If you’re planning to take a road trip, you need to consider traveling the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Also known as Highway 1, this stretch of road hugging the California coast has dozens of spectacular views — from sandy beaches to mountainous cliffs to shady forests. It also branches off into some of the most famous cities in Southern California, so there’s never a dull moment. If you’re thinking about driving the Pacific Coast Highway, here’s what you can expect.
Soak in the Miles of Beaches & Coves
Do you love sinking your toes into the sand, feeling the sea breeze play with your hair, and hearing the ocean waves crashing against the rocks? Then a PCH road trip is the perfect vacation for you! Southern California has some of the best beaches, including:
- Laguna Beach
- Manhattan Beach
- Santa Monica Beach
- Venice Beach
- Huntington Beach
- Santa Cruz
What’s even better is that many of these spots have more attractions than just their gorgeous sandy shores. For example, Santa Monica Beach is world-famous for its carnival pier marking the end of Route 66, while Venice Beach has a boardwalk frequented by creative performance artists. Interested in more scenic experiences? Explore the incredibly iconic spots of Crystal Cove Beach, El Matador, and Honeymoon Cove in SoCal, where you’ll find high bluffs, beautiful hidden beaches, and secluded coves. There are endless possibilities here for stunning backdrops to your photos.
Lose Your Breath Gazing Upon Stunning Views
You can’t take a Pacific Coast Highway road trip without traveling through Big Sur. This stretch of the PCH is almost 94 miles long and starts and ends at San Simeon and Carmel. As you drive, you’ll be able to gaze upon the cliffs of the Santa Lucia Mountains and tumultuous shores. You can even take a break from driving by camping in Big Sur or simply parking in one of the pull-offs.
While traveling through Big Sur, you’ll encounter Bixby Bridge, one of the tallest bridges of its kind. Make sure you have your camera ready because you will not want to miss out on the breathtaking photo opportunities.
Another amazing landmark you will encounter driving the PCH is the Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll be able to gaze upon its magnificence and then drive across it as you take in the incredible San Francisco Bay.
Explore Nature at Its Finest
Wildlife enthusiasts and nature explorers alike will appreciate the miles of forest and the opportunities to observe wildlife in their natural habitats. While gazing upon the stretches of beaches, keep an eye out for flicks of whale tails or frolicking sea otters. If you stop at Hearst Castle (one of Highway 1’s most popular attractions), consider making the five-mile trip to Piedras Blancas Beach to see elephant seals swim, molt, mate, and give birth.
If you love camping and hiking, you must take a detour to the Pacific Coast’s state and national parks. The Redwood National and State Parks, in particular, will leave you breathless. You’ll be able to see some of the tallest trees on the planet and watch Roosevelt elk as they graze. Other national and state parks you’ll want to visit while traveling the PCH include:
- Point Reyes National Seashore (for its stunning scenery and wildlife-viewing opportunities)
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area (for its historic buildings and structures that date back to the 1700s and a striking view that shows the collide of urban and rural landscapes)
- Pinnacles National Park (for its rugged valleys and towering rock formations)
Sip Delicious Wine
Are you a wine connoisseur? Then a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway is the trip for you! Some of the best wine regions are only a short distance away. One trip you will definitely want to make is to Santa Barbara. Here, you can get a wine map and tour all the best places for delectable pinot noir and more. If you’re interested in sipping wine and exploring famous landmarks, consider booking Santa Barbara tours from Los Angeles.
Visit Bustling Cities
Finally, the greatest reason to drive the Pacific Coast Highway is to see the three largest cities in California:
- San Diego: This city is famous for its surfing hubs, zoo, and Mexican food. Relax on its sandy beaches or take a stroll through the Cave Store.
- Los Angeles: This glamorous city is known for its parade of celebrities, the Hollywood Sign, Walk of Fame, Santa Monica Pier, Theater Row, and more! No matter if you’re interested in the lore of Old Hollywood or the trends of today’s celebrities, you can find it all in LA.
- San Francisco: This hilly city offers a multitude of attractions — from the Golden Gate Park, bustling waterfront, and world-class museums to unique local eateries and bars. There’s plenty to see and do.
With so many amazing attractions and breathtaking views, it’s no surprise that driving the PCH has become as much of an American tradition as eating pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving! If you’re hitting the road this season, consider booking a private, luxury vehicle tour of LA or join us on a 3-day tour from Los Angeles to San Francisco. You’ll have an experience unsurpassed by any other tour and will be sure to create lasting memories. Contact us today to schedule a tour around LA or along the PCH.