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Los Angeles to Big Sur: about 300 miles
Why go: Convertibles were made for drives like this. After a quick stop inland for a Santa Barbara wine tour, and a peek at majestic Hearst Castle, the route heads up the ruggedly beautiful Big Sur Coast Highway, through giant redwood groves with a backdrop of crashing waves.
Where to stay: Post Ranch Inn's rooms have breathtaking ocean views 1,200 feet above sea level (doubles from $595).
What to eat along the way: Meats grilled over an open fire of red oak and an excellent wine list make the Hitching Post II a super-popular roadside steakhouse in Buellton; Big Sur Bakery's oversize pastries, beautiful omelets and wood-fired breads provide a thrilling break from burritos and trail mix.