I love to travel, especially by car. It’s only appropriate that I share some of my favorite roads, and I’m going to start with one of the most beautiful coastal highways in the United States.
California State Route 1, formed in 1934, is perhaps one of the ultimate scenic highways. While this incomparably photogenic road stretches nearly 550 miles from Leggett to San Juan Capistrano, there is one particular area that you shouldn’t miss. It is an area known as the Big Sur Coast Highway, and it offers stunning panoramic views of lush, rugged terrain running adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. If you own a cabriolet or a roadster, this is the place to be.
The journey begins just south of Monterey, near Carmel Highlands. Folklore has it that the area was originally settled by Scottish sailors, who would have certainly noticed the uncanny resemblance which the terrain bears to coastal Scotland. Today, real estate in Carmel Highlands is among the most expensive in the United States, and it won’t take you long to figure out why.
If your car takes diesel, you’ll want to refuel in Monterey before starting your trip, as you won’t find much in the 95 miles between Carmel Highlands and Cambria. And, unless you have a satellite phone, you will also want to make all of your calls beforehand. Decent reception is nearly impossible to find on the Big Sur Coast Highway.
Although you wouldn’t want to take any calls while staring at such beautiful scenery, anyway, you will want to keep your eyes on the road. This stretch of Route 1 is a serpentine drive, occasionally without any barriers that would normally prevent you from finding yourself exploring the Pacific Ocean in a leaky submarine. That said, plenty of areas exist where you can pull off of the road for a better look, and I would recommend doing so frequently.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending a day or two exploring this area, as it’s likely that few other places in the United States — perhaps even around the world — are quite like it. This memorable and surreal journey ends as Route 1 heads inland near San Luis Obispo, where signs of civilization serve as a stark contrast to the pristine, relatively untouched beauty of Big Sur Coast Highway.