Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway 1 is a wonderland, it is our favorite road every time we visit San San Francisco or any place up North of Los Angeles. Sometimes we just spend our day driving along the coast and returning back home at night.
It is an amazing scenic drive with wonderful sites and stops.
The Elephant Seal Beach. It is a few miles from San Simeon and you will see signs to ‘Elephant Seal Beach’. Just off the parking lot, you will see a beach full of elephant seals. We get out the car greeted by this cold weather. The cold weather was worth it, the elephant seals looked absolutely incredible all lined up along the shore. There is a long boardwalk along the beach is an ideal location to view the seals. Viewing is open to the public free of charge and the seals are always kept at a safe distance.
Back on the road, driving north of the coast.
Don’t forget to stop by McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It’s a short, easy walk to this spectacular view. Take the trail from the parking lot. You will spot plenty of greenery along McWay Creek. After walking through a tunnel, the views open up to the coast, eventually leading to a hidden cove, where you will catch sight of McWay Falls from several overlooks along the trail. A landslide from many years ago has reshaped the panoramic landscape by forming an extremely tempting but inaccessible beach onto which tumbles 80-foot high McWay Falls. McWay Falls is an awesome waterfall is that it happens to be right on the beach, literally dropping into the Pacific Ocean.
A short break at The Ragged Point area is always a must for us. The property is literally on Hwy 1, perched about 600ft up on cliffs giving fantastic views of the rugged coast. There is a hotel, restaurant, snack bar, gas station, gift shop and of course, a restroom on the property and the grounds are beautifully landscaped.
As you drive into Big Sur, make a point to cross Bixby Bridge. It offers gorgeous panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding landscape. It is probably the most famous of Big Sur’s Highway 1 bridges, and most observers consider it to be the most beautiful.
There is a hidden gem along the Pacific Coast. They call it the Calla Lily Creek or the Doud Creek. Doud Creek, where the Calla Lilies bloom in the valley in late winter and spring.
There are no signs indicating the location of the valley. Just used Google maps (search for “Calla Lily Valley”) to guide you to a parking location and then walked the trail down to the valley. It’s really beautiful, despite going before or after the spring blooming season. There is a small stream that runs through the valley. You can then take the path on top of the hill where it is covered in beautiful wildflowers and overlooking the beach. Continue to follow the trail through the valley out to the beach.
Enjoy the road trip. Don’t try to rush, drive slow, make stops, and take a lot of pictures, but most importantly enjoy the view. The combination of the mystic blue water of the Pacific bordered by jagged cliffs makes this section of California’s coast one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Sunset at Marina State Beach, California