USA, Wanderlust

The Pacific Coast Highway in photos: 56 reasons to visit California

One road. Eight nights. Three cameras. 990 photos. Approximately. The Pacific Coast Highway has attractions galore, whether you’re road-tripping solo or as a family – but none more tempting than the fabulous spectacular scenery.

Taking our rental car out onto the Pacific Coast Highway in California

Early on, I realised I’d have to ration the number of stops we made at viewpoints, beaches, coves and stupidly scenic stopping places – if we were ever to get to our main stops of Monterey and Pismo Beach after leaving San Francisco.

And whether there was blue sky or sweeping atmospheric mist and cloud, whether the surf was crashing on dramatic cliffs or the sand was powdery white against the waves, whether we had a few hours or a few nights, I loved every minute of it. Here are 56 reasons (don’t worry, not all 990 made the cut) to visit California – my road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway in photos.

Our starting point was San Francisco, our base for a few nights to soak up the quirky atmosphere, find out if the hills really are that steep (they are) and spot sea lions.

Not forgetting the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, firmly shrouded in cloud during our entire stay – the June gloom is another thing that’s true about the city. In fact, the fog gets its own name. Meet Karl.

And the other icon of the Bay, the fearsome and formidable Alcatraz… bathed in sunlight and blue skies, with flowers blooming, the fascinating site had an oddly holiday atmosphere.

Then hitting the road. The Pacific Coast Highway, aka Highway 1, defies superlatives. I could have gazed and gazed and gazed.

But the road leads on… A brief stop in Santa Cruz, its famous boardwalk and pier so brightly coloured they look like a child’s drawing (with more style). The sky really was that blue too.

And on… to Monterey. Its fishing heritage is commemorated in artworks – today, the marine life is in the huge aquarium, contained in vast tanks and cleverly designed underwater habitats.

Monterey’s neighbouring Pacific Grove is also the start of 17-mile drive, leading to chi chi Carmel where even the bleached wood of the trees has a certain elegance.

A detour en route to see the redwoods. Far from the biggest even in California – you need to head north for those – they were still giants, towering above, too large to cram into a single photo frame, ancient and immense.

And another stop along Big Sur deserves its own mention: Pfeiffer Beach where the minerals from the hills turn the sand purple, although it was the waves crashing through the rock arches that kept me enthralled.

Lastly, a beach with a difference – Pismo Beach with its long pier, great seafood and retro vibe.

The road leads on, down towards Los Angeles. But that will have to be a journey for another day. Tempted?

 

All images copyright MummyTravels

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Driving the Pacific Coast Highway is a road trip like no other - if you need further tempting, here are 56 reasons to visit California and follow Highway 1 yourself, with my California road trip in photos.

 

Oregon Girl Around the World