California’s Highway 1 is full of twists and turns, epic views, and can’t-miss pitstops. This portion from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco (270 miles)is one of our favorites.
Start: San Luis Obispo
Drive 47 miles to Hearst Castle for a guided tour. Afterward, elephant seals await at the nearby beach, where you can take a deep breath before the Big Sur stretch. The undulating road was created to link isolated communities and expedite the rescue of shipwreck victims.
Pitstop at Nepenthe (65 miles from Hearst Castle), a primo lunch spot perched 800 feet above the Pacific and renownded for its filet mignon and triple-berry pie. Down the road is the Henry Miller Memorial Library.
Check in to a cabin at Glen Oaks Big Sur (4.3 miles from Nepenthe; rates start at $225) and stroll past the coastal redwoods at dusk.
Continue on day two to Monterey Bay Aquarium (31 miles from last stop) and the Giant Dipper roller coaster on the Santa Cruz Beach Board walk (45 miles).
Finish your drive in San Francisco at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge (78 miles).