California Highway 1 – San Diego to San Francisco

California Highway 1 – San Diego to San Francisco

June 12-15, 2022

After a few days in San Diego, it was time to start our journey up the west coast of the USA all the way from San Diego to Seattle. The shortest route you can drive between the two cities is about 1,250 miles but we made a number of detours to visit sights and see friends along the way and drove around 2,100 miles on this leg of the trip.

The first section was along one of the most famous scenic drives in the world, The Pacific Coast Highway (California Highway 1). We spent three days on the 535 mile journey enjoying mile after mile of beautiful coastline including the 100 mile section known as Big Sur. We were rewarded on the drive with great scenery, beautiful beaches plus lots of wildlife and birdlife, coastal towns, historical buildings and museums and we also made a slight detour for a wacky tourist attraction!

Paradise Cove

We decided not to stop in Los Angeles on this trip having visited when we were on holiday in 2013. However, we couldn’t resist stopping at the aptly named Paradise Cove for dinner. If you drive just past Malibu there is a beautiful beach where the lovely Paradise Cove Beach Cafe is located. We had visited when we stayed in Santa Monica and Jo just had to check if the ginormous seafood platter she had then was as large or as good as the last time she had it. The presentation was not quite as impressive but it tasted spectacular!

Morro Bay

One of the loviest spots we discovered on our travels in the US was Morro Bay; a picturesque seaside town overlooking a lovely harbour. The town is dominated by Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic mound, and there is lots of wildlife to spot including cute sea otters, sea lions and lots of birdlife. We met some friendly locals and enjoyed the restaurants and bars (Richard enjoyed the bars a little too much as was evident the next day!). We stayed at the lovely Harbour House Inn.

Beautiful Morro Bay – overlooking Morro Rock

Hearst Castle and the Big Sur

After a wonderful afternoon and evening in Morro Bay we continued up the coast. Richard was really suffering from his overindulgence in Morro Bay’s bars but Jo was fine so she took the wheel for the drive to Hearst Castle and along Big Sur. In fact, Richard slept through a portion of one of the world’s most beautiful scenic drives! Still, Jo had a great day driving the coastal road and visiting the magnificent Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle was built on the top of a hill with beautiful views down to the coast. The architecture is ornate and Mediterranean in style with Moorish influences and the castle and surrounding buildings are filled with antiquities and art from around the world. It was commissioned by William Randolf Hearst and saw many social events with a guest list of Hollywood stars during the roaring twenties and into the 1930s. On a very hot day, Jo exercised incredible willpower by not jumping into the fabulous swimming pool. A visit to Hearst Castle is highly recommended.

The Mystery Spot

As well as visiting museums and galleries and experiencing culture and art, there are lots of wacky tourist attractions around and we visited one or two on our travels! The Mystery Spot is situated in a forest on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. The site is known as a gravity hill; an optical illusion where a slight downward slope appears to be an upward slope thereby defying gravity. The Mystery Spot is full of fun experiences which confuse and confound your eyes and brain.

Richard climbing the wall!

Later that day, we arrived in San Francisco which would be our home for the next 12 nights.

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