A while ago my family and I went on an amazing road trip down Highway 1. We started in Santa Cruz and slowly made our way down to Pismo Beach. Then on our way back we stopped at some pretty cool areas along the highway 1 coast. We stopped along the way in Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur. Hope this post inspires your next trip down the beautiful California coast.
We began our trip in California’s beautiful surf city, Santa Cruz. We spent about 3 days here and then headed off to our road trip.
When we first arrived in Santa Cruz we saw The Abbey, a cute hidden cafe. It was very cozy inside and it reminded me of something you’d find in a movie.
The Boardwalk is obvious must do. The rides are super fun and there are some great shops and eateries. They have roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, and a sky lift styled ride that gives you a view of the ocean and Santa Cruz. I would recommend going on it during the sunset (picture in right bottom corner). I also love the giant Diper
My favorite Pizza Places would be Pizza My Heart and South Beach Pizza. Pizza My Heart has a deal, $6 for a shirt and a slice of pizza. If you are planing on going to Pizza my Heart consider visiting the original in Capitola (just a few minutes away from Santa Cruz). South Beach Pizza was also really good and it is close to the boardwalk and beach.
Verve Coffee Shop is so cute and it’s located in a big shopping center so you can grab a cup to go for your errands.
I love Natural Bridges State Beach so much because it is not very crowded and way prettier than the main beach by the boardwalk. The sunset is absolutely incredible.
Gayle’s Bakery is actually in Capitola but don’t let that stop you from visiting. It’s so cute inside and offers delicious treats.
Explore~ I know, I say this on almost every one of my travel posts but it’s true. You can have the most fun while exploring and putting the map away. I found this funky blue and purple building and a trail by the beach.
We didn’t spend too much time in Monterey. We spent the night in Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa and then walked around Fisherman’s Wharf for a while.
Fisherman’s Wharf was so pretty! There are little tourist shops, candy stores, and restaurant’s along the wharf. Seals are always swimming around and you can see them playing and catching fish.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best of its’ kind. I love their jellyfish exhibit and also their tidal pools.
Monterey is beautiful during sunset.
Big Sur was my favorite part of this trip and one of my favorite places in California. It has one of the most beautiful coast lines in the World with amazing bridges, beaches and a waterfall. This is a great place for hiking and sight-seeing.
The drive was incredible along Hwy 1.
Loved the coast with my cousins from England!
There was a beach with tons of seals sleeping on the sand.
Bixby Bridge was so pretty and the view is gorgeous.
The bridge is a perfect stop to stretch your legs after a long ride.
Pfeiffer Beach aka purple sand beach! This has to be one of my favorite beaches in California. Its purple sand is stunning and I love its “caves”. Seals are also spotted on the beach quite often. It is a windy beach so if you plan on having a picnic (like we did), picnic on the hill part of the beach. We all ended up with actual sandwiches (haha). Also it is quite difficult to find this beach. There’s no sign for the beach until you get down to the sand. You turn down a small one-way street and the hill you drive down is pretty steep. It is a small fee of $10 for parking. This beach is beautiful and a must see.
There was a little stream leading into the ocean when you start walking to the beach.
These tidal pools were so cool!
Water was beautiful!
These caves were so amazing. The waves crashing through was so beautiful and peaceful. For any future visitors the best time to come is in the morning, when the tide is low so you can walk through the caves.
After Pfeiffer Beach we came to Nepenthe for lunch. The view from here is incredible, and the gift shop is super cute. It has beautiful postcards, cosmetics, candles, books, room/house decor, clothes, and more.
As you will soon be able to tell by the overload of photos, I absolutely love McWay Falls. I love it so much that I went back again after the first time on this trip. The picture above is 100% not edited, the water is actually that color! Sadly we are not allowed to go on the beach but the view from the top is amazing. There’s also a trail that you can start on that takes you along the Big Sur coast and ends at this beauty.
This cool tunnel was along the path.
The view from the path is incredible!
This was the trail, it was so pretty!
Took this polaroid of the falls!
We stopped by Ragged Point Inn and Resort because of the amazing views. They also had a mini gift shop and cafe. It was a nice spot to relax after a long car ride.
This big lawn is a great spot for a picnic.
The Portal to Big Sur
Big Sur’s coastline is beautiful!!!
That concludes gorgeous Big Sur, I assure you that Big Sur will definitely make a reappearance on my blog!
When we arrived to Pismo Beach we mainly just relaxed and hung out at the main beach and pool. It was super fun and relaxing!
We came to Carmel on the way back to see the sunset on the beach.
The sunset was beautiful and totally worth it!
I thought this mini “lake” looked like a spade in a deck of cards (haha).
After Carmel we drove back home, hope you enjoyed this post!
I got this postcard as a souvenir from this trip 🙂
Hope you enjoyed my highway 1 road trip!
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