Best Stops on Highway 1

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1. Monterey

The entirety of Monterey is absolutely beautiful. It’s no wonder it captivated the mind of John Steinbeck and there’s no doubt that it will entrance you, too. Whether you stop for biking along the coast, shopping in the local town, or seeing the wonders of the Aquarium, Monterey will not disappoint.

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2. Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is an ideal stop for anyone, whether you are a family, a couple of friends, or a solo traveller. The shocking expanse of the property and incredible architecture mixed with the fascinating history of William Randolph Hearst makes this stop a must-see along your trip.

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3. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has more to offer than just beaches (although what they have are absolutely gorgeous). Stop by this town for a cup of coffee, boutique shopping, or great food before you continue on your road trip. And, if you have time, stop in at the Santa Barbara Mission for a refresher of your fourth-grade history class.

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4. Glass Beach

An incredible example of nature’s comeback to human waste, Glass Beach captures the attention of all who visit. Glass left from years and pounds of trash covers the shore of this beautiful beach, converted by the water into a spectacular sight and a harsh reminder of our ecological destruction.

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5. Point Arena Lighthouse

There’s something eternally mysterious and ephemeral about lighthouses. Point Arena is the quintessential lighthouse, the one you imagined when you read Virginia Woolf or when you hear coastal ghost stories. Stop by this lighthouse for some quiet contemplation (and beautiful views) before continuing on your way.

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6. Golden Gate Bridge

Easily one of the most iconic sights in all of California, the Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see stop along the way to your final destination. On a clear day, you can see the entirety of San Francisco, and it’s even more beautiful at night or at sunset. Take a walk along the bridge or just pull over and admire the view before continuing along the highway.

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7. Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is your classic beach town, but with a Northern California twist. Between the Boardwalk, the cute local shops and the wide variety of personalities, Santa Cruz stands out. If you do stop here, make sure to check out the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Boardwalk!

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8. McWay Waterfall

McWay Waterfall pours straight into the ocean and falls year-round so it’s always a good time to stop by and see this phenomenon! This 80-foot waterfall can be found in Big Sur and the parking lot is right off of Highway 1, so make a quick pit-stop and see this beautiful sight.

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9. Morro Rock

Morro Rock is what is called a volcanic plug, or a remnant of a once active volcano and protrudes into the Pacific Ocean from the shore. Sea lions, otters, and seals can often be seen hanging around the tied island. I highly recommend taking a break from the bustle and noise of cars and industrialization and admire the miracles nature has to offer.

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10. Monarch Butterfly Grove

Located in Pismo Beach, this incredible sight is open from November through February, so now is the perfect time to see the thousands of butterflies. Right off of Highway 1, this sight provides a sanctuary for the endangered species to come in hordes and is an absolutely incredible thing to witness.

Geneva Gist