California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route
Driving down California’s iconic Highway 1 in a shiny convertible,
taking in gorgeous views of the Pacific while feeling the sun’s golden glow makes an idyllic getaway. This legendary roadway along the coastal wonderland takes you past charming beachfront towns and seaside cafes where you can inhale the fresh ocean air, with plenty of spots to pull over, get out and soak up the splendor.
Starting in San Francisco, it’s a two-hour drive south, past dramatic cliffs with breaking waves, to Carmel. This seaside enclave with fairy tale cottages, long a favorite of artists, offers a quaint village with galleries, voguish boutiques, wine bars, excellent eateries and a beautiful beach. I can’t think of a better way to experience Carmel’s natural beauty than the waterfront walkway. This 3.5-mile pathway follows the bluff at the back of the beach winding along the ocean with views from Pebble Beach to Point Lobos. It runs to Carmel River State Beach where tide pools, pelicans and cormorants await. If you want to feel the white sand under your toes, the Scenic Bluff Path offers several access points to the pretty beach below. Whether you walk the whole thing, just pop onto a section or take a sunset stroll, benches make it easy to stop along the way and enjoy splendid ocean views.
The 90-mile stretch of unspoiled coastline south of Carmel called Big Sur, is the most photographed section of Highway 1 with twisty curves, majestic sea cliffs, beautiful wildflowers, ancient redwoods and misty forests. The stark natural beauty of this rugged wilderness where the San Lucia Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean has been called “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world.”
Luxurious resorts like the Post Ranch Inn, with striking panoramas of the Pacific, make a great base to explore the region’s natural wonders. This 5-star stunner features breathtaking clifftop views and 40 visually impressive rooms including tree houses, circular suites with glorious ocean vistas and secluded one- and two-bedroom houses. Sierra Mar, their excellent restaurant is offering a New Lunch Experience: a prix-fixe menu ($75/per person) where both guests and visitors can savor tastiest California/ Mediterranean cuisine high atop the cliffs of Big Sur. www.postranchinn.com
Riding through Big Sur, you’ll see pullouts like Bixby Bridge and plenty of spots marked ‘scenic viewing point’ where you can take in the magic. Marvel at migrating whales, harbor seals, sea otters, endangered California Condors and monarch butterflies. I could live here for years and still find undiscovered gems. Big Sur Wilderness is home to the southernmost range of the famous coastal old redwoods. It doesn’t get any better than hiking through the giant redwood trees and fern canyons with wildlife sightings and waterfalls along the way.
Continuing south on the heavenly highway, the charming town of Cambria is a perfect stop on California’s central coast. Set across the scenic strip of Moonstone Beach Drive, the luxe boutique White Water Hotel with 25 stylish, spacious rooms, most with ocean views, is a true gem. Accommodations done by Los Angeles designer Nina Freudenberger in California beachy-chic décor with neutral tones feature natural materials and a winning mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings crafted by local artisans. Guests enjoy fabulous retro fireplaces, supremely comfortable beds, first class amenities and have direct access to the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk where whales and otters can be viewed as they swim by. Many visitors come just to enjoy Moonstone Beach, famous for its jasper and agate smoothly polished by the waves that dazzle with their intricate patterns.
Some of the areas’ many treasures include: a tour of William Randolph Hearst’s opulent hilltop castle; Simeon Beach with its fantastic rock formations and golden sand; the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery right on the beach; and vineyards such as excellent Adelaida Vineyards & Winery as wells as Hearst Ranch Winery. The enchanting town of Cambria is home to shops selling all kinds of local items and handcrafted goods, wine bars, yoga studios, superb Vyana Wellness Collective for superb massages, healings treatments and more. I was dazzled by Cambria’s culinary scene. Every place was outstanding from local favorite Linn’s where each dish on the menu deserves an award, sublime French cuisine at Madeline’s to atmospheric Robin’s for delectable delights that span the globe.
Next up, Rosewood Miramar Beach, a luxurious beachfront retreat spanning across 16 acres of lush landscaping, features an array of stand-out guestrooms with spectacular views of the Pacific. The 5-star resort is located in picturesque Montecito on one of California’s most beautiful beaches. The 158 rooms and suites are elegant, glamorous and airy. Two individually-designed signature suites are in the Manor House including The Miramar Ocean View Suite and The Ambassador Ocean View Suite. Twenty -six oceanfront Beach House suites, studios, and guestrooms offer direct access to the sand. Each bungalow and lanai house guestroom has a balcony or patio, a roomy dressing area, lavish bathrooms, and views of the garden, ocean, or mountainside. In addition to the water activities, you can rejuvenate and indulge at Sense Spa. Culinary options include Ama Sushi, southern Italian at oceanfront Caruso’s and the Revere Room highlighting local ingredients – all excellent.
Continue on the dreamy drive to the airport in sunny Los Angeles, while gazing at palm trees and the blue sea.
The fabulous Exotic Car Collection by Enterprise, available in both airport and city locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, makes your drive down Highway 1 even more exciting. It’s hard to choose from their impressive assortment of elite cars ranging from Audis, BMWs and Mercedes to Aston Martins, Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Range Rovers and Porsches – All spectacular! www.enterprise.com
For more information visit www.visitcalifornia.com