7 Beautiful Stops Along California's PCH

Updated: Mar 10


As we begin to roll into spring, If you are like me, the longer days and warmer nights approaching make me want to get outdoors even more! Luckily there's a lot of great places in CA you can drive to if you're getting spring fever and just want to get out of the house. A road trip up Pacific Coast Highway (PCH/RT 1) is the perfect remedy. Here's a few great photo spots to get you off the couch and out exploring!

1. 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 place to stop and explore. It's known for this iconic Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic mound at the end of Morro Rock Beach. I've stopped here a few times now to have lunch right on the water with the rock in view. There are a couple nice beach walks you can do, as well as hiking at the state park, golf, kayaking and other water sports. Highly recommend spending a couple of days here for the perfect weekend getaway!


2. CAMBRIA

Quick Info: Visitor Center: YES | Official Website | Camping: YES at selected Camp Grounds

Just north of Morro Bay is another cute town completely reminiscent of one you might find off the coast of New England. Cambria is filled with rustic charm beginning with it's little down town village where you'll find antique shops and quaint cafes. Moonstone Beach strand is the main beach area to stay at one of the many cute B&B's or Inns- many of which are dog friendly! The Moonstone Beach boardwalk is accessible to everyone and runs for 2 miles along the coastal ridge. There are several benches placed along the boardwalk making it the perfect place for an evening stroll to watch the sunset!


3. SAN SIMEON

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

Most known for the famous Hearst Castle, San Simeon is a great little stop just a few miles up from Cambria. The state beach pictured here has a coastal trail that takes you up to the cliffs where you can follow it to an overlook of the bay and pier. It's a beautiful combination of a wooded tree area and ocean with amazing views at every angle. Elephant seals just hang out right on the beach and are seen throughout the different spots on the trail. If you are interested in seeing even more seals, head up further on the PCH to the Official Viewing Spot of San Simeon.


4. 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

A super popular spot, but a must-do when visiting Big-Sur because as you can see it's just gorgeous! Prior to visiting please check the website here for Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. During wetter months when mudslides occur, as the park can be closed. The trail to access this cove is an easy hike up to see this beautiful turquoise cove and when it's not dry, the waterfall is stunning!


5. BIXBY BRIDGE, BIG SUR

Beautiful from the east or west side, 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!


6. 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. It's about a 2 hour drive from San Francisco 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!

7. MONTEREY BAY COASTAL REC 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.

Many more spots to share on PCH, these happen to be just a few of my favorites. Would love to hear yours!

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