California Route 1 - Big Sur to San Francisco

For the better part of a decade, the top slot on my travel bucket list has been partially held by California's famed Highway 1. The dream was to start in San Diego and work my way north, with stops at Torrey Pines, Disneyland, and Pebble Beach sprinkled in along the way. On our recent California adventure I accomplished one-third of this dream, and in my book, that's close enough for horseshoes.

The journey on Highway 1 was split into two sections. First, we spent a day working our way south to Big Sur from our home base in Pebble Beach. In the beginning, I was a little disappointed because Highway 1 appeared to be just that...a highway. From Monterey until somewhere around Point Lobos State Park, we traversed a four lane highway at speeds of up to 65 mph. A far cry from the narrow, winding, cliff-side road of my dreams. They tell me patience is a virtue....

California Highway 1
Now that's more like it!
California Highway 1
We just started...already time to stop...
California Highway 1
Yes, this will do...

California Highway 1
"Whoa, we're driving that way?"
California Highway 1
Stop #2 a full 3/4 after the first one
California Highway 1 Bixby Bridge
Crossing the Bixby Bridge
California Highway 1 Bixby Bridge
"Keep your eyes on the road, I'll take the pictures."
California Highway 1
One lane road ahead...weirdest red light ever.

It was right about here that MJ and I decided it was best to turn around and head back to Pebble Beach. My driving skills are questionable even under normal circumstances. Putting me behind the wheel on Highway 1 is like going to Vegas...If you play long enough, eventually the house wins.

Fast forward two days, and we were off on the second leg of our journey up Highway 1. According to Google Maps, the trip from Monterey to Yountville in Napa Valley should have taken about four hours. Given our propensity to pulling off for pictures ever 3/4 of a mile, we set aside an entire day for the trip, just in case...
California Highway 1 Scott Creek
California did well during the New Deal...Every bridge seemed to date to the 1930's
California Highway 1
Scott Creek flowing into the ocean
California Highway 1
Hey! Stop flying through my pictures!
California Highway 1
Random pull off...not sure where, but it was pretty.
California Highway 1
The canvas next to our car was a makeshift tent... Hippies...
 
California Highway 1
More awesomeness ahead
California Highway 1 Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Naturally the clouds came back when we reached Pigeon Point Lighthouse
There's also a hostel for you backpackers out there...
California Highway 1
Pescadero State Beach
California Highway 1
Another one I'm not sure of...Do you know what this place?

There was a short break in the action until we started to reach San Francisco. On our way into the city, I asked MJ to navigate us to The Olympic Club so that I could snap a photo of the gate. We did better than the gate...we just drove right in like we owned the place. 
Olympic Club San Francisco
2 US Open hosts in as many days...Not too shabby.

Rather than remain on Highway 1 into San Francisco, we decided to continue hugging the coast by turning onto Great Highway. This was an awesome stretch of coastal road, and a far better lead in to the city than a boring old interstate. 
California Highway 1
Top down on Great Highway
California Highway 1
MJ taking backwards photos...

After winding through the streets of San Francisco to get back on to Highway 1, it was time for the grand finale...a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. 
California Highway 1 Golden Gate
Naturally, it's fogged in
California Highway 1
"Hows the painting coming?"
California Highway 1 Golden Gate
MJ having fun...
California Highway 1 Golden Gate
See the reflection off my head? Sunshine!
California Highway 1 Golden Gate
"We feel your pain..That was us 4 days ago!"
California Highway 1
Farewell Golden Gate...until we meet again...

In the end, the four hour adventure up Highway 1 took us twice that, and I loved every minute of it. The old phrase "You have to see it to believe it" really is appropriate here. Photographs and words on paper can only go so far to describe the beauty of the California coast. To label Highway 1 a "Scenic Drive" might be the biggest understatement of all time. The fact is there aren't enough adjectives to fully capture it, so that's my queue to stop trying...

If You Go...
  • Get a convertible...It's the only way to fly
  • Stop for lunch in Half Moon Bay
  • Take advantage of the numerous pull-offs. 
  • Better yet...use them all...
Enjoy Your Stay