The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most beautiful road trips in the US. Traveling along almost the entire length of the state of California, the PCH is home to gorgeous beaches, some of the best cities in the US and an open road that just can't be beat. Read on to learn how to plan for your journey up this most scenic of all routes.
1. Fly to San Diego
Start your journey in San Diego
The first step is getting to the PCH. Consider grabbing some cheap tickets to San Diego, where you can then rent a car. Depending on the number of people in your group, you'll either want to get a compact car that gets good gas mileage, or something a little bigger than can comfortably seat a few people. If can, spring for a vehicle with a convertible roof - there's nothing better than having the Pacific breeze in your hair and warm Californian sunshine on your face as you drive up the coast.
2. Los Angeles
According to Gap Year, the route takes about 10 hours to drive, but that's with no stops at all. In order to get the most of your trip, plan on spending a few nights at hotels along the way. This way you get to fully enjoy the entire route and you won't get burned out from driving too much. After San Diego, your next big stop will be Los Angeles. Depending on your desire to see the big city, you may stop here for lunch or spend an entire afternoon exploring some of the city's iconic locations such as Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame.
3. Santa Barbara
Two and half hours north of Los Angeles is the coastal town of Santa Barbara. This beautiful location has a little something for everyone. You can see a Victorian era Catholic missionary, or spend some time relaxing on the beach. US News and World Report suggested visiting the local art walk, where you can view paintings done by local artists.
4. Pismo State Beach
A great place to spend a night is Pismo State Beach, where you can camp next to the ocean. According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the tree-lined dunes are perfect for bird watching and beaches are ideal for surfing. Grab some snacks and grill some burgers on the beach while you watch the sun set over the water.
Monterey is your next stop. The bay provides some excellent views for photo opportunities and the fresh ocean air will revitalize you after a few hours in the car. You can camp here as well, if you're inclined to spend another night out in nature, or you can keep heading north to San Francisco. Either way, be sure to stop here for a bite to eat at one of the local cafes or restaurants.
6. San Francisco
End your trip in San Francisco
The last stop on the PCH is San Francisco, which is worth exploring. The picturesque streets and hills are fun to wander through, plus there's a vibrant art scene to see. Here, you can return your car to the rental agency and catch a cheap flight back home.