One of the most important things when travelling is sadly also the one of the factors you can’t control at all; the weather. Good weather can make an entire trip that much better while bad weather can totally spoil the atmosphere. And just like that our ambiance was a bit ruined when the forecast for the third day of our trip was a bit of a letdown.
The Pacific Coast Highway or California State Route 1 is known as one of the most beautiful routes in the world, so I was quite sad that the weather wasn’t on our side that day. It was really foggy and cloudy with no prospect of better. I felt like I was driving through Ireland instead of California.
But of course, bad weather or not, we still went on our way and luckily by the time we arrived in Santa Barbara the sun was greeting us again. And all in all, it was still a really beautiful route and definitely worth your time. Even in the fog and clouds, it still has charm.
In this post, I’ll tell you all about my experience of driving along Highway 1 and all the scenic and touristic stops we made.
We arrived in Monterey -where we would spend the night- late afternoon and found that we still had time to do the 17-mile drive. The 17-mile drive is a scenic drive of -shocking- 17 miles which leads you along the coastway but also past famous manions and golf courses.
There are many view points and areas along the way of which my favorites were definitely Lone Cypress, Bird Rock and Pebble Beach. Still, I wasn’t entirely blown away by this scenic road. I had expected more of it. But I guess the “bad” weather didn’t really help to charm me.
Entrance is $10 per car and for that price you also get a map of the area with all the view areas.
The next morning, we really hit Highway 1. We decided to drive from Monterey to Santa Monica in one day which may have been a bit optimistic. If I had to do this trip again, I’d definitely take out two days for this route. Now we had to rush a bit to make it to Santa Monica by sunset and I feel like we weren’t able to see everything the way we wanted to.
One of the most famous and most photographed views of the Pacific Coast Highway is by far Bixby Bridge. This bridge was built in 1932 and was one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world. Since the Highway goes over the bridge, it’s impossible to miss it.
Along the road, you can find the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park which should be a very beautiful park. Unfortunately due to our busy schedule we had no time to visit this park, but if you pay attention you can see the McWay Falls of the park from the road. This is just such a beautiful view and definitely worth it to pull your car over for a minute and take in the beauty.
Elephants Seals! That’s all I needed to hear to pull the car over in Sam Simeon. On the beach, at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, hundreds of those animals can be found sleeping, bathing or dragging themselves over the sand. It’s quite funny to watch them. A stop you can’t miss.
San Luis Obispo
Many people who drive along Highway 1 take a long stop in San Luis Obispo to discover the city. Sadly for us, we -shocker- didn’t have time for much more than a lunch stop. But we had some great mexican food at Cinco de Mayo (281 Santa Rosa St) so if you’re driving through this city or staying a while, you should definitely go check out this place. It may appear a bit shabby, but the food was delicious.
And last, but definitely not least; Santa Barbara. This city was my favorite stop of the day for many reasons. First of all; the sun had returned which immediately lifted my mood, secondly; palmtrees (!) and third and most importantly; I met up with an online friend I’ve know for years for the first time. I live for moments like these.
We had about an hour to discover this Californian city, and it definitely wasn’t enough. I wish I could have stayed a lot longer, not only to spend more time with my friend but also see more of this lovely place.
We walked from the harbor along the boulevard to the Steam’s Wharf. The palmtrees along the way give off such a feeling of vacation. I adored it. On Steam’s Wharf we enjoyed a-really expensive- ice cream but mostly I just enjoyed the sun and the lovely views. I would go back to this city in a heart beat and I was so jealous of my friend who got to study there for a few months. It was such a lovely city with a great atmosphere. (You may recognise the picture below as the one from my header!)
So while the weather may have been a let down for the first part of the day, it was still a really great day with many memories I’ll treasure forever. But also a day we should have split into two days to enjoy it to the fullest. So if you’re heading towards the Pacific Coast Highway, try to pull out two days because you’ll need it.