The Golden State Awaits



Story by Maddie Russo

Staring out the window as the sun was sitting over the Pacific Ocean, Shelby Bluher was sold: This was the most incredible sunset she had ever witnessed, on an unforgettable trip.

The junior communications major was also convinced: Chapman students, the vacation of a lifetime is right at your fingertips. And you only need to stay on one road to take it: 

Pacific Coast Highway. It’s calling your name. Here is your guide to some of the most stellar locations to hit up as you take the journey up the Golden State. 

Starting South: 

San Diego:

“This place is a gem,” stated April Tran, sophomore and Communications major, and situated only 1 ½ hours South from Orange. San Diego is where you will want to start your journey. Who would want to pass up the views from Sunset Cliffs or skip the beach town of Encinitas? Here you can make a day out of it, hike the Ho Chi Minh trail, drop off at Ortiz’s tacos and get “Some of the best food eva,” as sophomore, Communications major Haley Pane described it. Then end your day sitting up on Sunset Cliffs and hoping for a sky of purple, pink and orange haze. 

Next stop: 

Avila Beach:

Avila Beach is located closer to San Luis Obispo in the central part of California. Here you will find one of the “cutest beach towns that California has to offer,” said Tran. She suggests walking down to the promenade or the pier, picking up some hot dogs from any street vendor, and enjoying the day relaxing in the sun or shopping around in the beach front boutiques.  

Big Sur:

After you’ve experienced the small beach town of Avila, it will be time to move onto Big Sur, California. This is a spot that has appeared to be one of the favorites of any PCH traveler. “One of the coolest things about Big Sur, is that you can take, a by now, much needed break of the sun and sand and explore the Redwood Forrest,” said Payne. Big Sur has won many of awards, some including, “50 Places of a Lifetime” and “Best Place to Play Hookie.” Go on a hike, take in the views, eat some good food, camp at Pfeiffer beach and fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean.

Moving on to a town more developed, but beautiful none the less, Monterey Bay.

Monterey Bay:

A little more “uppity,” but equally as exciting. Here you will find some of the best seafood this state has to offer. Head on down to Fishwife at the Monterey Peninsula and you won’t be disappointed. “If you like seafood, this place will blow your mind,” said Blueher. She also stated that going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a sightseeing must. The exhibits are “mind-blowing!”  Afterwards, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, instead of staying in a hotel, set up camp at Veteran’s Memorial Park. Here you will see horses roaming the grounds and it’s right at the bottom of a hiking trail. 

The 17 mile drive is from Monterey to Carmel. Here you can stop at pebble beach, play a round of golf if you’re into that sort of thing, because this course is right on the ocean. You are in the splash zone of crashing waves. Continuing on this 17 mile journey you’ll embark through some of the forest ending up in Carmel. 


This is also a quaint town that is a favorite to many PCH travelers. It is a described as a little less “ritzy,” by Blueher and also as “the cutest by-the-sea-town,” by sophomore, Public Relations and Advertising major, Rosi Norton. Norton claims that it is “More ‘Cape Cod-y,’ but with a surfer town feel.” It has been described by some as having “the whitest, cleanest sand” in California. Along with its quaint attributes, there is also plenty of shopping and restaurants to try.

A short 50 minute drive from Carmel is Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz:

Here you can channel your inner kid and head down to the boardwalk. “This place is like a an actual county fair, but all year round,” stated Payne. There are endless amounts of rides and carnival games to try your luck at. If you time it up right, each ride is only one ticket on Mondays. If boardwalks aren’t your thing, then relax at the beach and “hit up, Steamers Lane and Pizza My Heart for some really great food,” said Payne. 

Wrapping up your trip, you should end up in San Francisco.

San Francisco:

Here, your To-Do list may be the longest. You have had your rest and relaxation and now you have made it to the big-leagues. “First of all, park your car and don’t drive anywhere for a while, spend most of your day walking to all of the sites that are near each other so you don’t have to spend time worrying about parking or driving in the crazy streets,” said junior, Psychology major, Ali Robinson.

Start your day by walking down to Pier 39. There are many things, to eat, shop at, w and watch. Right on the pier you have the San Francisco Boudin Sourdough Factory and this is probably where you should eat lunch, “if you know what’s good for you,” said Junior, Sociology major, Taylor McCreery. It is a bread lovers paradise, the bread is everywhere, its literally hanging from the ceiling.

After your satisfying lunch work it off and walk your way over to Ghirardelli Square. This is where all the chocolatey goodness started. Wait in the line, “because it’s worth it,” said McCreery, and enjoy your Ghirardelli ice cream sundae on the lawn while looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge.

From here, if it’s baseball season, you might want to search online and find some cheap Giants tickets and take some public transit over to the historic stadium. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t like baseball, it’s the experience that counts, and baseball food is bomb,” claimed McCreery.  

Day two you are going to want to check out Alcatraz. They will give you headphones that play a recording of what happened and you can take your self-guided tour. After, be sure to do some sight seeing. Check out Lombard Street or the house ‘Full House’ was filmed in.

If that doesn’t sound appealing, Ruchika Bajaj, sophomore Strategic Corporate Communication major, suggests visiting China Town, or going for a drive across the Golden Gate and heading up into wine country for a change of scenery and some great Italian food. 

 Next spring break, gather some friends, (preferably one with a car), and drive along the Golden Coast. 

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