It’s onerous to beat the views street tripping alongside the Pacific Coast Freeway (PCH). It’s probably the most 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 all the 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 need to discover every space. We’ve got options for locations to take a look at alongside the best way and you’ll click on the hyperlinks to extra in-depth guides of areas we’ve spent extra time in.
We did our information from South to North as a result of we lived in each San Diego and LA they usually’re each straightforward 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 recommend 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 begin our information in San Diego. Partly as a result of it’s a simple place to fly into to begin, but in addition as a result of we lived there for a yr and cherished exploring the realm.
SAN DIEGO – Mile zero
San Diego was one among our favourite locations to dwell. The nippiness vibe, browsing tradition, and exquisite seashores combined with countless sights make it an ideal place to begin. Simply attempt to not get caught right here. Chances are you’ll by no means need to depart.
CARLSBAD – Mile 35
DANA POINT – Mile 64.5
- Ocean Institute/Pilgrim Boat – a Household-friendly spot the place you may work together with sealife or take part in lessons to be taught extra concerning the ocean.
- Pirate’s Cave – The 1.2-mile hike is simply protected to do throughout low tide.
- Salt Creek Seashore – well-liked browsing seashore with lovely cliffs on the north and south aspect.
LONG BEACH – Mile 105
- Queen Mary – Discover this superb ship that’s well-liked amongst locals.
- Aquarium of the Pacific – See all issues Pacific ocean, together with penguins, sea otters, and so on.
- Wayfarers Chapel (Palos Verdes) – lovely glass church with views of the ocean and backyard
- SS Dominator Shipwreck (Palos Verdes) – a coastal hike to see the stays of this shipwreck
- Level Vincente Lighthouse – lovely 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 may spend all week in, however a handy cease because you’ll have every thing you want close by.
MALIBU – Mile 150.Four
- The Getty Villa – This can be a lovely museum targeted on Greece and Rome.
- El Matador State Seashore – Three small seashores surrounded by cliffs
- Zuma Seashore – quiet seashore that’s well-liked with the locals
- Leo Carillo State Park – try coastal caves, tidepools, or watch surfers and windsurfers
- Level Dume – climb to a tremendous view
POINT MUGU / OXNARD – Mile 176.9
- Level Mugu State Park Hike – lovely hike to nice views of the encircling hills and ocean
- Channel Island Maritime Museum – an excellent assortment of maritime work, fashions, and artifacts
- Channel Islands Harbor – if you wish to lengthen your journey, take a ferry over to Channel Islands Nationwide Park.
SANTA BARBARA – Mile 217.Three
- Shoreline Park – oceanside park atop a mesa
- State Road – historic space with retailers and eating places
LOMPOC – Mile 289.9
- La Purisima State Historic Park – essentially the most fully restored Mission of California
- Wine Ghetto – assortment of 50 wineries
- The Murals of Lompoc – try the murals in downtown
PISMO BEACH – Mile 337.eight
- Monarch Butterfly Grove – in case you are visiting between late October and February, cease by to see the hundreds of monarch butterflies that fill the Eucalyptus timber
- Pismo Seashore Pier – 1,200-foot pier nice for watching surfers and kite surfers.
picture 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 Massive Sur, however the shoreline is unimaginable.
SAN LUIS OBISPO – Mile 351
- Bubblegum Alley – take images in an alleyway lined in gum
- Bishop Peak – hike to a tremendous view of town and valley round
- Avila Valley Barn – decide 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 Seashore/Leffingwell Touchdown – 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 might spend a whole week having fun with the views right here, however listed here are just a few highlights.
MONTEREY TO SAN FRANCISCO
Distance: 118 Miles / 2 hr 45 min
You may spend the morning exploring Monterey earlier than heading as much as San Francisco. There are a variety of nice fast picture stops alongside the best way, or you may spend extra time at every spot doing hikes.
