San Francisco, CA

Highway 1: from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Herve Mouyal

Reaching Los Angeles from San Francisco is easy: take highway 1, 6 hours, and 375 miles later, it's done! But since we are in the road-trip kingdom, why not take advantage of the Pacific coast? With admiration and astonishment, We discovered a wild coast, preserved, with very few constructions. Only the road urbanizes this otherwise very natural landscape.

How much time should we expect on Highway 1? At least 2 days if you don't have more time. And again, it is too short; we had the impression that we passed by some beautiful places, particularly Monterey, which we made on the express. Let's not forget that there are more than 600 miles to cover while passing by the coast. And then it's much more pleasant to regularly stop on the different spots and take your time to stroll especially if you take pictures. No, really, Highway 1 is a place where you have to take your time!

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In which season should you go there?

Spring

We advise you to wait for the beautiful days to drive on Highway 1, knowing that they start in April. We were there at the beginning of April, and yet we were unlucky because we had heavy rain with fortunately some clearings.

Summer

If you go there in July or August expect to have many people on the road and very high prices for hotels, it is also the time of the famous morning fog that will prevent you from having a great view.

Autumn

The months of September and October are also a good alternative to summer to avoid the world, fog, and high prices.

If you can manage to make Highway 1 in the San Francisco to Los Angeles direction because that is how you will be on the coast side to enjoy the view and stop easily along the coast.

One last recommendation is to avoid going from Friday to Sunday because many Californians spend their weekends on the coast, and hotel prices are double the price.

Highway 1 and Big Sur in two days?

DAY 1

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Salinas

We chose to take a hotel in Salinas because the hotels on the coast, in the town of Monterey, for example, were too expensive. Unfortunately, Salinas is not really interesting, so we don't recommend it. To tell the truth, we regretted not to have put the price to spend the first night of our road trip in Monterey, which was much more worth it!

Carmel

After five hours of driving, we wanted to make the last stop on Carmel's beach, a small town really very upper class. You'll see if you pass by, very green with incredible houses and a huge and charming beach. On the other hand, if you want to find a hotel there, it will be necessary to put the price there; the average is $180 the night.

Bixby Creek Bridge

One of the most famous bridges in California after the Golden Gate is its magnificent architecture and the beautiful setting in which it is located. It may look quite impressive in a picture, but once in front or on top of it, it is not very impressive at all. You will see other bridges of the same style along Big Sur, like the Rocky Creek Bridge and the Big Creek Bridge.

McWay Falls

They are not the most impressive waterfalls we have seen. I think of Yosemite falls, for example, but they are obviously the most beautiful!  There is also a hiking trail at this level, but it was closed when we were there to protect the fauna and the flora.

Elephant Seal Vista Point

After an hour's drive, we stopped at a first unknown viewpoint to observe elephant seals before the Elephant Seal Vista Point, the most famous. We had the chance to see beautiful elephant seals swimming, flirting and basking on the beach and there was nobody else there but us!

At Elephant Seal Vista Point, the elephant seals are almost more numerous than the tourists ...

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From there, we quickly went to visit the incredible Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Hearst Castle is the dream of the press magnate who inspired the movie "Citizen Kane", which became a reality with the help of the first woman architect in California.

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DAY 2

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San Luis Obispo

We hadn't really heard about this city before, but it was halfway there, more than 6 hours drive from Los Angeles anyway, so perfect for finding a hotel. Arriving at the end of the day, we learn that it's the evening of the Farmers' Market, which takes place every Thursday from 18h to 21h, with stands of fruits and vegetables from the region but also stands to eat a bite to eat, with a menu of braised chicken, tacos, churros, etc. That day the atmosphere was quite young and very festive because the California Polytechnic University is in San Luis Obispo. It was the weekend of the return of the famous Spring Break. We met a lot of cool people and had an amusing and totally unexpected evening.

Santa Barbara

As soon as we arrived in Santa Barbara, we hurried to discover this small town, quite pleased with the air of a Spanish colonial city.

Enjoy the Santa Barbara Beach, Leadbetter Beach, and Shoreline Park, which offers a superb view. Depending on the season, you may have the chance to see dolphins along this coast.

Highway 1 is well worth the trip. If you're a road-trip enthusiast like us, you'll love the freedom to stop often, even for short periods, and to travel all those miles along a wild coast to discover the must-see features of Highway 1. It was the last stage of our road-trip on the west coast of the USA. Highway 1 allowed us to end this trip in beauty, with stars in our eyes and memories full in our heads.

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I have always needed to create and for the past 7 years I have been sharing my creativity by producing photo and video content for luxury hotels around the world as well as for brands. I don't like to stay in my comfort zone because I can get bored very quickly. I need to try new things because for each brand the speaking is different.

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