What we call PCH is actually, State Route 1 (SR 1) also known in sections as Highway 1, Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway, or Coast Highway. It is a group of various roads along the California coast line that runs south and north and has been renamed SR 1. In various sections the locals still refer to it as it was known most commonly. Thus the many names for this particular road.
For those in a hurry, The Pacific Coast Highway is not the route to take. Especially on weekends, the speed limit can average little more than 25 miles an hour driving through the charming little towns. Also, it can become confusing when the name of PCH changes when the road itself jogges off onto another coastal road.
Some areas of PCH are not as charming as others. By virtue of the jagged coast line or sogginess of the land closer to the Pacific Ocean, the road can move more inland and even the sight of the coast can be lost in many areas.
So, if your plan is to travel a long distance in the shortest time possible, this road is not a good choice.
However, there are notable sections that should not be missed and sections that pass through charming and artistic towns or California beach communities or simply the spectacular views makes this a wonderful way to experience the coast line of California if you have plenty of time for your travels.
Before taking a long drive on PCH check the website link below this tip for road conditions at the time.
NEW "MOVE OVER" LAW WILL INCREASE SAFETY FOR CALTRANS HIGHWAY WORKERS
Sacramento –Caltrans wants the public to know about a new law signed by the governor that requires motorists to move over or slow down when they see a Caltrans vehicle flashing warning lights.
The new law, Senate Bill 240 (State Senator Roderick Wright), adds Caltrans vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights to the list of vehicles for which motorists must slow down and, if safe, move over to a lane not immediately adjacent to the stationary vehicle.
“This protects the safety of our workers,” said Caltrans Director Randy Iwasaki. “Highway workers face the same dangers from fast moving traffic as emergency personnel and tow-truck operators. We appreciate the leadership and recognition of the legislature and governor for the need to provide a safer working environment for our employees.”
Since 1924, 174 Caltrans workers have lost their lives in the line of duty. On July 23, 2009, Caltrans worker Don Lichliter was struck and fatally injured by a passing truck on Highway 99 in Lodi. He was with another worker applying a fertilizer treatment to keep eucalyptus trees healthy. Their truck was parked on the shoulder.
To date, 45 other states have enacted similar laws requiring motorists to move over or slow down. Violation of the new provision is punishable by a fine of not more than $50. The new law also makes the safety protections permanent by removing the sunset date (January 1, 2010) from existing law.
I'm an Engish woman in my 50s who has travelled alone in California a lot. I'd like to add a couple of things to the comments here:
1. I tend to fly in to LAX and stay in Santa Monica in a hotel near the beach until I have recovered from jetlag. You definitely don't need a car there and it's close to the beach too. When you're ready, rent a car and wander north up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu once or twice. It's an easy and beautiful drive to get you started.
2. Be careful about driving in some of the place you've mentioned. Big Sur, for example, is terrifying to drive and often subject to dangerous weather. I also found it scarey driving to Death Valley (via Trona) and ended up turning round. So think carefully about whether you can cope with the driving.
I absolutely adore California and come as often as I can, but I have learned not to be too ambitious in terms of my own energy and ability to drive long distances alone.
Beginning in July 2008, it will be illegal to use a cell phone while driving a vehicle unless a hands free device is utilized. The legislation passed well in advance of the deadline, but the enactment date was delayed so people could get their hands free devices. So be sure to use a hands free device when talking on the phone and driving in California, otherwise you might get a ticket.
A curious history no one probably ever wrote here in VT.
Travelling the southwest USA is confortable because of the big cars you can rent, with automatic gears, speed control device and most of all the conditioned air.
Well, when we were going away from the death valley, we encountered a lovely sign that stated 'turn off conditioned air'. This was because the outside temperature was too hot and the water of your car risked to boil.
see also my advices in my Arizona page
There are 12 miles to reach the top of the southern entrance to the death valley, and it is a steep climbing road. It takes about 30 minutes (we made it in almost 1 hour because there was a truck that didn't want to let us pass..) and in that period you will get cooked... It is not a pleasant trip at all.
Pedestrian signals work differently here and they surely irritated me at first.
So why do they change before I get across the street?
The flashing "Don’t Walk" or a flashing upraised hand is a warning to people who have not yet entered the intersection that it’s too late to safely cross the street before the traffic signal changes allowing cars to proceed. Signals are timed to allow people who have already started walking at a reasonable pace to safely cross the street.
Before that idea was explained to me, I was really irritated when I got the 'don't walk' sign already after a few seconds while I was still somewhere in the middle of the street ... because in Germany you have usually the green 'walk' signal for the whole time you're crossing the street.
There are lots of ways that cars can catch on fire. But one that hits the news a lot in Northern Nevada these days is because people haul extra gas with them. These days with the price of gas 40 cents a gallon cheaper in Nevada, every time I go to Costco I see people from California filling up their vehicle and taking 50+ extra gallons back in gas containers. One lady blew herself and her SUV up when she decided she'd smoke. That wasn't the cause of this fire, these people were moving out of California.
a bunch of new cop cars. These are new white Cameros with very little “cop” lights on top. You basically can't tell these from regular cars and the state is looking for a $$ return on their investments. oh… and of course you can’t forget the SUV police vehicles either. Why do we need urban SUV police vehicles anyway?
Some fun parts of California Driving:
*Hwy 1: Monterey on down South. & San Francisco and head north. Ocean View
*Hwy 120 – thru Yosemite to Mono Lake
*Mt Shasta area
Some Dangerous or extremely monotonous:
*Hwy 17 from San Jose to Santa Cruz – blind corners, over crowded
*Hwy 5 – San Diego to Sacramento (or Redding for that matter)
*Hwy 405 @ 101 Los Angeles = I won’t list any other LA’s there’s more
*Hwy 15 LA to Las Vegas = the worst ever
Around any big metro area at rush-hour(S)
Some heavily speed trapped: cops galore:
*Hwy 101 @ King City – 1 ½ hours south of San Jose, 20 miles north, 60 miles south of city) rumor? King’s City’s #1 income are speeding tickets. (2nd is fast food joints) not kidding.
*Hwy 101 around San Luis Obispo / Pismo Beach / Santa Maria
*Hwy 17 – San Jose to Santa Cruz
*Hwy 80 – Ski Season from SF to Tahoe
Of course these are only a noted few. Feel free to send me ones that you know for sure. (Does not count if you got a ticket passing thru an area, you may have had bad ju-Ju. Lets hope you weren’t going to or from Vegas.
My Brother and I were busted at the same time driving home from college - Self portrait in car and action shot of my brother while we're driving.
Don't pick up hitchhikers while driving, even if they look like they need help badly. It sounds harsh, but you never know whether things are really as they seem. If you see someone who looks to be in trouble, call the police or California Highway Patrol as soon as you can.
Make sure you fill up your car with gas in San Simeon. You won't find another gas station until you get to Gorda (some 30 miles). Since they are the only gas station for miles, their prices are outrageous. When we where there, they asked US$2.80 a gallon while regular prices ranged between US$ 1.55-1.90! But what can one do when running on empty?
Argonaut Hotel - A Kimpton Hotel San Francisco
4 Reviews and 2403 Opinions There's no doubt this hotel, provides a level of luxury and convenience, that many travellers will...
Magic Castle Hotel Los Angeles
5 Reviews and 1256 Opinions The Magic castle hotel is a great place to stay. It looks small at first view but its rooms are on...
1 Review and 101 Opinions If you want to stay at a place that's not right on the beach, but still close enough to get anywhere...
see all California member meetings