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The Pacific Coast Highway, the most beautiful drive in America

Encompassing six hundred and fifty-five miles, the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most iconic roads in America. Astonishing cliffs, canyons, valleys, and breathtaking views reside on the most beautiful highway coastline in the United States. Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur are the names of some of the most famous stops along this spectacular drive down the coast. A trip of a lifetime and on many travel bucket lists.

No filters of any kind have been added to any of the photos we took on our trip.

Monterey, California is the perfect destination spot to start your exploration of the Pacific Coast Highway and the Monterey Peninsula. Venturing from Monterey to 17 Mile Road, to the winding roads of Carmel, the drive is mesmerizingly picturesque. Art lovers will not only enjoy the array of galleries but the charming streets that align the downtown areas of Monterey and Carmel. There are a variety of shops, wineries, and restaurants to please any palate while visiting. Only four miles apart, these cities are known as the quintessential starting point to drive the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH. Located around 122 miles south of San Francisco and 25 miles north of Big Sur, this area is conveniently situated to see some of the state’s most iconic landmarks.

Designated an All-American Road—among the nation’s most scenic—the drive encompasses both the Big Sur Coast Highway and the San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway. The route starts in historic Monterey, visits the art colony of Carmel, and threads through Big Sur, where mountains plunge into the Pacific.National Geographic

Our trip itinerary down the Pacific Coast starts in Monterey, where we begin our venture down the coast to Big Sur and onto our final destination, Los Angeles.

Our first stop, Monterey.

After stopping in the Monterey Country Visitors Bureau for a free map of the area’s destinations, we learned about some of the best tourist stops in the city. These included: Cannery Row for shopping and dining, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Lovers Point Beach, and exploring Fisherman’s Wharf.

17 Mile Road

Located on the Monterey Peninsula of California it winds around the Pacific Ocean and Pebble Beach Golf Course where you can view some of the most spectacular and opulent homes. Its entryway is right off the highway and charges a nominal fee to enter.

It is truly seventeen miles of perfection.

The stunning cliffs and coastlines of the area make viewing the sunset a start to a spectacular gaze into the night. Below, Del Monte Forest.

Carmel by the Sea: Our stop for the night as we venture down the Pacific Coast Highway. Only a four-mile drive from Monterey it leaves us plenty of time to explore this quaint town.

Cottage of Sweets photo by

Carmel is a one-mile village, but that mile is permeating with charm and magnificent views. Actor Clint Eastwood was the mayor from 1986-1988. More currently, his now ex-wife filmed the reality show Mrs. Eastwood & Company at their Carmel mansion.

Sunsets in Carmel.

Carmel by the Sea fun facts by

  1. Permit required to wear high heels (no citations are given).

  2. No street addresses (outside of downtown Carmel business district).

  3. No chain restaurants.

Carmel Art Association photo by

Featured Hotel: L’Auberge Carmel

We were excited to say at the luxurious L’Auberge Carmel. A hotel with all the desired amenities at a hotel, but the feel of a cottage.

L’Auberge Carmel is a full-service Relais & Châteaux property located in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea just blocks from the famed Carmel Beach.

Originally built in 1929, the historic hotel is known for its graceful architecture, personalized guest services, European-style and elegance. Original antiques from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, and floor heating in the bathrooms.

20 Newly Renovated, Luxurious Guest Rooms.

Your room reservation includes Aubergine’s Signature Breakfast at their restaurant or delivered to your room.

After visiting Monterey, 17 Mile and Carmel, we are excited to venture to Big Sur! We are up early to see the sunrise and hit the road. In just one day of traveling, we have seen the Pacific Coast Highway during the sunrise, the rain, and the sun. Here are some of the top spots to see in Big Sur down to Piedras Blancas.

Bixby Bridge

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Ragged Point

Elephant seals at Piedras Blancas

It has been a wonderful 48 hours exploring the coast of California. While we drove to Los Angeles, you can follow it all the way down to Leggett in Mendocino County where the PCH ends. We can definitely attest to the Pacific Coast Highway is the most scenic and beautiful road in America in our opinion. Buckle up, have your hands on 10 and 2, take it slow and enjoy the ride.

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