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“Incredible, amazing road trip on highway 1.”

Pacific Coast Highway
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and up
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Ranked #41 of 9,172 things to do in California
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Running along the northern California coast, this highway has some of the best views of any in the United States.
Reviewed January 25, 2013 via mobile

I started my road trip in Los angeles and travelled up highway 1 to San Francisco; along the way I saw breathtaking scenery and wildlife, encountered delightful beautiful little towns, walked on deserted sandy beaches the like of which I thought only existed in the tropics, and met lots of really nice people. If you're considering California at all, you have to drive the pacific coast highway...it's just an incredible experience, my first stop when I left Los Angeles was in Santa Barbara and although, I was regrettably only there for one night, I instantly loved it - by the way another thing I meant to say is, if u do decide to drive highway 1 give yourself plenty of time to do it - I gave myself a week to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco (my finishing point on the drive) and I still felt I'd rushed it, there's so much to see n take in!! Most people don't budget enough time to enjoy it and end up rushing the journey but you really should, it's well worth it. Anyway, on my journey I stopped off at Santa Barbara, San luis obispo, Pismo beach, Carmel, Monterey and Santa cruz before arriving in San Francisco the following week. By the time I'd got to San luis obispo I thought I'd seen all there was to offer and it'd jus be the same from there on scenery wise but then the big sur coastline kicked in n completely blew me away again....words don't do it justice, in fact pictures don't really do it justice either; u have to be there and experience it and see it for yourself! The road literally hugs the edge of the cliffs n meanders it's way north sometimes just feet from the edge of a huge precipice that drops off into the deep blue ocean; there are pull-ins and stop-offs every 50 or 100 feet to allow for photo opportunities of the stunning scenery that stretches ahead but beware - keep your eyes on the tarmac ahead whilst driving as the road swings from left to right and vise versa at a moments notice. Once passed big sur I drove through the Julia pfeiffer state forest (which is totally underrated, but only because of the scenery that proceeds it on the route). If possible I'd recommend staying in Carmel to anyone contemplating this journey, it's a beautifully tranquil, quiet little place that is admittedly a bit difficult to navigate, mainly because none of the properties including hotels have numbers assigned to them...must admit, that had my sat-nav well and truly stumped!! Thankfully however, a friendly Californian was kind enough to explain the system to me when I pulled over and asked for help and direct me to my lodging for the night and it was more than worth the earlier frustration, the beaches there were incredible and surprisingly empty too...I could go on about my road trip all day frankly I enjoyed it so much. This was my first time in America and based on my experience during my time there I can't wait to get back....drive the pacific coast highway, take your time, experience it and enjoy it :) .

36  Thank Adrian H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 23, 2013

One of the most scenic drives. Drove from San Francisco to L.A., overnight stay at San Simion. Drove on a kind of foggy day, still the views were breathtaking. Towering cliffs on one side and the Pacific ocean on the other. Number of vista points on the way where you can stop and just take it all in. We stopped at Big Sur and had some coffee, I still remember that feeling, a little chilly, foggy day and hot coffee, yum! Spent a night at San Simion, you'll need that break.

5  Thank Ajay P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 18, 2013

I've only traveled the section between Monterey and Morro Bay (which still takes a few hours) but it is gorgeous. At the southern end, stop and see Morro Rock (the Gibraltar of the Pacific) and poke around the many shops and restaurants in Morro Bay. Heading north, stop at the Elephant Seal rookery (the females and pups are in starting in December I think, the bigger males start showing up in December). You can also stop at Hearst Castle but you'll probably need reservations to take the tour.
Plan plenty of time and be sure you have a full gas tank (and empty bladders) before you start out. Check ahead to be sure the road isn't closed due to mudslides, especially in the fall and winter. If you see a lot of cars pulled over, join them! There are plenty of beautiful scenic areas along the way, including what's left of an old home. All you'll see of the home is some rock foundations and the remains of the flower garden (and historic markers) but the walk and view are unbelievable. You'll see a waterfall and secluded beach that's waaaaaay down the mountainside and apparently only accessible by boat. Great photo op.
Stop at Big Sur State Park if you have time. There are few places to eat, gas up and use a bathroom so don't pass them by thinking that you'll stop at the next one.
Oh, and ignore the idiots who tailgate you trying to push you down the road. Just pull over when it's safe and let them speed on so you can enjoy the view.

19  Thank Bill M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2013

We were driving on Highway 1 today and stopped after we saw the sign for elephant seal viewing area just north of San Simeon. What an amazing view! There were hundreds and hundreds of females - many with babies and many more about to give birth. Then there were the big boys. Huge males trumpeting to let everyone know not to mess with them. According to the information, from now until March the elephant seals will be giving birth and mating. If you are in the area near San Simeon, stop - it will be well worth your pulling off the road.

6  Thank MaryEllen926
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 12, 2013

My favorite part of highway 1 is on the coast north of Fort Bragg. It's also extremely beautiful just south of Mendocino and again north of Santa Cruz. And of course through Big Sur down to San Simeon.

6  Thank crumford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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