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10 Coastal Towns Perfect for a Summer Road Trip

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

May gray and now June gloom, with this chilly spring weather here in southern California warm summer sun can't come soon enough! For me, summer fun always includes a road trip along a coast --somewhere in the world. Some of the best spots are randomly stumbled upon while driving. Wherever you are in the world, if a road trip is in your plans this summer, here's a quick list of some of my favorite well-known, and hidden gem coastal towns worth making a stop.


Bryon Bay Australia

Probably one of my favorite spots in the world (and I liked it before the Hemsworth guys made it famous) Byron Bay is a place I always have to visit when in Australia! Both times I've visited I've taken a drive here from Sydney. It's over an 8 hour drive from there, but if you have time to make a day out of it, it's worth it or you can easily just fly. The town is quaint and cute, the people are nice, and it's a beautiful place to relax and explore!


Kennebunkport Maine

This town is so cute and adorable it reminded me of a movie set. I stumbled upon this gem on a road trip along the coast of Maine as I was heading toward Boston, not knowing it's a secret summer escape for many celebrities. Historically a shipbuilding and fishing village, this has now become one of the wealthiest communities in Maine. Due to the many historic bed and breakfasts, and a rustic dockside vibe this town did not feel snobby though and is appealing to everyone anytime of year. Visit in the spring before the crowds hit and enjoy what Maine's most known for, fresh lobster.


Laguna Beach 1000 Steps

Laguna gets a mention because in my opinion it's the best beach town you'll find an hour outside of Los Angeles. Renowned for its beautiful beaches and coves, the community here is fully into the art gallery scene and high-end resort life yet it still keeps its quaint coastal vibe with a plethora of delicious restaurants. It's a staple city escape for me every summer!


Wellington New Zealand view

Twice now I've driven through both the north and south islands of New Zealand, and each time Wellington gets a stop. It is the capital city and is the second most populous urban area in the country--serving as the gateway to the south island via ferry or plane. There's plenty to do here, and though a bit windy, the weather is moderate with lots of sunshine all year round. Drive, hike or bike the trail up to Mt. Victoria lookout, where you can grab this panoramic view of the city pictured here. Yes, the water is that turquoise!


Denia spain coastal view

Another unexpected charming town I discovered while driving the coast of Spain is Denia. An hour outside of Valencia, this beautiful place is built around a historical castle with a lot of old architecture, making it a really fun walkable city. From hikes to beaches, a castle tour (pictured here), and great restaurants, this coastal city has much to offer any visitor.


carmel by the sea coastal view

There are many stops fitting for this list while driving on Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles, to San Francisco--but Carmel is definitely one of the more popular and memorable places I'm always sure to hit up. Similar to Laguna, this place has a rich history of the arts, and is known for its historic Carmel Mission, natural beauty, and fairy tale like village in the town center. Another relaxing escape from the city!


cinque terre vernazza

A place that once no one really knew about, is now a top and almost overcrowded tourist destination in Italy. It still remains one of my most memorable trips though, and because of how unique and beautiful it is it's no wonder everyone flocks to go see it. There are 5 coastal villages that make up the city all connected by train and foot trails. Vernazza (pictured here) was my favorite!


port douglas coast australia

This beautiful town is the only place in the world where two biological wonders meet- The Great Barrier Reef, and The Daintree Rainforest. Just about an hour drive north from Cairns, this place has it all- clear blue waters, warm sandy beaches, rainforests, and a very friendly tropical village vibe. Oh, and the bats here are HUGE!!


ocean beach san diego

Ocean Beach, also known as OB, is what I call San Diego's version of Byron Bay. With it's artsy-hip, hippie vibe, great restaurants and beautiful beach, I always make it a point to stop here. To me, this is the classic socal vibe with surfers, beach goers and the best little streets with eclectic shops and antiques!


queenstown new zealand view

Technically not a coastal town as it's on a lake, but I couldn't help but add this to the list! I've driven to Queenstown twice and it's always my final and favorite stop in New Zealand. With a gorgeous view like this, what's not to love! There is so much to do in here during the summer - hikes, lake activities, rafting, canyon swinging, and pretty much any adventure in typical New Zealand style. Plus the city vibe is super cool with lots of great shopping, bars and restaurants!

I'm pretty obsessed with beaches and coastal towns! Too many more for me to list, so I'll save that for a future post. Would love to hear your favorites so please share below! Happy Summer!!

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