Pacific Coast Highway

Celebrated as one of the world's most scenic drives, the Big Sur coastline is something to behold.

TravelCurious Tip

If you’re interested in the literary aspect of Big Sur, don’t miss the Henry Miller Memorial Library.

The Pacific Coast Highway stretches 147 miles along the golden California coastline, from Carmel to Morro Bay. This twisting, cliff-hugging and sea-kissing highway is truly an All-American Road. Starting in the historic Monterey, it threads through Big Sur, where mountains dive into the Pacific, and onto more mellow landscapes, with gentler hills and old oaks, before reaching Morro Bay.

When California was ruled by the Spanish (before the Mexicans, and before the US) Monterey was its capital. In the 1900s it was (more or less) renowned for its sardine industry. Now it is home to some interesting historic buildings, including the Royal Presidio Chapel, Casa Soberanes and Larkin House. Fisherman’s Wharf is good for a meal before you kick on with your road trip.

Not far along you will find Carmel, an artists’ village with colourful cottages, restaurants and art galleries, as well as a beautiful, broad beach lined with Monterey pines. The town also holds the second of the California missions, founded by Padre Serra in 1770, as well as the former home of poet Robinson Jeffers.

Keeping driving and you will hit Big Sur. This fabled coastline, where redwood groves crowd cliff edges that plunge into the sea, is where Jack Kerouac famously came to try to write his next big book after the unwanted fame that came with On the Road. Be sure to pull over when you approach Bixby Bridge to properly admire the view.

The highlight of Morro Bay is its wildlife. You can’t miss the 576 foot, 23 million year old volcano that sits on the bay. This is where the Peregrine falcons live: keep your eyes open and you can watch them spread their wings to hunt. Less dramatic, but no less beautiful, are the great blue herons and the monarch butterflies that appear between October to March. To learn more about the local wildlife, be sure to visit the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in San Francisco
Cannery Row
A historic waterfront street in Monterey, with more than its fair share of excellent restaurants.
Lone Cypress
One of the most photographed trees in North America, the iconic Lone Cypress stands bravely on a granite outcrop along the Pacific Drive.
Golf Course
Several amazing golf courses lie along the coast, including the oldest operating course in the Western United States.
Carmel Mission Basilica
A Roman Catholic mission church dating back to the 18th century.
17-Mile Drive
A scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove that is in itself one of the great attractions of the region.
Carmel by the Sea
Overlooking a beautiful beach, this small town is known for its natural beauty and rich artistic heritage.

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