The Ultimate Guide To Pacific Coast Highway
One of the most famous drives in the entire world!
Also referred to as PCH, California 1, Route 1, Highway 101, Highway 1, Golden Coast, and California Coast road trip, all leads you the road that runs parallel to the Pacific coastline of California. Technically speaking, PCH is officially designated as a southern part of State Route 1, also known as Highway 1, starting at Dana Point and ending in Ventura County. But very often people tend to call the entire highway the PCH, Pacific Coast Highway. Let’s keep it simple and consider PCH starting at California’s northern border with Oregon and stretching all the way to San Diego.
Driving along PCH, you’ll come across some of the best California beach towns, state parks, stunning views of the coast, beaches, forests, lighthouses, and so much more. No trip to California is complete without driving through the Pacific Coast Highway! The entire route takes around 8 – 10 hours, at a stretch, but I would highly recommend spending 4 – 5 days, stopping, exploring, staying overnight, refueling yourself, and then moving onto the next stop along the PCH.
Here are my best stops along the Pacific Coast Highway: Starting at San Francisco and going all the way down to San Diego, please feel free to tailor it per your needs. A lot of people prefer to breaking it into two legs: (1) Start at LA drive all the way to San Francisco, go back to LA and (2) Start at LA drive all the way to San Diego, no matter what you select to do, you are in for a jaw-dropping experience.
San Francisco is Northern California’s financial and cultural center! Besides its closeness from the Silicon Valley, San Francisco is one the most popular international tourist destinations and well-known for attractions like Golden Gate Bridge, Cable Cars, Alcatraz Island, China Town, Pier 39 and much more.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To San Francisco
Santa Cruz is an oceanside city best known for its beaches and boardwalk. I would recommend visiting the Natural Bridges State Beach. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience to see a rock arch rising from the Pacific Ocean. During fall and winter, you can spot monarch butterflies, birds, seals, otters, and other animals from Natural Bridges State Beach’s sand-and-rock strewn shores.
Address: 2531 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Monterey best known its cannery history (sardine canning factories), has one of the best aquariums in the country Monterey Bay Aquarium and the famous 17 Mile Drive.
Address: Monterey Bay Aquarium: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940; 17 Mile Drive: 1700 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
Bis Sur, roughly 90 miles of rugged coastline, offers some spectacular views of the coastline, including Bixby Bridge, known to be one of the most photographed bridges in the US, Pfeiffer Beach, McWay Falls, and Point Sur State Historic Park.
Address: GPS Lat: 36.265344, Long: -121.800234
San Simeon is a small town that is home to two popular attractions of California: Hearst Castle, “The Enchanted Hill” & Elephant Seal Rookery. I would highly recommend visiting both the attractions; it’s really worth the visit.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To Hearst Castle
Solvang is a small town located in Santa Barbara County. Solvang’s main attraction is the town’s European heritage and architecture, as it gives you a taste of Europe in everything you see or eat.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To Solvang
Santa Barbara is known for its beaches, famous Stearns Warf Pier, and historical Mission Santa Barbara.
Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the US and the West Coast’s most significant economic powerhouse, is blessed with natural beauty! Los Angeles is surrounded by mountains on one side, desert on another, and the beautiful coast on the other side. There is so much to see and explore in Los Angeles, natural beauty, iconic Hollywood sign, studios such as Paramount Pictures, Universal tours, Chinese Theatre, and a lot more.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To Los Angeles
A slight detour from the main route will take you to Long Beach, where you will find the famous Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Huntington Beach before entering San Diego County. If you keep going past this, you would arrive at 2-mile-long Coronado Bridge and then can drive along Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla.
The final stop on the PCH, San Diego, also called “the birthplace of California.” Besides the natural beauty, this beautiful beach city has a lot to offer, including rich history, museums, world-famous San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and obviously a lot of beach access.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To San Diego
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Pacific Coast Highway, and I expect this will help you plan your trip to the Pacific Coast Highway.
Happy feeding your soul!