17 Jan What is there to see on Highway 1?
California’s Highway 1 (a.k.a. the Pacific Coast Highway) is a road of legend. Nothing quite beats meandering through coastline and hills. Highway 1 offers much splendor.
The highway is a scenic drive of over 600 miles from southern LA area to north of San Francisco near Leggett. Avila Beach is lucky to be nestled along this long patch of coastline. Situated nearly exactly halfway between LA and San Francisco, it makes for the perfect place to stop and stay a while. There are plenty of quaint Avila Beach hotels that make for a perfect base camp for day trips to see everything the central coast has to offer. So what is there to see on Highway 1?
Morro Bay: Aside from simply taking to the road and seeing what you can find, there are a few sweet spots to hit up north of Avila Beach. Morro Bay is about a half hour away from Avila Beach and offers scenic beach views and stunning aquatic life. It also has a really cool giant volcanic mound called Morro Rock.
Hearst Castle: Continuing up the coast rests Hearst Castle. The extravagant former home of William Randolph Hearst that once hosted only the greatest of silver screen phenoms. Hearst Castle is just under an hour’s drive from Avila Beach.
Big Sur: What’s a trip to California without visiting a National Park? In around an hour driving north from Avila Beach is the southern tip of Big Sur National Park. Perhaps nothing is more scenic than the cliff-lined misty shores of Big Sur. Do keep an eye on time, Big Sur is, well, big! The famed keyhole rock is about a 2 and 1/2 hours away from Avila Beach so plan your day trip accordingly.
The Dunes: Just south of Pismo is the Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve. Rent a dune buggy, take a hike, or simply take in the coastline where the sand quite literally meets the sea.
Lompoc: Lompoc is at first an unassuming little stop along Highway 1. It lacks the rolling hills and National Park feel to the North and the mansion-lined pristine coast to the south. It reads a little more like Scottsdale with a nice beach. However, there are two little gems to check out in Lompoc. To start, it’s the home of La Purisma Mission, perhaps California’s most completely restored Spanish mission. It’s also home to a little thing called the Wine Ghetto; not quite a tasting room, more of a tasting warehouse. The low cost of these high-quality boutique wines is a big draw, in addition to simply walking from tasting to tasting (rather than driving).
Santa Barbara: Just a 90-minute drive from Avila Beach, make a day trip to Santa Barbara. Soak in the food, art and Spanish-inspired architecture. We recommend the Santa Barbara Public Market, Stearns Wharf, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.