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Pacific Coast Highway Stops: 14 Incredible Stops Along Highway 1

Ready to experience the ultimate California Adventure? The Pacific Coast Highway road trip is one of the most popular drives in the US. Pack you bags and get ready to…

Ready to experience the ultimate California Adventure? The Pacific Coast Highway road trip 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 and what the best Pacific Coast Highway stops are.

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. 

Top 14 Pacific Coast Highway Stops

pacific coast highway stops point reyes

#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.

#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. 

pacific coast highway stops santa cruz

#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. 

#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 stops 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. 

#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 stops

#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. 

#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. 

#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 highway stops 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. 

#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. 

#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 Pacific Coast Highway stops helps you to plan your perfect road tip adventure. From northern California all the way down to the very Southern part of California along beaches and coastlines it will be an adventure to remember. 

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California Bucket List Ideas: Top 15 Things You Must Do!

Looking to plan some fun adventures in California. Here are some of my favorite California Bucket list ideas to plan your next adventure in California. California Bucket List Ideas 1….

Looking to plan some fun adventures in California. Here are some of my favorite California Bucket list ideas to plan your next adventure in California.

California Bucket List Ideas

1. Visit Burney Falls

burney falls

Nicked name the “eight wonder of the world” Burney Falls is a must for your California bucket list. This 126ft tall waterfall falls down the fern covered face.

Located about 60 miles northeast of Redding, CA, the icy snow melt water is too cold to swim, but you will not be disappointed. It is only a short hike down a trail and some stair to the viewing deck. Don’t forget to take pictures, it is a sight you will want to remember.

2. Hike to The Hollywood Sign

hollywood sign

The iconic Hollywood sign can be viewed from areas all over the LA area. Its even more amazing to hike up to it and see it up close. Only a short hike from LA there are a few different trail options.

The trail is about 3 miles and takes about 2-3 hours to hike. Once you get to the top you will not be disappointed when you are looking over the hollywood sign with the LA city area in the back ground.

3. Drive Big Sur Coastline

big sur coast line

One of the most popular coastline drives in the world. If you are in California this is one road trip that you will not want to miss. Stretching 90 miles south of Carmel to Point Lobos.

You will enjoy weaving along costal cliffside with the amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. Don’t forget to make some stops along the way to take in the experience.

4. Explore Fern Canyon

fern canyon

Another must add to your California Bucket List ideas. The Fern canyon hike in the northern California redwoods. is like no other destination. Located in Humboldt county.

Once you reach the narrow canyon you will enjoy the walls around you completely covered in ferns and mosses.

5. See the Rocks Move at Death Valley

death valley

Rocks moving by themselves! Is this really possible? Yes… located in Death Valley National park these rock are unlike any other.

The rare phenomenon causes these rocks to move across the dry lakebed leaving a trail behind. Each rock can move up to 100 feet in a day!

6. See the Golden Gate Bridge from Vista Point

golden gate bridge vista point

If you have never been to the Golden Gate, you are in for a treat. The massive size and beauty of the bridge is breathtaking. Its an even more amazing view from Vista Point.

Just a short walk from a nearby parking lot, you will get a view of the Golden Gate like no other. It would be even more amazing to watch the sunset.

7. Go Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

california bucket list ideas napa valley

If you haven’t gone wine tasting in Napa Valley you need plan a trip. There is over 400 wineries in Napa Valley so you can pick and choose what wineries to visit, or take a guided wine tasting tour to multiple locations.

Napa valley not only has the best wines, you will be surrounded by beautiful view of the wine county and cute hotels. This just might be the most relaxing adventure you add to your CA bucket list ideas.

8. Walk the Cypress Tree Tunnel at Point Reyes

cypress tree tunnel point reyes

Cypress Tree Tunnel of Point Reyes is located in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The row of cypress trees has literally grown over the road to create a tunnel.

You will want to go very early in the morning to get good pictures since it gets busy. It is also so beautiful at sunset. Its such a cool and unique spot that you might want to go both times.

9. Ski or Snowboard Tahoe

ski or snowboard lake tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of the most famed ski and snowboard destinations in the world. About 90 minutes from Sacramento Tahoe is known for beautiful scenic views of the lake.

There are many ski & snowboard resorts sprinkled around the Tahoe area. You can’t beat an adventured filled day plus a beautiful scenic view.

10. View Where Trash has Turned to Treasure at Glass Beach

california bucket list ideas glass beach

Glass beach located in Fort Bragg is one of the most popular seaside attractions in the small little beach town. There are actually three glass beaches.

Each one of them were former dump sites where people pushed trashed over the cliff onto the beach. Through the years the beaches formed a beautiful sea glass now know as glass beach.

11. See The Largest Tree in The World

california bucket list ideas general sherman tree

In the Sequoia National Park stands that tallest tree in the world. The tree, called General Sherman, stands 275 feet tall, and is over 36 feet in diameter at the base.

It is only about a half mile walk from the parking lot to the tree. While the trail is short and easy you will be amazed at the massive size of this tree. Getting to visit the tallest tree in the world, that is pretty cool!

12. Eat Seafood at Fishermans Warf

california bucket list ideas fishermans warf

Right in the heart of San Fransisco, you can really enjoy the sea side experience and taste some of the best seafood around all while enjoying the beautiful view of the bay.

Locate within walking distance to pier 39 and other popular San Francisco attractions. You don’t want to leave the San Fransisco experience off your California bucket list.

13. Walk Up Salvation Mountain

salvation mountain

Get inspired at Salvation Mountain. Located in southern California about an hour from palm springs. Created from the imagination of one man wanting to pass on the message of gods love.

It has been 28 years  in the making and is a colorfull sight to see. There is a parking lot right next to the mountain, so it is very easily accessible.

14. Watch the sun set at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

sunset cliffs

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park area is a 68-acre park on the western edge of Point Loma. The cliffs overlook the pacific creating the perfect backdrop to watch the sunset.

Sunset cliffs is an amazing point that really makes you stop and think while enjoying the rugged cliffside views at sunset.

15. Visit Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier

santa monica pier california

To really enjoy the California vibe you will not want to miss out on a trip to the Santa Monica Pier. Located right on the pacific ocean you can walk out onto the pier that offers, restaurants, an arcade, events, and a even an amusement park.

Whats better than riding your favorite rides right on the pacific! You can also explore the fun town of Santa Monica a popular beachside town.

California Bucket List ideas

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