Our first leg of our 3 week road trip was leaving LA and heading to San Francisco. It will mean driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, and it was fantastic.
This coastal highway see's you driving along high above the sea on the side of some very big rocky hills.
You will pass diner and shops, and even small towns and places to stay if you wish.
Taking a road trip through the state of California is not a new concept. Father Junipero Serra made his mark by traversing along the coast of California and setting up twenty-one Missions about every "one day's" worth of travel apart.
Eventually the U.S. 101/California1 was developed, offering some of the most interesting and beautiful views of the coast line from beyond the south end of the state to beyond the north boundry. This coastal route of the western U.S.A. & California has many names throughout the state. Pacific Coast Highway, (PCH), California Highway 1, US Highway 101, Pacific Highway, Seacoast Drive, Ocean Boulevard, Coast Road, well, you get the idea. PCH is the most famous of these and the most famous section of PCH is located in the northern part of California, but it is possible to drive from one end of the state at San Ysidro to the other at Crescent City along scenic and sometimes not so scenic coastal roads.
Every year there is some sort of new development along parts of this coastal route which often times obliterate the natural beauty and in some areas there are sites are not worth seeing, in other areas the road runs through little beach towns that anyone would love to spend time in, and parts of this famous road offer awesome, panoramic, ocean scenes that shouldn' t be missed. (Here I'll warn you that much of US 101 does not go along the coastal route, mainly only in the far southern area.)
Driving from one end of California to the other, on these coastal roads, (Speed Limit ranges from 25 mph through the beach communities to maybe 65 mph at some points.) will take a lot longer than driving the same distance on the Interstate freeways, (Speed Limit ranges from 65 mph to 70 mph most of the way.) so keep that in mind while making your plans.
The main thing to consider while planning such a road trip is that the more time you take the more you will be able to experience and learn about this wonderful aspect of the State of California and our casual culture.
Most of my photos are from the section in San Diego County and a bit beyond. Technically this section is not considered as SR-1 but still it is part of the PCH.
U.S. Highway 101 running north-south From Washington through Californiais the Western most highway on the Coast of the United States. It is also known as El Camino Real where it's route along the southern and central California coast approximates the old trail which linked the Spanish missions, pueblos and presidios.
We started out at Point Lobos and followed the route South for a couple of hours into the Big Sur country. The it is awsome!
Beullton, which also claims to have invented split pea soup, is home to the Beullton Ostrich Farm. You can buy an ostrich filet, pay to view the ostriches, or better yet, just snag some free pictures from the side of the road. It was right off the highway on our coastal roadtrip.
Oh, fyi ostrichs sound like angry, depressed cats.
Enjoyed camping at one of the many camping sites along Highway 1. You just drive and park a vacant lot and set up your tent for the night. There is a box at the entrance for self registration and to drop the camping fee into an envelope into the box - self service.
Can look into the ocean and see any spouts of passing whales. The vegetation on the cliffs are varied, colorful and full of little flowers. The fog may come in. At night, a racoon raided our camp site. Bring torches for fun night hikes along the cliffs and down the coast. It is a real adventure.
Drive along the coast from san Francisco to San Diego along the Highway 1 is a classic, but I will recommend 100% , we were lucky to enjoy it in a convertible that made the trip even more enjoyable
Highway 1, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, is a winding road which hugs the California coastline and continues northward into Canada. This is the true scenic route and not recommended for traveling long distances unless you are blessed with enough time to proceed at this pace. The speed limit is never above 45 mph and is often less. But traveling the PCH is not about speeding and instead is about enjoying the drive.
There are stunning views with nearly every twist and turn of this road. The southern portion provides awesome views of the Pacific Ocean and the California coastline. The scenery, of course, changes along with the terrain and the northern portion of PCH in California is supposed to be absolutely spectacular. Numerous small towns are found along the way and the road continues through Redwoods National Park and then northward into Oregon.
My first trip along PCH began at the Washington/Oregon border. Someday, I plan to drive the entire highway, but, to date, the only sections I've done in California are brief stretches around Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Malibu. Personally, I found these areas overdeveloped, with rows of shops and restaurants often obscuring the views that make driving the PCH so worthwhile. Fortunately though, I encountered few of the speed obesessed California drivers who seem to be ever present on the freeways and in the National Parks.
After I visited the mission I took the road along the coastline towards the south (highway 1). The views here were magnificent and I stopped a lot of times to take pictures.
When I see this photo, I think back to this sunny day along the Californian coast, the bright-orange coloured flowers waving in the wind, so high above the sea. The light of the sun is glittering on the sea, and the waves are thundering against the high cliffs. Hmmm, wish I was there right now.... I can feel the sunshine on my face, the fresh seabreeze going through my hair and smell the sweet perfume of the flowers.... hmmm, think I am dreaming away....
Take a look at my Carmel page for more photos and info.
Northern Elephant Seals can be seen on the beaches 12 miles north of Cambria, south of the Peidras Blancas Lighthouse. These creatures have huge noses that give these beasts their name. These large mammals may seem slow and docile but can be very dangerous when provoked. Hans and I were thrilled when we got to see a large elephant seal emerging out of the water and then make its way up the sand, so he could lay in the sun with the others.
Driving along PCH1 is an amazing experience. The views are incredible, with the Ocean to you west. There are hairpin turns, and steep cliffs... its definitely a leisurely ride that you should allot lots of time to pull over and take pictures. Drive in a convertible if you can :-)
Highway 1 that runs slaong the central coast is truly spectacular. It's not really necessary to drive the entire route on Highway 1, as the best part is actually between San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz.
If you can, I think it is better to drive from north to south, because that way when you drive the stretch between Carmel and San Simeon, you are on the ocean-side of the road. Driving from south to north, sometimes your views of the dramatic coastal scenery are obstructed.
Some highlights along Route 1 are Santa Barbara, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, the redwood trees, and the Monterey Peninsula.
The entire coast line of california is breathtakingly beautiful and unique. It goes from rugged cliffs to Valleys and forrests. The coastal towns are cute and all of them have some form of accommodation in the town or very close by. The beaches are sandy and some remote and very private. Although it was too cold for swimming in February the summer months would be an excellent time to drive the coast road and stop here and there for a dip in the pacific or to stay overnight and venture off early the next morning to catch some more rays.