Five of the Best Places to Stop on the Pacific Coast Highway

Covering over 650 miles of California coastline, the Pacific Coast Highway, or the PCH as it is called by the locals, showcases dramatic differences in the California landscape. Many travelers have marveled at experiencing a multitude of seasons in the drive along the PCH.

Check out our itinerary below, which highlights five of the best places to stop on the Pacific Coast Highway that showcase the unique California coastline and landscape.

Monterey Bay Aquarium and Whale Watching

Home to a large variety of marine life, including bottlenose dolphins, harbor seals, and sea otters, Monterey Bay is a rich marine community along the PCH. The pleasant steady temperatures make this an ideal spot to visit year-round. Monterey Bay is along the migratory path of Humpback and Grey whales, making it an ideal location for whale watching. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is host to over 35,000 creatures representing more than 550 species and is a great way to immerse yourself in the marine culture of the area.

Redwoods in Big Sur

The combination of frequent thick summer fog, moderate year-round temperatures and considerable winter rainfall make Big Sur, California one of the few areas in the world where giant redwood trees are native. With some trees over 350 feet in height and 20 feet in width, they are an unforgettable part of the California landscape.

Surf along the PCH

Known as simply “Coast Highway” or “the One” in the Newport Beach area, the PCH winds along one of the best spots in the world for surfing. Stop between Newport Pier and the Santa Ana River for an ideal spot to catch a wave or head over to the tip of the Balboa Peninsula to The Wedge, and try your hand at some excellent bodysurfing.

Hike California’s Dramatic Landscape

Cambria’s idyllic setting is a perfect dichotomy of forest and sea. For those who crave adventure (and want to stretch their legs), hike along the trails of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve or walk along the bluffs and trails at Leffingwell Landing. Home to elephant seals, sea otters and an array of birds, Cambria is a sanctuary for nature lovers of all kinds.

A California Coastline Classic— The Golden Gate Bridge

Possibly one of the most famous landmarks along the PCH is the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, this iconic 1.7 mile bridge connecting San Rafael and San Francisco is a must-visit when in the area. Pedestrians are welcome to walk the bridge during the day for a whole different perspective of one of the world’s longest suspension bridges.

Next time you visit California, consider traveling a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway to see some of the true natural wonders of this state’s dynamic landscape.

Image 1: “California Sea Lion - Monterey Bay.”. Copyright Jean on flickr and distributed under Creative Commons 2.0 licensing.

Image 2: “Redwood.”. Copyright Cody Long on flickr and distributed under Creative Commons 2.0 licensing.

Image 3: “West Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Bluff Trail.”. Copyright David McSpadden on flickr and distributed under Creative Commons 2.0 licensing.

Image 4: “Golden Gate Bridge.”. Copyright Chris Brown on flickr and distributed under Creative Commons 2.0 licensing.