YORBA LINDA, Calif. (CNN/Money) -
The California coastline offers spectacular road-tripping opportunities, especially in autumn, when the roads aren't as full as in the summer.
Most people visiting California arrive in either San Francisco or Los Angeles, so a drive from one to the other would be perfect for a long weekend. There are many great places to stop along the way. Here's a look at some of some of them, from north to south:
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
West Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, California
Whether you're an avid surfer or your surfing knowledge is limited to some Beach Boys lyrics, this great little museum makes a fun stop. Housed in an old lighthouse that overlooks one of California's prime surfing spots, it features exhibits of vintage surfboards, photos, and videos documenting the evolution of surfing culture. It's also got one of the coolest gift shops of any museum in America.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row, Monterey California
Perennially ranked as America's finest aquarium, this wonderful facility features over 300,000 creatures representing over 570 species, all of them native to central California. There are aquarium standbys like sea otters and sharks, as well as a three-story kelp forest, an aviary, the world's first deep-sea exhibit, and a lot more. Not to be missed.
750 Hearst Castle Rd., San Simeon, California
More Autumn Drives
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Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst built this fascinating monument to his own insatiable desire for excess in the 1920s. Today the 165-room building, situated on a 127-acre estate, is a historic site administered by the California Park Service. Tours of the facility highlight Hearst's sizable art collection, countless antiques, and some architectural and interior-design details of questionable taste. The tours are popular, so call ahead for a reservation.
Grandma Prisbey's Bottle Village
4595 Cochrane St., Simi Valley, California
One of America's great works of eccentric folk art, Bottle Village is a ragtag assortment of buildings and sculptures made primarily of bottles, hubcaps, old TV sets, and other cleverly recycled materials. The project was begun in 1956 by Tressa Prisbey, who at that point was 60 years old. She ended up working on Bottle Village for the next 25 years. She died in 1988, but her playful spirit of creativity lives on at this incredibly whimsical site. As Prisbey herself once said, "Anyone can do anything with a million dollars. Look at Disney. But it takes more than money to make something out of nothing, and look at the fun I have doing it." Tours are by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead.
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, California
Love him or hate him, there's no denying that Richard Nixon was one of the most complex and fascinating men ever to occupy the White House. This shrine to his life and his Presidency makes a great stop for anyone with even a passing interest in politics or history. Built on the site where Nixon was born in 1914, the facility features extensive displays and exhibits that, depending on your perspective, either set the record straight on this great man or grossly distort the historical record of his scandal-ridden administration. Take your pick. Either way, it's engrossing stuff, especially the huge display of Christmas cards that the Nixons exchanged each year with the likes of Nikita Krushchev and Jean-Claude Duvalier.