Now this may not sound like much of a vacation. But for those who crave the open road, there is no route more scenic than the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH1) from San Francisco to Orange County to arrive at #3 on the list of top 10 places to visit in the US. Any time of the year this drive is gorgeous.
A forewarning is this: if you can avoid driving south from San Francisco on Saturday morning or returning that way on Sunday afternoon, you will save the family a lot of stress. Plan around this because it is the great escape to venture toward Santa Cruz for a weekend splash and the one-lane highway is heavily backed up during these times.
Other than that, get out your road map. There is much to see. Going south from San Francisco you can plan your route. Santa Cruz has a great beach in the town with a pier and many restaurants and eating establishments. If you want something more tranquil, try Davenport. This will be well before you reach Santa Cruz. The Point Reyes National Seashore is definitely a stop to make, if not to spend the night at the hostel at the light house.
If you want a historic, quaint and artsy sensation, then you will want to explore Half-Moon Bay. There are plenty of little refurbished houses that are now hotels. Everything on this route is convenient for the driver.
Monterey Bay is a lovely place to stop with a must-see aquarium. From here to Carmel are wonderful places to enjoy a pic-nic or a stroll along the cliffs. There are a few light houses to spot along the way as well.
One site not to miss with all its wildlife and wonder is Big Sur. One could easily spend a few days here alone taking in the fabulous sights. This includes the Elephant Seals that come on shore at the Ano Nuevo State Reserve.
These spots are ideal for walking out to tide pools and spotting sea life-like crabs and starfish, sea anemones and seals. Be sure to look for dolphins and whales as you meander down the coast.
The Pacific Coast Highway offers nearly 500 miles of activity and options from camping to surfing, swimming, collecting sea shells, strolling. There are plenty of facilities available when you need to take a break. It will make for an unforgettable vacation. The drive really is a pleasant make-up of sights and smells of the sea changing with each wind of the road with cliffs and crashing waves against sand and rock and reef.
by Jori Sams