It’s arduous to beat the views street tripping alongside the Pacific Coast Freeway (PCH). It’s some of the scenic drives on this planet. The PCH (additionally known as State Route 1, Cabrillo Freeway, Shoreline Freeway, or Coast Freeway) runs 655.eight miles between Orange County and Mendocino County, however we’re going to place a information collectively that takes you up the whole coast.
Remember the fact that you are able to do any portion of this drive and cut up it up into a number of journeys relying on how a lot you wish to discover every space. We have now strategies for locations to take a look at alongside the way in which and you may click on the hyperlinks to extra in-depth guides of areas we’ve spent extra time in.
THE ULTIMATE CALIFORNIA COAST ROAD TRIP
We did our information from South to North as a result of we lived in each San Diego and LA they usually’re each simple beginning factors to fly into. In case you’re visiting from out of state and solely plan on driving a portion of the coast, we advise flying into SF and going from North to South to be closest to the coast and have simpler entry to pullouts.
SAN DIEGO TO LOS ANGELES
Distance: 132 Miles / Four hr
Though the PCH doesn’t technically begin till Dana Level, we’re going to start out our information in San Diego. Partly as a result of it’s a simple place to fly into to start out, but additionally as a result of we lived there for a 12 months and beloved exploring the world.
SAN DIEGO – Mile zero
San Diego was one in all our favourite locations to dwell. The chilliness vibe, browsing tradition, and exquisite seashores combined with infinite points of interest make it an ideal place to start out. Simply attempt to not get caught right here. It’s possible you’ll by no means wish to go away.
- San Diego Zoo is rated probably the greatest zoos within the nation.
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park – We adore it rather more than the principle zoo, and our favourite half is the safari experience. This property can truly match 180 San Diego Zoos!
- La Jolla – kayak by way of the caves, go to Sunny Jim Cave, and say hiya to the seals at Youngsters’s pool. You can too take a look at your expertise and become whiskey divers.
- Cabrillo National Monument Tide Pools – Go to the lighthouse, and go tide-pooling along with your complete household. There are tons of sea critters to seek out.
- ALSO READ: The Ultimate San Diego Bucket List
CARLSBAD – Mile 35
- Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch – stunning photograph spot in case you’re there within the spring
- Legoland California Resort – for the little ones, however we actually loved the miniature lego world.
- Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar – scrumptious omakase
DANA POINT – Mile 64.5
- Ocean Institute/Pilgrim Boat – a Household-friendly spot the place you possibly can work together with sealife or take part in lessons to study extra in regards to the ocean.
- Pirate’s Cave – The 1.2-mile hike is simply protected to do throughout low tide.
- Salt Creek Beach – well-liked browsing seaside with stunning cliffs on the north and south aspect.
LONG BEACH – Mile 105
- Queen Mary – Discover this wonderful ship that’s well-liked amongst locals.
- Aquarium of the Pacific – See all issues Pacific ocean, together with penguins, sea otters, and so forth.
- Wayfarers Chapel (Palos Verdes) – stunning glass church with views of the ocean and backyard
- SS Dominator Shipwreck (Palos Verdes) – a coastal hike to see the stays of this shipwreck
- Point Vincente Lighthouse – stunning coastal lighthouse
LA TO SAN LUIS OBISPO (SLO)
Distance: 219 Miles / Four hr 15 min
LOS ANGELES – Mile 132
We’ll finish day 1 in Los Angeles, which is one other spot you possibly can spend all week in, however a handy cease because you’ll have every little thing you want close by.
- Santa Monica Pier – traditional west coast pier
- Venice Beach – excellent spot to folks watch
- Griffith Park – Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign Hike
- ALSO READ: The Ultimate LA Bucket List, 49 Face Places to Eat in Los Angeles
MALIBU – Mile 150.Four
- The Getty Villa – It is a stunning museum centered on Greece and Rome.
- El Matador State Seaside – Three small seashores surrounded by cliffs
- Zuma Beach – quiet seaside that’s well-liked with the locals
- Leo Carillo State Park – take a look at coastal caves, tidepools, or watch surfers and windsurfers
- Level Dume – climb to an incredible view
POINT MUGU / OXNARD – Mile 176.9
- Point Mugu State Park Hike – stunning hike to nice views of the encompassing hills and ocean
- Channel Island Maritime Museum – a fantastic assortment of maritime work, fashions, and artifacts
- Channel Islands Harbor – if you wish to prolong your journey, take a ferry over to Channel Islands National Park.
