9 Reasons Why You Should Drive the PCH at Least Once in Your Life (And Stops to Make Along the Way)

There’s something about California.

Photo Courtney of travelchannel.com

Coming from an East Coast native, born and raised, the idea of California filled my dreams of a faraway magical kingdom; it taunted my growing restlessness.

I finally got to visit the elusive state, the classic California vacation and road trip. I flew into San Diego and drove the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to San Francisco. All I can say is everyone needs to not only visit once, but drive the PCH.
The PCH is hundreds of scenic miles (including Highway 5, 1, and 101) of expansive highway that runs north and south along the coast of California: miles of dangerous winding roads, cliff sides, and an unbelievable, unyielding array of ocean.
Photo courtesy of big-sur-lodging.com

The PCH allows us to take in a good amount of what California has to offer us. It makes us feel small, a speck in this universe. We feel so insignificant, yet capable of so much. We can be gracious and thankful for this world we were put on. It has magical, healing powers with the ability to stop time while everything is in motion. We feel free, endless. It gives us a taste of everything: beaches, mountains, deserts.

The state holds so much personality, so much talent, brilliance, opportunity, too much to grasp. It’s the perfect state, everything from Hawaiian-esque cliff sides with an insurmountable view of the Pacific to 102 degree deserts to forests of sky-high trees and it all takes your breath away with its versatility.
Photo courtesy of imgfave.com

It really is a world wonder, one that is deep and lasting long after we’ve left. It instills this sense of adventure, wanderlust, humility, and undeniably: love, all felt on a spiritual plain.
It makes us feel as though we’ve finally found what we’ve been searching for, it hits a tender spot that makes us feel as though we’re finally home again regardless if it’s our first time or our hundredth.
A small exploration that resists close-mindness, encouraging us to think outside of this little bubble we tend to put ourselves in.
It’s one of those places where the impossible seems just in arms reach, we can sell all our belongings, ditch our friends and family, and escape with little to no money and no job without looking back.
Photo courtesy of headedanywhere.com

Most people don’t view a short vacation this way, but if we take a moment to allow our emotions to flow in; I’m not wrong.

And, although I didn’t get to play in all the beautiful cities that the PCH veers into, I love California and I can’t wait to be hugging the Cali Cliffside once more.
Some must see places to stop include:

1. San Diego

Photo courtesy of Tumbr.com

 I flew into San Diego, bypassing the downtown towers and railroad tracks. I wasn’t able to explore as much as I would have liked, but the few moments I did spend in San Diego, I could tell it was a city worth visiting.

2.  Huntington Beach

Photo courtesy of huntingtonbeachca.gov
Sunsets on the beach and much more.

3. Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of

homehero.org
from San Diego, Highway 5 runs straight through downtown Los Angeles. The traffic is horrid, but it gives you a taste of the LA lifestyle – the good and the bad. An abundance of hills, magnificent homes, and the notorious Hollywood sign, it really is something else that I have trouble finding the words for.

4. Santa Barbara

Photo courtesy of realtor.com

From Los Angeles, you can take I-10 for a longer route to reach Malibu or continue on Highway 5 which merges with Highway 101 heading west to hit Ventura. A few miles north is Santa Barbara: my favorite beach city to drive through. Even from a moving vehicle, it is apparent the joy living in Santa Barbara would bring. The coastline, mountains, and perfect weather was to die for.

5. San Luis Obispo (SLO)

Photo courtesy of slolafco.com

SLO is smack in the middle of Central Coast Wine Country. Numerous vineyards surround the highway with rows and rows AND ROWS of grape vines. It is incredible to think about all the work and wine that comes from the vineyards. Fun Fact: You have to squish between 600 and 800 grapes to make a bottle of wine.

6. Hearst Castle

Photo courtesy of fredsplayland.com/hearst-castle-tour

Turning left, heading west out of San Luis Obispo, you finally hit Highway 1, the PCH. Even if you don’t have time to visit Hearst Castle, it can be seen from the highway. A fairytale in itself.

7. Piedras Blancas of San Simeon

Via: Melia Topic

 Stop at one of the viewing points and experience the elephant seals of California. They don’t do much, but the hundreds of seals sun tanning allow you to appreciate just a small portion of the Cali wildlife.

8. Big Sur

Via: Melia Topicz

Big Sur encompasses a range of sightseeing from the notorious Bixby Bridge, to Pfeiffer Beach, to Mcway Falls. In the simplest terms, the Bixby Bridge is the Golden Gate Bridge of Big Sur. It soars 260 feet above a canyon and has a 320 foot concrete arch span. Pfeiffer Beach, one of the top 10 beaches in California and home of the purple sand, will take your breath away. Mcway Falls was my favorite; a waterfall that cascades onto the beach. I don’t know where else one is able to see such a sight so accessible and for zero dollars.

9. San Francisco

Via: Melia Topicz

 San Fran is an incredible city. I spent the most time there and can see why so many people love it. The hilly roads surrounded by those San Francisco type homes (think Full House) and numerous things to do, it is a city to explore. The Golden Gate Bridge is a must, Muir woods is a must – witnessing the 300 feet tall Redwoods. Also, Dolores Park deserves an afternoon: grab a six pack, some snacks and sit on top of the hill, people watch, and gaze in amazement at the city around you. Locals and visitors sun bathe, drink, play beer pong, eat, sell edibles out of a basket, and just relax.

These are just a few places to relish in when experiencing California and the famous PCH. There are numerous beach cities, amazing places to sight see, and if you do all or none, at least take Cali for all it is, all it has to offer, and all its glory.
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