tourist spot along the Pacific Coast. From hiking trails to big waves, there are plenty of beautiful sites and fun recreational activities at this state park. Swimming, surfing, and fishing are the most popular activities here. If you don't want to hit the water, there are other recreational opportunities to enjoy, such as hiking or animal watching. 

Mount San Jacinto State Park

This 14,000-acre state park is located in Riverside County, and it is just a few hours from Los Angeles. Mount San Jacinto State Park was once part of the San Bernardino Forest Reserve. It opened to the public in 1937 and today, you can experience the beauty of this state park. It is part of the San Jacinto Mountains, and the tallest peak is 10,831 feet above sea level. This park is filled with various natural elements, including high-country wilderness, granite peaks, alpine forests, and mountain meadows. Get out of the RV and hike around the park for a closer look at these spectacular sites.

Along the Way

On this Pismo Beach to Santa Monica RV road trip, you will travel past a few exciting attractions in this portion of the Golden State. 

Dinosaur Caves Park

This 11-acre park provides some beautiful oceanfront views. It is a popular spot for walkers, dog lovers, and fishing enthusiasts in Pismo Beach. You can relax in the large grassy area or enjoy a live performance at the amphitheater. Dinosaur Caves Park includes a large play area with some special features. Children will love to climb on the soft dinosaur, concrete dolphins, dinosaur eggs, and the USS Imagination. 

Monarch Butterfly Grove

From late October to February, you can see over 100,000 monarch butterflies at this location. The butterflies use this spot in Pismo Beach to rest before continuing on their long migration. You will see thousands of butterflies clustering on the limbs of the eucalyptus trees in the grove. 

Santa Monica Pier 

When you are in Santa Monica, visit this famous double-jointed pier. This popular spot is home to a small amusement park and a few concession stands as well as a few restaurants. There are also plenty of places to view the ocean or cast your line into the water, and it's also a popular surfing spot.

Main Cities You Will Pass Through

As you head down the California coast, you will find plenty of places that can accommodate your rig. If you need a spot to keep up the tidiness of your vehicle, there are a couple of places where you can safely use a dump station.

Santa Barbara

The Santa Ynez Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop for the town of Santa Barbara. In the downtown area, you will see many buildings designed with a touch of Spanish influence. This town is known for its upscale restaurants and boutiques. If you want to learn about the history of this area, the Mission Santa Barbara is home to a museum. At the end of your busy day, you can find a campground where you can park your rig and enjoy some amenities on your vacation. 

Santa Maria

Santa Maria is another city situated along the Pacific Ocean. This city is known for its wineries and a special type of delicious barbecue. If you want to see some birds, then you should visit Preisker Park, where there is a large population of Lawrence's goldfinches. The Santa Maria Historical Society Museum is a great place to learn about the city's past through artifacts and photographs. Those who want to spend a few days in the area will be able to find a great campground near Santa Maria. 

Long Beach

Long Beach is home to the RMS Queen Mary. This retired ocean liner is also a museum that is open to the public. The waterfront Aquarium of the Pacific features a shark lagoon and touch tank. If you love art, you will not want to miss a chance to see modern and contemporary works at the Museum of Latin American Art. Long Beach is a great spot to camp out at one of the local RV parks.

Find Adventure from Pismo Beach to Santa Monica

Rent an RV

When you follow this road trip itinerary from Pismo Beach to Santa Monica, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Pismo Beach or Santa Monica.

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