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Best Stops Along Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

Looking for Best Stops Along Pacific Coast Highway?

Ready to experience the ultimate California Adventure? The Pacific Coast Highway scenic route is one of the most popular drives in the US.

Pack you bags and get ready to experience why so many love the golden state of California.

The pacific coast highway also called highway 1 runs almost the entire state of California from above San Francisco in a tiny little town called Leggett to San Diego along the coast line.

The entire highway is about 900 miles and would take about 10 hours to drive with no stops along the way. But what fun is not stoping!

From towering trees, beautiful wineres, sunny beaches to small surf towns the best way to enjoy this route is to plan for it to take at least 3 days to a week so that you can explore everything the true California coastline has to offer. 

Best Stops Along Pacific Coast Highway

pacific coast highway stops

#1 – Point Reyes National Seashore

This 71,028-acre park preserve is located about 30 miles south of San Fransisco and includes 80 miles of coast line.

It is rich in history and there are walking trails, a waterfall the goes right down onto the beach, a historic lighthouse and the icon row of trees that you must see in your visit to Point Reyes

pacific coast highway stops san francisco

#2 San Fransisco 

Everyone know about this popular city. If you haven’t visited before then be sure to check out all this city has to offer.

The Pacific Coast highway will take you right over the Golden Gate Bride. Popular attractions in the City by the Bay include Fishermans Warf, Golden Gate Park, and Alcatraz.

Take some time to tour around the city and maybe even ride a historic cable car.

stops on pacific coast highway

#3 Half Moon Bay 

While there is no major attraction in this small costal town it is a must see on your road trip.

Make sure you take in the amazing ocean views from Half Moon Bay state park. Stroll down main street and get lost in the seaside restaurants and shops of Pillar Point Harbor.

The city of Half Moon Bay really is one of California’s seaside gems. 

stops along pacific coast highway

#4 Santa Cruz 

This well know beach town is a must stop on your Pacific Coast Highway trip. Best know for the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk and one of the best destinations for surfing.

In addition to the boardwalk don’t miss out on the Santa Cruz surfing museum and Natural bridges State Park.

Spend some time exploring down town since there a tons of breweries, distillers, shopping and restaurants that you don’t want to miss. 

money bay aquarium pch

#5 Monerey Bay Aquarium 

No road trip on PCH is complete without a visit to the one of the best aquariums in the world, Monterey Bay Aquarium.

From Fish, Sharks, to Sea Otters make sure that you don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn more about marine wildlife and see some of the sea animals up close. 

pacific coast highway pfeiffer burns state park

#6 Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

The rocky rugged coast along the Big Sur coastline is a must see stop. While you wont be able to go directly down onto the beach at places like the iconic McWay Falls you will not want to miss the view and capture some photos.

Also one of the most photographed bridges you see when referring to the Pacific Coast Highway is Bixby Creek Bridge which you will be driving over when traveling through the Big Sur Coastline. 

hearst castle in california

#7 Hearst Castle

Located right off highway 1 in San Simeon you must visit this historic Hearst Castle.

Build by William Randolph in 1919 it is now a national historic landmark. Once only available by the elites now you can tour the castle for yourself.

best places to stop on the pacific coast highway

#8 Morrow Bay 

From discovering the nature preserve to viewing wild sea lions and sea otters you must stop and explore Morrow Bay.

One of the few places where you can actually see wild sea otters playing right in the bay.

Don’t forget to visit Morro rock an ancient volcanic mount at the end of Morrow Rock beach

pacific coast highway places to see

#9 Pismo Beach

Know as the Clam capital of the world Pismo Beach is the perfect place to stop for some seafood.

Make sure you check out Splash Cafe this popular downtown restaurant is the spot that locals and tourist go to get the best clam chowder in bread bowls. Perfect place for lunch.

Also, don’t forget to checkout the Pismo Beach Sand Dunes and watch the sunset from the pier. The perfect spot for a day full of fun. 

solvang along the pch

#10 Solvang

Don’t miss out on the historic Danish village of Solvang. This tiny town is a little inland from Santa Barbara but worth the small detour.

It was founded in 1911 by Danish Immigrants and still today looks like a little Danish town. It even has a windmill.

Explore downtown Solvang’s eateries, wine tasting, and shopping. This little town is also surrounded by wineries. Take a walk back in time. 

santa barbara in california

#11 Santa Barbara

There is so much to do in the popular town of Santa Barbara. Know for its warm weather and beautiful beaches it is filled with mediterranean style architecture and historic sites.

Make sure check out the Santa Barbara harbor and Sterns Warf at the end of State street

pacific coast santa monica

#12 Santa Monica 

You wont want to miss the Santa Monica pier, especially at night when it is lit up with over 160,000 lights.

It even has a ferris wheel to ride on overlooking the ocean. Pacific park is the West Coasts only amusement park on a pier.

Don’t miss out on third street promenade a walking only street that includes some of the top stores for shoppers.

There is a whimsical touch and you can see an experience street musicians as you take a stroll. 

laguna beach ca

#13  Laguna Beach

Know for its perfect climate and beautiful beaches it is the perfect place to enjoy some surfing or paddle boarding.

You might just want to explore the beach and tide pools. Laguna beach is the perfect picnic spot check out Heisler park for a relaxing afternoon and some of the best views of the Pacific Ocean. 

san diego ca

#14 San Diego

You will want to spend at least a day visiting the popular city of San Diego. Don’t miss Balboa Park full of botanical gardens, art museums, theaters, restaurants and even the San Diego Zoo.

Also, make sure you take some time to see Sea World, Coronado Island, and nearby La Jolla Cove. There is so much to see and do in San Diego. 

I hope that this list of the best stops along pacific coast highway helps you to plan your perfect adventure.

From northern California all the way down to the very Southern part of California along beaches and coastlines it will be a trip to remember. 

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