McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, California

McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, California

Photo by MarshallMatthew, Flickr Creative Commons

San Francisco to Los Angeles

Pismo Beach, California - Photo by  Nodq, Wikimedia CommonsPismo Beach, California - Photo by Nodq, Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the coolest road trips you could ever do in a motorhome rental or campervan hire vehicle - Highway 1 between San Francisco and LA. The sun kissed (and sometimes very foggy) coastline follows some precarious cliff hugging stretches, so keep your eyes on the road and stop off to appreciate the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean; don’t do it from behind the wheel.


Day 1


You’ve crossed the famed Golden Gate Bridge; you’ve seen Alcatraz, and now its time to hit the road south towards LA. Today you’re aiming to get to Garrapata State Park. Its only 130 miles or so, so there’s plenty of time to stop off and enjoy the views. You’ll be passing through Santa Cruz, famous for its surfing museum which occupies a lighthouse, and its surfing beach. Next comes Monterey where, if you’re not good at spotting wildlife, you can visit one of the country’s best aquariums. Then you’ll be heading for Garrapata State Park to spend a night or two. This is the place to see sea lions, sea otters and whales.


Day 2


Today will see some of the Big Sur's most remarkable coastline. It’s a route through the mountain ranges of Santa Lucia, where you’ll be negotiating 90 miles of twisting roads that hug the sheer cliffs, cliffs that plunge into the Pacific. You’ll need a break, so stop off at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where you can enjoy a short hike to McWay Falls. Most of Highway 1's sights are totally natural, however, in a reserve of 123 acres, overlooking San Simeon, is Hearst Castle, the mountaintop estate of the late publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. You do have to make a reservation, but it’s worth a visit. If grand mansions don’t impress, then continue on to Morro Bay with its 576ft volcanic Morro Rock, this area also has quite a few golf courses, if you’re interested. From here the Highway leaves the coast for a short while, so you may like to stay here the night, or continue on to Pismo Beach, 139 miles from Garrapata State Park. Pismo Beach has some magnificent sand dunes, and from autumn to spring its home to the beautiful migrating Monarch Butterflies.


Day 3


The last stretch of Highway 1. Today’s route leaves Pismo Beach and heads for Spanish flavoured Santa Barbara, home to the rich and famous as well as a mission. It’s a good place to wander around for a while before the last stretch of rather uninteresting highway, past the homes of amongst others Oprah Winfrey and John Cleese, and that’s it … welcome to LA. 

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