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Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

There’s nothing more West Coast than a Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip. We’ve got all the route info and best places to stop to make sure you experience all the best things the PCH has to offer.

In our road trip guide, we’ll share some of the best views, most unique roadside stops, and fun adventures to explore.

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

What Is The Pacific Coast Highway?

Pacific Coast Highway spans the majority of the length of the California coast. It has several names, also known as California State Route 1, PCH, Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway, and Coast Highway. The region of the state that you are in will most often determine the name that it goes by.

PCH also runs concurrently with US Route 101 at several points, including a 54 mile stretch through Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

Modern Pacific Coast highway begins in the south at Interstate 5 in Dana Point near Doheny State Beach and ends in the north where it connects for the last time at US 101 in Leggett.

If you wish to extend your road trip beyond California’s PCH, you can continue along US Route 101 into Oregon and Washington, where it ends in Port Angeles.

In San Clemente, North El Camino Real turns into the Coast Highway Protected Trail/Coast Highway in Capistrano Beach.

A portion of the original route, Old Pacific Highway runs from San Onofre State Park and extends south through the campgrounds, parallel to I-5. The trail continues but runs through Camp Pendleton and access is restricted to authorized military personnel, veterans with identification, and approved visitors only. The trail officially ends at Las Pulgas Road.

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Stops

When travelling PCH in central and northern California, keep an eye on your gas. There are a few remote stretches where some services are not immediately available.

If you travel PCH north to south, you’ll be traveling on the side of the road closest to the coast, but it’s a great drive in either direction. For the sake of our Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip recommendations, we’ll move from north to south from the starting point in Leggett.


Drive through the Chandelier Tree at Drive-Thru Tree Park. The Redwood Tree stands 276 feet tall, 21 feet in diameter, and is 2,400 years old.

Hardy to Westport

Stop at the lookouts for jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Coast at Coast Highway Lookout, Devonte Lookout, Portal Rock Vista, Westport Beach Vista Point, and Black Sand Beach Overlook. Stop at the Westport Whale, a 36 foot sculpture (37060 CA-1, Westport, CA).

Inglenook to Fort Bragg

Whale Rock Arch: Head to the beach to check out this huge rock formation with a cave that looks like a beached whale (30000 Shoreline Hwy, Fort Bragg, CA).

10 Mile Dunes: Hike the sand dunes and explore the Ten Mile Estuary State Marine Preserve.

MacKerricher State Park: Spend a night camping near the beach and hike out to Laguna Point, then spend a day on Laguna Point Beach.

Stop at Glass Beach to see a beach known for its abundance of sea glass, then visit the world’s largest permanent sea glass exhibit at the Sea Glass Museum.

Take a ride through the redwoods on the famous Skunk Train, or take to the tracks along Pudding Creek on your rented railbike.

Visit Triangle Tattoo & Museum to see a unique collection of tattoo artifacts housed in one of the areas original Victorian store fronts.


Stop at Point Cabrillo to see the lighthouse that dates back to 1909 and take a tour, explore the coastal bluffs, and visit the site of the shipwreck Frolic at Frolic Cove.

Stop at Russian Gulch to explore the State Park, see the Russian Gulch Bridge, take a dip in Russian Gulch Creek, hike the Fern Canyon Trail to a waterfall, or head to the beach overlook to see the sink hole. There are two other beautiful state parks to explore here too, including Van Damme State Park and Mendocino Headlands.

Go kayaking or standup paddleboarding to the Mendocino Sea Caves near Van Damme cove with Kayak Mendocino.

Fort Ross & Jenner

Stop at Fort Ross State Historic Park and the historic cemetery to see this preserved Russian-American settlement that dates back to 1812, then hike the pedestrian trail to Sandy Cove beach.

Stretch your legs and enjoy the breathtaking view on the Vista Trail at Russian Gulch State Beach or at the Jenner Headlands Preserve. For a longer walk and views of the Russian River, continue on to Sonoma Coast State Park. You can hike out to Sunset Boulders, take in coastal views along the Kortum Trail, and if you’re traveling between March and June, you can spot seal pups near the mouth of the Russian River.

