West Coast Trip 2015 – Pacific Coast Highway

the winding road as we travel down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to San Diego

We were sad to leave SF, but pumped to hit the road and drive the coast down to SoCal!

Priorities:

  • Views
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Get to San Diego without falling into the Pacific

Day 8 – Friday

Leaving the SF bros in SF, and with Alena flying back to SD to work, only three of us remained to make The Drive.  We hit the road at around 10am, picked up a Volvo rental car and headed south.  It was a foggy, somewhat dreary day around SF, but the scenery was still stunning.

view of the ocean south of Half Moon Bay
One of the state beaches just south of Half Moon Bay

About 2 hours south of Half Moon Bay was perhaps my favorite part of the drive, as we pulled off the highway to drive through some of the streets in Carmel-by-the-Sea.  The homes were all looked like they were picked up in Europe a few hundred years ago, and dropped into this picturesque town on the Pacific, right on the water.

view of the ocean and beach from Carmel by the Sea
View from a Carmel resident’s front yard

Soon after Carmel, we hit Big Sur, which was equally stunning.  Around this area is when the iconic windy roads and steep cliffs and bluffs start to make an appearance.  Some of the turns are truly insane, with no guard rails between you and hundreds of feet down to the ocean.  An exhilarating drive for sure!

the winding road and cliffs on the Pacific Coast Highway
Careful on those turns!

By the time we got to the seal beach near Morro Bay, we were starting to get hangry.

seals on a beach on the Pacific Coast Highway
The seals were very entertaining to watch – a good break from driving.

We decided to stop in San Luis Obispo, at the High St Market and Deli.  It was very apparent that we had at some point officially entered SoCal.  Surfer bros, wind-blown hair, and the smell of an ocean breeze all around.  After a boss sandwich, we were back on the road to San Diego.  The rest of the drive was not as impressive as the first 6 hours or so, but it was still quite scenic, with the sun setting over the Pacific.

the sun setting over the Pacific ocean
Somewhere between SLO and LA

By the time we hit LA, it was dark and there was surprisingly not much traffic.  We stopped at an In-N-Out Burger for a quick dinner, to see what the fuss is all about.  To be honest, it was quite good, but being an East Coaster with a Five Guys bias, I didn’t find it THAT special…I suppose I will be shunned in certain circles for that comment, but somebody had to say it.

The burger fueled me just enough to get to San Diego with my eyes still open – we rolled into the airport to return the rental around 11pm, making the total trek roughly 13 hours.  From there, Alena was kind enough to pick us up and drop us off at our Airbnb in the North Park neighborhood, where we would rest up for the last leg of the trip!

Highlights:

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Big Sur
  • In-N-Out

Next Time:

  • Head north along the coast from SF
  • Stop at some wineries along the way

What is your favorite spot to marvel at the scenery along Route 1?  Comment away!

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