Take to one of the most scenic drives in the world on a Pacific Coast Highway holiday. Journey along white sand beaches and stretches of wild coastline, sample delicious fresh produce and local wines, and wander sunny cities and small surfing towns; it’s exactly what California is all about.
Technically speaking, you could drive the length of the Pacific Coast Highway in a day, but why would you want to? This is a route that’s meant to be taken slowly, with time to really explore the route’s bustling cities, like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, and get lost in the charm of quaint towns, like Morro Bay, Cambria and San Simeon. There’s also sun-soaked vineyards to tour and fine wines to sample as the Highway takes you through world-renowned wine country.
Pacific Coast Highway: A Road Full of Beaches
Driving along 600 miles of coastline, you’ll find more than a fair share of breathtaking beaches. Between Carmel and San Simeon, in Monterey County’s Big Sur region, the mountains on one side of the highway give way to a wild and rugged coastline on the other. Here, lesser known trails lead you to remote and secluded beaches like Fuller’s Beach, known only to dedicated surfers. Head a few hours south and you’ll find the charming beach town of Pismo Beach, a gateway to the stunning turquoise waters of the San Luis Obispo County coastline. Further south still lies Orange County, scattered with beach towns like Huntington Beach, where incredible waves beg to be surfed and beachfront restaurants boast delicious food.
The Pacific Coast Highway was made for multi centre holidays, but, of course, you don’t have to stick to the coast. Why not combine your Pacific Coast Highway holiday with a trip further inland? Discover the glamour of Palm Springs, or explore the natural wonders of Yosemite National Park.
Great sample itineraries
With so many incredible stops to make along the way, the world’s your oyster when it comes to Pacific Coast Highway holidays. Take a look at some of our sample itineraries and give us a call so we can plan your perfect trip.
San Francisco, Pismo Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego Multi Centre
Pacific Coast Highway Motorcycle Tour
Explore Pacific Coast Highway
From the epic Big Sur to Mediterranean-style Santa Barbara, the central California Coast offers you picturesque seaside towns, jagged sea cliffs, hidden coves and vineyards of rolling hills just waiting to be explored.
Pacific Coast Highway 1
Drive this beautiful coastal-hugging road from San Francisco to Los Angeles while you stop off at stunning lookout points, discover hidden coves and beach towns, look for sea otters and other marine life from the shore or even get up close at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
As well as the long golden sands of beaches such as Pismo or Ventura to name a few; the crashing surf has created rugged but beautiful sea cliffs that stretch along the Pacific Coast, however this means there are many hidden coves and beaches to explore.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Located right at the ocean's edge, Monterey Bay Aquarium is a fun day out for all ages. Head to the penguin enclosure at feeding time, watch the playful sea otters, learn about what hides among the rocky shores and be mesmerised by the jellyfish.
Visit Elephant Seal Beach
Stretching out over 6 miles of beach, the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery is well worth a visit. The best viewing areas are located in San Simeon, around 5 miles north of Hearst Castle State Historical Monument. Peak season is December through March but they come to the beaches year round - even if you can't see them, you will definitely hear them.
- Best Weather
- Good Weather
- Average Weather
Average Weather in January
Average Weather in February
Average Weather in March
Average Weather in April
Average Weather in May
Average Weather in June
Average Weather in July
Average Weather in August
Average Weather in September
Average Weather in October
Average Weather in November
Average Weather in December
"If you're thinking of driving the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, opt for doing it north to south. The weather will generally be better as you go and you'll be driving on the ocean side of the road so you get the best views. Also think of stopping off at Solvang. Halfway between Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, it's a little slice of Denmark in the heart of the Golden State - quite unexpected but hugely enchanting."
"Check out Cayucos State Beach for a charming little beach town. Pick up some fresh baked cookies from Brown Butter Cookie Co. and relax on the large stretch of sandy beach."
Pebble Beach Food & Wine
This luxury epicurean event sees celebrated chefs and sommeliers gather at Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula to host cooking demonstrations, renowned dining experiences, wine tastings, food sampling and wine and spirit seminars. Unfolding over 4 days each April, the Pebble Beach Food & Wine event is the pinnacle of indulgence.
Monterey Jazz Festival
For two days and three nights in September, the Monterey Jazz Festival sees thousands gathering to delight in wonderful jazz music. Across the event, hundreds of musicians perform to crowds on eight stages spread over the Monterey County Fair and Event Center. There’s also great food, international shopping, exhibitions and children's activities, with exclusive hospitality experiences available as well.
Taste of Carmel
The Taste of Carmel event gives visitors and locals the chance to come together and enjoy a sample of incredible wines from the Monterey County area while they sample food from some of the best local restaurants. Hosted for one night by the Carmel Mission Courtyard, the event also features live music, culinary experiences and a silent auction.
Though you’ll find incredible taco stands all along the Pacific Coast Highway, San Diego is the real hot spot known for its fish tacos, where a Mexican influence can be seen all around. Fresh seafood is fried up and, along with delicious accompaniments like avocado, pico de gallo, cabbage, cheese and crema, is wrapped up in a fresh tortilla.
From Morro Bay to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, the villages, towns and cities along the Pacific Coast Highway are generously scattered with seafood shacks and restaurants serving up delicious creamy Clam Chowder.
Types of Pacific Coast Highway holidays
You might also like these
We think you might also like to take a look at these destinations. If you'd like some advice, our Destination Specialists will be able to find something that is right for you.
There’s no question too small. Start planning your dream trip by talking to our Destination Specialists.
Sign up to our newsletter
Receive the latest travel inspiration and destination news.
How we tailor make your holiday
The Hayes & Jarvis Way
We've been tailor making holidays for 65 years. With over 60 destinations to choose from, talk to us and we'll listen to your travel ideas to create unforgettable holiday experiences.