The California Pacific Coast Highway has long been reputed as one of the most scenic drives, or rides, in the whole United States. Stretching from the Northern California border with Oregon down to San Diego, there are few routes more beautiful and, at times, frightening. Hugging the coastal cliffs that are often blanketed in fog, the drive can sometimes be unnerving, but worth it for every corner you swing around only to have a new breathtaking view down the coast, so similar yet so unlike the one that came before it. Whether you head from north to south or vice versa here are some places to see on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip.
The northernmost big coastal city in the state, San Francisco is known as the City of Seven Hills, and can be quite the workout to walk around. That said there are so many great places throughout its beautiful neighborhoods that you don’t want to miss on your epic road trip. The Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and the old cable cars are the typical places to visit. For something a little different, head to the mission and explore the more alternative part of the city with a visit to Tartine.
Half Moon Bay
Just down the coast from San Francisco, this quaint coastal town is home to the luxurious Mill Rose Inn, situated right downtown where you’ll find great shops and restaurants serving only the finest local California foods. Half Moon Bay is known for being the home of one of the world’s biggest surf contest, Mavericks, as well as its simple charm, quiet coastal life, and great places to hiking and biking.
Home to the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium, this coastal town was inspiration for many of John Steinbeck’s books. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a great place for a hike, or explore the old Cannery Row, the scenic 17 Mile Drive or head over to the neighboring village Carmel-by-the-Sea to do some shopping.
One of the most famous National Parks in the country, Big Sur has earned its name. Home to one of the tallest single span bridges in the world, the Bixby Bridge, it is full of numerous photographic opportunities. This rural mountain community is full of great little hippy hangouts like the hot spring pools.
This sleepy little coastal town is a great resting place as well as home to Moonstone Beach and the Pidras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, and Cambria Village. The most famous sight in the area is the Enchanted Hill, which is home to the famous Hearst Castle, a 250,000 acre mansion.
Don’t forget to pack lots of snacks for your Pacific Coast Highway road trip, along with great tunes, maps, and a list of great car games to play. Be sure to book your stay at the Mill Rose Inn for your stop through Half Moon Bay. This trip down the California Coast is an experience like nothing else, and is absolutely worth considering the next time you are planning a vacation.