No journey to the west coast is full with out an epic highway journey journey alongside California’s stunning coast.

Assuming you’re on this for the journey (you take a California coast highway journey in any case), you must plan on spending not less than every week exploring to see what the completely different locations California’s Northern, Central and Southern areas have to supply and get the total expertise.

Prepare for an exhilarating, cliff hugging, home windows down, music loud California highway journey!

See additionally: Interesting Facts About California

Mostly requested questions on California coast highway journeys

Is it higher to drive up or down the California coast?

Personally, we predict it’s greatest to begin North and head South. This weblog is organized so as of cities you’ll hit driving on Route 1.

What number of miles is California’s coast?

California’s coast spans over 800 miles!

How lengthy does it take to drive California’s coast?

With out stopping, it’ll take you between 10 – 12 hours to drive the complete California coast from begin to end. Nonetheless, this highway journey is about making these superb stops! So, plan accordingly.

Northern California coast highway journey itinerary

Your California journey begins on Pacific Coast Freeway, higher generally known as “PCH”.

The ocean views from above are so beautiful that you just’ll have to drag over to take all of it in. You don’t need to drive off the cliff. 😉

Alongside the highway, driving on the California Hwy 1, you’ll additionally encounter the attractive Navarro River Redwoods State Park which has a novel, prehistoric really feel, virtually like a scene from Jurassic Park, with ferns peaking via the thick, stalky Redwoods.

See additionally: Best Beaches in Northern California

Humboldt County: “The Redwood Forest”

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

The Redwood Forest is each bit as epic because the images you see in magazines and Instagram, solely 10x higher. You need to see it in particular person. You’ll see the Redwoods just about till you attain San Francisco. Have your digicam prepared!

Avenue of the Giants

That is the place among the largest and tallest Redwood bushes on the planet are.

From Avenue of the Giants, you’ll drive on California Hwy 1 which ultimately turns into PCH. These are among the most unimaginable views you’ll see in your California coast highway journey.

You’ll additionally need to cease in these cities for the total expertise:

Meyers Flat

Cooler in idea than in actual life. Max measurement is 7’ x 7’. I watched as a Tesla barely made it via. However, my SUV didn’t stand an opportunity.

Should you actually need to drive via a tree, you possibly can attempt the “Chandelier Tree” in Leggett whose opening has match SUVs.

That is an lovable treasure. It felt so life like, at any given second, I used to be anticipating to see an elf come out of the door.


Enter to the left of Dyerville Overlook for secluded views of the water. It’s a pleasant place to park your automotive and acquire your ideas or have a snack.


Take a look at the Victorian model structure on this 19th c. seaport city.

  • Carson mansion
  • Discover Previous City Eureka & waterfront
  • Drive throughout bridge to Woody Island

The place to eat


On this unassuming little city recognized for its backdrop in some huge Hollywood films, you’ll get to get pleasure from some odd curiosities like a store housed inside a former financial institution and California’s oldest pharmacy.

  • Rings Pharmacy (Rexall Medicine)

California’s oldest, repeatedly working drug retailer

  • Humboldt’s Hometown Retailer

You’ll be able to even step contained in the financial institution’s vault which is fairly superior. Then, stroll via the room that’s devoted to Meals Community Star, Man Fieri, who was born proper on the town.

Superbly saved fairytale-like backyard with a life-sized doll home and a hidden backyard walkway fabricated from vegetation.

Fort Bragg


You don’t need to miss this stunning seaside city overlooking Goat Island and Cypress. It provides the vibes of a Mediterranean coastal city.

  • Mendocino Headlands State Park

Standing on the bluffs looking to sea is essentially the most calming feeling because the waves are crashing and wind blows throughout you.

The place to eat

Insider Tip: On the drive down, you’ll inevitably be passing well-known websites like Big Sur’s Bixby Bridge. It’s all a part of the California coastal highway journey! Pull over to the aspect to snap some epic photographs. However, no matter you do, don't cease in the midst of the highway. Sure, I've seen this executed. It’s a security hazard to your self but additionally, everybody round you.

Wine Nation

Should you get pleasure from wine, take a tour via wine nation and check out completely different Californian wines. You’ll discover a variety of enjoyable, interactive experiences at completely different vineyards and wineries alongside the best way.

We’re going slightly inland right here, going from Route 1 to the 128, however with many wine producers positioned only a brief drive off the coast, you possibly can hop from vineyard to vineyard and see what completely different wine rising areas have to supply.

Napa County


Should you haven’t seen the film “Bottle Shock”, you’ll need to earlier than heading to wine nation. That is the place California wine turned heads worldwide and began being taken critically.

Good Learn: Learn the guide the movie was (loosely) primarily based on explaining the large California win that modified wine endlessly: Judgment of Paris: California Vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine.


Napa is essentially the most well-known of the wine areas. Put together for a Disneyland chaos form of vibe. At the least that’s what it felt like at Domaine Carneros. There are additionally different spots price testing.

Listed here are a number of nice Napa experiences to check out:

Discover the attractive grounds which features a backyard whose recent produce is utilized in lots of the dishes served on property. You can too dine right here, get pleasure from a self-wine tasting expertise and discover their museums and be taught extra about wine and cooking inside.

Just a few extra locations to take a look at in Napa:

  • Napa Mill
  • Retailers, eating places. Cease into Classic Candy Shoppe for some wine and decadent truffles.
  • Napa Welcome Signal

The place to eat

CIA at Copia has some superb eating places.

Brunch: The Grove

Dinner: Le Petit Chef 3D Expertise

A whirlwind of an expertise! Undoubtedly to not be missed. It is a actually magical night. It’ll actually transport you to a unique world.