South of Sonoma Coast State Park are a number of beaches that you can stop at, all with rugged natural landscapes and clean sandy beaches. Definitely take the time to hop out of the car and explore a few: Duncan’s Cove, Rock Point Beach, Gleason Beach, Scotty, Portugese Beach, Schoolhouse Beach (awesome tidepools), Carmet Beach, Arched Rock Beach (nice view but very difficult to get down to), Coleman Beach, Miwok Beach, and North Salmon Creek Beach.

Bodega Bay

Enjoy wine tasting with a view at Sonoma Coast Vineyards.

Stop at Spud Point Crab Company for a crab sandwich and a bowl of the best clam chowder on the Sonoma Coast.

Walk the Bodega Head Trail and Bodega Bay Trail Head for astounding views of Bodega Head and Hole In The Head and splash in the calm waters of Campbell Cove Beach.

Stop and see the Children’s Bell Tower, a memorial to Nicholas Green.

Go trout fishing at Hagemann Ranch.

Spend the night at the Lodge At Bodega Bay. Luxurious rooms, magnificent views, relaxing spa with soothing treatments, and access to all the best that Bodega Bay has to offer.

Tomales Bay & Point Reyes

Sit by the waterfront at The Marshall Store and enjoy fresh Pacific Oysters from the family farm, have a bowl of chowder or chorizo fish stew, and ceviche tostadas.

Explore the Point Reyes National Seashore and its stunning coastline and trails. Don’t forget to stop and see the Point Reyes Shipwrecks at 12783 Sir Francis Drake Blvd in Inverness and the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Walk the Earthquake Trail in the San Andreas Fault Zone and see the 16-foot displacement of a fence caused by the 1906 earthquake.

Take a walk under the Cypress Tree Tunnel.

Visit the Heidrun Meadery for mead tastings to experience this unique beverage, and take a tour of the facility and see the bees in action.

Stinson Beach

Stop at Bodega to pick up more snacks for your road trip and any other supplies that you need. While you’re there, order some of the barbacoa tacos, a sandwich, or a pinza, then head out for a picnic on the beach to enjoy this beautiful stretch of coast.

Muir Beach

Stop at the Muir Beach Overlook to take a walk down this iconic staircase to enjoy expansive views of the coast, perched high on coastal bluff.


Venture off of this stretch where the 1 meets the 101, and head to Downtown Sausalito for shopping, beautiful waterfront views, and take a Sausalito Wooden Boat Tour.

Mill Valley

Mill Valley is on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge just south of Sausalito. Here you can take in views of the bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and San Francisco with a little less congestion than the city. While one of the best parts of your road trip will be driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, take a few minutes to stop and enjoy the views. Here are a few options: Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoint, Golden Gate View Point, Golden Gate Observation Deck, Battery Spencer, and Battery Wagner.

San Francisco

Many people know San Francisco pretty well and already have ideas of the places they want to see when they visit. The major points in the city to visit are The Presidio, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Embarcadero, Chinatown, and Golden Gate Park. Plus, the ever popular trip over to Alcatraz.

Take a detour to drive down Lombard Street or have a picnic in the park near the Painted Ladies (the houses from the Full House intro).

There’s so much to do in San Francisco, but if you’re looking for something unique and less well-known, try some of these:

  • The Wave Organ
  • The Secret Tiled Staircase
  • Seward Street Slides or Esmerelda Slide Park
  • Take a walk through Woodline
  • Visit the Institute of Illegal Images
  • Explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths
  • Check out the Camera Obscura and Holograph Collection
  • Visit Land’s End at low tide to see the remains of some of the ship wrecks that happened here
  • Stop for a drink at a century old speakeasy. You’ll need a password or a reservation.
  • Skate the night away at the Church of 8 Wheels, a church turned roller rink.

Half Moon Bay

Stop at Maverick’s Beach and take the trail to Pillar Point to see if you can spot the legendary big waves breaking off the coast in this world-famous surfing destination.

