The 7 Best Stops Along the Pacific Coast Highway
There’s no doubt about it, a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is the stuff of legend. This designated “All-American Road,” also known as Highway 1, hugs the coast of California for 655 miles. Along the way, you’ll see some of the most spectacular scenery in all of the United States.
It’s a route that appeals to motorcycle enthusiasts. Here are seven of the best stops along the PCH you won’t want to miss. We’ve listed them in order when traveling from north to south.
1. San Francisco
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is the first landmark you think of when you picture this city. The 1.7-mile bridge is considered a wonder of the modern world.
The city’s Golden Gate Park is one of the biggest city parks in the world with two museums: the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, which features contemporary art exhibits, costume exhibits and art from Central and South America.
The infamous Alcatraz Island is open for tours. Visit the cells where unwilling residents like Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly served their sentences.
2. San Jose
Do you know the way to the city made famous by the Bacharach song and Silicon Valley? It’s home to the Winchester Mystery House. This curiosity was built by Sarah Winchester (of Winchester rifle fame) on the advice of a medium to appease the ghosts of those who were killed with a Winchester rifle.
Located on the bay, the city hosts the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which features interactive exhibits. Cannery Row, once a center of the sardine-packing industry and made famous by novelist John Steinbeck, is now populated with some great wine bars, microbreweries, restaurants, and boutiques. Don’t miss Carmel-by-the-Sea, a small town in Monterey County that hosts a historic Spanish mission and offers opportunities for whale watching and sailing.
4. Big Sur
One of the most photographed bridges on the west coast, the Bixby Bridge is 280 feet high and 714 feet long with lookout points that are out of this world including Point Sur State Historic Park. Big Sur itself still carries a hippy vibe, evident at the Esalen Institute with its natural hot springs, meditation classes, and yoga.
5. San Simeon
See the inspiration for Citizen Kane’s Xanadu with a visit to Hearst Castle, a residence of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The centerpiece of the estate known as “The Enchanted Hill.” The castle is big – over 60,000 square feet, so plan to devote a day to the tour.
Located in Santa Barbara County, you must visit the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum. The collection includes Japanese, European, American and British motorbikes with an emphasis on racing bikes. It’s a must-see for motorcycle lovers.
7. Ventura Beach
What’s a trip along the California coast without a stop at Ventura Beach, home of serious surfing? Not a surfer? Enjoy the ocean views and explore its downtown area if you have a taste for antique merchandise.