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5 Beautiful Stops Along PCH

Updated: Jan 7


Summer is quickly coming to an end, Friday is officially the last day! If you are like me, the shorter days and colder nights make it harder for me to get outdoors! Luckily there's a lot of great places in CA you can drive to if you're feeling lazy and just want to get out of the house. A road trip up Pacific Coast Highway (PCH/RT 1) is the perfect remedy for feeling lazy. Here's a few great photo spots to get you off the couch this fall:

1. Natural Bridges State Park

Quick Info: Visitor Center: YES | Parking Fee: $10 | Official Website | Dogs: Picnic areas only

Camping: NO

Located just outside of downtown Santa Cruz, this beach is an official State Park, open all year round for swimming, surfing, nature walks and wildlife viewing. The natural arch is an iconic landmark at this quiet and secluded beach. I spent the afternoon here after starting my trip down PCH from San Francisco. It's about a 2 hour drive from there, and an hour north of Monterey. Great place to have a picnic or a swim, and soak in the natural beauty of the rock formations along this part of the coast!

2. Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail

Quick Info: Visitor Center: YES | Official Website | Dogs: YES

About an hour south from Natural Bridges State Park, the views along the coast get better and better! This popular paved Coastal Trail in Monterey, runs 18 miles along the coast, and every corner turned on the path provides clear blue water views of the bay with plenty of wildlife--mainly sea lions and otters. You can walk or ride bikes on the path, which also can take you directly to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (which is super awesome btw) and Cannery Row for lunch.

3. McWay Falls, Big Sur

Quick Info: Parking Fee: $10 or park on street | Official Website | Dogs: Parking lot only, not on trails

Camping: YES

Trail Info: Length: .6 miles | Level: Easy | Duration: 15-20min

Prior to visiting please check the website here for Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. During wetter months when mudslides occur, they park can be closed. The bridge to access this view is being rebuilt, so I hope it re-opens soon! As you can see however, this is a most popular and must do when visiting Big-Sur. The trail to access this cove is an easy hike up to see this gorgeous shot and when it's not dry, the waterfall is stunning!

4. Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Beautiful at every angle, this bridge is a gorgeous photo op stop on one of the most scenic parts of Big Sur. There's not much more to do here other than stop and take a few pics of this epic view!

5. Morro Bay

Quick Info: Visitor Center: YES | Official Website | Camping: YES at the State Park

This sleepy coastal town is a great escape from either Los Angeles or San Francisco as its about the same distance (200-230miles/3.5 hours) from either city, so a perfect mid-point to stop and explore. It's known for this iconic Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic mound at the end of Morro Rock Beach. I stopped here to have lunch right on the water with this view! There are a few nice beach walks you can do here, as well as hiking at the state park, golf, kayaking and other water sports. Highly recommend spending a couple of days here, which makes it the perfect weekend getaway!

Many more spots to share on PCH, these happen to be my favorite. Would love to hear yours!

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