Many people dream about driving this coastal region of California Highway 1, full of incredibly beautiful places. There are so many places to see and so many things to do while driving highway 1. My suggestions are the following:
Morro Bay is a tiny town along Central California’s coast. The main feature of the area is the 581-foot volcanic plug known as ‘Morro rock’. A bay is formed by this rock and a five-mile-long spit of sand which has created its ecosystem full of a wide variety of flora and fauna. Unfortunately, Morro rock is out of the climbing list for anyone because it is the habitat of the protected peregrine falcon. If you want to bask in the natural beauty, you should visit this small town.
Big Sur is one of the most famous places on Highway 1. You will know what I am talking about once you get there. The view is enchanting with rugged cliffs, amazing coastal views, and so many hidden gems. You probably have seen the picture of the famous Bixby Creek Bridge, which is one of the most-stop spots in Big Sur. Roughly 90miles of rugged coastline has so many things to see. Pfeiffer Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches here in Big Sur, where you will be able to see incredible lights through the hole of the Keyhole rock. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is located here which is known for its elevated landscape to explore next to the ocean. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the beauty of 80 feet, McWay Falls, along with the turquoise blue water of the sea. You can also visit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Ragged point, Limekiln State Park, etc.
Carmel-by-the-sea is one of the romantic seaside destinations famous for its scenic beaches and mesmerizing ambiance. Imagine a historic Spanish town or a tree-shaded passageway lined with beautiful Victorian buildings and little storybook cottages along with the beautiful beaches- nothing can be as peaceful as this. The rocky bluffs along the coast, pristine shoreline, and the white soft sand- everything about Carmel beach is quite enchanting. You can also go for the 17-mile drive that stretches from Carmel-by-the-sea to Lover’s Point Park- this drive is quite scenic. Do not forget to check out the Lone Cypress there, which is over 200 years old and one of the most photographed trees in California.
Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay has got its name from its crescent-shaped harbor which is known as ‘Pillar Point’. Here you will find a lineup of local fishing boats. The town is also very nice and perfect for a weekend gateway. Some of the places to explore in Half Moon Bay are- Pidgeon Point Lighthouse, Quarry Park, Montara State Beach, Gray Whale Cove State Beach, Poplar Beach, Pomponio State Beach, etc. Half Moon Bay Beach is the only beach here that offers camping along the coast. There is an iconic spot close to Half Moon Bay you should check out is the Devil’s slide. This place got its name for being known for landslides. But later it was turned into hiking and biking trails. There is an easy 3-mile trail on the left side that opens up to the ocean view and is quite spectacular.
Golden gate bridge
The world-famous Golden gate bridge is located between San Francisco Bay and Marin County. This bridge was opened in 1937 and at that time it was considered the longest suspension bridge ever created. Declared as one of the modern wonders of the world, this bridge is made of steel and the total length is 1.7 miles. You can go to the vista point and viewpoints on either side of the bridge and enjoy the view from both sides. Baker beach also provides an amazing view of the bridge along with the crashing waves on the beach. From Battery east vista, Fort point you will be able to get a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Muir Wood National Monument
If you are planning to visit the places that are nearby to the coast, you should include this National Monument. Previously known as Redwood Canyon, this place is known as Muir Woods National Monument now. This place is famous for the giant redwoods. This Park is beyond your imagination, and you will be amazed to explore some of the ancient groves including some trees over 1000 years old, and wander through the woodland paths amidst the tress- the experience is hard to describe. The only drawback I faced previously was the crowd and lack of parking spots. It used to get crowded easily and sometimes it would take a lot of time and rounds to get a parking spot. Recently that the park has opened a reservation system. You can make a reservation by visiting GoMuirWoods.com or call 1-800-410-2419.
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore is beautiful. This place has so many things to see- a gorgeous shoreline lighthouse, and windswept cypress trees. The view of the lighthouse is quite amazing- adjacent to the coast. Sometimes it gets so foggy that the lighthouse and the shore are not visible from the overlook. There are some specific days and hours when the stairway to the lighthouse is open. On the way to the lighthouse, do not forget to check out the Cypress trees tunnel, Point Reyes Shipwreck. Read some more details here: (our blog link)
- Home - Morro Bay, CA - Official Visitor Guide
- Big Sur California, Lodging, Camping Tourism Information
- Carmel-by-the-Sea, California | Official Travel Site (carmelcalifornia.com)
- Visit Half Moon Bay - Lodging & Accommodations - Things To Do In Northern California
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