Recommended Stops On The PCH

Point Mugu State Park, California

February 23, 2021

I found this article on the Internet -- which I still IC. Thought it provided a good checklist of places for me to visit over the next few weeks:

I have driven the entirety of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in California twice and many sections multiple times. One of the questions I am most often asked is, “What is the best place to stop along Pacific Coast Highway?” This question led to the creation of this post, in which you can learn about some of my favorite stops below.

24 Best Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) Stops

Here are my twenty five favorite stops on PCH from south to north. Click on the image to learn more about the stop.

Queen Mary This historic boat right in the harbor of Long Beach is a must stop as it has been wonderfully preserved to keep the boats history.

Venice Beach ✔️

One of my favorite spots for people watching, this boardwalk and beach is a crazy area to explore for a few hours.

Point Dume ✔️ (Partial credit - I was at the beach)

One of the most beautiful places in all of Southern California, the small hike up to Point Dume is not something you will quickly forget.

Point Mugu State Park ✔️

This state park has a lot of nice hiking, especially for a Southern California. Check out the Sycamore Canyon trail for amazing views.

McConnell’s Ice Cream While all of State St is fun, especially for shoppers, McConnell’s ice cream is a spot I stop at on pretty much every road trip through the area.

La Purisima Mission State Park This is a fantastic example of California’s mission history. The mission here is wonderfully recreated and it gives you a great taste of early California life.

Monarch Butterfly Grove When the butterflies are actually here (Nov – Jan) this spot can’t be beat. There are literally tens of thousands of butterflies in this small grove.

Pismo Beach / Splash Cafe The boardwalk and beach here are beautiful. Add to that the surfer culture and the amazing clam chowder at Splash Cafe and you have an easy recommendation.

Madonna Inn This eclectic hotel is my favorite spot to stay on PCH. Every room is different and the men’s bathroom has a fountain urinal.

Morro Rock Morro Rock is overpowering and beautiful when you head up PCH near Morro Bay. This is a great spot to watch the sunset or to kayak in the bay.

Hearst Castle Most people know what Hearst Castle is but it truly is a unique spot to visit and one that is easy to recommend. It will take at least a half day but you will be blown away by it all.

McWay Waterfall California’s waterfall that falls directly onto the beach has been seen in photos all over the world, so you should make a point to stop at it.

Pfeiffer State Beach This may be my favorite beach in all of California. It has a massive rock with an arch, purple sand when it rains and a small parking lot that always makes it feel secluded.

Bixby Bridge One of the most photogenic spots on PCH, Bixby Bridge will take your breath away. It is a quick stop but one you will remember.

Monterey Aquarium Probably the best aquarium in the entire United States, Monterey Aquarium has so much to look at you will be overwhelmed, in a good way

Giant Dipper Roller Coaster Right on the Santa Cruz boardwalk, this fantastic old wooden roller coaster from 1924 is something that you really should ride while driving up PCH.

Natural Bridges State Beach Santa Cruz has a lot of great spots and great food places, but Natural Bridges State Park is one of my favorites by far. This beach has a beautiful rock arch about 20 feet out in the water and is a great spot for sunset.

Palace of Fine Arts European architecture in the heart of San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts is one of my favorites spots for photography in the city.

Golden Gate Bridge What do I really need to say about this bridge? Of course you have to visit it while on PCH as it is one of the most iconic spots in all of California.

Muir Beach Overlook Another often skipped but yet beautiful quick stop, this overlook provides an awesome birds-eye view of the coastline.

Hog Island Oyster Company If you like oysters then you don’t need any more information, if you don’t like them then you need to try them here, fresh out of the water and mind-blowing good.

Point Arena Lighthouse This 60 foot tall lighthouse right out on the cliffs is a great spot for views and for learning more about the lighthouses that used to dot the California coastline.

Glass Beach The beach where people threw trash and the ocean turned that trash into smooth pieces of glass. It is a crazy spot to see.

Chandelier Drive Thru Tree Right where PCH ends is the Chandelier Drive Thru Tree in the town of Leggett. No trip down Highway 1 is complete without a photo of your car going through it.

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