Most famously the location for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Monterey also boasts one of the best aquariums in the world. We’d also recommend a detour to neighbouring Carmel, a remarkably pretty coastal town with a stock of antique shops and galleries, a historic Mission and a delightful white sand beach, before following the 17 mile scenic drive between Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. Whale watching and sea kayaking trips are also available.
Stay: 2 nights at Monterey Plaza Hotel
Soon after leaving Monterey you’ll be driving the super-scenic Big Sur coast, 75 snaking miles that weave, duck and dive between the mountains of the Los Padres National Forest and the ocean swells and surf, spectacular coves, beaches and promontories. You should allow time for a guided tour of Hearst Castle, the sumptuous hilltop retreat of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. This Disney-esque palace, which is filled with his personal collection of priceless treasures, manages to reduce the average UK stately pile to the grandeur of a suburban semi.