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One of the most beautiful road trips you can take in the entire United States is along the Pacific Coast Highway. According to the State of California the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH is only 130 miles long running from Dana Point to Oxnard, but most folks consider the trip from San Francisco down through to San Diego totalling more than 1800 miles to be the real trip along the PCH. With some of the most breath-taking ocean views, beautiful seaside villages not to mention a trip through wine country, this is one road trip you will never forget.
How Long Does it Take?
Ideally it takes at least a week or more to stop and appreciate everything this trip has to offer. You can either start in the south or work your way north or vice versa. Driving from “top to bottom” gives you the best views of the Pacific Ocean and the chance to stop at some of the beaches and towns along the way. Beaches are not the only attraction along the way, there are a host of cities and seaside towns to stop in and enjoy the culture, and redwood forests if camping is more to your liking.
Places to stop along the Pacific Coast Highway
Cities: If urban attractions are more to your taste, there are some fabulous cities along the PCH. While there are a dozen major cities you can visit along the trip here are a few highlights. Starting from the north is San Francisco where you can find Golden Gate Park, Alcatraz and of course Fisherman’s wharf all the way through to San Diego and the zoo. There are museums, five star restaurants, plenty of nightlife and no end of things to do, relax and enjoy yourself.
Beaches: There are more than 500 miles of beaches along the PCH so finding a place to take a dip into the ocean or take in some sun won’t be difficult. You can do some snorkelling at Carmel River State beach or head down to Monterey and Marina State Beach for some hang gliding. Boardwalk beach is where you will find surfing and it is home to beach volley ball, and if you want to camp and get away from the crowds try Refugio State beach.
Other Attractions: While there are cities and beaches that are a must see along the trip there are some other attractions you don’t want to miss. Don’t forget part of this trip takes you through wine country and there is even a route just for wine lovers. Santa Cruz has some lovely wineries that you can tour and offer tastings, including Testarossa set in a former Jesuit Missionary and one of the oldest wineries in California.
What Time of Year is best?
The trip is stunning at any time of year but the months of July and August are when you are going to find the Pacific Coast Highway the most crowded. Heavy traffic and crowded beaches might not make for the ideal vacation so late June or early September still have great weather and you may get to see and do more.
Whenever you decide to travel the trip will still be exhilarating, but make sure your ESTA application has completed and approved in advance of your vacation.