10 must-see places along California’s Pacific coast highway

10 must see places along California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The Golden State, known for it’s sandy beaches in the south and its sequoia’s in the north. California has a vast variety of sights along its golden coast. Here are my top 10 places to see along California’s pacific coast highway/Highway 1.

1) San Francisco

Spend a few days in this hilly city with it’s famous Golden Gate Bridge, take a cable car ride and see the resident sea lions at Pier 39

2) Monterey Bay Aquarium

This iconic Aquarium located on the site of an old sardine cannery on Cannery Row,  houses more than 600 species. Some of the more popular exhibits include, Sea Otter feeding, several Jellyfish species and Seahorses.

3) Bixby Bridge

Located on the coast of Big Sur, Bixby Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in California. Spend a few moments enjoying this magnificent view.

4) Pfeiffer Beach

This hidden gem is located within Julia Pfeiffer Burns State park. Somewhat difficult to find without a map or GPS as there are no road signs. There is a car park however camper vans are not permitted. The road down is a little long, I ended up walking it but the end result was so worth it. Don’t forget to look down and check out the purple sand!

5) McWay Falls

One of my biggest bucket list ticks, McWay Falls is just south of Pfeiffer beach and every bit as beautiful. This beach is home to rare fauna and flora and therefore no foot route is available, hence preserving it’s natural beauty.


6) San Simeon – Hearst Castle/Elephant Seal Lookout

San Simeon itself is very flat with very little around, but it does have it’s own charm. Tucked away in the mountains is Hearst Castle, built by William Randolph Hearst and now a National Historic Landmark. Hearst would entertain the rich and famous here including Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Winston Churchill. Keep an eye out for the zebras!

Just North of the Hearst Ranch is Elephant Seal lookout. If you’ve ever wanted to witness wild Elephant seals this would be the place to do it. The entirety of this beach is occupied by the seals and if you listen closely you can even spot who’s having the fight!


7) Pismo Beach – Butterfly Grove

“clam capital of the world” Pismo Beach is home to some stunning beaches and wildlife. If visiting from October through to February check out the Monarch butterfly grove, which is home to Monarch butterflies seeking shelter from the northern winters.


8) Malibu – Malibu Pier/Paradise Cove

One of the most famous sections of the Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu is home to not only some of the biggest celebrities but the most famous beaches too. Two of my favourite spots in Malibu are the pier, where you can get amazing views of the coastline. The other, Paradise Cove Beach. Paradise Cove Cafe is a little spot north of the pier, and a great place to grab breakfast or lunch while relaxing in the California sunshine.

9) Santa Monica

Santa Monica has a lot to offer, whether it be shopping, beaches or restaurants. Check out the famous Santa Monica pier and take a ride on the big wheel or stand where the Route 66 officially ends. The pier offers several dining options with a view, for more dining choices check out the 3rd Street Promenade.

10) San Diego

With so much to explore in San Diego you’ll need to spend your time wisely. I was here for 3 days and only scratched the surface of what this beautiful city offers. In my three days here I experienced some things that even money can’t buy. My favourite? Watching the most incredible sunset I think I’ve ever witnessed!

This amazing sunset made for a great backdrop for the tall ships along San Diego’s harbour. These tall ships and the soviet submarine make up the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the biggest collection of historic sea vessels within the United States.

Chilling in a Soviet Submarine

Further up along the Harbour is the Iconic “Unconditional Surrender” statue, based on the famous photo taken of a sailor and nurse after the surrender of Japan during the Pacific War.

What are your favourite places to visit along the California coast?