SANTA BARBARA – Mile 217.Three
- Shoreline Park – oceanside park atop a mesa
- State Avenue – historic space with outlets and eating places
LOMPOC – Mile 289.9
- La Purisima State Historic Park – probably the most fully restored Mission of California
- Wine Ghetto – assortment of 50 wineries
- The Murals of Lompoc – take a look at the murals in downtown
PISMO BEACH – Mile 337.eight
- Monarch Butterfly Grove – if you’re visiting between late October and February, cease by to see the 1000’s of monarch butterflies that fill the Eucalyptus bushes
- Pismo Beach Pier – 1,200-foot pier nice for watching surfers and kite surfers.
photograph of us by Jeff Newsom
SLO TO MONTEREY
Distance: 146 Miles / Four hr 20 min
After leaving SLO, there are fewer main stops and facilities on this route till you attain Large Sur, however the shoreline is unbelievable.
SAN LUIS OBISPO – Mile 351
- Bubblegum Alley – take pictures in an alleyway coated in gum
- Bishop Peak – hike to an incredible view of the town and valley round
- Avila Valley Barn – choose up some recent fruits or snacks at their candy store, u-pick fruits throughout sure seasons, and cease by to see their livestock.
- Moro Rock – That is technically north of SLO in Morro Bay. Cease by to see this behemoth rock sitting within the cove.
CAMBRIA – Mile 384.Three
- Moonstone Beach/Leffingwell Landing – serene spot with an overlook to Leffingwell Cove
- Nitt Witt Ridge – loopy assortment of artwork
- Hearst Citadel (San Simeon) – a spectacular property overlooking San Simeon
BIG SUR – Mile 473.5
Our favourite place alongside the California coast (and prime 10 in the USA). We may spend a complete week having fun with the views right here, however listed here are just a few highlights.
- McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – well-known waterfall that goes into the ocean
- Pfeiffer Beach – a seaside with purple sand and “the window”
- Bixby Bridge – It’s some of the iconic bridges on the west coast.
- ALSO READ: 11 Things You Can’t Miss in Big Sur
MONTEREY TO SAN FRANCISCO
Distance: 118 Miles / 2 hr 45 min
You possibly can spend the morning exploring Monterey earlier than heading as much as San Francisco. There are quite a lot of nice fast photograph stops alongside the way in which, or you possibly can spend extra time at every spot doing hikes.
MONTEREY – Mile 497
- Carmel-by-the-Sea – cute city south of Monterey with plenty of outlets and wineries to take a look at
- Monterey Bay Aquarium – one in all our favourite aquariums situated proper on the ocean
- 17-Mile Drive – iconic drive with the well-known lone cypress tree
- Kayak Monterey Bay – expertise Monterey from the water
- ALSO READ: 15 Amazing Things to Do in Monterey
SANTA CRUZ – Mile 540.6
- Seacliff State Seaside – pier with a sunken ship on the finish
- Santa Cruz Seaside Boardwalk – nice for the household with plenty of video games and rides
- Thriller Spot – in case you like these bizarre and gimmicky touristy spots
- Natural Bridges State Park – stunning seaside with pure bridges and likewise a hotspot to see monarch butterfly migrate
- Seymour Marine Discovery Middle – interactive marine science museum and aquarium
DAVENPORT – Mile 550.7
- Swanton Berry Farm – farm stand with recent berry pies, strawberry shortcakes, and sizzling soup
- Shark Fin Cove – cove with a large rock shark fin formation
PESCADERO – Mile 562.1
- Pigeon Level Lighthouse – inbuilt 1871, it’s the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast
- Ano Nuevo State Reserve – house to tons of sea lions with a Three-mile path that takes you near them
PACIFICA – Mile 602.6
- Satan’s Slide Path – was once probably the most harmful portion of PCH, however is now a path for mountain climbing and biking
- Pacifica State Beach – stunning seaside well-liked amongst surfers, plus you possibly can eat on the most picturesque Taco Bell within the nation – critically!
- Mori Level – 110-acre park situated on a bluff providing you with nice views of the shoreline
SAN FRANCISCO TO MENDOCINO
Distance: 170 Miles / Four hr 20 min
I like to recommend spending a pair days exploring SF and the encompassing space. If you’re, go forward and drive as much as Level Reyes Station as properly. In any other case, once you’re prepared to go away, proceed heading north.
