English (UK)
Ryan Donnell

Call Of The Coast

This highlight-filled drive from Santa Cruz to Big Sur showcases some of the most iconic views and attractions on Highway 1.

Start:Lighthouse Field State Beach
End:Post Ranch Inn
1 - 2Days,8Stops,107Miles
Lighthouse Field State Beach
Robert Harding/Getty Images
Elkhorn Slough
Kerrick James/Getty Images
Cannery Row
Ryan Donnell
C Restaurant + Bar
Simon Watson/Getty Images
Carmel-By-The-Sea
Courtesy of Visit Carmel
Point Lobos State Reserve
Vicki Jauron/Getty Images
Big Sur
Anthony Festa/Getty Images
Post Ranch Inn
Kodiak Greenwood/Post Ranch Inn
Stop 1

Lighthouse Field State Beach

Lighthouse Field State Beach, Santa Cruz

On Santa Cruz’s nearly five-kilometre-long West Cliff Drive, runners and cyclists wind along the water from the city’s neon boardwalk to Natural Bridges State Beach. Take a break at Lighthouse Field State Beach to watch surfers dance atop the swells of the famous Steamer Lane, learn about 100 years of surfing history at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and then descend from the cliffs to wiggle your toes in the sand. Keep an eye out for Monarch butterflies and migrating whales during the winter months.

Plan your visit

    Stop 2

    Elkhorn Slough

    1700 Elkhorn Rd, Watsonville

    Extending seven miles inland off Monterey Bay, Elkhorn Slough is a tidal estuary where wildlife sightings are all but guaranteed. Children will love clambering aboard a 27-foot/8-metre open-air pontoon boat with Elkhorn Slough Safari to poke around the marshes, learning why sea otters thrive in this protected habitat. Binoculars are hardly needed to spot herons, egrets, white pelicans and other interesting birds as more than 300 species are found here. Hire a sit-on-top kayak (no experience necessary) and paddle past sea lions sunbathing and Southern sea otters romping alongside your boat like aquatic puppies. Just make sure you save some energy for the way back; the onshore breeze makes the return trip a workout.

    Stop 3

    Cannery Row

    700 Cannery Row, Monterey

    Home to a booming sardine canning industry in the early 1900s, Monterey’s Cannery Row—immortalised in the John Steinbeck novel Cannery Row—is now a lively destination with a heavy nod to its historic roots. Many old cannery buildings have been reborn as restaurants, galleries and shops, while you can peek into the shacks that once housed factory workers. With more than 60 tasting rooms in surrounding Monterey County, you could easily spend a day visiting nearby wineries, or you could simply taste your way along Cannery Row. Try the award-winning Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs at the waterfront Carmel Ridge, or visit the Wine Experience to create your own custom wine blend, complete with a personalised label.

    Also: no trip to Cannery Row is complete without a trip to the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium, where visitors can get a close-up look at more than 35,000 marine creatures.

    video

    California Dream Eater vists Mundaka in Carmel
    Stop 5

    Carmel-By-The-Sea

    316 Ocean Ave #157, Carmel-By-The-Sea

    The petite Monterey County town of Carmel-by-the-Sea is home to an ensemble cast of charms that make it an enchanting destination. Officially incorporated in 1916, Carmel has long exerted a magnetic pull on artists and authors. Today Carmel Village, filled with garden cottages, Mediterranean estates and modern ranches, is home to nearly 100 art galleries. Builder Hugh Comstock created the fairytale aesthetic in the 1920s and 21 of his originals remain, including the Tuck Box - a quaint café that specialises in afternoon tea. For those in search of heartier fare, there’s Cultura Comida y Bebida, where Oaxacan dishes like smoked pork mole and chapulines (toasted grasshoppers seasoned with lime and salt) are best paired with one of 39 mezcals. At La Bicyclette the vibe is pure French bistro while special occasions warrant a stop at Aubergine, a tasting-menu splurge-worthy restaurant inside L’Auberge Carmel resort. Along with restaurants, Carmel Village is stocked with wine-tasting rooms and boutiques. Sip a Pinot Noir from Central Coast Wine Country or shop for fancy pens at Bittner, a shop dedicated to the art of writing.

    Plan your visit

    Stop 6

    Point Lobos State Reserve

    62 CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea

    Walk a poppy lined path to the tip of this Carmel park’s dramatic, limestone point to look for sea otters, harbour seals, sea lions and spouting whales (from December to March) in the turquoise blue waters below. The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, often called 'the crown jewel of the state parks system', is a favourite among wildlife lovers, photographers, walkers and divers. Stroll along the 0.8-mile Cypress Grove Trail through one of only two surviving Monterey cypress stands in the world. Or learn while you walk: check the Point Lobos Foundation calendar for free volunteer led walks with various themes, from birds and rockpooling to 'Artists of Point Lobos', which highlights notable painters and photographers who have captured the state park in their work.

    Stop 7

    Big Sur

    Pfeiffer Big Sur Rd, Big Sur

    Welcome to Big Sur, one of the world’s most unforgettable stretches of coastline. This roughly 144-kilometre-long expanse of redwood- and fog-laced waterfront between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Hearst Castle draws you in with a magical allure. This is, quite simply, a place you want to be.

    Drive along Big Sur via twisting Highway One. One favourite photo op: McWay Falls, a silvery cascade falling some 70 feet/21 metres from the cliffs to a remote beach in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. You can see it from the open sections of the park’s Overlook Trail. Look up to see endangered Californian condors, or look down to scan the swell for migrating whales or sea otters floating among the dense beds of kelp.

    Try the famous Ambrosia burger on the decking at Nepenthe, then nurse your beer as you watch the sunset. Campsites abound around Big Sur, as do rustic cabins at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn. The region’s beauty also makes it a magnet for splurge-worthy hotels like the cliff-hugging Post Ranch Inn, or Ventana Big Sur, which combines traditional luxury accommodation with fabulous glamping options.

    Plan your visit

    SPOTLIGHT

    Post Ranch Inn

    47900 CA-1, Big Sur

    Splash out on a night at the Post Ranch Inn, where Big Sur–style pampering means morning yoga, night-time stargazing and infinity hot tubs that look out over the Pacific.

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    Road Trip Snapshot

    Find out more about the amazing locations featured in this road trip. Ready to plan your trip? Print the itinerary or map your adventure to get started.

    Stop 1Lighthouse Field State Beach
    Lighthouse Field State Beach, Santa Cruz
      Stop 2Elkhorn Slough
      1700 Elkhorn Rd, Watsonville
      Stop 3Cannery Row
      700 Cannery Row, Monterey
      Stop 5Carmel-By-The-Sea
      316 Ocean Ave #157, Carmel-By-The-Sea
      Stop 6Point Lobos State Reserve
      62 CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea
      Stop 7Big Sur
      Pfeiffer Big Sur Rd, Big Sur
      • Big Surhttp://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/
      SPOTLIGHTPost Ranch Inn
      47900 CA-1, Big Sur

        Car & RV Hire

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