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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Driving California's Pacific Coast Highway

Driving along the California Coast, with steep cliffs and the Pacific to your right, and farms to your left. Driving with this scenery, the windows down and the radio on is nothing short of magical. It is one of the best feelings, that salty spray, a cool breeze, seagulls overhead, and the radio on. Oh, how I missed that feeling of a salty sea breeze. You know, the one that makes your hair tangled and clothes dewy.  This is a road trip best done in an old convertible or for the more practical traveler, a locally rented RV or camper van.   No need to find hotels or stick to a strict itinerary when you have your hotel behind the driver's seat.

This is in almost every MUST SEE Road Trip Book 
and is rated as America's Most Popular Road Trip.

Let's find out why.

We left the San Francisco area and started off in Half Moon Bay. 
The trip was about 113 miles to Big Sur along 1.

Half Moon Bay, Pescadero, Santa Cruz, Capitola, Moss Landing, Monterey, Carmel By The Sea, over the Bixby Bridge, and to Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur.  You travel through some iconic California towns with some of the most gorgeous views I have ever seen.  Monterey and Pfeiffer Beach are getting their own posts later in the week, so today, let's talk about some of these smaller towns and the drive itself. 

Pebble Beach was one of our first stops.  The beach was made of all of these beautiful little pebbles.  There were also tidal pools and some amazing coastal geography. 

We continued along, stopping to gawk along the way and take a ton of pictures. 

We decided to stop in Santa Cruz for lunch.  I needed tacos, and saw a spot with good reviews along the way, Taqueria Los Pericos.  I was in Santa Cruz California, I was not leaving without fish tacos.  These were some of the best fish tacos I have ever eaten.   Divey spot with great prices and amazing food.  We ended up getting ax extra burrito... for the road.  

After the tacos, it was time to keep driving towards Big Sur.  One of the most surprising things about the drive along Highway One was all of the farms.  All along the coast, you have these gorgeous farms.  You could see workers out there picking the crops in the sunshine, and with views like this, that job did not look so shabby.  

You will find many farm stands along Highway 1 and we stopped at a few.  We ended up getting strawberries, figs, peaches, garlic, and avocados.  The strawberries were so sweet and it reminds you what strawberries are supposed to taste like. 

The avocados were 8 for 1$.  Yes, you read that right EIGHT for ONE DOLLAR.  Yes, they were small, but they were soooo yummy.  I got a mix of ripe and non ripe avocados to bring home and enjoy. 

This is how I spent most of the drive.  We go out and stopped (a lot) but I still snapped so many pictures while driving along, please excuse the blurriness of some of them. 

I loved Moss Landing.  It was all docks, and boats.  And then tons of Sea Lions hauled out in the sunshine.  Seeing the wild marine life just got better and better this trip.  Is this really the U.S? How it the Pacific SO AMAZING. 

Another amazing asset of Highway 1 is all of the gorgeous perfect sandy beaches.  Some had a fee, some did not.  But each one was relatively empty and absolutely beautiful.  Pacific, you have some pretty awesome beaches. 

As you get closer to Big Sur itself, the views just get better, and better and better.  You go from sandy beaches to amazing cliffs.  The Big Sur section of Highway 1 is hands down the most spectacular.  I mean, its all beautiful but the Big Sur section is out of a movie. Well, I am sure it is in a ton of movies-  you get it, it's crazy beautiful. 

We finally made it to the famous Historic Bixby Bridge.  The driving in this area is a bit hairy and the views are out of this world.  Once you pass over the bridge (white knuckles on the steering wheel), make sure you pull over at one of the lookout spots to take in the view of the bridge along the coast. " It is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world and one of the most photographed bridges along the Pacific Coast due to its aesthetic design and location." Source

There are so many pull-off areas along the Pacific Coast Highway so you will have plenty of chances to snap pictures when driving down the coast. 

After spending the day at Pfeiffer Beach (check back tomorrow for that post!) we headed back up the coast towards Monterey as the sun was setting.   We had a short itinerary but if you keep traveling past Pfeiffer Beach: 

"Nepenthe (an indoor-outdoor restaurant perched 800 feet above the sea and famous for its views- and according to my friend Sarah, its pies!). Also stop 8 miles farther at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park whose terrain ranges from 3,000-foot-high (914-meter-high) ridges to an underwater preserve. Do walk the short trail along the seaside bluff to see McWay Falls pour 100 feet into a picturesque cove". We wanted to see McWay Falls but be warned, this park and trail to the Falls is not dog-friendly. So we turned around after Pfeiffer Beach.

The Navy Base along highway one was also a gorgeous picture along the coast.  We stopped at Monastery Beach to enjoy the views one more time, and eat our "road burrito".  Yes, we grabbed an extra burrito to enjoy later in the day.  And it was a good decision. 

This was a great way to end a beautiful day driving the California Coast.  A burrito, sunshine, and some of the best company.  These pictures do not do this area justice.  It is a spot you need to experience in person and see with your own eyes.  This road trip needs to be on everyone's list.  Driving down this coast was a memory I will hold on to for a while. 

If you can't get enough of this drive, skip ahead to the rest of the trip. 
Pier 39
Pfieffer Beach
Napa Valley


  1. It looks dreamy! I would love to do this road trip and punctuate it with burritos and fresh fruit and veg (avocados - yum!) like you did, but I hate it when my hair gets all tangled and damp from the sea breeze, grrrrr! I'll be checking back for your next posts :)

  2. This looks beautiful! I hope I can do a road trip there next year!
    And the fruit looks amazing!

    Marlies aka Magnificent Escape


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