There can be few finer driving experiences in the world than cruising along the West Coast of the United States, with enough time to take in the sights and stop at many of the fascinating attractions along the way. Travelling along the Pacific Coast Highway allows a tourist to do just that, and in fine weather is perhaps the best way to see the full expanse of the Californian coastline.
The first thing to understand, however, is that the ‘Pacific Coast Highway’ can describe a number of different routes and expanses of road. Sometimes, people who use this term are referring solely to California State Route 1, which runs approximately 1000 kilometres from Orange County to Mendocino County. On other occasions, the Pacific Coast Highway describes the full expanse of almost 2500 miles of road which covers most of the West Coast of the USA. The most classic definition, however, is that of the tourist route which stretches from San Diego in south California to Redwood National Forest in the north of the state.
Most tourists start in the south, which means a visit to San Diego, the eighth largest city in the United States. Often underestimated in comparison to Los Angeles and San Francisco, it offers a wide range of cultural and sporting activities, and is particularly blessed with beautiful beaches and wildlife. In particular, the first stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway offer a spectacular drive through Torrey Pines State Reserve to the right, and just above gorgeous beaches to the left. Amazing views of the Pacific continue for miles, and a tourist with time on their hands can drive slowly enough to take it all in during the two hours it will take to reach the outskirts of Los Angeles.
Of course, anyone who has ever seen a Hollywood movie or an LA based TV show will know all about the attractions of the City of Angels. Glorious beaches and magnificent skyscrapers greet any tourist who wants to stop off in this metropolitan area, although going into the city itself risks being caught up in almost perpetual traffic jams. Most will stick by the coast and continue along the Pacific, enjoying the changing scenery as the Pacific Coast Highway becomes even more spectacular. Most tourists consider this to be finest scenery on any road in the United States. A particular highlight can be found at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, which offers extraordinary hiking trails and wildlife viewing. The number of visitors to this area is subject to a strict daily limit, however, so make sure to time your trip to become one of the lucky few who can take full advantage of the park. Eventually, the highway rises all the way up into the cliffs of Big Sur, and continues to the beautiful city of Monterey in central California.
After Monterey, the Pacific Coast Highway continues for over 100 miles to San Francisco, where weary drivers can stop off to sample cuisines from all over the world, along with fine theatre, music, and sights such as Alcatraz Island. After that, the highway continues for several hundred more miles, all the way up to Crescent City and the Redwood State National Park. Here, nature-loving visitors can experience these most ancient and impressive of trees, and hike for miles under their canopy.
Overall, then, it can be seen that a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway takes in some of the best sights that the West Coast has to offer. Since it begins in San Diego and ends near several major towns, tourists have easy access to hire cars in order to be able to complete the journey without logistical difficulty. In contrast to some other countries, car rental US style is simple and commonplace, and often includes significant warranty and breakdown cover. This is important on the Pacific Coast Highway, given the variable climate and sometimes sparsely populated areas through which the route passes. Make sure that you choose your rental car with care, and you will be sure to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.