It’s an adventurers’ dream to make the road trip of 2700 miles, visiting 3 states, and sleeping in 7 different cities. I call it my epic coastal road trip along PCH.
Not to mention capturing over 1000 images of stunning landscapes, blue crystal waters, and impressive giant trees and nature trails. Our epic coastal road trip along PCH is definitely an experience I recommend. The PCH or Pacific Coast Highway; also Highway 1 is the path along the pacific ocean coastline consisting of some of the worlds’ most beautiful scenery.
The scenery along this epic coastal road trip along PCH is magical, so as you can imagine, my excitement was off the charts. We began our journey through southern to central California. Which is sometimes typical of southern California weather, the marine layer can come in along the coast and usually burn off by noon. We proceeded onward with our trip heading north.
But before I continue to share more of our epic coastal road trip along PCH, I want to explain a brief overview of the planning and preparation we put into this trip.
PLANNING: Epic Coastal Road Trip Along PCH
Our goals and dilemmas consisted of the following:
- Quality of sleep and rest in a comfortable, safe, and clean hotel.
- Allowing for about 6-8 hours of driving a day only, making sure to get enough rest.
- Not paying too much for lodging.
- Food and meals: I have food sensitivities so I am limited to which restaurants and types of food I eat. (Gluten, wheat, dairy, peanut/legume)
- The quantity of food for all breakfasts and lunches. (Great for budget travel)
- Return flight – limiting the number of bags and other things. (since I had to bring all this food)
- The type of cooler to bring: disposable one. (Since we had a return flight).
- The meals planned for each day were as follows:
- Breakfast: Cheerios and granola topped with Almond Milk of which I brought.
- Lunch: Deli lean turkey meat (I brought this also)-using Gluten Free bread for me; and a peanut butter sandwich for my husband. And tortilla chips.
- Dinner: Denny’s or Mexican Restaurants
- Snacks: Fresh carrot, celery, cucumber slices. Almonds and Cashews. Tortilla chips, fruit
The planning of this trip or any long trip is not the easiest thing to do.
My husband is a premier member to the Choice Hotel chains, so one of our stays was free and we gained more points again for the entire week to receive another free room or two for another stay. We found that the most comfortable hotel offering more value among the choice hotel chains is Comfort Inn. My husband made reservations in 7 different cities using Google maps as a guide to the location of that hotel to see what restaurants are nearby, and safe areas.
We also rented an economical car instead of driving our own vehicle. This decision ended up more affordable, cost savings, and more comfortable (than my car). Our plan was to drive back from Seattle to San Francisco and drop off the rental car and fly home from there. For some reason the Portland airport didn’t allow Dollar Car Rental return, and it was quite expensive to fly out of Seattle to return to San Diego, so San Francisco was where we drove back to and reserved a flight for $72 one way ticket for each.
Meals: Now this was a little tricky. Considering we had a car, we’re thinking we could bring everything that we needed for a road trip, but with a dilemma of an airline flight return home. So, I thought about the foods and snacks we eat and gathered enough for each day of the week using zip lock baggies, the amount of bread for sandwiches for each day’s lunch, and breakfast meals for me since I have food sensitivities. We would seek out certain restaurants for our dinners, and those include places such as Denny’s and Mexican Restaurants of which I can usually find healthy, gluten free options from those places.
We finally hit the road around 8:45 a.m. after leaving our personal car at the car rental place nearby the airport and picked up the rental car. I noticed a few pieces of art in this car rental facility which I thought was very interesting. Look closely now, this art piece is comprised of several vehicle tail lights attached to the wall. Check out these photos:
Here is another art piece that caught my eye nearby the airport and they were moving as the wind speed increased.
As I mentioned earlier, the day was a bit overcast with some clouds and haze but at least the traffic was minimal driving through the LA area. It was quite a scene driving through Santa Monica, Malibu, and Santa Barbara as we proceeded making our way towards Monterey and the Pebble Beach area.
Beautiful landscapes, meadows and valleys.
We finally made it to our goal for this day, the majestic place of Pebble Beach. My husband has already experienced Pebble Beach and played here at Pebble Beach Golf Links many years ago. The golf fees he paid back then was $250 for the round of golf and waited 8 hours to tee off. Oh how things change over time, a round of golf today at this course is a whopping $525.
The club house is beautiful as we browse around inside for a short while. My husband also notices all the new boutiques and shops added to the grounds here as well. Sadly, it seems as though this incredible place has been bitten by the commercialization bug.
The Lone Cypress
17 Mile Drive
Prior to wondering around the clubhouse and shops at that Pebble Beach golf course, we cruise on our way through the infamous 17-Mile Drive that includes a $10 park entry fee. This is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world. Some of the spectacular points of interest include the following:
- Shepherds Knoll
- Huckleberry Hill
- Poppy Hills Golf Course
- China Rock
- Bird Rock
- Cypress Point
- Lone Cypress. This is one of California’s most enduring landmarks and has withstood this rocky post for more than 250 years.
Half Moon Bay
After a long day of driving, we rested for the night in Marina, California. We then awoke early and hit the road onward towards San Francisco. As we continue out drive north, we made it to the cozy surfing town of Santa Cruz. There are several quaint coffee shops and surfing boutiques along the main roadway. But the ultimate place we want to see is Half Moon Bay and Mavericks.
Mavericks is the place where surfers take on epic big wave challenges. Monster Mavericks big wave international surfing contests. Waves can at times reach up to 60 feet high! I see a beautiful lighthouse at this point and a group of surfers out at sea. As I look further out at the water, I know one of those surfers may catch their giant dream wave.
Not only do surfers face the challenge of rough and cold waters here, but the climate is quite cool. A staff member in the Visitor Center mentioned that much of the year is overcast in this area of California.
After wandering around the surfers territory of Mavericks, we made it to San Francisco. Unfortunately, in crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we missed a photo opportunity because of the fog and visibility. We continued our journey northward.
Santa Rosa is quite a charming town and a perfect resting stop. We walked around for a bit and came upon a small street fair with live music and vendors. I notice a couple pieces of adorable street art. These art pieces are a couple of my favorite cartoon characters in the Charlie Brown series.
The weather in this part of California is spectacular this time year. Feeling the refreshing breeze and the warm sun makes it really tough to beat the California climate. This journey is to be continued.