The Pacific Coast Highway or also known as State Route 1, it is a highway that connects several cities in the state of California in the United States. As starting and ending points it has the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and its tourist attraction is in the wonderful view that the Pacific Ocean provides most of the way.
On this occasion, we are going to make the route starting from Los Angeles in a rented car, because on this side of the road you can admire the sun in all its splendor. It is important to know that the route can be done during a one-day trip, but if you do it this way, you are going to miss many things and the idea is to know little by little, to make the most of the time; so it is best to do it in two days to visit some of its most important points.
We will start in Los Angeles, specifically at the airport (LAX), since near it are the majority of hotels in the city, also because many car rental companies have offices nearby, making it easier to pick up the rental car with which you are going to travel, to be ready and start the journey.
Click here to see the route on Google Maps
To go from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, you have to go through places like the Santa Monica Pier and the city of Malibu, generally two hours between one city and another driving by car. Being there, you can visit several places; There is the Santa Barbara Zoo, which is famous for having more than 500 species of animals and for providing a personal experience with them, or you can also visit the Lotusland, which is a set of 18 gardens, considered the Jewel of the city .
San Luis Bishop
From Santa Barbara we will leave for the next stop which is San Luis Obispo, on a route that also lasts a little more than two hours. There we will go halfway, and the reason why many of these routes can take time, is because the maximum speed in some sections of the route does not exceed 88 kilometers per hour, this measure is to avoid accidents, so When renting a car in California, the ideal thing is that you include vehicle insurance such as the LIS and the CDW, which protect you against third parties and cover you in the event of accidents on the road.
In San Luis Obispo there are many places to visit, such as the Botanical Garden, or the Pico del Obispo (in English Bishop Peak), but there is a site that usually attracts the attention of many visitors due to its tourist attraction, this is the “ Bubblegum Alley ”. An alley 4 meters high and 20 meters long, completely covered with chewing gum, in which tourists and locals leave their "sweet contribution" in street art work. The alley is in the heart of the city and there is a parking lot just two minutes away, where you can leave your rental car.
To get to our last stop on the first day, we will go through wonderful cities such as Cayucos, Harmony and Cambria; But we will stay in San Simeón not only because the accommodation is a little cheaper, but also because it is very close to the first tourist destination of our second day. And although you can rest a little, it doesn't hurt to take turns driving to get to appreciate the view of the second day from the passenger seat, the good thing is that you can include an additional driver when you book a rental car, as long as it is over 25 years of age, meet the same requirements as the main driver, and be present when the car is removed.
Click here to see the route on Google Maps
Only five kilometers are between the Pacific Coast Highway and Hearst Castle; and the main reason to deviate for a moment to visit this place, is that this castle is a tribute to opulence and art, there you can take tours since it works as a museum. Something not to be missed are the residence's wonderful swimming pools, one outdoors called Neptune and the other indoors called Roman, which are surrounded by sculptures and are as extravagant as the rest of the residence.
Once we visit the castle, it is time to return to the route and drive 149 kilometers to Monterey Bay, where various tourist sites are located. First there is Carmel by the Sea, a city known for its bohemian style and art galleries. Then, 13 minutes away, we will drive to the natural area 17 Mile Drive, which is a road that embraces the Pacific Ocean and where it is common to see sea lions concentrated on the rocky surfaces of the road, so the limit of maximum speed in this area is 40 kilometers per hour, to avoid any type of accident on the road.
And to end this small tour of Monterey Bay, we have the city of Santa Cruz, where you can find the Surf museum and the city pier.
And if you have spent enough time in Santa Cruz, you can go to San Francisco, from there it is only an hour and 20 minutes driving. It is up to each person to decide when to finish walking, and that is what is good about traveling in a rented vehicle, you can choose what to do with your time and why not? take the wheel heading to "The City on the Bay" in the evening, as the sun goes down and the wind caresses your hair.
The route along the Pacific Coast Highway is a journey worth taking, due to the breathtaking scenery that the highway has. One point in favor is that many car rental companies in the United States can deliver the vehicle to you in one city and allow you to return it to another, so you can make trips like this, without having to rent a car in San Francisco, or in every city you visit, since the one you rented in Los Angeles is enough.
Episode 9 - Pacific Coast Highway (February 2023)
- San Francisco, Santa Barbara