California is one of the most incredible places in the world – you could live here a lifetime and still not experience all of the unbelievable beauty it has to offer. Here are some of the places we suggest for the perfect California roadtrip that truly shows the magic of the golden state.

 

Follow Highway 1 south for the perfect California coast road trip – Big Sur awaits.

McWay Falls

When you’re driving the Pacific Coast Highway from Carmel to Big Sur for the first time, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to stop at all of the incredible vista points along the highway. The entire drive is like something out of a movie – the golden sunshine shimmering through sea mist and streaming through coastal forest, the immense mountainous, craggy cliffs, and the turquoise-blue sea crashing elegantly against the shore.

Sunset Big Sur Coast

Construction of this section was completed in the late 1930’s and later became California’s first scenic highway – to this day, it is one of the state’s most classic roads. Stunning sea vistas and iconic stops are located all along this stretch of highway.

Bixby Bridge Sunset

Bixby Bridge

The highway slicing precisely through the cliffs, winding high above the coast in the craggy mountains is already enough of an engineering marvel. But in certain places, like the Bixby Creek Bridge & the Garrapata Creek Bridge, instead of winding through the mountains, master engineers built bridges across the canyons. Before the Bixby Bridge was constructed, the highway detoured inland, making Big Sur completely inaccessible for part of the year.

Bixby Bridge is located over a canyon carved by a creek that leads to a pristine beach cove. The beach below the bridge has no sanctioned trails, so it’s always empty, providing a secluded landscape for stunning photographs.

Pfieffer Beach

Pfieffer Beach

This road to this beach is unmarked, rough, and narrow. Yet when you finally reach the coast, the beaches are isolated, and absolutely insane.

Visit this beach to see incredible coastal wilderness & sea stack formations in the waters just offshore.

The sun sets right over the ocean at Pfieffer Beach. During early winter, the famous Keyhole Arch aligns with the setting sun and illuminates the arch with golden sunlight.

Pfieffer beach is also unique for its colored sand. As you walk along the shore, look down at the sand beneath your feet – deposits of manganese garnet in the cliffs leaves the beach with sections of purple sand.

McWay Falls

McWay Falls

For years, this magical coastal waterfall dropped directly to the sea. In the 1980’s, a major landslide occurred to the north on the highway, and as a result, tons of debris fell into the ocean. This sandy debris washed out to sea and collected in coves along the southern coast, creating a new beach beneath the tidefall.

Now the cove is a gorgeous, deserted beach – a paradise on the California coast. The short & lovely hike out to the viewpoint makes this beautiful location perfect for everyone to visit.

Keyhole Arch

Of course, these are only a few destinations on the epic Big Sur coastline that extends for 100 miles – the best parts of this roadtrip are the places you pull over and adventure out on your own.

What are your favorite stops along the Big Sur highway? Let us know in the comments below!

This is Part One in our Dreamy California Roadtrip series. Looking for more California magic? Check out Part 2: Santa Cruz Roadtrip.