Highway 1 Discovery Route
Experience the perfect 10
require some essential elements: a comfortable vehicle, a pleasant companion, and beautiful views. You’re in charge of acquiring the first two, but coastal San Luis Obispo County can easily take care of that last item on the Highway 1 Discovery Route. This 101-mile stretch of California’s Highway 1 winds between state parks, uncrowded beaches, wildlife habitats, wine regions and towns featuring delicious farm-to-table cuisine. Load up the car, get your trusty travel buddy, and start making your list of stops.
State Parks & Wildlife
Along the route, you can find 12 of California’s State Parks, from the coastal bluffs and promontories of Hearst San Simeon State Park in the north to Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area in the south—the only California State Park where vehicles may be driven on the beach. Other great spots are Pismo State Beach (with the largest over-wintering colony of monarch butterflies in the United States), Montaña de Oro State Park (whose name “Mountain of Gold” comes from the golden wildflowers that bloom in spring), Morro Bay State Park (whose most prominent landmark, Morro Rock, is a 23million-year-old volcanic plug), and Estero Bluffs State Park (where migrating whales, harbor seals, sea otters and western snowy plovers thrive).
Two adjoining American Viticultural Areas (AVAS) along the Highway 1 Discovery Route, Arroyo Grande Valley and Edna Valley, share a proximity to the ocean and a cool climate that naturally lends itself to growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals. The area’s history dates to 1772 when Father Junipero Serra founded a mission, planted grapes, and made sacramental wines. Today wine fans can visit wineries to sip and savor the region’s best vintages. From Laetitia Vineyard & Winery in Arroyo Grande to Chamisal Vineyards in Edna Valley, the wineries here welcome those looking for a sense of place in their glass.
Beaches & Castles
There’s a beach for everyone along the Highway 1 Discovery Route, from the wide, sandy Avila Beach with its restaurants and shops to driftwood-studded Moonstone Beach in Hearst San Simeon State Park. Beach preserves, boardwalks, piers and sandy strands along the coast play host to surfers, paddlers, beachcombers, sun worshippers, whale watchers and evening bonfire enthusiasts. The area’s most famous castle isn’t made from sand. It’s San Simeon’s Hearst Castle, perched above the clouds on The Enchanted Hill. Designed by architect Julia Morgan for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the property now exists as a museum that lures romantics from around the world.