MONTEREY – Mile 497
SANTA CRUZ – Mile 540.6
- Seacliff State Seashore – pier with a sunken ship on the finish
- Santa Cruz Seashore Boardwalk – nice for the household with a lot of video games and rides
- Thriller Spot – in the event you like these bizarre and gimmicky touristy spots
- Pure Bridges State Park – lovely seashore with pure bridges and in addition 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 scorching 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 essentially the most harmful portion of PCH, however is now a path for mountain climbing and biking
- Pacifica State Seashore – lovely seashore well-liked amongst surfers, plus you may eat on the most picturesque Taco Bell within the nation – significantly! 😜
- Mori Level – 110-acre park situated on a bluff supplying 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 encircling space. In case you are, go forward and drive as much as Level Reyes Station as properly. In any other case, whenever 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 High-quality Arts – lovely monumental construction and park that homes artwork displays as properly
- Muir Woods Nationwide Monument – stroll amongst huge timber
POINT REYES STATION – Mile 655.eight
- Level Reyes Nationwide Seashore – want extra time to discover it absolutely however you may schedule safaris, discover by kayak, or hike
- Cypress Tree Tunnel – tremendous well-liked picture spot situated in Level Reyes Nationwide Seashore
- Tomales Level Path – 9.Four-mile hike that offers superb 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 Level State Park – tons of trails that take you to a gorgeous bluff and seashore
POINT ARENA – Mile 750
- Level Area Lighthouse – lovely lighthouse well-liked amongst photographers
- Bowling Ball Seashore – situated simply north of Schooner Gulch State Seashore, this seashore has bowling ball-like rock formations that seem solely at low tide. Don’t overlook to examine the tide tables. We needed to come again twice!
- B Bryan Protect – protect targeted on African hoof animals
MENDOCINO – Mile 785
- Van Damme State Park – nice quick 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, a lot 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 might be surrounded by huge redwoods.
FORT BRAGG – Mile 795
- Glass Seashore – a colourful seashore with colourful glass alongside the seashore
- MacKerricher State Park – trails with lovely tree tunnels
- Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens – for the flower and plant lovers
- Pudding Creek Trestle – distinctive picket bridge nice for images
LEGGETT – Mile 838.Four
GARBERVILLE – Mile 861.Four
MYERS FLAT – Mile 877.eight
- Shrine Drive-By Tree – one other drive-through tree
- Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Weott) – superb park the place you may see huge timber – try 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-Through Tree – one other likelihood to drive via a tree
- Excessive Bluff Overlook – lovely overlook
CRESCENT CITY – Mile 1014
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – one other likelihood to stroll amongst giants
- Battery Level 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 superb coast to discover. Take a look at our Final Oregon Coast Street Journey information.
WHERE TO STAY
We’ve performed SD to LA and LA to SF numerous occasions however largely stayed with associates. Once we did it in its entirety, we have been in an Airstream, which suggests most of our lodging have been campgrounds and RV websites. We’ll proceed so as to add in additional suggestions for inns and Airbnbs as soon as we get an opportunity to examine extra out.
MAP OF THE CALIFORNIA COAST
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR FIRST TIMERS
- When to Go: Spring and Fall may have the fewest crowds and nice climate. In case you go in the course of the winter, SoCal will keep heat however will probably be colder as you go north. The favored spots will usher in 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 need to spend on the street, however give your self flexibility in case you need to spend extra time in a particular space. If in case you have extra time, we extremely suggest staying greater than a day in San Diego, LA, Santa Barbara, SLO, Massive Sur, and SF. Different spots you may roughly get the gist of the realm in at some point.
- Think about Driving North to South: That may hold you on the aspect of the coast and makes it straightforward to benefit from pullouts.
- Garments to Put on: Gown in layers. It may well get windy on the coast and it additionally helps to have waterproof layers in case it rains.
- Park Passes to Decide Up: Decide up a California Parks Go and America the Lovely Go to save cash on the parks. America the Lovely Go covers Nationwide Parks, BLM, Nationwide Forests, and Nationwide Wildlife Refuges.