Pacific Coast Highway
After massive landslides destroyed parts of the well-traveled roadway, the last section of the highway reopened on July 18, just in time to catch the peak summer travel season.
There are so many options when it comes to traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway, it’s hard to cram everything into one itinerary, but many have tried.
Travelers with plenty of time can easily spend weeks exploring everything there is to see along the way but those working with one week to 10 days, the average amount of vacation time in the U.S., should check out some of the highlights.
Traveling north up the coast, visitors will want to make the coastal city of Santa Barbara a priority. Explore the zoo, stroll State Street or plan to stay the night and enjoy the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.
Wine enthusiasts can create a coastal journey that revolves around wine tasting. From Avila, rather than taking the coast road from San Luis Obispo on Highway 1, follow U.S. Route 101 up to Paso Robles for a short detour to another of California’s popular wine regions.
HEARST CASTLE, SAN SIMEON AND CAMBRIA
Head back to the coast from Paso Robles and into Cambria. This charming village has a number of vintage stores, coffee shops and cute eateries, but what’s really worth stopping for is a stroll along its famed Moonstone Beach.
Stay in Cambria or nearby San Simeon just up the coast and take some time to explore the area, its rugged coastline, Hearst Castle and Elephant Seal rookery at Piedras Blancas, one of the few places people can see these majestic creatures on land.
Leaving San Simeon is where the coastline truly becomes a craggy coastal wonderland. The road winds along cliff faces and around just about every corner is stunning vista after stunning vista. Be prepared to stop and go here for photographs.
The area of Big Sur encompasses the coastline between San Simeon and Carmel, but the town is tucked away in the forest just a few minutes drive from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. If not stopping overnight here, plan to spend some time poking around its eclectic shops or enjoying a locally sourced organic meal.
POINT LOBOS STATE RESERVE
When leaving Big Sur, make sure you have water and snacks, or maybe even a picnic lunch. Point Lobos will be your next big stop and its worth planning for a few hours here. There is so much to see and do, including kayaking in China Cove, visiting the Whaler’s Cabin Museum, a short hike to see sea lions and more.