One of our favorite drives EVER is along the Highway 1 in California. The dramatic coastline spans from Southern Cali to Northern Cali, and every turn, twist, and bend offers a new picture-perfect view. It’s one of those drives you shouldn’t take when you’re in a hurry. Quite frankly, we recommend you do it with little-to-no plans! We recently went on a short weekend trip to Monterey County, and spent a day meandering up and down the 1 from Monterey to Big Sur. We probably stopped 20 times in a matter of hours - there was too much to see (and photograph)!!
Here’s a few of our favorite vantage points, and some photos to show why.
1. Soberanes Point and Soberanes Point Trail
This was our first stop - and probably our favorite. As we cruised south out of the Camel Highlands, the landscapes started to change, and we were antsy to turnoff at the first available spot. Soberanes Point has a lookout up high, as well as a trail on the water, that will offer the jaw-dropping views you're looking for. We hiked up to the top of the mountain for an EPIC vantage point of the coastline. (Make sure you’re wearing comfortable hiking shoes, as exploring these trails can get a little intense.) We then hiked down to a lookout that was absolutely breathtaking. We watched as 10+ foot waves crashed along the cliffs, and marveled at the blue, unruly seas. It’s definitely not a coastline that’s conducive for swimming!
2. Rocky Creek Bridge
Just under a mile away from the famous Bixby Bridge, the Rocky Creek Bridge can easily be mistaken for it! Every bit as picturesque, this bridge is definitely worth the stop. You can climb down to the base for a photo op, and it’s usually less crowded than Bixby. It’s an architectural marvel, and absolutely stunning to see up close!
3. Bixby Bridge
The Bixby Bridge is world-famous, and we can see why. Not only is it one of the most photographed bridges in the world, it's been in TV shows (Pretty Little Lies), movies (Play Misty for Me), and video games (GTA)! Built in the 1930's, it's an architectural marvel- that will cause you to just sit and stare. We recommend parking and taking your time walking around. You can even cross the street and get some cool views from behind the bridge, and that's not a bad spot for a picnic! If you're really feeling daring, you can walk along the edge to the bench in the center of the bridge! Definitely not for the faint of heart, but worth it for the photo op!
4. Hurricane Point
Named for how windy it is up there, Hurricane Point is one of the highest points along Highway 1. From this spot you'll have incredible views in all directions. You'll even have a great view of Bixby Bridge (to the north) from this spot. Just be sure to hold on to your hat!
5. Pfeiffer Beach
We missed out on this one, because we got really hungry (See our blog on where to eat in Monterey to read more about Ventana Big Sur for lunch). This "secret" beach looks incredible, and we have in on top of our list for when we are back in the area. It's apparently a bit difficult to find, as there is no signage. It's a beautiful, unspoiled beach with the famous Key Hole rock, and apparently some purple sand (Purple?!?). We need to go back ASAP!
6. McWay Falls
Waterfalls are just plain cool. This one is no exception!! There's an easy trail that allows you to traverse along the cliffs, and gives you epic views and different perspectives for photos. On a sunny day the water is almost translucent it's so blue! Unfortunately you can't access the beach where the falls are located, but that makes it feel very untouched and rural. We recommend that you go early morning or late afternoon - we were there mid-day and the sun was too bright for a good photo of the waterfall, but still worth the stop. A MUST SEE on your drive! (Just look out for the signs... it can be easy to miss!)
These are just a few of our “must-stops”, but honestly EVERYWHERE you turn is breathtaking!! Take our advice and make a day out of this small (but mighty) stretch of California coastline. Next time we plan to pack a picnic and find a secluded spot along the cliffs that we can sit and enjoy the views. And best part is? It’s picture-perfect year round. We went in January and the weather was amazing!
This post was sponsored by Monterey County. All opinions expressed here are our own