When you pass a roadside farmstand here, stop and stock up on fresh fruit and veggies for your drive (and grab some local honey if they have some). The fresh peas from the stands here are some of the best ever. Eat them right out of the pod.


Stop at Bean Hollow State Beach and walk the Arroyo de los Frijoles Trail to Pebble Beach for a true beach with a pebble shore and tide pools to explore, with lots of opportunities to climb and play.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a historic landmark. At 115 feet tall it is one of the tallest lighthouses in America and has stood watch since 1872. There is a hostel here if you are looking for an easy stopover for the night.

For a great place to spend a night or two on your road trip if you’re looking for more than just a hostel, check out Costanoa. This eco-adventure resort just off the coast is great for everyone (including the kids) with a variety of lodging options including lodge rooms, cabins, tent bungalows, and a KOA campground. There is on-site dining, a spa, planned events and activities, hiking, biking, and more!

Stop at Ano Nuevo State Park and see the elephant seals from the viewing area if you’re traveling from April through November.


A tiny town on the coast with some really cool sights to see. But first, stop at the Swanton Berry Farm farmstand to pick up baked goods, soup, drinks, fresh jams, fruit, and produce! You can even pick your own on weekends.

Take some cool pictures to share on Instagram at the Davenport Pier. It’s going to require a climb in and out of the beach, so be cautious. Here you’ll find not a full pier, but the remnants of it, and someone has hung a swing from the first section so you can take a moment to experience the waves in a quite unique way. Worth a stop.

Stop for photo ops at shark fin cove to explore the sea cave and snap some pics with the rock that juts out of the water that looks just like a giant shark fin.

Santa Cruz

Wilder Ranch State Park is hands down one of my favorite coastal trails in the state. Take the hike out to Fern Grotto and explore the rugged coastline and the magnificent cliffs. Legend has it, the coves here were once frequented by ships pulling ashore. Take a peek over the edge onto the rocks and beaches and you’ll likely see plenty of seals!

If you are traveling between November and February, stop at the Natural Bridges Monarch Trail and take the boardwalk out to the grove to spot thousands of migrating monarch butterflies.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a great way to break up the drive. While the North coast is mostly beaches and views, here you can spend a day riding roller coasters and filling up on fair food. After a day at the park, take a walk on the nearby Santa Cruz Wharf and have dinner at one of the restaurants here.

Stop into the quaint little seaside town of Capitola where Soquel Creek meets the ocean. There are brightly colored beachside residences right on the sand, with small hotels that can be booked for an overnight stay. There are plenty of shops for walking around and doing some window shopping and many delicious dining options.

If you’d like a luxurious place to stay overnight, book a room at the Chaminade Resort & Spa. The mountaintop retreat has plenty of opportunities to relax, but you can also stroll the hiking trails lined with Redwood trees and lush landscaping.

Moss Landing

Don’t drive through Moss Landing without stopping. The sea lions will often give you a show as they play on the docks in the harbor, and there are great viewpoints to spot seals, whales, and otters near Elkhorn Slough.

Explore the Elkhorn Slough! Stop at Monterey Bay Kayaks and get a kayak or SUP for a few hours. Guided tours are also available.

Have a meal at Phil’s Fish Market. The original site in Moss Landing is now closed, but the new location is near the intersection of the 1 and the 183 so it is an easy detour. The cioppino here beat Bobby Flay in a throwdown (true story), and it really is some of the best around.


Even adults will enjoy a stroll through Dennis The Menace Playground. Complete with a sculpture of Dennis. Take a few minutes to let out the kid in you and cross the bridges, and you can rent paddle boats when open.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must. It’s one of the best aquariums in the state for too many reasons to list here. Must see: Visit the Open Sea exhibit and see tuna, sardines, and sea turtles.

Explore Cannery Row and Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

Take a detour and take the self-guided 17-Mile Drive. Here you’ll see the pacific coastline, famous golf courses, the famous Lone Cypress, Bird Rock, and the Del Monte Forest.

