The Pacific Coast Highway: The Ultimate Road Trip
The Pacific Coast Highway needs no introduction, no matter where you’re from – you’ve probably heard about how beautiful it is. It’s the ultimate road trip that allows you to see some of the most iconic views. Here are my favorite stops along Highway 1 in California – I promise they are worth the stop. So, pack your bags, grab your bikini, a camera, and get going! Oh, and let me mention I was 6 months pregnant when I took this road trip (yes there were many frequent bathroom breaks!), and so all of these stops are super easy to get to!
7 of the Most Beautiful Stops Along the Pacific Coast Highway
California has hundreds of beaches along Highway One, so how would you know which ones are worth your time?! We spent a week driving along the coast (South to North), and this is what I’ve narrowed down to the best spots. There were many “bigger attraction” spots that we stopped at (which are still worth seeing!), but if you’re anything like me, you’ll love these spots because they were very secluded! A few of them, we had the location to ourselves! How amazing is that?
1) Malibu Beach
I was so excited when we hit Malibu Beach because it’s when the beaches begun to look more rugged like I had seen in pictures – where there’s just giant, jagged, beautiful boulders on the coastline. There was a nature reserve you could hike around on the other side of the highway in case you wanted to explore more. I wasn’t trying to hike up anything steep being super pregnant! But it sure was nice to look at. This beach wasn’t very populated, and very clean. There were carved out giant coves to explore, rocks to climb (even for a pregnant lady!), and the surrounding area was stunning.
2) Rocky Creek Bridge
Right before you cross over the bridge, there is a little pull out that you can park at. I highly suggest stopping here because even though it may not look like anything, but there is a little path down the cliff, and the view is beautiful! My husband and I had our morning coffee here overlooking the coastline. There wasn’t anyone down there, so we had the whole coast to ourselves. Some people live along this cliffs edge – I could get used to waking up to that view every morning! Couldn’t you?!
3) Carmel Beach City Park
Out of all the beaches we went to, this one had a decent amount of people, which makes sense because this beach town is the cutest place I’ve ever visited! Carmel-by-the-sea is worth sight seeing if you have an extra day; a lot of local shops and restaurants. Oh, and the houses are so neat to see! We spent some time just driving around looking at them. Anyway, back to the beach! I loved stopping here. There were beautiful mountains in the distance, and I had so much fun finding unique rocks along the shore. I collected them, but my husband spent most of his time skipping them into the ocean.
4) San Gregorio Beach
If you like geology (huge nerd over here), this beach is for you! There is a giant rock coming out of sand, and on the other side it’s a giant carved out cave you can explore! There’s softball sized seashell fossils all over it. My husband went back there, but it was a slippery incline so I decided not to risk it with being so pregnant. We had the beach to ourselves, and spent the evening watching the sunset.
5) Sonoma Coast State Park – Bodega Bay
Bodega Bay along the Sonoma Coast was breathtakingly beautiful. There were wildflowers growing along the cliffs edge, and the rugged rocks disappeared as the giant waves crashed over them. Yet Again, we had the beach to ourselves (how amazing, right?) and were able to enjoy the quietness together. This beach had a ton of exploring you can do in the sand – tons of shells, unique rocks, crab shells, lobster claws, etc.
6) Stillwater Cove Regional Park
Stillwater Cove was extremely secluded. The sign to get there was easily missed because it’s on the corner of a hairpin turn. The path back to the beach reminded me something out of Jurassic Park – everything was lush, green, and overgrown. There were many Abalone shells on the ground and giant rocks you could explore on. There was a ravine coming from the mountains that ran into the ocean filled with drift wood and gorgeous rocks. But BE CAREFUL! There was a sign saying this was one of the most dangerous beaches due to an unexpected undertow. Needless to say, we stayed out of the water here!
7) Fishmill Cove
You guessed it…another area all to ourselves. We were suggested to check out this place by a Californian native surfer dude from Tahoe. That is my favorite way to travel – get the inside scoop from the locals! It was well worth the stop. The trail takes you through some beautiful giant green trees to the edge of the coast, overlooking the ocean about 200 feet above. There were trees blown over and huge boulders that made the landscape incredible. We could of continued on with the trail through some beautiful tall bushy flowered plants, but a huge storm was rolling in and we decided to head back. I hope to go back and see the rest of the trail someday.