Driving down the length of the Pacific Coast Highway, more commonly known as the PCH, is the ultimate California road trip. The road travels from Dana Point in Orange County to Leggett in Mendocino County. It passes through some of the most famous California landmarks and explores the rugged California coast line. From wine tasting to boat touring, driving down the PCH is an unforgettable experience. Here are the top five places to visit on the PCH:
- Orange County: The county sandwiched between Los Angeles and San Diego has some of the best weather and most picturesque beaches in the continental U.S. Known for its surfing, beer and laid-back lifestyle, it’s definitely the best place to start your road trip up the coast. Some of the best spots to visit include Newport Beach, Catalina Island and Huntington Beach. Start your day early with the surf crowd at “The Wedge,” one of the most famous surfing destinations in Orange County. Later, take a boat cruise to Catalina Island or rent kayaks and admire the yachts in Newport Harbor. Go to Huntington Beach for sunset at the pier, before eating a delicious seafood dinner at Duke’s on the beach. Don’t forget to try the Hula Pie!
- Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara was founded in the 1700s, making it one of the oldest cities on the West Coast. With a strong Spanish tradition and a Californian attitude, Santa Barbara is a beautiful coastal city with lots to see and do. Stearns Wharf, one of the longest wharfs in the world, has many great restaurants and shops. It provides some amazing views of the ocean and the town. The downtown has lots of fun things to do like the Urban Wine Trail and shopping on State Street. There is also a plethora of famous restaurants and fresh food. If you want to do your own cooking, there is a farmer’s market that sells unique fruits and vegetables six days a week.
- Big Sur: Arguably the prettiest part of the drive along the PCH, Big Sur is a mostly uninhabited stretch of coast with rolling mountains and deep-blue water. It is home to some of the most famous vineyards in California, such as Cambria and San Simeon. Nepenthe, a restaurant situated right off the highway, has a fantastic wine list that features local wines and offers breath-taking views from its outdoor patio overlooking the sea. One of the highest tidal waterfalls in the world, McKay Falls, is just a short hike from the highway. Point Sur Lighthouse offers a history lesson in its museum, which features artifacts from several ships that were wrecked along this part of the coast. Finally, the beach at Piedras Blancas is home to hundreds of elephant seals year round and is a great spot to visit with kids.
- Monterey: Just north of Big Sur is the city of Monterey. Once famous for its fish canning factories, it is now home to an amazing aquarium that has a kelp forest with otters and unique species of jellyfish. Cannery Row showcases all of the old factories lining the shore and there are several museums that house information about the old Monterey and the Gold Rush. Pinnacles National Monument offers a fun day trip from the beach, where you can explore fabulous caves and high mountain peaks. Maybe you will even see the endangered California Condor in its natural habitat!
- San Francisco: The final stop on your whirlwind tour should be San Francisco, home of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. San Francisco overlooks the bay and covers several hills. On clear days, San Francisco offers stupendous views of the Pacific and the rolling mountains that lay inland. Alcatraz Island should be the first stop on the itinerary of any visitor to the city. With beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the spookiness of Alcatraz prison, it’s a can’t-miss destination. Other cool places for shopping and eating are downtown Market Street (where you can still ride the historic cable cars) and Fisherman’s Wharf. For some hippie history, visit the Haight-Ashbury district which was the center of the 1960’s revolution. It is worth walking or renting a taxi to go across the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Finally, remember to pack your camera when you visit the Painted Ladies. These beautiful Victorian-style houses overlook the bay and provide a great setting for some new photos.
The PCH might be the most scenic route in the entire U.S. It’s a great opportunity for travelers to see all of the best places in California. From north to south, visitors can experience the great outdoors and see rare wildlife. All you need is a car, some sunscreen, and a sense of adventure!
Written by the marketing dept. for Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer, Paul Lee