05 September 2018
The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most scenic roads in the world, tracing more than 900km of California’s ruggedly beautiful coast. Embark on the road trip of a lifetime to experience all that this incredible route has to offer, from surfing villages to Hollywood glitz, enjoying farm-fresh food and local wine along the way.
San Francisco’s jewel is Golden Gate Park, 1,000+ acres of grounds that include two world-class museums, a Japanese tea garden, a herd of buffalo, a windmill and much more. Stroll through the park before heading to North Beach, and browse the iconic and sprawling City Lights Bookstore. Just steps from North Beach you’ll find the oldest Chinatown in North America complete with busy, local eateries.
As you make your way from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, make a brief stop at Devil’s Slide, a 1.3-mile scenic walking path in Pacifica that offers incredible views of the ocean. As you continue to Santa Cruz, try nearby Felton, a drowsy mountain town nestled among Redwood trees. Pop by The Bigfoot Discovery Museum to learn all about California’s favourite cryptid before making 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.
Experience rugged mountains blanketed with redwood forests that drop into a dramatic coastline. Explore the nearby Henry Miller Memorial Library and when you grow hungry from hiking, dine on classic California cuisine on the lofty patio at Nepenthe while gazing out at the ocean.
On the way into Cambria, stop at the Piedras Blancas Friends of the Elephant Seal rookery, to see these incredible marine mammals. Continue to the charming seaside village, home to rocky shorelines, bluffs and tide pools teeming with sea life.
At Morro Bay State Park, you may see any number of wild animals including blue herons, monarch butterflies, hummingbirds and sea otters. The park offers trails, a small museum and picnic benches, making it a perfect road trip stop for when you need to stretch your legs.
Continue down the highway to college town San Luis Obispo, nicknamed SLO, where you can tour quirky attractions such as the colourful Bubblegum Alley. Before you go, be sure to sample local wines at one of more than 30 nearby wineries, or take a hike to the nearby Point San Luis Lighthouse for fresh air and stunning views.
Founded by Danish pioneers in 1911, Solvang is Denmark in miniature and home to many Danish bakeries. Wander among traditional architecture and check out faithful reproductions of Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue and Round Tower, as well as homages to Hans Christian Andersen. A short drive from Solvang, you will find the rustically charming town of Los Olivos surrounded by wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Santa Barbara is a city filled with adobe homes, Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and mansions. Shop and explore the city’s arts district, known as the Funk Zone, after taking in the colonial history at the Old Mission Santa Barbara. If you’re feeling adventurous, drive 20 minutes inland to Cold Spring Tavern, a bar and restaurant established in 1886 as a stagecoach stop, or take advantage of the balmy weather and catch a movie at the Westwind Drive-In.
Sample Los Angeles’ limitless personalities: Old Hollywood glamour on Mulholland Drive and at the Chateau Marmont, hipster cool in Silver Lake and Echo Park, tarpits and first-class art museums, nearby Disneyland, malls and old-fashioned food markets.
A surf mecca, military outpost and home to a world-famous zoo, San Diego is a border city proud of its Mexican food. Enjoy the tried-and-true menus at established spots like Las Cuatro Milpas and Oscar’s Mexican Seafood or the reimagined offerings of modern outposts like Galaxy Tacos and Puesto. Walk off your lunch with a stroll on the beach or a trip to the Cave Store, so named because you can access a 200,000-year-old sea cave via a 145-step tunnel.
Keen to set off on your own road-trip across the USA? Contact your local Travel Counsellor to book your next adventure.