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I'm from the UK and I am planning on spending about 6 days driving from San Francisco down possibly as far as San Diego and then back up again.

I'd love to stop at random beaches/interesting places along the way and doing a bit of surfing/sight seeing and then move on. Since I clearly lack any planning I don't want to book hostels in advance. Will I be able to wing it this freely without getting stuck with nowhere to sleep?

I'm thinking if I see a reasonable motel along the way then great but if not am I allowed to just drive off road a bit and put up a tent? Or if it is not strictly legal will I get away with it? There is only two of us.

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You would probably take CA-1 from SF all the way down to Los Angeles. I'm not sure if you can just sleep on the beach, but there are towns with motels along the way. You can probably find a place to stay in Monterey, San Louis Obispo and Santa Barbara along the way. There are also camping sites in Big Sur.

From Los Angeles to San Diego its all urbanized/militarized, and lodging shouldn't be a problem. You can take CA-1 along the coast (but its in fact a bunch of streets), or you can take the I-5/I-405 and exit in various places (Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Carlsbad etc).

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