Road Trip: California’s Pacific Coast Highway

California's Pacific Coast Highway
California's Pacific Coast Highway

In the 1930s, work started on the historic Pacific Coast Highway (PCH or Route 1) and still remains a monument to stunning architecture and engineering that humans are capable of. This highway snakes across more than 900 kilometers traversing the scenic and rugged coastlines of California. 

The Pacific Coast Highway stands out as one of the most incredibly enchanting roads on the planet. It is designed for the users to drive slowly while soaking in the mountains’ majesty, the soaring heights of the centuries-old trees, endless beaches, and the skies that stretch farther than you can see. 

Travelers on the road have the unique opportunity to enjoy all that California has in its dazzling kitty. These include Hollywood glares, vintage wines, organic foods, historic outposts, surfing hamlets, bohemia, and so many more. 

Planning the Trip and Getting Ready

Before you commence this memorable journey, there are some vital tips. If you do not stop at all, you will drive for about 10 hours to cover every Pacific Coast Highway inch. However, the best recommendation is that you have breaks along the way so you can appreciate all the sights and even sleep overnight at inns and local hotels. This way, you will need roughly one week to enjoy the great Pacific Coast Highway of California truly. 

The state’s weather is typically mild so that you can cruise on the highway at practically any time of the year. That said, the best time to plan your trip will be from the last parts of spring all through fall. The PCH records its highest travel traffic in July and August. 

Items Needed: 

  • Shoes: You need a few different pairs for different locations. Flats will do well for the beaches and hiking boots for the wine country or the forests and mountains. 
  • Pants: Jeans will do very well; a few pairs will be enough.
  • Binoculars: There is so much stunning scenery on Route 1 that you will blame yourself if you do not come with a pair of binoculars. You can watch the sea lions doing their thing in the Sun or appreciate the wonders of wildlife, just like any researcher. You can even be lucky enough to spot gray whales at Half Moon Bay. 
  • Beach Gear: The picturesque coast of California has some of the most magical beaches anywhere. Get all your gear ready and storm pristine locations like the Fletcher Cove Beach Park or the Pescadero State Beach. 
  • Camera: We all understand why this is important. 
  • Cloths: The weather along Route 1 can be unpredictable, so get everything from light wears to overalls and jackets. 
  • Sunscreen and Hat: This is a very sunny area; protect your body from dangerous UV rays.

After you have packed all these, load up your audio device with your favorite music tracks because you are about to embark on one of the most exciting adventures of your life!

Itinerary

Start at San Francisco

The glorious Golden Gate Park is an excellent place to step on the gas and start your journey. 

Stops:

Explore the Golden Gate Park itself before checking out the City Lights Bookstore, then head to Chinatown. Get some delicious Asian cuisine before you start your journey. A bag of snacks will also not be a bad idea. 

Felton and Santa Cruz

With San Francisco about two hours behind you, cruise into Santa Cruz after you have stopped briefly at the rustic mountain town of Felton. Driving here will have you speechless at the sheer beauty of the scenery. From the ocean views to the seaside outposts, the elegant charm and beauty cannot be ignored. Relax a while here and enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Stops: 

The Devil’s Slide offers you fantastic walking paths. You can stop and relax your legs there. Check out the Bigfoot Discovery Museum and learn all about the elusive monster. 

Big Sur 

Drive past rugged mountains that seem to stretch forever. Be amazed as you zoom past the giant redwood forests. You can do better by camping inside the woods. This way, you get to enjoy the finest of local farm produce and, of course, the unforgettable wines. 

Stops: 

If you want to camp in the forests, stop at the Big Sur Inn and enjoy genuine Bohemian hospitality. There is also the Henry Miller Memorial Library in the same area. 

Cambria

Upon reaching Cambria, you have all the seaside villages, charming bluffs, and rural life to yourself. Taste the local dishes at the Linn’s Restaurant. Do not leave without taking a combination of ollaberry pie and vanilla ice cream. 

Stops: 

Before storming into Cambria, branch by the Piedras Blancas Friends of the Elephant Seal center fascinated with these creatures as they play and fight. Do not be tempted to approach them, though; they can be as big as four tons. 

Morro Bay

Your probability of seeing some of the countless animals of this state is pretty on the high side at the little city of Morro Bay. Relax here for as long as you want. 

Stops: 

The Morro Bay State Park is home to monarch butterflies, sea otters, blue herons, hummingbirds, and many more. 

Santa Barbara

Continue on a long drive stretch until you get to Santa Barbara – the perfect mix of the beach and the highlife. Some of the wealthiest Americans have their homes here, so you might want to cruise around to see some mansions. 

Stops: 

Visit Boysenberry Rose Milk Jam for their heavenly ice creams. 

Los Angeles

Continue your journey until you reach the city of the angels. As expected, this city has many hustle and bustle, so the noise is not unexpected. Drive slowly and experience the real glamour of Hollywood, which has made this area world-famous.

Stops: 

Neptune’s Net is a seafood eatery and pub right on Route 1 in Malibu. Slide in and pamper yourself silly as you watch bikers speed pass. 

San Diego

Not long after driving from Los Angeles, you get to the last leg of your trip: make a triumphant entry to San Diego. You must be tired by now, but there are excellent stops for you. 

Stops: 

San Diego has some of the coolest Mexican restaurants in the United States, and you will be cheating yourself if you do not visit any. Try Oscar’s Mexican Seafood or Las Cuatro Milpas!

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