Golfers can play a round at The Links at Spanish Bay, Poppy Hills, Cypress Point, or Pebble Beach.

Carmel By The Sea

There are a few scenic stops here, especially in Point Lobos. Blue Fish Cove Scenic View, Whalers Cabin Museum, the Cypress Information Center and Cypress Grove, Sea Lion Point, Weston Beach, China Cove, and Bird Island Lookout. Further south, Soberanes Point is a must stop.

As you travel south from Carmel towards Big Sur you’ll come tow one of the coolest bridges on Pacific Coast Highway, Rocky Creek Bridge. There are areas to park nearby if you’d like to get out and explore or take photos of it.

Big Sur

Stop at Point Sur Historic Park to explore the Point Sur Lighthouse and the Point Sur Naval Facility (open only for guided tours by appointment).

There are several places to camp overnight in Big Sur and we highly recommend taking at least one night to do this on your road trip. Campgrounds are just steps from some of the most beautiful beaches on the central coast, with rivers running through to explore, and surrounded by forests. Camping not your thing? Not to worry. There are several lodges and hotels here as well.

For beach days, head to Molera Beach or Pfeiffer Beach. To see beautiful coastal areas, take the trail to Partington Cove.

Stop and see one of the most photographed waterfalls, McWay Falls. You can’t go down to the beach, but the view of the falls are worth the stop.

Like Rocky Creek Bridge, Big Creek Bridge and Bixby Creek Bridge are other awesome PCH bridges that you’ll cross over here and there are vista points to stop and take pictures.

For the ultimate glamping experience, book a night at Treebones Resort. Choose from yurts, autonomous tents, regular campsites, and even a human nest or twig hut.

For waterfalls you can hike to, stop and take the Salmon Creek Trailhead to Salmon Creek Falls and Upper Salmon Creek Falls.

San Simeon

Stop at the Piedras Blancas Light Station to see this lighthouse that dates back to 1875.

Watch the Elephant Seals from the observation deck and you might see breeding, birthing, and lots of seals lounging around.

Take a walk on the William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach Pier and go wine tasting with ocean views at Hearst Ranch Winery.

Take a tour of the jewel of the central coast, Hearst Castle.


Stop at Moonstone Beach. This secluded beach has a boardwalk with overlooks, tidepools to explore, and a dark sand shoreline with lots of pebbles. Nearby Leffingwell Landing is also worth a stop.

For an amazing equestrian experience, book a horseback riding adventure with Covell’s Clydesdales. There’s nothing quite like a trail ride with these gentle giants.

Explore the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve for a peaceful stroll along the trails through pine forests and along oceanside bluffs.

Although it is no longer open for tours, you can drive by Nitt Witt Ridge at 881 Hillcrest Drive to see this unique home made almost entirely of found and repurposed items.

Stop at Harmony Headlands to take the 1.5 mile trail to one of the most beautiful pieces of coastline and take in the views of the natural beauty here.

Morro Bay

Stop and explore one of the many preserves and beaches here, including the Coastal Access Monarch Butterfly Preserve.

View the otters from the viewing area at Morro Bay T Pier.

Learn about Maritime History at the Morro Bay Maritime Museum.

Visit the Elfin Forest for a stroll through Pygmy Oaks.

Book an adventure on land or water with Wild Heart Coastal Adventures. We recommend the Morro Bay Eco Tour Adventure.

Stop at the Shell Shop on Embarcadero and choose some souvenirs to take home with you!

San Luis Obispo

Take the detour to the Bluff Trail at Montana De Oro for some lovely hiking trails with spectacular coastal views.

Take a hike through Poly Canyon to see the Architecture Graveyard. Here you’ll find unique structures built by former students, some dating back to 1964.

Stop in Downtown SLO for a day of shopping, dining, and drinks. Don’t forget to visit Bubblegum alley and add your own piece of chewing gum to the wall.

Take a self-guided tour of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

Stay the night or have dinner at the quirky and colorful Madonna Inn.

