6 unique stops along California’s PCH 1
California’s coastal highway stretches 655 miles along stunning pacific landscapes and pristine beaches. The drive is one of America’s great road trips and should be part of any good bucket list. There are literally hundreds of places to pull off while on the PCH from hidden bays to California beach house rentals to giant redwoods. We’ve put together a list of the best-hidden gems along the PCH for those looking for the off the beaten path options.
1. Fort Bragg glass beach
One of the oddly awesome stops on HWY 1 is the glass beach in Fort Bragg in northern California. From 1906 to 1967 this beach was a makeshift landfill and over time glass off all colors collected here. Today all that is left is millions of pieces of beach glass. This unique stop is definitely worth pulling over for, while in town don’t miss the North Coast Brewing Company and their famous Red Seal Ale.
The town of Elk in northern California is much like many of the little towns on this part of the drive – so small if you blink you might miss them. However, don’t blink while passing through Elk because you might miss one of the most picturesque bays along the drive. In the bay below this little town is full of stone arches in shallow turquoise waters. The adventurous can take the hike from the tall cliff the town sits on down to the beach, which you’ll likely have all to yourself.
3. Elephant seals of Piedras Blancas
With a face only a mother could love, this ugly yet adorable breed of elephant seals can be found not too far away from Piedras Blancas. Once you stop to see this seal colony you’ll know why they’re called elephant seals. Their long floppy noses look more like an elephant than any other seal you’ve seen.
4. Malibu Seafood
Further down the coast in world famous Malibu is a local’s favorite spot for fresh seafood right on the water. Malibu Seafood is one of those rare old school gems on the PCH where you can get a great local meal looking over one of the many beaches of Malibu. It was our favorite restaurant on our recent 2 days in LA trip.
5. Sunset at Gaviota Beach
If you find yourself anywhere near Gaviota Beach toward the end of the day make your way down to the pier for sunset. This south facing beach makes for great sunsets behind the impressive wooden pier. You’ll likely have the beach and to yourself on the quiet little-hidden sunset spot.
6. Giant Redwoods
The northern stretch of this classic American road is literally lined with giant redwood trees. Take a short detour and drive through one of the many parks that protect these amazing trees. A local favorite is the Muir Woods National Monument and Redwood Park not too far outside of San Francisco. In addition to parks, there are a few private areas where there are a few trees so large, holes have been carved into the bases and you can drive your car through. True Redwood fanatics can make a further detour to visit the tree called General Sherman which is the largest tree in the world.