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Are you dreaming of the sun on your skin, the taste of world-class wine on your tongue, or the sight of some of the most beautiful sceneries in America? If so, then buckle up for a drive along the Californian coast, the perfect holiday for surfers, sun seekers, and Hollywood wannabe’s.
This coastal drive is the ideal getaway for those who enjoy the laid-back charm of picturesque landscapes and the freedom of setting their own pace. The Californian coast is more than just the glitz of Hollywood and health farms; it’s about discovering the natural beauty that outshines any movie set.
Kick-Start Your Journey: Los Angeles to San Francisco
The drive from San Diego to San Francisco is about two full days, while a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco can be covered in one long day. However, for a truly enriching experience, take your time. Car hire is fairly affordable in the U.S.A., and insurance, while highly recommended, isn’t obligatory.
Adequate public transportation may be lacking along the main section of the route, which means you get to enjoy the journey at your own pace, appreciating the majestic scenery as you go. Ensure you have a GPS or Sat Nav as the route can be intricate at times.
Soak up the Sun in Malibu
Approximately an hour north of Los Angeles, the seaside town of Malibu awaits. Home to many A-list celebrities, this petite hilly town also boasts some of California’s top-notch beaches. Spend half a day here to unwind, swim, do a little star-gazing, and explore the mountains.
A range of mid-priced motels is available, especially as you head out of town.
Experience Nature’s Masterpiece on Highway 1
A couple of hours north of L.A. lies Highway 1, or State Route 1, the most scenic stretch of your journey. This almost untouched 102-mile stretch offers scarce towns or gas stations, so be sure to fuel up at Cambria.
Travel above the ocean on a high-altitude road that twists along imposing cliffs, with the azure Pacific on your left and verdant hills fading into the distance on the right. Carry a high-quality camera as there are numerous viewpoints to capture.
This stretch can be covered non-stop in about 2 ½ hours, but ideally, take at least 4 hours to truly savor the experience. While good regional maps are hard to come by, Google Maps should do the trick.
Unmissable Sights on Highway 1
The lavish Hearst Castle, a dream home envisioned by the late billionaire, newspaper magnate, and Hollywood investor William Randolph Hearst, is an absolute must-visit.
Further along Highway 1, at Piedras Blancas, seize the chance to spot Elephant Seals. Just 12 miles north of Cambria, Piedras Blancas becomes a sunbathing haven for hordes of Elephant Seals, best viewed in spring and summer.
Discover the Beauty of Big Sur
As you approach the end of the undisturbed 102-mile stretch of Highway 1, you reach Big Sur, a secluded area where the breathtaking ocean views hint at civilization’s return. Be ready for fleeting glimpses of hotels, general stores, and gas stations – that’s your cue for Big Sur’s arrival.
Accommodation, be it motel/hotel rooms or camping spots, can be pricey and limited, so plan and book in advance. Further down the road is the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the heart of Big Sur, filled with towering Redwood trees. It’s an excellent spot for hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
Wrap Up Your Adventure with Napa Valley’s Finest
Conclude your coastal drive with a visit to California’s premier wine region, Napa Valley. Located about 65 miles northwest of San Francisco, here you can indulge in a variety of top-notch wineries.
After immersing yourself in the tantalizing tastes of Napa, head back to San Francisco to reconnect with city life. The Californian coast drive is more than just a trip; it’s an immersive experience that blends nature, culture, and relaxation into a uniquely rewarding journey.