California Coastal Highway
Collected by Jack MacDonough , AFAR Local Expert
Planing for a trip
48603 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
The Henry Miller Memorial Library is a bookshop–cultural center dedicated to the bohemian author who once called Big Sur home. It has become a hot spot for concerts by the likes of Gillian Welch and Arcade Fire and a Thursday night summer...
47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Described by devotees as the most luxurious, one-of-a-kind lodging experience in all of California, the Post Ranch Inn was purpose-built to blend in with the Santa Lucia Mountains. Opened in 1992, and designed by famed Big Sur architect Mickey...
47540 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
The Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant serves housemade granola, ginger scones, and seasonal fruit strudels in a cabin built in 1937. Wood-fired pizzas, with toppings such as squash and prosciutto, stand out on the dinner menu, and the blackberry...
52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
After five hours in the car, I was more than happy to hop out and hike the 1.4 miles out to Pfeiffer Burns State Park and get the prize of a beautiful waterfall. The water's color is an unreal sea blue/green that I have never seen before. The best...
Sycamore Canyon Rd, California 93920, USA
The ocean views throughout the drive on Highway 1 through Big Sur are so spectacular that it's easy to forget to get out of the car. But there are lots of essential stops along the drive. Chefs from L.A. make pilgrimages to eat the wood-fired...
45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
One of my favorite campgrounds in Big Sur is the big open meadow at Andrew Molera State Park. It's great for large groups and it's one of the best bases for hiking and surfing in the area. More than 20 miles of trails run throughout the park's...
47000 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Highway 1 runs about 90 miles through this rugged Big Sur coastline and is absolutely stunning. The tall and wild Santa Lucia mountains plummet into the energetic Pacific Ocean. Sea otters, which were thought to be extinct, were discovered living...
52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Driving Highway 1 through Big Sur is one of my favorite California experiences. Last year, I made the stunning trip north after visiting my family in Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving. Fall is one of the best times to visit because the cold fog that...
71895 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
For such a remote region, Big Sur has more than its share of amazing places to stay. One of the most unique is Treebones Resort, nestled high in the foothills of South Big Sur overlooking the Pacific. The off-the-grid property offers 16 signature...
46800 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Although the Big Sur Inn is a fantastic place on its own, the claptrap dining bus at the gas station has some pretty great food. There are fantastically fresh sandwiches and pastries and they do a mean espresso. And eating them in a fun and funky...
63025 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Limekiln State Park in Big Sur has it all—beach, woods, and history—and the trails are so short that you can actually see it all. First, follow the half-mile Limekiln Trail along a stream to four metal kilns that once fired limestone rock into...
62 CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
I've been all over the California coast and Point Lobos is my favorite place to hike. We have hiked every trail in this reserve and never tire of this magical place. You can see many animals, such as sea otters, seals, elephant seals,sea lions,...
7250 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
I had been to the almost-too-cute village Carmel by the Sea a few times but never to the neighboring Carmel Valley. On my last trip to the area, I decided to take a drive through Carmel Valley and just explore. As I drove through the hills and...
Pacific Grove, CA, USA
Pacific Grove is a quaint town on the Monterey Peninsula and a tranquil place to admire Pacific views of the ocean or the monarchs when they're traveling through the area. The coastal landscape was swarmed by fiery ice plants when we visited in...
Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
I love that photography has become so accessible to people. Not all of my photographer peers share my sentiment and just because everyone has a camera phone and apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic doesn't necessarily make one a photographer....
Piedras Blancas, California 93452, USA
Piedras Blancas was one of my favorite spots on our driving trip down the Pacific Highway in California. I could have spent hours watching the elephant seals sun bathe while the young pups clumsily try to wedge their way into the huddle.
7881 Sandholdt Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA
Blue Whales can reach eighty feet in length. First we hear the slate blue whale’s bellows-like blows. The dramatic plumes of white water last for about three seconds, as the graceful back that goes on forever slowly reveals itself. When the whale...
Point Lobos, California 93923, USA
If you're taking a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, make sure to stop at Point Lobos just outside of Carmel. There are easy hiking trails that wind through the forest and along the cliff. The blue Pacific waves give quite the show as they...
CA-1, San Simeon, CA 93452, USA
These zebras on the San Simeon ranch are the remains of Hearst's last herd of zebra, some of the many exotic animals Hearst once had on his lavish estate. It was so cool to see zebras roaming about on the California coast. You can also see giant...
Steiner St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
An estimated 48,000 houses were constructed in San Francisco from 1848 to 1915 in the style typical of the day, with ornate woodwork characteristic of so-called Queen Anne design. Earthquakes and fires, most notably those of 1906, destroyed many—...
20063 Cabrillo Hwy S, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, USA
San Francisco is a great starting point for a road trip. Drive north or south on the HWY 1 and you're bound to find fun towns, beautiful winding roads and gorgeous coastal scenery. This cave is about an hour drive south of San Francisco, and then...
1 Sausalito - San Francisco Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
The Ferry Building in San Francisco is a must for any food lover, and Cowgirl Creamery is one of my favorite stops. This producer of artisanal cheeses is a place to pick up cheese for a snack or picnic and to ask questions about California cheese....
19225 CA-1, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
North of the little town of Point Reyes Station, the Marshall Store sits on the banks of Tomales Bay. I've been coming here for years after hiking or horseback riding or walking on the beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. The place is super...
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