Highway 1 California Road Trip Near Monterey

November 26, 2021
Highway 1 Road Trip to Monterey - Road

Highway 1 is one of the most scenic and iconic drives in America. This beautiful road features cliff-side driving and affords spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

Santa Barbara to Monterey

Santa Barbara Mission Church

While Highway 1 goes past Santa Barbara and beyond Monterey, the stretch between Santa Barbara and Monterey is the most scenic. Drivers will find invigorating hikes, historic landmarks, and quaint towns as they drive this All-American Road.

The Old Mission Santa Barbara was built in 1786, and Franciscan friars are still in residence today. This quiet retreat features beautiful gardens and architecture.

Pismo Beach offers a quaint town with a 1,200-foot long pier. Pismo State Beach is a well-known migration stop for thousands of monarch butterflies.

Morro Bay to Elephant Seal Rookery

Morro Rock

Morro Bay features beautiful coastal views and excellent marine wildlife watching. Walk the beach and watch for seals, otters, and off-shore whales. Morro Rock is a dramatic landmark that draws birdlife and photographers.

Heading north, stop at one of the Estero State Park's pull-offs and admire the ocean views.

Next, drivers can stop at the Piedras Blancas LightHouse lens to view the impressive original lens. For an immersive country experience, check out Covell's Clydesdales, a 2000-acre horse ranch.

Drivers can stop at Hearst San Simeon State Park to enjoy scenic overlooks and watch whales. Next, check out Hearst Castle, built by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. In addition to the ornate castle, Hearst had a private zoo with zebras. The original zebra's descendants still wander the castle's grounds.

A stop at the Elephant Seal Rookery provides a chance to see thousands of Elephant Seals. In addition, visitors can access the Boucher Trail and walk a two-mile trail to see the dramatic Piedras Blancas Light Station.

Ragged Point

Ragged Point provides one of the most spectacular views along Highway 1. Known as the Million Dollar View, this vantage point looks over the cliffs to the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can also take the Cliffside Trail down to the beach and discover the hidden Black Swift waterfall, which runs down the cliff into the ocean.

Big Creek Bridge is another don't-miss photogenic landmark. Next, continue north to stop at McWay Falls in Julia Pfieffer Burns. This stunning 100-ft high waterfall cascades over the cliffs to the sandy beach below.

Big Sur

Bixby Bridge

Big Sur features several parks and natural areas, all of which provide captivating views and vistas. After enjoying a park hike, continue to Bixby Bridge, one of the largest single-span concrete bridges in the world. It is also one of California's most photographed bridges.

Carmel by the Sea to Monterey

As you drive through Carmel Highlands, you'll enjoy its craggy coastline and then go through cypress forests. Carmel by the Sea is a charming town with shops, galleries, and restaurants. Point Pinos Lighthouse was built in 1855 and is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast.

The final stop on the drive is Monterey. Monterey is famous for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, and fabulous restaurants.

Enjoy Your Highway 1 California Road Trip

A road trip along California's Highway 1 is the trip of a lifetime. Make Monterey your base for exploring the unspoiled coast and stay at Ramada Monterey.

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