The Pacific Coast Highway also known as Highway 1 is probably one of the most scenic drives in the world. The name already sounds like paradise, right !? ;-). You can actually drive all the way from California’s northern border down to San Diego. Over 1000 km of stunning views of the endless blue Pacific Ocean, seaside villages and untouched nature.
Our Roadtrip ( 9+ days )
We have been driving along California’s Highway 1 numerous times in the past. This time, we decided to start driving from the North ( San Francisco ) to the South ( Los Angeles ).
#1 San Francisco ( 2 days )
After flying to San Francisco International Airport, the first leg of our trip was to stay in San Francisco and explore the City by the bay.
San Francisco is an awesome city to explore. I wrote about our San Francisco day in a separate post. You can read it here.
Stay – there are numerous places to stay in San Francisco, from cheap to luxury. We especially liked staying at the Le Meridien. The views are amazing and the location ( downtown SF ) is great.
#2 Half Moon Bay
After two days in the big city, we made our way south to scenic Half Moon Bay. This coastal enclave is the perfect place to relax and enjoy some Californian laid back culture.
Stay – Half Moon Bay Lodge
Eat – there are so many great places to eat in Half Moon Bay. We decided on a simple beach picnic.
Do – stroll around downtown with its shops, galleries, and bookstores or hike along the Coastside Trail which follows the ocean bluffs between Pillar Point Harbor and Poplar Avenue
Monterey is all about the sea and its historical evidence of California’s Spanish and Mexican periods with many restored buildings.
Stay – The Green Gables Inn, perfectly situated overlooking Monterey Bay. The property seems to be stuck in another era, with victorian finishings and antique furniture and a beautiful walking path along the Pacific just in front of the B&B.
Eat – Historic Cannery Row is the waterfront and amusement street in Monterey, packed with hotels, stores and of course restaurants.
Do – Spend the afternoon in Fisherman’s Wharf and take a scenic drive along the historic 17-Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula. It is really worth it. The views are spectacular.
#4 Big Sur
This rugged and mountainous section of the Central Coast offers some of the prettiest coastlines in all of California.
Stay – Vetana Inn Big Sur, which is tucked among the forests overlooking the dramatic Californian Coast.
Do – The long winding Highway 1 offers plenty of stopping places to admire the landscape. Don’t forget to stop at the famous Bixby Bridge, which you have seen in hundreds of commercials, movies, and TV shows.
#5 San Simeon
Do – The Hearst Castle. This national historic landmark in the hills of Santa Lucia overlooking the village of San Simeon was a definite Must-See on our list. The legendary castle is as flamboyant and showy as William Randolph Hearst was, the iconic newspaper magnate for whom it was built for.
#6 Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo
World-famous Morro Rock is worth a stop.
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