San Francisco doesn’t need much introduction. Every single person traveling to California wants to visit San Francisco before heading down south to Los Angeles. However, northern California has so much more to offer besides its most famous city. There are so many things to see around that it’s hard to plan a good Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary.
Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary & more
I suggest that if you fly in, get yourself a nice hotel in San Francisco for a day or two. That way you can explore the city, before heading on your California coast road trip. Trust me, California has a lot to offer! This California ultimate road trip takes an awesome routes and provides an ultimate Californian road trip, filled with adventures and good food.
If you ever find yourself on the way to Sacramento you should definitely stop at the Monticello Dam, technically known as the Glory Hole. When the dam reaches capacity, the spillway swallows water at a rate of 48,800 cubic feet per second, emptying about 700 feet away through an enormous concrete pipe. Daring skateboarders have been known to use the exit of the spillway as a ramp in the dry season.
Yosemite doesn’t need much of an introduction. This National Park located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains can easily be seen on a one day trip from San Francisco, but I highly recommend staying overnight. I’m not a big hiker myself, but I loved my visit. I started my journey from a run down a hill to see the giant sequoias, proceeding to a dry river, and finally watching climbers reach the peak of El Capitan rock. There’s just so much to do in Yosemite, so stay in a lodge overnight to slowly walk around and spend some time face to face with nature. Just don’t get killed by a giant pine nut falling from a tree.
Half Moon Bay
Unless you’re from California you have probably never heard of Half Moon Bay. Before I moved to California and dated a guy from the Bay Area I didn’t either. It’s a great place for a day trip or luxurious weekend getaway for eating lobster and chowder. Luxury travelers might find their spot at the Ritz-Carlton while going horse riding at a ranch nearby, however there are plenty of other hotels around to choose from.
Famous for its wine, Napa Valley is a must-see stop on your trip to California. I must say that I felt slightly confused while researching different wineries as they’re not as close to each other as I thought they would be. The most popular attraction is a wine train that takes you around the area while giving you some great wines to taste, but since I wanted to do something a little bit less touristy I went to visit some wineries on my own. Yum!
Carmel is a little town with so much character. The houses have no numbers, and each is called something fun and unique. You can find a frog house, a sand castle house, and a cracker box. However, that’s not the only thing that made me think Carmel is a charming place. You know I love animals and seeing otters swimming near the shore was amazing! Not as cool as actually swimming with otters near San Diego, but still worth a visit!
If you’re in Carmel and want to see more wildlife you should definitely hike to Point Lobos. The trails are easily walkable and the tide pools let you get an up-close-and-personal experience with sea urchins, starfish, lichens, and multiple varieties of crabs. You can stop for a picnic at one of the tables, so don’t forget to bring snacks and wine!
If you’re a big fan of garlic like me you just cannot skip the world capital of garlic! Gilroy is a tiny town that became famous because of its garlic production . Even if you’re just passing this town on the highway you can still smell its lovely aroma. If you’re lucky you might even make it for the annual garlic festival during the summer. A quick stop to buy some pickled garlic is a must! Look around as there are a lot of artichokes in nearby towns and you might stumble upon an artichoke truck selling fried hearts! I can eat those every day!
17 Mile Drive
The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in California. The shores of Monterey are absolutely breathtaking with many scenic points along the way like China Rock and the Lone Cypress. Although the Lone Cypress Tree is one of the most famous trees ever to be photographed, you just have to take a picture with it, it’s been hanging around for 250 years and the view is just amazing!
You have to pay $10 at the start of the drive, because part of it serves as the main road through the gated community of Pebble Beach. You’re given a map of stops along the way that are great lookout points or have some historical significance. However, let me tell you that’s well worth it. Also a great place if you want to do some golfing.