Coast Highway  Map

This is a drive that everyone should take at least once in their life - it is a beautiful way to see just how diverse California geography can be! From our hotel in Santa Barbara to our next hotel in Monterey Bay was a distance of 251 miles - but the twists and turns that this highway goes through on the way to Monterey just have to be seen to be believed!

State Route 1 (SR 1) is a major north–south state highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of California. At a total of just over 656 miles (1,056 km), it is the longest state route in California. SR 1 has several portions designated as either Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway, or Coast Highway. Its southern terminus is at Interstate 5 (I-5) near Dana Point in Orange County and its northern terminus is at U.S. Route 101 (US 101) near Leggett in Mendocino County. SR 1 also at times runs concurrently with US 101, most notably through a 54-mile (87 km) stretch in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and across the Golden Gate Bridge.

SR 1 was built piecemeal in various stages, with the first section opening in the Big Sur region in the 1930s. However, portions of the route have had several names and numbers over the years as more segments opened. It was not until the 1964 state highway renumbering that the entire route was officially designated as SR 1. Although SR 1 is a popular route for its scenic beauty, frequent landslides and erosion along the coast have caused several segments to be either closed for lengthy periods for repairs, or re-routed inland.

The complete history of this highway can be found here (Wikipedia Page).

Morro Bay

Our route to Monterey from Santa Barbara was simple; straight north on the 101, and then north on route 1 until we got to Monterey. Along the way, our intent was to stop at whatever looked interesting, and that wound up being Morro Bay. We stopped briefly in San Luis Obispo for an iced coffee and a snack and then drove on to the coast.

Morro Rock is a volcanic plug at the entrance to Morro Bay harbor. A causeway connects it with the shore, making it a tied island. The rock is protected as the Morro Rock State Preserve. The 581-foot Morro Rock is one of 13 volcanic plugs (remnant necks of extinct volcanoes), lava domes, and sheetlike intrusions between Morro Bay on the north and Islay Hill on the south, all in San Luis Obispo County.

Exploring Coast Highway

You won't be able to see it in the smaller image, but if you click image # 1 you should be able to see Hearst Castle at the top of the Santa Lucia Mountains, 1,600 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately for us, the access road from route 1 to the Hearst Castle was till undergoing repairs from storm damage - so the image here is as close as we got.

Big Sur area of Coast Highway

The geography begins to change at Ragged Point on route 1 as you drive north. Ragged Point is located at the southern end of the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which extends (in the northern area) nearly to Point Lobos just south of Carmel. More trees are present, and there are a small number of restaurants on the Ocean side of route 1.

Speaking of restaurants, there is one in particular that is perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean coastline that is famous, the Nepenthe Restaurant. They have a large open air terrace, and there is inside and outside seating available for diners. We did not have time to stop for a meal, but the available parking was completely filled, giving us some idea of the popularity of this restaurant.
NOTE: The reviews on Yelp are all over the place, but click here to read what people have said about this beautifully located restaurant.

 Camera Equipment Utilized 
  • California Road Trip Overview Page: This page will give you a view of the entire trip, including maps and other information regarding each of our destinations; click here to read more.
  • San Francisco: our arrival airport as well as our first adventure in California - we explored it via walking, cable car as well as uBer. Click here to view our San Francisco page.
  • Bonita Point & Sausalito: We visited this area as we drove north from San Francisco to wine country. Click here to view our Bonita Point & Sausalito page.
  • Santa Rosa / Sonoma County: This is the heart of Sonoma Wine Country, and we explored this area with enthusiasm. Click here to view our Santa Rosa / Sonoma County page.
  • Muir Woods National Monument: One of the few Coast Redwood Forests remaining, the trees are stunning. After hiking about, we headed north through Muir Beach & Stinson Beach. Click here to view our Muir Woods National Monument page.
  • Rush Creek Lodge & Spa: . A beautiful place to stay, right on California Route 120 at the western edge of Yosemite National Park. Click here to view our Rush Creek Lodge & Spa page.
  • Yosemite National Park: A large and beautiful park, with amazing geography. Click here to view our Yosemite National Park page.
  • Forestiere Underground Gardens, Fresno, CA: We discovered this interesting place as we were searching for a good lunch spot in Fresno. The way it was built, and how the builder created such a fascinating home was well worth the time we spent there. Click here to view our Forestiere Underground Gardens page.
  • Santa Barbara, CA: This was the start of our "coastal drive" through California, and this city is such a great place to start such a drive. Click here to view our Santa Barbara page.
  • Coast Highway, CA: Even though we were looking forward to seeing Monterey, part of our enthusiasm was due to being able to drive north on this highway. Click here to view our Coast Highway page.
  • Monterey, CA: Somewhat of a "living museum" but now adjusting to life as a "tourist destination", this is a neat town that has a split personality, ie; one part bayside beach tourist town and the other part a typical California beach town where residents live. Click here to view our Monterey page.
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA: This was a day trip drive we took to Carmel-by-the-Sea as we drove south to hike at Point Lobos. Click here to view our Carmel page.

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