SAN FRANCISCO – Mile 615
- Fisherman’s Wharf / Pier 39 – vacationer spot in SF with shops, eating places, and sea lions
- Golden Gate Bridge – can’t go to SF with out seeing the Golden Gate
- Palace of Positive Arts – stunning monumental construction and park that homes artwork reveals as properly
- Muir Woods National Monument – stroll amongst large bushes
POINT REYES STATION – Mile 655.eight
- Point Reyes National Seashore – want extra time to discover it totally however you possibly can schedule safaris, discover by kayak, or hike
- Cypress Tree Tunnel – tremendous well-liked photograph spot situated in Level Reyes Nationwide Seashore
- Tomales Level Path – 9.Four-mile hike that offers wonderful views from each side
BODEGA BAY – Mile 687.eight
- Bodega Head – good fast cease with views of the ocean and cliffs
- Potter Schoolhouse – the place The Birds was filmed
JENNER – Mile 698.Four
- Fort Ross State Historic Park – former Russian fur buying and selling outpost and native redwood forest
- Salt Point State Park – tons of trails that take you to a stupendous bluff and seaside
POINT ARENA – Mile 750
- Level Area Lighthouse – stunning lighthouse well-liked amongst photographers
- Bowling Ball Seaside – situated simply north of Schooner Gulch State Seaside, this seaside has bowling ball-like rock formations that seem solely at low tide. Don’t overlook to check the tide tables. We needed to come again twice!
- B Bryan Protect – protect centered on African hoof animals
MENDOCINO – Mile 785
- Van Damme State Park – nice brief mountain climbing choices
- Jug Deal with State Reserve – 2.5-mile staircase path exploring wave-cut terraces
MENDOCINO TO CRESCENT CITY
Distance: 229 Miles / Four hr 45 min
The remainder of California feels completely different. There are some nice kitschy touristy stops, plenty of mountain climbing, and exquisite surroundings. You’re technically off the PCH by this level, however it’s nonetheless value seeing how the surroundings modifications as you’re surrounded by large redwoods.
FORT BRAGG – Mile 795
- Glass Beach – a colourful seaside with colourful glass alongside the seaside
- MacKerricher State Park – trails with stunning tree tunnels
- Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens – for the flower and plant lovers
- Pudding Creek Trestle – distinctive picket bridge nice for pictures
LEGGETT – Mile 838.Four
- Chandelier Drive-By Tree – a enjoyable drive-through tree
- Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area – take a look at a river canyon with year-round tenting, mountain climbing, and swimming
GARBERVILLE – Mile 861.Four
- Richardson Grove State Park – stroll amongst redwoods on one of many hikes
- One Log Home – see a home made in a single log
MYERS FLAT – Mile 877.eight
- Shrine Drive-By Tree – one other drive-through tree
- Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Weott) – wonderful park the place you possibly can see large bushes – take a look at Founders Grove & Avenue of Giants
EUREKA – Mile 928.eight
- Sequoia Park Zoo – oldest zoo in California
- Carson Mansion – giant Victorian house (thought of the grandest in America)
- Humboldt Bay – second largest enclosed bay in California
KLAMATH – Mile 992.Four
- Bushes of Thriller – uncommon tree formations and a large Paul Bunyan & Babe out entrance
- Tour-Via Tree – one other likelihood to drive by way of a tree
- Excessive Bluff Overlook – stunning overlook
CRESCENT CITY – Mile 1014
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – one other likelihood to stroll amongst giants
- Battery Point Lighthouse – fast cease for lighthouse chasers
- Ocean World – small aquarium
CONTINUE TO THE OREGON COAST HIGHWAY
From Crescent Metropolis, you’re solely 20 miles away from the Oregon State line and extra wonderful coast to discover. Take a look at our Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip information.
WHERE TO STAY
We’ve achieved SD to LA and LA to SF numerous instances however principally stayed with associates. After we did it in its entirety, we had been in an Airstream, which suggests most of our lodging had been campgrounds and RV websites. We’ll proceed so as to add in additional suggestions for accommodations and Airbnbs as soon as we get an opportunity to verify extra out.
- Large Sur (Fernwood Resort)
- Fort Bragg (Pomo RV Park & Campground)
MAP OF THE CALIFORNIA COAST
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR FIRST TIMERS
- When to Go: Spring and Fall can have the fewest crowds and nice climate. In case you go in the course of the winter, SoCal will keep heat however shall be colder as you go north. The favored spots will herald tons of vacationers in the summertime.
- Be Versatile: You by no means know what space you’ll uncover and love. Make a plan on what number of days you wish to spend on the street, however give your self flexibility in case you wish to spend extra time in a selected space. In case you have extra time, we extremely suggest staying greater than a day in San Diego, LA, Santa Barbara, SLO, Large Sur, and SF. Different spots you possibly can kind of get the gist of the world in sooner or later.
- Contemplate Driving North to South: That may hold you on the aspect of the coast and makes it simple to benefit from pullouts.
- Garments to Put on: Costume in layers. It could actually get windy on the coast and it additionally helps to have waterproof layers in case it rains.
- Park Passes to Choose Up: Choose up a California Parks Pass and America the Beautiful Pass to save cash on the parks. America the Stunning Move covers National Parks, BLM, Nationwide Forests, and Nationwide Wildlife Refuges.
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