When it comes to America’s best road trips, it’s hard to beat the Pacific Coast Highway. Driving Highway 1 means hours cruising along stunning bluffs overlooking the Pacific, plus designated vista points for sparkling ocean views. And, of course, there are plenty of restaurants (Korean barbecue!), beaches (Santa Barbara!), and attractions (the Henry Miller Memorial Library!) along the way.
There's arguably something for everyone. For animal lover's there's the Elephant Seal Rookery at San Piedras Beach in San Simeon, where more than 15,000 elephant seals migrate every year. From the viewing platform, you can watch them all flop around in the sand. That's about the best roadside attraction there is.
For posh eaters, a restaurant along Big Sur offers a $55 prix fixe lunch menu and, perhaps more notably, what could be one of the most beautiful views on the planet. Further south, just outside of Santa Barbara, nosh on fish tacos, bao buns, and kimchi fries. In L.A., eat some of the best Korean barbecue in the United States, tasting pitch-perfect Waygu beef (grilled tableside, of course) and savory kimchee pancakes—all at a no-frills restaurant in a strip mall.
For those that love nightlife, hidden bars along the route serve inventive cocktails using high tech equipment and ingredients like coconut flakes and grapefruit sand. And in case you're tired of the speakeasy concept, keep in mind that one of L.A.'s newest offerings has an '80s theme and private karaoke rooms.
I recently hit the road with the mission of plotting out the best itinerary for a weekend trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Here’s my play-by-play guide, complete with stops for photos in Big Sur, antiques shopping in Solvang, and craft cocktails at one of L.A.’s newest speakeasies.
Looking to finally take that perfect California road trip? Read on.