Guest Blog by Jonny Rowntree
Jonny Rowntree is a freelance writer
working with luxury tour operator, Exsus
Why should you travel the full length of Highway One and the Pacific Coast Highway?
Also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway One’s sea-hugging route winds its way down the USA’s western coastline. Stretching 764 miles in total, it’s arguably the most beautiful and attraction-packed coastal drive in the world. So why would you want to miss a single bit of this West Coast America road trip?
Highway One is an abundance of modern and old-fashioned attractions, featuring everything from natural beauty to oddball optical illusions. Most travellers stick to the section between San Francisco and Los Angeles, in search of the classic, all-American experience, but there is so much more to see and explore, as this fun, interactive route map demonstrates. Take some time to think about what you most want out of your trip, and then see what takes your fancy on the interactive map – a great way to decide where to stop and which sections to explore in more depth.
Screenshot (c) Exsus from their Interactive PCH Route Map
Key cities along the way include San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego, but there are lots of smaller, unique attractions to tempt you away from the bright lights. Start your trip from Eureka, and you’ll drive through the giant redwood forests of Northern California. Go looking for the Hyperion Tree – the hidden redwood which claims to be the tallest in the world, and drive through the Chandelier tree – with a trunk large enough to let cars pass right through.
Foodies and wine lovers should divert inland from quaint Santa Rosa for a few days in California’s gorgeous wine-producing hotspot north of San Francisco, the Napa Valley. There are lots of wonderful boutique accommodation options, restaurants, and of course wineries and vineyards to visit.
The inevitable Bixby Bridge Photo Stop
Image (c) Exsus
The town of Carmel is a worthwhile stop, often overlooked. Two hours south of San Francisco, it’s a lovely place to watch for grey whales (December to April). Driving on northwards from Monterey and pretty Pebble Beach, one major roadside attraction that you’ll find is the dramatic Bixby Bridge. It’s a famous spot which has been featured in many car commercials thanks to the stunning scenery around it. Stop on the north side to take pictures or travel up the little known Old Coast dirt road into the mountains to get a better view.
A landmark rock sits astride pretty Morro Bay – a turban-shaped, extinct volcanic cone about 23 million years old and inhabited by rare peregrine falcons. The Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History is a top spot to visit for a few hours. Or wander around the bay, keeping your eyes peeled for great blue herons and monarch butterflies during their annual migration, from October to March. You'll find Morro Bay roughly halfway between Carmel and Los Angeles.
The San Diego Skyline
If you're driving south don’t stop at Los Angeles like most travellers: head on a little further to chilled-out San Diego, at the southern tip of California. It’s a great spot for surfing, relaxing on the beach and eating freshly cooked seafood. There's good whale-watching here too.
Still want more? Head on into Mexico to explore the wildlife and natural beauty of the Baja Peninsula. Some road trips just never end, and with this West Coast America road trip you just wish you could keep on going!
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