St. Helena

Sonoma County

Napa is legendary for its wine but additionally a bit crowded and overdone in the event you ask me. Strive among the lesser recognized areas right here in Sonoma, the actual deal.

Be a part of a guided winery tour with picnic lunch within the space!


  • Alexander Valley Winery

Santa Rosa

If using via a winery on a bar bike whereas sampling grapes off the vine and sipping on completely different varietals feels like a enjoyable California afternoon to you, you’ll love St. Francis whose historical past is simply as fascinating as its fortunate escape from the California fireplace that attempted to take them down.

San Francisco & Sausalito

Take Freeway 101 North throughout the Golden Gate Bridge until you’ve entered San Francisco, the land that wants no introduction.

We’re all conscious of the issues that made SF famously all the way down to earth and funky. However, if you’d like one thing slightly extra particular, be authentic and spend a while in Sausalito, SF’s lovable little sister. She’s simply as nice and…you gained’t must struggle vacationers for a very good photograph.

For the adventurers, begin in SF & journey throughout the bridge all the best way to Sausalito. Take the ferry or bike again. I’ll warn you, it’s a little bit of a distance. I used to be exhausted after going 1 means.

The place to eat

Central California

Now you’ll get again on Route 1 and proceed down the coast coming into the middle of California which is an ideal mix of the Northern and Southern areas its sandwiched between. You’ll get slightly little bit of every part… nature, journey, ocean, metropolis, culinary delights and extra.

Santa Cruz

  • Amusement Park
  • Pizza & drink sail to see the seals, Chardonnay Charters is a superb firm
  • Stroll the pier and watch seals

Monterey & Pacific Grove

The place to eat

Not solely does this restaurant have unimaginable views, it has scrumptious seafood! Seize a desk exterior and take all of it in. You’ll be able to even watch kayakers, birds and seals from above.

Carmel by the Sea

It is a little storybook coastal village if I ever noticed one! Right here, you’ll benefit from the one in every of a sort really feel that’s uniquely Carmel. Discover quaint outlets and fairytale-like houses then, hit the seashore and go for some lunch at one of many city’s bistros with previous world appeal.

  • Carmel Seashore
  • Get your golf on at one in every of Carmel’s many state-of-the-art golf programs
  • Do the 17 mi. drive, cease at Pebble Seashore
  • See the storybook homes which have completely different names as an alternative of numbers


  • Stroll the boardwalk of Moonstone Seashore and dip your ft within the ocean
  • Principal Road outlets, eating places & historical past
  • Hearst Citadel
For one more enjoyable cease additional inland, go to a captivating village named Solvang, higher generally known as the Danish capital of America and the city the place the wino film Sideways was filmed.

Southern California

Then, you’ll get onto Freeway 101! That is whenever you’ll actually begin to really feel these surfer, seashore vibes which are quintessential to SoCal.

Right here, you’ll discover beautiful artist colonies, surf spots and seashores made well-known on TV sequence like The OC, Laguna Seashore, The Hills and each Seashore Boys music.

See additionally: Best Hiking Trails in Southern California

Santa Barbara

Right here, we enter the Northernmost level of SoCal.

  • Take a surfing lesson
  • Go to Previous Mission Santa Barbara in-built 1786
  • Stroll down one of many longest deep-water piers between LA & SF – Stearns Wharf

The place to eat

  • In-N-Out of Course! It’s a Californian staple.

Huntington Seashore

Welcome to “Surf Metropolis, USA”!

  • Hire a surrey bike at Zack’s Rental. It’s a variety of enjoyable to journey previous the seashore! Simply be careful for the pedestrians.
  • Go to the surf outlets for some nice beachwear
  • Stroll the Boardwalk

The place to eat

Laguna Seashore

Whereas Laguna Seashore is after all recognized for its seashore, I encourage you to skip it (not the prettiest, I do know, I grew up right here) and as an alternative, take a look at these different spots…

  • Stroll to Hesler Park gazebo, look out to the ocean, see an artist portray the scene

See Paegaent of the Masters which is a superb present! Stroll round and see completely different artwork galleries. You’ll be able to even paint a vase and take it residence with you.

  • See St. Francis by the Sea- Guiness Guide of World Report’s smallest cathedral on the planet

The place to eat

Sit exterior for beautiful ocean views. The seafood was recent and engaging.

La Jolla

Discuss a enjoyable spot! It is a basic Cali beachtown with a mixture of upscale and lowkey outlets and eating places with the seashore as the middle focus. You’ll know you’re in the correct place whenever you hear the seals!

  • Stroll Avendida de la Playa
  • Seashore sundown
  • Go kayaking at La Jolly Cove
  • Birch Aquarium

The place to eat


If you’d like a style of glamour and lovely seashores, head to Malibu.

  • Stroll Malibu Pier, a number of outlets & eating places
  • Level Dume
  • Matador Seashore
  • Surf at Zuma Seashore

The place to eat

Don’t go away with out testing this superb restaurant! Reservations are extremely really helpful. I watched the large waves do their very own little present and received sprayed with sea mist whereas sipping cocktails earlier than diving into an incredible 8 course seafood & sushi meal.

San Diego

It is a stunning location away from the remainder of town.

  • Stroll round (or keep at) Historic Resort de Coronado
  • Have a drink and take heed to dwell music on the seashore
  • Sea World
  • Balboa Park
  • Level Loma
  • Previous City San Diego

Some nice spots to hit are Previous City San Diego Historic Park and Whaley Home.

  • Woflie’s Carousel Bar
  • Breakfast & Bubbles
  • Rockin Baja Lobster

See additionally: How to Plan an Epic Baja California Vacation

And there you’ve it! The place to cease alongside a California coast highway journey! Hopefully you get some concepts in your upcoming highway journey!

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