For the ultimate road trip, take the Pacific Coast from SF to LA this fall. Try an eclectic mix of activities year-round and off the beaten path after you see San Francisco. Here are the 5 top stops on the route of famed Highway 1 in California.
San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Take Hwy 1 south through Half Moon Bay, Moss Beach, and see some of the famed surfing beaches like Mavericks, as well as those known only to locals. Half Moon Bay’s chowder houses, Pumpkin Festival, and brewhouses make it a delightful destination on your way to hippie-chic Santa Cruz. Fall and winter are generally sunny on the coastline here, and you can roll into Santa Cruz with the top down. Hit the Boardwalk for an authentic roller coaster ride on the famed Big Dipper. Sleep in a lighthouse along the coast, or do some whale watching.
Santa Cruz to Monterey Peninsula / Big Sur. Passing down Hwy 1 through Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove and Big Sur you’ll be struck by some of the most dramatic and compelling scenery in the world. Stop at Point Lobos for world-class hiking overlooking hidden beaches. Stop in rustic ranchland at Paso Robles, close to historic San Luis Obispo. Take a detour to stunning, tiny Avila Beach, a charming hidden destination for waterfront dining. Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach is an exclusive and historic spa dating from 1897. Tucked away in a remote valley, its charms are legendary among savvy travelers. Balcony hot tubs, a spa, and massages are just a few of the delightful amenities.
Monterey to Solvang. This quaint village has been recognized by Sunset magazine as one of the “Ten Most Beautiful Small Towns in the Western United States.” Settled by Danish immigrants, it retains its old world charm in the heart of the famed Santa Maria vineyard region. Wine tasting is special in the old world milieu and locations you’ll recognize from the hit comedy ‘Sideways’ filmed here in 2004. The Wine Valley Cottages and Inn is a boutique hotel that offers a quiet retreat from the central tourist area of Solvang. This small property has gardens and a koi pond, plus fireplaces in every room. In May, see the nearby Paso Robles Wine Festival.
Solvang to Claremont. The home of California’s most prestigious small universities is close to LA, with tree-lined streets in the picturesque downtown area. Hotel Casa 425 invites attention with its private courtyard, spa and quiet elegance away from the busy central district. Romantic balconies, fountains and outdoor firepits offer ambiance just east of filmstar hideaway, culture-filled Pasadena.
Claremont to Santa Monica. Minutes away from LA’s bustle, enjoy the rugged coastline and superb views at Santa Monica. The Huntley Hotel bills itself as ‘an oasis of understated contemporary elegance and comfort amidst the hustle and bustle’ of Santa Monica, and indeed it is. Its low-key, award-winning SoCal elegance is refreshing, understated and serene. Oceanfront views, suites and even a penthouse add to the high-end ambiance. For the ultimate LA experience, there is a private chauffeur service in a Maserati QuattroPorte. Nearby Sandstone Peak is the crown jewel of the Santa Monica Mountains, breathtaking by day, and even better by night. Plan a serene getaway in the midst of SoCal at the Huntley, a hotel lauded by Architectural Digest.