Even though it may be a bit expensive, living in San Francisco or Los Angeles is definitely worth it! The fact that you have easy access to the Pacific Coast Highway (or PCH in short) is an amazing feature that anyone living in the vicinity exploits for as much as possible.
After all, who wouldn’t want to jump in their car and start driving alongside an epic sunset over the ocean? But the PCH has a lot more to offer than just the stunning ocean view! You’ll also get to admire majestic mountains and it connects with impressive touristic attractions that will make you take detour after detour.
Of course, you don’t have to be living in the area to enjoy the beauty of the landscape. After all, the area attracts thousands of tourists every year. So, if you’re new to the area and want to explore, here are some must-see stops you should make while enjoying a Pacific Coast Highway road trip!
Starting from the North and moving towards the South (driving between Oregon and California), you’ll find the forests of Coastal Redwoods. Here, there are a few locations where you get to admire the beautiful Redwoods (although, you won’t find the giant ones just yet).
As you continue the drive and take in the beauty of the forest (moving towards San Francisco), make a few stops in the Redwoods National and State Parks. Also, if you want to see the giants, go see the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and get humbled by the greatness of nature. All these parks have some jaw-dropping hiking trails where one can feel one with the forest and camping locations, to truly enjoy life under the stars.
Once you’ve had your fill of nature, it’s time to return to civilization.
A bit south of San Francisco, you’ll find the beautiful city of Monterey, with its famous Monterey Bay and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Among all the fun things to do in Monterey, we recommend California’s 17-Mile Drive (one of the world’s most scenic drives) and the Pebble Beach Golf Course (even if you’re not a golfer).
Bixby Creek Bridge
Moving even further down south, you’ll reach Big Sur, the starting point of an iconic scenery drive that’s somehow the view everyone has in mind when thinking of the PCH. But before you lose yourself in the majestic view that’s running under your front wheels, make sure to stop at the Bixby Creek Bridge (considered the starting point for the north end of Big Sur).
The bridge is quite notorious as it’s used in various commercials and appeared in several movies in the latest years. If you want to stop for more than taking a picture, there are plenty of accommodation facilities and even camping spots along the way.
Elephant Seal Beach
There’s plenty of wildlife to admire while driving and stopping on the Pacific Coast Highway, but none will compare with the Elephant Seal Beach where there’s a high chance to spot one of these majestic animals laying in the sun or fighting with one of their mates to test their size and power.
This is truly a unique experience for most, but beware of your olfactory sense – elephant seals are not that interested in having a pleasant odor, which can be a bit of an assault on more sensitive noses.
Of course, there are a lot more stops to discuss and lots of other interesting things to see on the PCH, but we will stop here with the hope that we managed to pique your curiosity. The great thing about taking a trip on the PCH is that you only need a car and money for gas and food (you can turn it into a camping trip), which makes it a fantastic experience for people who travel on a tight budget.
Nadine Westwood is an experienced travel writer with a passion for creating insightful and engaging content that’s easy to digest. Occasionally she spends her time playing with her cat while listening to her favorite podcasts.