Highway 1 Roadtrip

Trip Start Aug 01, 2010
Trip End Jan 18, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, September 4, 2010

We collected our hire car (a Ford Fusion - unfortunately the budget wouldn't stretch to an American classic car!!) in the morning for the start of our journey from San Francisco to San Diego along the Pacific Coast highway. Soon navigating our way out of San Francisco, we joined Highway 1 heading towards our first stop; Pigeon Point lighthouse. The lighthouse outbuildings had been converted into hostel lodgings, a great location to relax in this unusual setting.

Making our way down the coast, we stopped off in Santa Cruz for a walk along its boardwalk and for lunch on the beach before continuing onto Monterey. Here, we spent the rest of the day enjoying its marina area watching the Californian seals relaxing by the pier & on docked dingy boats! We then walked up to Cannery Row; a small district of Monterey with old canneries that were used for tinning sardines, now converted into shopping centres. With the number of motels throughout America, we knew its wouldn't be a problem finding somewhere to stay during our roadtrip. It was good fun bluffing & bartering our way around the various motels for the best prices...somehow we doubt that this would work in the UK!!

We headed out the next morning to look round the Del Monte shopping centre in Monterey before driving onwards to Big Sur; an iconic part of the drive, where we stopped off at Bixby Bridge and at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. Taking tips from our Western Sun tour, we had a couple of great walks in the state park heading up to Pfieffer Falls and along the river gorge trail. Having picked up a free tent from our hostel in San Francisco, we camped out for the night in Big Sur at the Andrew Molera State Park (though not the best night's sleep with noisy animals rustling nearby!). Before cozying into our tent for the night, we cruised further down Highway 1 pulling over to watch the gorgeous sunset over Big Sur, which has to be one of the best places to watch the sun sun go down with views across the Pacific Ocean.

The views over the coastline were spectacular as we continued south with fog stretching out over the sea & making the drive feel more like a plane flight than a car journey!  Heading slightly inland, we visited Hearst Castle (William Hearst's former luxury estate) where the guided tour of this beautiful place gave us an insight into a person with great imagination. A few hours later we made a stop in Morro Bay before spending the evening in San Luis Obispo.

Before driving onto Santa Barbara, we looked around the town of San Luis Obispo and made stops in Pismo beach and at Refugio state beach (typical yet pretty Californian beaches). We loved Santa Barbara which was a great little city with a relaxed vibe, particularly down State Street & its harbourfront beach. Although a very touristy thing to do, we had a great fish n chips lunch at Mac's British fish shop!!

To enjoy our last day of driving Highway 1, we headed for the beaches of LA. We stopped off at Zuma beach and Malibu, where they had cool colourful lifeguard huts (part of an artistic project in the city) making for a very 60s vibe! Driving onwards to the OC, we stayed at Newport beach for the night, going straight out for a walk along the beach at sunset. With Highway 1 ending in LA, we joined the main freeways to continue making our way onto San Diego...
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