Wandering the Pacific Coast
Explore the sea cliffs, redwoods, and stunning sunsets of the west coast along California’s Highway 1. While the highway traverses much of the pacific coast line, we want to highlight a particularly isolated, narrow, and winding route between San Francisco and Los Angeles often referred to by the name of a small town in the heart of the route, Big Sur. See sea otters, whales, and even the endangered California Condor.
Top Stops on Highway 1
The California coast is packed with scenic and exciting stops. Almost every year, we explore new stops along Highway 1. While we haven't hit all of them, we have a pretty good read on what you can and cannot miss. Here are a few of our favorite stops, broken down by region.
California's Northern Coast
North of San Francisco
Escape the hustle and bustle of metropolitan San Francisco by traveling north on Highway 1 to find quiet seaside towns, sea-glass beaches, and redwood forests.
San Francisco and the surrounding Bay
Highway 1 arguably reaches its most challenging point as the route enters San Francisco via the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. If you haven’t walked the bridge, it is definitely worth while. But our favorite spots in the Bay Area are outside of the intense traffic of the Golden Gate City.
California's Central Coast
Monterey & Carmel By The Sea
The most visited stretch of California’s Central Coast is made up of a series of coastal towns along Highway 1 from Santa Cruz to Carmel-by-the-sea. These delightful coastal haunts are host to clear white beaches, abundant wildlife, and a colorful culinary scene. Must hits include Canary Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Point Lobos. It is worth noting that camping options and oversized parking is very limited. We tend to spend a day in the area and either have a hotel or be out by nightfall.
Cliffs of Coastal Central California
The sea cliffs and coastal mountains of Big Sur serve to isolate this stretch of Highway 1. Gas, supermarkets, and cell service are all tough to come by. But what the region lacks in common conveniences, it makes up in breathtaking vistas. Whales, sea otters, and the endangered California Condor are regularly spotted wildlife. Just plan ahead if you hope to snag one of the amazing campsites along this stretch.
Below Big Sur
Morro Bay, San Simeon, & other southern beach towns
The California Coast line is already subdivided by north, central, and southern. Yet, the central coast encompasses a wide range of geographies itself. While the Big Sur Area is remote, with limited access the rest of the state, by the time one reaches San Simeon and the southern portion of the central coast, highways with access east and proximity to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles supports much larger beach communities.
Of these seaside towns, our favorite is Morro Bay. The shallow waterway supports a safe habitat for sea otters and other aquatic life. Rent a kayak and explore the thriving waterway and beautiful sandy beaches.
Santa Barbara & Paso Robles
Central California’s coastal region is host to some truly remarkable wine appellations. While the area is probably best known for the film Sideways, there’s a lot more to the wine destination than just picking up waitresses at The Hitching Post. Try amazing pinot noir in Santa Barbara, gobble pancakes in Solvang, and sample heavier varietals such as zinfandel in Paso Robles.