Go wine tasting at one of the nearby vineyards or tasting rooms or enjoy a few beers at one of the local breweries.

We recommend stopping for a Tri Tip Sandwich at Firestone Grill. If you can’t wait for the SLO location, there’s one in Cambria also (Main Street Grill).

See a drive-in movie at Sunset Drive-In.

Avila Beach

Take a soak in a hillside outdoor hot tub at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa.

Stop at the Avila Valley Barn. Pick up fresh produce, fresh baked goods, get lunch at the Chicken Shack & Smoke House, take a pony ride or hayride, and hand feed the animals. They have U-Pick fruit and flowers from July through November, plus a seasonal pumpkin patch, and Christmas trees.

Explore the shops near the beach front, see the marine life at the Central Coast Aquarium, and take a stroll on the Avila Beach Pier.

Park at Pirate’s Cove Beach Parking and take a walk to Smugglers Cave and explore Pirate’s Cove Beach.

Pismo Beach

*The 1 splits off from the 101 here in Pismo at Price Street

Spend a day shopping at the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets.

Visit Pismo Beach Pier Plaza, take a walk on the pier, and explore the Pismo Beach Walkway & Boardwalk.

Visit the Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve State Park and explore the sand dunes. They also have a Vehicle Recreation Area where they allow vehicles on the beach.

For a major dose of fun, rent an ATV or dune buggy from Sunbuggy Fun Rentals and go off roading in the dunes.

Hungry? Grand Avenue is the main drag for dining.

Enjoy a live theater performance and vaudeville revue at The Great American Melodrama Theatre.


When passing through Guadalupe, take the detour to the coast to visit Mussel Rock Dunes. There are beautiful natural coastal rock formations, a pristine beach, and coastal dunes to explore.


Enjoy a road trip meal at this daytime diner in Orcutt just off the 1. Kay’s Orcutt Country Diner serves all your favorite comfort food fresh from the kitchen in a cute historic building. Keep in mind they’re only open until 2PM so stop for breakfast or lunch!

After passing through Orcutt, Highway 1 passes through Vandenberg Space Force Base. You will reach a restricted access point and travel south towards Lompoc.


Stop at the Lompoc Flower Fields to see a colorful array of larkspur, delphinium, sweet pea, Bells of Ireland, and other flowers. The amount of flowers will vary by what the farmers have planted each season. They are privately owned and you cannot walk the fields, but when they are in bloom it is a lovely sight.

For flowers you can walk through, visit the Santa Rita Hills Lavender Farm for fresh cut flowers, hand crafted lavender products, fresh eggs, and more.

Visit the most well restored mission in the state. La Purisima Mission was founded in 1787 and offers a look into mission life in the 1820s.

While passing through Lompoc, if you want to take a detour at the 246, you can cross over to visit Solvang. Here you can explore the Danish town complete with plenty of shopping, dining, wineries, and museums. Worth the visit if you’ve never been.

After visiting Solvang, just head back to the 101 and head south where the 1 reconnects and runs concurrently through Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Santa Barbara

Take a break from road tripping and spend a night or two in pure luxury at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. Perched right on the Pacific, you can enjoy a tranquil spa, 3 infinity edge pools, access to two beaches, exquisite rooms, a nearby pier for strolling, and all the 5-star amenities you can expect from the Ritz.

If you’re passing through on a weekend, stop at Goleta Depot and South Coast Railroad Museum. The station house was built in 1901 and serves as a centerpiece to this special park that teaches the community about railroad history, technology, and its role in California expansion. You can also take a stroll on the trails of the surrounding Lake Los Carneros Park.

Spend a day in the sun at Goleta Beach Park. Have a picnic, go fishing on the pier, rent a kayak or stand up paddle board and spend some time on the water, or just relax on the sand.

Explore exotic plants at Lotusland or wander through over 1000 native plants at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Visit Stearns Wharf and the Santa Barbara Museum Of Natural History Sea Center and get to know the local marine life.

Feed a giraffe and take a train ride around the Santa Barbara Zoo. Don’t miss the flamingos and the gorillas, and if you want to make the most of your experience here, book a safari sleepover!

