By Buddy Blouin

You can find plenty of great road trips to take throughout the United States but the Pacific Coast Highway just might be the most breathtaking. This California gem isn’t just popular because of tradition but offers stunning views of a beautiful coastline with each mile. If you’re stationed in the Golden State, grab a few friends, pile up on snacks, and get ready for a fun adventure. Here are five can’t-miss locations to enjoy on your Highway 1 California road trip.

1. Look in Awe at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

San Diego is going to be a part of your journey and no Highway 1 California road trip is complete without appreciating the 2,000 acres found at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

Just off Highway 1, you’ll find a picturesque SoCal coastline that is near and dear to locals and visitors far and wide alike.

The coolest part about the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is that while you’re still near San Diego’s city attractions, you are also accessing premier hiking trails that offer over 8 miles of trail exploration.

2. Catch the Surf and Vibes at Huntington Beach

No road trip on California Highway 1 is complete without spending some time in Huntington Beach.

Earning the well-deserved nickname of Surf City, you can bet that there are plenty of waves and vibes to catch throughout the town.

Even if you aren’t paddling out, there are ample opportunities to enjoy other beach activities, including volleyball, bicycling, or simply walking down the coast.

Your California Highway 1 road trip map should include Huntington Beach, even if it’s just to refuel. There are plenty of shops and delicious restaurants where you can restock for the drive ahead.

3. Take a Short Hike at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

While all of Big Sur should be a focal point of your California Highway 1 road trip, we wanted to provide special attention to the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

You won’t have any problems finding places to hike while along the PCH Highway; however, the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park may just be the most rewarding opportunity with the lowest amount of energy to receive it.

The views you can see of McWay Falls don’t take long to get to and if you journey a bit further, the mile-round trip along the Partington Cove Trail even provides you with a haunting tunnel and unique beach.

Always plan ahead, as Mother Nature waits for no one. Some trails may be closed due to erosion and weather, so always check the park’s closures online before you set out on your adventure.

4. Discover or Rediscover San Francisco

Everything from the expected to the surprising can be found in San Francisco. So much so, that even if you’ve been several times before, you’re sure to discover something new to fall in love.

Home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than almost any other city in the U.S., you can also find mouthwatering dishes at humble locations offering a wide variety of cuisine.

Getting lost in Chinatown is a great way to experience a plethora of cultures all in one place.

Of course, the City by the Bay also provides plenty of military history, Victorian architecture, museums, the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf, and plenty of nightlife activities.

This is just part of what makes San Francisco such a great place to visit.

As if Maitais, mouthwatering Asian flavors, and a variety of entertainment options weren’t enough, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge is an essential part of any California Highway 1 road trip itinerary.

5. Dine in Mendocino

When you find yourself on the northern portion of your California Highway 1 road trip, you’ll want to take some time to explore Mendocino, specifically, its food scene.

No California Highway 1 road trip guide would be complete without mentioning this quaint beach town offering eclectic shops, and delicious eateries, including Flow, which offers guests a stunning view while they dine.

Nearby towns and areas close to Mendocino offer plenty of nearby recreation and camping to round out your Highway 1 California road trip or jumpstart your journey with a mix of activities and flavors.

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