Thursday, March 2, 2017

California Road Trip: The Pacific Coast Highway

When it comes to road trips, the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is hard to beat.  It's a coast hugging drive with hairpin curves and long-way-down drop offs with epic scenery. Along the way you'll pass redwood trees, a lighthouse, a picture perfect bridge and water views that go on for days. You can do the drive from north to south - or vice versa. 



We started our drive in San Francisco with a stop in Monterey. And now we were dedicating a day to drive from Monterey south to San Simeon before we headed towards Yosemite for the next leg of the trip. 









We started with blue skies and endless views. The road wasn't too crowded and we stopped at several pull-offs for those cliff top photo ops. 









It didn't take along until we were at one of the most famous spots along the Pacific Coast Highway - Bixby Bridge. Built in 1931, Bixby Bridge's magnificent setting is the reason for it being one of the most photographed bridges in California. It is also one of the tallest single-span concrete arch bridges in the world. More than likely you've seen it in a few car commercials. You just have to stop and take in the view and snap a few photos.










Continuing on, we passed Point Sur Lighthouse. If you want to visit the lighthouse you will need to plan ahead. You can only visit through guided tour which are only given a few days per week. It was closed the day we were there but check out their website for more info on visits.







Motoring on, we came to the town of Big Sur (Yep, there really is a town named Big Sur - it's not just a drive) And that's when the rain started. It was actually quite picturesque passing all the redwood trees and the quaint little town in the rain and fog. We didn't stop though as I was on the lookout for a special place along the coast - a purple sand beach. Which we found. It's a story for another day but I'll just preview it by saying it was one of my favorite parts of our trip.



We had packed a lunch to eat at some view worthy spot but lunchtime hit just as the rains came. We debated stopping at the most worthy of all viewing spots - the legendary restaurant Nepenthe which is known as one of the best viewing spots in the US - and saving our lunch for another day. But as we pulled up to the restaurant we saw that there weren't going to be any views that day.(Big Sur is one of the few spots along the drive to find a place to eat - I've not been but many recommend Big Sur Taphouse and Big Sur Roadhouse) So we ate our lunch in the car. Ah well, such is travel.





Since we had already had a great beach stop and eaten our lunch we didn't make any other stops until we got to our final one - Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. Located right off the highway, this rookery is home to thousands of elephant seals - about 17,000. It was quite rainy but there were still crowds of people getting a look at the elephant seals. Parking is free, as is viewing, and there were guides volunteering to educate visitors. We had a chat with a few and I learned more than I ever knew about elephant seals in just a few minutes.

















It was time to get out of the rain and start the next portion of our drive. Next stop - Yosemite! 



This post is part of a link-up with: Travel PhotoThursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!









8 comments:

  1. I will never get tired of these views (or of the elephant seals). It wasn't that crowded either when we visited,so, we were able to stop as many times as we wanted. I would like to go back and do some hiking and visit some of the beaches we missed. #TPThursday

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    1. It's such a beautiful drive! I'd like to do some hiking and visit some of the other beaches also. Thanks for visiting, Ruth!

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  2. Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery sounds like a great budget travel tip for the itinerary. 17,000 seals wow. I love them and would like to swim with them one day.

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    1. Yea, it's pretty amazing to see so many elephant seals all in one place. And they're fun to watch. And free. :) Thanks for visiting, Jan!

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  3. There are great sweeping vistas all along the Pacific Coast Highway. I lived in a town just south of San Francisco on the PCH. Along with the sights are a variety of farms and orchards between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Try and stop to pick your own kiwifruit or strawberries (in season).

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    1. The fruits weren't in season when we were there but we some saw beautiful agricultural areas on our drive from San Francisco to Monterey. Monterey and south was all about those vistas and beaches - stunning! Thanks for visiting, Rhonda!

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  4. Ah now you've made me homesick and excited! I'm currently planning a three week road trip up Cali's coastline to show my German husband my home for next year!! :) Hope you enjoyed it! BUmmer you had some crummy weather! #wkendtravelinspiration
    (www.caliglobetrotter.wordpress.com)

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    1. Congrats on the road trip! I'm sure you'll enjoy being home again. I really enjoyed the PCH - even with the rain! Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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