When you take a 4 day, 2000 mile road trip through both Oregon and California you don’t really get enough time to be in one place. We really had to pick and choose the places at the top of our list to see. Driving down the coast of California was no exception. There are too many places to talk about. The list below are just a few that were a part of my personal highlights to help you start your California road trip planner. Some notable mentions that didn’t make the cut are obviously San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara. Check out my quick 48-hour tour of San Francisco, here. Hopefully in a later post, I can go into more detail about the others.
Redwood National Park
If you start right above San Francisco, you’ll find Redwood National Park. If you are at all into nature, this is the place for you. The Redwood Forest is incredible. We got there so early, there were hardly any cars on the road. On the Avenue of the Giants, the trees are so tall they get lost in the fog where you can barely see where they end. I felt so tiny amongst the Giants. It really makes you take a look a life and realize how tiny we all are.
Right before Big Sur, you’ll pass by Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel-By-The-Sea, literally some of the most quaint small towns. In Pebble Beach make sure you stop by the 17-mile drive. Obviously, the 17-mile drive is 17 miles long and weaves around multiple prestigious golf courses and beautiful homes with scenic views of the Pacific along the way. You most definitely should add these stops to your west coast road trip itinerary. Every view is beautiful with the vibrant colors from the golf course, blue ocean and of course a ton of seals.
My favorite part of the drive was Bird Rock. The rock is covered with probably a hundred seals loudly calling about. They really make for a fun atmosphere because they are by no means quiet. The white sand is so bright it has this beautiful contrast with the deep blue color of the ocean.
I think literallly every place in Big Sur could qualify as a highlight, but for the sake of time we’re sticking to just one place for now. I will definitely be making another trip to Big Sur and will go into further detail. And I'm really looking forward to it. I had never been to Big Sur before and, man, was I in for a surprise. I had no idea that a place like that could exist in California. And all of that beauty, I think, is embodied at McWay Falls. McWay Falls is located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It is a little easy to miss, so keep your eyes open for the signs and crowds. Be careful, parking can be a bit tricky since the road is so narrow. The waterfall is located in a cove that seems like its almost completely untouched and secluded from visitors. The occasion footprints in the sand leave you wondering the story about how the people who made them got there.
This was my first road trip, but will definitely not be my last. I think I'm hooked. There's just something about being on the open road anticipating what treasure you'll stumble upon next especially when you're with great friends. I think I was on stimulation overload the entire trip. The beautiful scenery and vibrancy of the colors of the landscape were incredible.
If you ever have the time to drive the coast of California, do it. It is beautiful. And you can use these highlights as your Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary.
Yours Truly // Shannon
If you missed it, check out my pictures from my favorite part of Oregon, Crater Lake, here.