The California Highway One is one of the most scenic roads in America. It stretches from Los Angeles to the Northernmost Point of this magnificent country, and it’s filled with picturesque views that are sure to make your heart skip a beat.
But before you embark on your journey north, read our Road Trip Checklist for some tips and tricks!
What is Highway 1?
California Highway One is a 132-mile long scenic coastal road that stretches from Los Angeles to the country’s northernmost pointy. The views are sure to make your heart skip a beat!
The entire route is also known as PCH or Pacific Coast Highway. It starts in Coronado at the foot of San Diego Bay and travels up through Santa Barbara, pulling alongside the stretch of the California coast with all its breathtaking views.
The road is guarded by various cities, towns, National Parks, beaches, harbors, lighthouses, and hotels, unique charm, and character. Notable landmarks along Highway 1 include Devil’s Slide near Montara, San Mateo County, which is famous for attracting over 250 species of birds. There’s also the tiny town of Cambria, with its colorful pastel-painted houses and the majestic Hearst Castle.
The entire road is 132 miles long, but you don’t need to drive all of it to get the most out of your trip! The more critical part begins at Santa Barbara, less than 100 miles from Los Angeles or San Diego.
When was highway 1 constructed?
The highway was built in the 1950s and ran straight through Big Sur, known for its picturesque coastline and cliffs.
How to reach Highway 1?
The easiest way to get on PCH (California Highway One) is by car, but you can also take a train, plane, or bus. The travel time depends on how far north you want to go; from Los Angeles, it should be about 5 hours, while it will take less than 4 hours from San Diego or Santa Barbara.
Why should you travel the entire length of Highway 1?
The entire route is 132 miles long, but most of the best views are between Santa Barbara and San Francisco. The sceneries vary from city to city – in Los Angeles, you’ll have the chance to spot celebrity homes, whereas you might see some famous billboards in Hollywood.
You can also visit Malibu Beach or do a whale watching tour at Laguna Beach, where sea lions are known to congregate onshore near boats moored offshore! South of Ventura is an agricultural area with lots of orange groves.
In Santa Monica, some fascinating museums like the Museum of Tolerance, which deals with racism and prejudice worldwide.
San Luis Obispo is where Highway 1 meets up with US101, which means you’re almost at the end of your journey!
What’s the best season to travel to Highway 1?
Highway One is open all year round, but some roads may be closed for maintenance during winter. This means that if you’re planning on traveling it over the winter months, make sure you check road closures before you go.
Make sure you stop by a gas station every 100 miles to ensure your car is good to go. Also, keep an eye out for cheap gas prices, which can sometimes be as low as $2/gallon – but make sure the place looks reputable!
For those who don’t know how much a gallon of gasoline costs, it’s about 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallons.
How long will it take to drive from one end to another?
It’s not easy to calculate the exact time, but if you were driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco and didn’t stop along the way, it would take around 5-6 hours.
If you do plan on taking your time and exploring some of the places along Highway 1, though, we recommend planning for at least a full day or two!
Where to stop on Highway 1 for Road Trip?
There are many places where you can stop along the way, but make sure you get gas every 100 miles! We recommend taking a break in Santa Barbara to walk around the pier and do some shopping. Here are some great places for breakfast!
You’ll also find excellent dining options at Corona Del Mar, Laguna Beach, and Monterrey. You could visit Hearst Castle or drive on to Big Sur, where amazing beaches like San Simeon State Park are located.
Further south is Cambria which is full of quirky shops and exciting history – did you know it was named after a hotel called the Cambria Hotel?
Make sure you take your time to explore this coastal city which has such a unique character. Once you hit San Luis Obispo, you can stop for some great Mexican food and then continue to the beautiful Santa Barbara, where you can spend an entire day relaxing in the sun.
If you don’t want to spend the night in Santa Barbara, go north on US101 and stop at Solvang. You can visit some of the local vineyards for wine tasting or enjoy the rolling hills used in classic films like The Sting!
Once you reach San Francisco, make sure you head straight to Fisherman’s Wharf, where there are many fun things to do, like visiting the sea lions who live on Pier 39 or hiring a bike and cycling around Golden Gate Park.