PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara,
I am a proud Kia owner, and while this is a sponsored article paid for in flights, accommodations, and experiences by Kia Motors America, this in no way shaped my opinions of this brand and its products both in this article and other published articles.


Driving the PCH California City from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara (and time permitting even further north to San Francisco) is one of the most California vibe things you can do. Recently I was given the opportunity by Kia Motors America to take a drive in the all-new 2017 Cadenza from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.


There, we spent a few days having a very princess-like California city experience at the luxurious five-star Belmond El Encanto, paired with wine tours, a sea cave kayaking adventure, and a private yacht sunset dinner cruise from the Santa Barbara Waterfront.


Joined by my Kia partner Cristin Casados, mom boss and blogger, the view from our Cadenza was the perfect backdrop for a mini road trip with one of my favorite people. And need I talk about that sunroof!


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Driving the PCH California City from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara


I’ve always said driving the PCH California is like driving in a calendar. And I’m sure many would agree. It’s where beachy casual meets glitz and glam as picturesque coastlines can be seen to the west while steep cliffs of sandstone outcrops tower to the east.


Essentially we were in a beach bum sandwich wrapped in diamonds. And while we were dropping our jaws at the sight of the famous California palms, we were just as astounded by the cloud-like ride and luxurious features of the Cadenza.


california city


From Los Angeles, we drove through Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Ventura, Carpenteria, and into Santa Barbara. Some famous key points you should look for along the way are Zuma Beach, El Matador State Beach, Mulholland Dr., and Channel Islands Beach (where you can take a ferry to Channel Islands National Park).


Side note, we all went kayaking there, you should totally check that out.


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, Malibu


This drive should’ve taken us an hour and a half but it easily turned into three hours because we were enjoying the ride so much and stopping to take lots of photos. It all depends on how much exploring you want to do. For us, we found nostalgia from the coast to the canyons.


Inspiration was along for the ride from the vintage lifeguard stations and natural landscapes to the canyons and beachside estates of many celebs like Cher, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Nicholson, Ellen Degeneres, and Halle Berry (to name a few).


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, malibu


Everything about driving the PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara was pure California. Not to mention, its beaches have been the film locations to many movies. I don’t have to sell the PCH California to you.


To drive is among one of the most beautiful drives you can take in the world. But driving it in a mediocre car certainly takes away from the experience. That’s why I was super excited when Cristin and I were given the 2017 Kia Cadenza for this beautiful drive.


And this was just the beginning of our luxury adventure fit for a princess.


A Look at the 2017 Kia Cadenza


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, christa thompson, kia cadenza


The Kia Cadenza is certainly impossible to ignore as its brand messaging states. From a first-hand account, when this car approached me at LAX I felt like I was a celebrity. It brought all the bells and whistles of fine interior and cabin technology to both myself and Cristin (driver).


Sitting in the Cadenza was much like sitting in an Optima but better. And with its super cool head-up display which projects right into the windshield, we sort of felt like we were taking a drive in the future.


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, cadenza, malibu


As Kia’s flagship luxury model, the Cadenza was crafted for the senses with a perfect headlight to taillight image. Safety features like driver assist paired with intuitive technology and performance make this car totally worthy of those glamorous Malibu Canyons.


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, cadenza


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, cadenza


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, cadenza


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, cadenza


PCH from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, cadenza


In best friend terms, this car is glorious and certainly a perfect match for the California vibe. Have a glance at it for yourself.


Why Do I Work With Kia?


In 2015 I bought my first ever single mom car. It was a used 2012 Kia Sorento. I spent days shopping online for the right fit for my lifestyle. And, like any good shopper, I had plans to test drive all of them.


But, from the moment I sat in the Sorento, I knew it was the one. Its quality and comfort far exceeded its price, which is a common denominator among all Kia products. For two years I’ve been a proud owner, and I think that’s important for my readers to know. I’m not just getting fancy trips and writing about it just because. This is an authentic relationship with a product that is essentially an inanimate family member to me.


Driving the PCH California from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara was an adventure, one that I shared with a dear friend and colleague. Check back soon as I continue the story of our luxurious 5-star accommodations at the Belmond El Encanto, our private wine tours, our sea cave kayaking adventure at the Channel Islands National Park, and our luxurious private yacht sunset dinner cruise from the Santa Barbara Waterfront.



christa thompson, Kia Cadenza, Malibu
All the smiles overlooking Malibu Beach. Photo: Cristin Casados


Do you want to know more about life with a Kia? Ask me ANYTHING! Apart from owning a Sorento, I’ve spent this year driving the Kia Niro Hybrid, the Kia Optima, and the Kia Optima Hybrid Plug-in. You can see my details from the NY Auto Show here!


Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

23 thoughts on “Driving from California City Santa Barbara to Los Angeles

  1. I love when to buy a new car and you know its the one for you. I had this exact feeling with my 2004 Saturn Ion. I love that car. I had to learn to drive stick because of that car but I’ll never go back to automatic. Shifting the gears and pressing in the clutch is far to much fun.

  2. This looks amazing! We looked at Kia vans recently and I’m hoping to get one, since our family fills a normal car and we have a lot of visitors here in Guatemala. We need something with more space! That drive is awesome, I did it with my dad ages ago and it was just as gorgeous.

  3. What a great opportunity to test out a new, dependable car while spending quality time with a close friend. I personally love driving down PCH, gotta love the California views. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. For some reason I was expecting the Kia Cadenza to be a smaller sized car but boy was I wrong. Its quite a large one and seems really roomy. I love the white colour you chose as I think white always looks great in sunny climates.

  5. Years ago we drove the PCH on a family holiday, it was awesome, we stopped all the way along it for a few nights each. Still one of the best holidays I have ever had!

  6. It does look like such a cool trip. And as I have made that trek a time or two it can be very beautiful. Just gotta hope that there isn’t a lot of fog on those days. Get to the afternoon and the drive is almost always better.

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