Take a food tour through the Funk Zone (the artsy side of town). Explore the historical structures, the art galleries, do some shopping, and visit a winery.

Visit the Old Santa Barbara Mission to see the Queen Of The Missions and take a self-guided tour, then explore more of the city’s Spanish history at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park and Casa De La Guerra.

Climb aboard the Land Shark, the boat with wheels, to take a 90 minute tour of the historic landmarks around town and a cruise around Santa Barbara’s harbor and coastline.

Enjoy some of the best seafood in town at Brophy Bros. Start with a bowl of clam chowder and try their fish and chips or one of their daily specials, seafood pasta, or cioppino.

Take an instagrammable photo at the colorful Chromatic Gate on the corner of Cabrillo Blvd and Calle Puerto Vallarta.


Stop at Tar Pits Park at Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve to see rare natural asphalt lakes and a Seal Preserve.


Go shopping for antiques and other vintage goods on Main Street, then enjoy the mix of dining options and nightlife.

Explore Mission Basilica San Buenaventura.

Go shopping at Ventura Harbor Village, enjoy the sunset from Soter’s Point at Marina Park, rent a paddle boat to explore the harbor on the water, or take a whale watching excursion.

A good place to stop for a bite to eat is Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Company. Get the world famous fish tacos!

Highway 1, or Pacific Coast Highway splits off again from the 101 between Oxnard and Camarillo, where it heads back towards the coast.

Point Mugu

Point Mugu Missile Park features a glimpse at military aircraft and missiles with several Naval Aircraft, Missiles, and rockets on display including an F4 Phantom and F14 Tomcat. The outdoor park is free and open to the public.


Kick off your route into Malibu with a fresh seafood lunch served with ocean views at Neptune’s Net.

For beach days, head to El Matador State Beach or Point Dume if you want natural cliffs and cool rock formations. If you want to spend the day on a beach that is more famous for the long stretches of sand and great surf conditions, head to Zuma.

Spend the afternoon at Malibu Country Mart browsing the chic boutiques and enjoying the relaxed outdoor setting. They’ve got a great selection of restaurants, too, plus a playground that the kids can explore.

Visit the rock pools, natural swimming hole, and the M*A*S*H site at Malibu Creek State Park.

Santa Monica

If you grew up watching Baywatch, you might want to stop in Pacific Palisades to see the Baywatch Headquarters.

Spend some time at the Santa Monica Pier and enjoy the amusement park, see the historic marker for the end of Route 66, see the marine life at Heal The Bay Aquarium, and check out the Original Muscle Beach.

Los Angeles

From Santa Monica, the 1 heads into LA past the airport. Stop at the Flight Path Museum & Learning Center to see aviation artifacts and learn about aviation history, and see planes just outside on the tarmac. Stay for a while and watch the planes land and take off.

El Segundo

For a golf experience unlike any other, reserve a bay at Topgolf. They have over 100 all weather hitting bays, a 10-hole golf course, games, restaurant and bar, and high tech balls.

Hermosa Beach

Stop at Hermosa Beach Pier, take a walk along The Strand, do some shopping on Hermosa Avenue, and catch a live music show at Saint Rocke.


Visit the Western Museum Of Flight for a hands-on experience with planes that made aviation history. See everything from model airplanes to Warbirds, drones, engines, and aviation artifacts.

Palos Verdes

Wander through a collection of gardens and exhibits at South Coast Botanic Gardens.

Visit the Point Vicente Interpretive Center and hear ghost stories at the Point Vicente Lighthouse. Take in the views from this lovely Southern California coastal viewpoint.

Explore the beaches and coastal trails at Abalone Cove Park and Sacred Cove Beach.

San Pedro

The Korean Friendship Bell is a great stop to check out if you head to San Pedro. A cultural landmark on an ornate pagoda overlooking the ocean, the bell was a gift from Korea.

