The Pacific Coast Highway is a beautiful stretch of coastal highway spanning the length of California, offering spectacular views and stunning vistas. With its winding roads, crashing waves and magnificent mountain passes, it has become one of the most popular road trips in America. Many travelers flock to this route for an unforgettable experience that will stay with them forever. What makes The Pacific Coast Highway truly remarkable are its breathtakingly scenic drives – especially when driving at dawn or dusk as many travelers do each year. Depending on which portion you’re traversing through, there can be panoramic views of rugged cliffs overhanging pristine beaches below or expansive stretches out across miles and miles of redwood forests with towering sequoias among other things. It’s not just about seeing what lies ahead either; even those moments looking back into nature’s beauty past you captures your senses too!
There’s something for everyone on the PCH, but if we had to choose, we’d say our favorite part of any Pacific Coast Highway road trip is the 90-mile drive through Big Sur. One of the most extended undeveloped stretches of coastline in the US, Big Sur sits between San Simeon and Carmel-by-the-Sea and features redwood forests, seaside cliffs, and gorgeous sandy beaches. The area is mainly uninhabited, separated from the Rt 101 corridor by the Santa Lucia mountains, so you can drive along the cliffs for hours without seeing another car. If you only want to experience a small part of the Pacific Coast Highway before heading back to the main freeways, make sure you include a drive through Big Sur.
When the Spanish first settled in Monterey in the 18th century, they referred to the unexplored coastline south of the city as “el país grande del sur” – “the big southern country” in English. Over time, that name was shortened to just “Big Sur,” as befitting California’s long-standing Spanglish traditions. Despite the area’s natural beauty, the rugged terrain kept all but the most stubborn homesteaders away during the early days of American settlement. Today, about 60% of the land in Big Sur is owned by the state and federal governments, preserving the undeveloped character of the area and making it the perfect place for a scenic drive up or down the coast.
As one of California’s most famous roads, there’s no shortage of scenic spots on the Pacific Coast Highway. One of the highlights on your adventure is Section A between San Francisco and Los Angeles famous for its jaw-dropping seaside lookout points such as Bixby Bridge spanning across California’s renowned rocky coastlines – which entices visitors year after year no matter their take on nature exploration. Along your travels, make sure not to miss other highlights like Point Lobos State Reserve.
Malibu Beach, with its sandy shores and crashing waves, is perfect for swimming and sunbathing; the Santa Cruz Boardwalk has classic amusement park rides and beachfront restaurants open until late at night; and Morro Rock, which towers majestically off Shoreline Drive in Morro Bay, adds interesting texture to any peaceful stroll through town; these are just a few examples from a much larger selection, so don’t miss out on any upcoming adventures.
Taking the PCH through Big Sur offers one of the most famous and beautiful drives in the world. In fact, the Condé Nast Traveler named this particular stretch of the PCH as one of the ten most famous streets in the world, right next to NYC’s Broadway and the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Planning a trip along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is always a good idea because it leads to unforgettable experiences and breathtaking views no matter when or how far you travel. If you’d like to see it for yourself, Action Tour Guide offers a Pacific Coast Highway Self Driving Tour. Also you can discover the best of California at your own pace with our Self-Guided Driving and Walking Tour Bundle.