Monday, October 26, 2020

The Best Stops along California's Scenic Highway 1


Highway 1 is the scenic route that winds along the fringes of the California coastline. It is one of the most beautiful drives in the world! It stretches from Leggett in Northern California across the Central Coast, passing along Santa Barbara and Huntington Beach, all the way to Dana Point in Southern Ca. The 650 mile-drive boasts of the most spectacular view of jagged cliffs, gorgeous bluffs, postcard-worthy lighthouses, boardwalks, pristine sandy beaches, and serene coastal towns. California dreamin’ yet? I’m rounding up the best spots and stops along this route from San Francisco down to LA. So, pick a sunny day, sit back, lather on the sunscreen and let’s go on a road trip─ top down along this world-famous highway. 


1. Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero – Stop by Pescadero State Beach and check out Pigeon Point Lighthouse. This postcard-worthy lighthouse is the tallest on the West Coast. Exit left on Pescadero Creek Road and drive into the small coastal town of Pescadero. The “main drag” of the town (Stage Rd) is peppered with many taco cantinas, unique shops, and trinket stores. 


2. Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz - Hop on a merry-go- round in one of the oldest seaside amusement parks in California and the world. It has been open since 1907. It’s got “vintage” written all over but still works. Admission to the Boardwalk is free and ride tickets are reasonable. Try the Giant Dipper Wooden Roller Coaster which has been sending thrill-seekers shrieking at every turn and tumble since the 1920’s. Stroll along the Boardwalk where you can find souvenir shops, ice cream parlors, restaurants, and sunbathing sea lions. 


3. Monterey Boardwalk, Monterey – The pine and cypress dotted coastline of Monterey and surrounding area, lent itself the setting to many novels of the great American writer John Steinbeck. The museum dedicated to him is located a few miles away in Salinas. Check out the oceanfront Monterey Bay Aquarium which houses up to 80,000 plants and animals. Cool trivia: Monterey was the capital of Alta California when it was a vassal state of Spain and then Mexico before it was officially ceded to the US in 1848. 


4. Carmel-By-The-Sea – This seaside town is a must-stop along Highway 1. Spend an hour or two exploring the fairytale-like cottages of Downtown Carmel. It is full of quaint art galleries, coffeehouses, bakeries, and jewelry stores. This is also one of the most dog-friendly towns in California. Drive 30 miles south from Carmel along Highway 1 to Pfeiffer Beach for a more off-the-beaten path beach. 


5. Bixby Bridge, Big Sur - The stretch of coastline that runs along Big Sur is one of the most dramatic along this entire route. Development along this area has been highly regulated leaving the area unspoiled and retaining its natural splendor. Stop by and see the Bixby Bridge. Slightly overshadowed by its scarlet brother in the north, the Bixby Bridge takes the center stage down here. Stop by the turnout before and after the bridge and take a few snap shots of this iconic, all-American bridge. 


6. Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA – Stop along San Simeon State beach and go on a tour of the Hearst Castle. The brainchild of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst and his pioneering, female architect Julia Morgan. The sprawling castle was built on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Notable guests to the castle included many Hollywood A-listers, Winston Churchill and even Philippine President Manuel Quezon. Decked out to entertain the crème de la crème of high society, the castle includes a large indoor and outdoor pool, tennis courts, gardens and is adorned with the most exquisite furnishings from all over the world. 


7. Morro Bay- A beautiful and serene seaside town. The distinctive, turban-resembling morro rock (a volcanic plug) stands astute nearby (the most notable feature of the town). This is not your typical party town. The beaches here are uncrowded and family- friendly. Enjoy a cup of clam chowder soup and enjoy a peaceful day at the beach. 

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Rica is the creative half of the dynamic sister duo behind thirtysomethingtourist travel blog. She writes about her journeys to inspire people to go out there and see the world. 





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