The Pacific Coast Highway, California in United States is one of the best roads in the world, It's one of the world's most iconic road trips, and one of my all-time favorites. I could never tire of the views and sensations as you wind your way along the coast, driving the PCH, taking in those epic views, and discovering everything from cute towns to wine regions and international cities along the way.
The Pacific Coast Highway
The PCH begins in Southern California at Interstate 5 south of San Juan Capistrano, and it ends at U.S. 101 in Leggett in Mendocino County.
The legendary Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) was first started in the 1930s and remains a marvel of human effort that hugs over 900 kilometers (600 miles) of California’s rugged and beautiful coastlines. It is one of the most astoundingly scenic roads in the world, meant to be traversed slowly while gasping at the mountains, towering trees, expansive beaches, and endless sky. It also affords travelers an unparalleled opportunity to dip into all the character California has to offer: pioneer outposts, surfing villages, farm-fresh foods, local wine, roadside kitsch, Hollywood glitz, and bohemia.
Spanning most of the California coastline (around 700 miles to be exact), the Pacific Coast Highway is easily the most beautiful coastal road trip you can take in the Golden State.
There are endless things to see and do, redwoods to walk underneath, ocean views to take in, and windswept roads that hug golden cliffs and beaches.
The Best time to travel on The Pacific Coast Highway, California
The best time of the year to drive the Pacific Coast Highway is in mid-to-late February through April. California's rainy season typically ends in early February, turning its golden hills bright green and covering the coast with colorful wildflowers which last through April and into early May.
It's best to travel from north to south as you'll be on the right side of the road for uninterrupted views and to pull over to take photographs. Parking in cities can be expensive. It's better to leave your rental vehicle and use public transport. Plan in plenty of stops along the way.
Before traveling on the The Pacific Coast Highway
Before you get started on your road trip, some helpful tips: Without stopping, it takes approximately 10 hours to drive the entire length of the Pacific Coast Highway, but on this route, it’s recommended to take your time to see the sights and stay overnight along the way, stretching your vacation out to at least six days. Thanks to California’s mild weather, you can drive the Pacific Coast Highway at any time of year. The best weather is expected from late spring through fall, with the busiest travel season in July and August.
You can check also: 18 Best Hotels Along the Pacific Coast Highway (To Rest & Recharge).
As you wind your way from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, make a brief stop at Devil’s Slide, a 2-kilometer (1.3-mile) stretch of land that was once a piece of Highway One, but is now a scenic walking path in Pacifica. If you had any doubts about your PCH trip, they’ll be washed away by sweeping ocean views as you slalom past seaside outposts.
Before hitting surfer-centric Santa Cruz, stop in nearby Felton, a drowsy mountain town nestled among Redwood trees. Refresh at watering hole Monty’s Log Cabin (its rustic appearance lives up to its name) which offers a sunny back patio.
Then pop by The Bigfoot Discovery Museum to learn all about California’s favorite cryptid. Finally, make your way to Santa Cruz, a friendly beach town with a university, gorgeous redwood trees and waves that surfers from all over flock to ride.
Founded in 1907, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk boasts old-fashioned roller coasters (with Pacific Ocean views!), an arcade and the distinct scent of sea air, cotton candy and hot dogs. (Fun fact: Scenes of the '80s classic film “The Lost Boys" were shot here.).
The views, redwood forests, hiking, beaches, and other recreational opportunities have made Big Sur a popular destination for about 7 million people who live within a day's drive and visitors from across the world.
You’ll see rugged mountains blanketed with dreamy redwood forests drop into the dramatic coastlines. While you can camp within the forests, those who prefer beds should consider Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, which feels a bit like staying with your fabulous bohemian aunt. Explore the nearby Henry Miller Memorial Library and when you grow hungry from hiking, dine on classic California cuisine (local wine and farm-fresh produce, anyone?) on the lofty patio at Nepenthe while gazing out at the ocean.