Head to the USS Iowa to take a tour of this battleship and museum to learn about Naval and military history. They have a number of events, activities, and exhibits to explore. You can also visit the nearby Los Angeles Maritime Museum.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is not as big as Long Beach’s aquarium, but it is worth a visit if you are in the area.

Point Fermin Lighthouse is a historic Southern California Lighthouse with a park and garden and fantastic coastal views. When you’re done exploring here, head to Sunken City and hike down the cliff to see the remains of a portion of the town that was destroyed by a landslide.

Long Beach

Long Beach is one of SoCal’s best destinations for things to do and PCH runs right through it. Here’s a quick list of things to do in Long Beach that are close to HWY 1:

  • Aquarium Of The Pacific
  • Shoreline Village
  • Visit the Queen Mary
  • Attend an event at the Long Beach Convention Center
  • Tour Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch & Gardens
  • Take a Gondola Ride in Naples
  • Shop and Dine in Belmont Shore

Seal Beach

Seal Beach Main Street is a must stop. It has a laid back community vibe with great restaurants, unique shops, and the Pier is at the end of the street for an afternoon or evening stroll.

Surfside/Sunset Beach

Keep an eye out for the water tower – a local historic landmark that is actually a house that can be rented for overnight stays.

Stop at one of the local rental shops along PCH and get a kayak, SUP, or Duffy and cruise the harbor for the afternoon.

Huntington Beach

Take a walk at the Huntington Beach Wetlands and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, or pick up the beginning of the paved Huntington Beach Bike Trail here at Warner & PCH. Stop at SeaLegs At The Beach for a glass of wine on the sand.

Take a surf lesson at Corky Carroll’s Surf School.

You can’t come to Surf City without a stop at the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. Then, enjoy the shopping, dining, and nightlife on Main Street and Pacific City.

Take a break from the road trip and stay a few days at one of the luxury beach resorts here including the Hyatt Regency and the Waterfront Hilton.

If you’re traveling in an RV, book a night or two of beachfront camping at Bolsa Chica State Beach or the Huntington Beach RV Campground.

Keep an eye out for the HB surfer statue at PCH and Beach Blvd.

Newport Beach

Head to Balboa Peninsula and explore the Balboa Fun Zone and the Balboa Pier and have a Balboa Bar. Take a ferry ride to Balboa Island.

Take a whale watching cruise or book a fishing trip from Davey’s Locker.

Take a stroll on the Newport Beach Pier and check out the fresh daily catch at the Dory Fishing Fleet next door.

Go glamping at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina.

Go tidepooling at Little Corona Del Mar Beach.

Stay the night at Crystal Cove State Park! Rent a cottage on the beach or pop a tent in the campground on the bluffs.

Spend the day shopping at Fashion Island.

Play a round of golf at Pelican Hill Golf Club.

Check out the surf break at The Wedge, and if you’re an avid surfer, grab your board and catch a wave.

Laguna Beach

Stroll around the Laguna Beach downtown area, shop at the chic boutiques, and browse the art galleries and museums.

Visit one of the many beautiful beaches in Laguna for sunbathing, surfing, tide pooling, and looking for seashells. Don’t miss the Pirate Tower at Victoria Beach!

Take a hike to Top Of The World at Alta Laguna Park for panoramic views of the Pacific.

Catch a performance at Laguna Playhouse.

Dana Point

Spend a day on the golf course at Monarch Beach Golf Links.

Explore Dana Point Harbor on foot to do some shopping and dining. Then explore by water on a SUP or kayak.

Visit the Ocean Institute to learn more about ocean science and maritime history. Then head down to the shoreline to explore the Dana Point Caves.

Visit the Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area to take in the view, explore the trails, and search the tide pools.

Go surfing or camping (in an RV) at the famous Doheny State Beach.

Go whale watching with Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari or Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching.

The Pacific Coast Highway officially ends here in Dana Point, but there’s really nothing stopping you from continuing south to San Diego! There’s a lot to see on the way, and once you get there.

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Heidi Deal
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights. When she's not writing you can find her solo hiking and going on new adventures with her kids and pup.