There’s nothing like a well-planned road trip, and one of the of the best places to explore the United States and enjoy the open road is California’s iconic 735-mile stretch of Highway 1.
There are so many things to see, do and eat along this gorgeous coastal road. If you’re considering a Highway 1 road trip, here are 12 fantastic places to stop along the way.
1. Aliso Beach Park in Laguna Beach
The Aliso Beach County Park is a beautiful destination to visit. There is a large, off-street parking area right next to Highway 1, making the beach very easy to access. With a grassy park nearby, a kids play area, restrooms, fire rings and an excellent long beach, it attracts lots of families. The park also draws many body surfers, skim boarders and others water sport enthusiasts because it’s known to sometimes have fairly rough waves.
2. Bear Flag Fish Company
Located at Newport Beach, Bear Flag Fish Company is known for their amazing fish sandwiches made with only the freshest catches. The very popular restaurant has rave reviews and a bright, beachy interior, making it the perfect spot to stop for lunch during your Highway 1 road trip.
3. The Surfers’ Hall of Fame
The Surfers’ Hall of Fame at Huntington Beach honors legends of surfing in a unique way—by immortalizing their handprints, footprints and signatures in the sidewalk in front of Huntington Surf & Sport. It’s kind of like a beach version of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
4. Manhattan Beach Pier
If you’re looking for a glimpse into the SoCal culture, Manhattan Beach is the place to take it in. Here you’ll find great shopping and award-winning restaurants with well known chefs. If you have kids, they might enjoy a visit to the Roundhouse Aquarium at the end of the historic Manhattan Beach Pier.
5. Shore Hotel
Nestled between Santa Monica’s downtown area and the beach, Shore Hotel boasts a contemporary look with a fun, coastal feel. The boutique hotel’s 164 rooms and suites will give you that California vibe with bright colors and views of the Santa Monica Pier.
6. Westward Beach
Bordered by gorgeous sandstone bluffs, this breathtaking beach is another must-see. While you’re there, make sure to also take a hike up to the point and down the staircase to Dume Cove, which is a secluded area with a scenic view.
7. Channel Islands National Park
Preserving a wealth of natural and cultural resources, Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment. It’s a wonderful place to experience coastal southern California by cruise or catamaran.
8. Santa Barbara Shellfish Company
Skip the fancy restaurants and head to this locally owned shack for some of the best food around. Items on the menu include lobster tacos, calamari sandwiches and a house speciality, cioppino.
9. Lompoc Wine Ghetto
Formerly known as the flower-seed capital of the world, Lompoc is now earning a reputation for having some of California’s best wines. Located in an industrial park, Lompoc Wine Ghetto is a great place to sample some of the finest varietals. With 20 tasting rooms, you’re sure to come out having sipped of some of the region’s best wine—and probably a little buzz.
10. Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle, the famous estate of William Randolph Hearst, consists of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, pools, terraces and walkways is filled with rich history and a legendary art collection.
11. Deetjens Big Sur Inn
Kick up your feet and relax in a comfortable rustic room on the edge of the redwood forest. With 20 cabins and rooms crafted by Norwegian immigrant Helmuth Deetjan in the 1930s, Deetjens Big Sur Inn is a memorable place to spend the night after a fun-filled day on the open road.
12. Point Lobos
Point Lobos is classified as a natural reserve, but is also many things to many people, including a place to see beautiful scenery, learn about nature as well as snorkel or scuba dive. And, it’s known to have some of the grandest views in the state of California.