PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY- (Santa Barbara to Pacifica)

California has 655 miles of Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, 101, Interstate 5 near San Diego, and is the longest state route in California. This section from Santa Barbara north to Pacifica (just outside San Francisco is my favorite. It is breathtaking.

We arrive at Pismo Coast Village RV in Pismo Beach. It is a very nice park and would definitely stay again. We paid $300.00 for the 5 nights we stayed. They have FHU, showers,laundry,general store, arcade, pool, cafe and a observation deck to watch sunsets.DSCN1753

Also a pathway to walk to beach.It is on the beach, but dunes in front of you so can’t see from your campsite.DSCN1876
Just down the road from RV park is the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove πŸ¦‹,DSCN1819

one of the largest colonies in US. We went on a sunny day so they were flying around everywhere. There were over 12,000 at the time we visited.

Then we headed for breakfast to the recommended Old West Cinnamon Roll in Pismo. They were yummy.
We walked the shops in Pismo, and down to the beach and pier. If you have kids I would recommend a stop at Dinosaur Cave Park, super cute and pretty ocean views.
Driving around we stopped at Margo Dodd park with beautiful views,DSCN2004


then continuedDSCN1846
to the town of Avila. We stopped at the Avila Valley Barn (worth a stop). Here they have some animals, fruits and veges and cute little shop. From here we headed to downtown Avila, to see the beach and walked Front Street with cute shops and restaurants.before heading home we stopped at Pirates Cove (Avila sea caves), off Cove Landing Rd. Great views and can walk trail down to cave tunnel, it’s a 1/2 mile RT hike.

Fifteen minute drive from RV park is the cute downtown San Luis Obispo, where you will also find Bubblegum Alley.

Also stop at the popular Doc Bernstein Ice Cream Lab, it was closed when we went. On the way out of town we saw the Motel Inn, it is the worlds first ever Motel, opened in 1925.


We head to Morro Bay (one of my favorite towns) , very cute seaside town.


Here is the Morro Rock , 581 ft tall. Embarcadero is the main shopping, restaurant street. We ate lunch at Giovanni’s fIsh Market.

It was delicious and I would definitely recommend. We had the bread bowl clam chowder and fish & chips. You can go online to get a 10% off coupon. Morro Bay is also one of top bird watching areas. We drove the road that takes you right up to Morro Rock and we saw sea otters just floating around.


Today we drive 1 1/2 hours to Santa Barbara, with our first stop to have lunch at
La Super Rica Taqueria. Americas famous taco stand and was Julia Child’s favorite place to eat in Santa Barbara.
Worth a stop is the beautiful County Courthouse with its clock tower, where you walk

up to the top to observation tower and has great views. It is free to do this. We then walked the streets to shop around, including the cute La Arcada Courtyard. We walked all the way to Stearns Wharf (130 years old).


When we left Santa Barbara we took Highway 154, which was a pretty drive and made a stop to the quaint town of Los Olivos. There are a few shops, and about 10 wine bars. This is also the town of Michael Jacksons Neverland Ranch.

Today we leave Pismo, for a whole 45 minute drive to Wine Country RV in Paso Robles. It’s a very nice park, with FHU, pool, spa, dog runs, wine bar outside, fitness room and they will arrange wine tours right from the RV park. It is a Passport America park, we paid total with tax $142.00 for 4 nights.
The drive from the RV park to highway 46 to PCH has dozens of wineries and very scenic rolling hills. On PCH today we stop in Cayucos, with its historic pier,antique shops and famous Brown Butter Cookie Co. From Cayucos we stop in Cambria, again cute downtown with shops, antiques, restaurants. We head to Moonstone Beach with
It’s of driftwood. Today the county also had a tsunami watch due to Alaska earthquake.
Tomorrow we will head back on highway 46 to PCH to go as far north as we can, due to rock and mudslides last year that has a portion of PCH still closed.
Ragged Point is the farthest north you can go.DSCN2060



Here is a super cute inn, with gorgeous views and black sand beach.DSCN2063

We head back the way we came and stop to se Piedras Blancas Lighthouse (it is closed) and then to the must see Elephant Rookery ,DSCN2095


a little north of San Simeon.

There are thousand of seals and lots of pups that were just born. January is one of the best months to view.DSCN2175

There is parking, and a boardwalk in which to view. The elephant seal is the largest seals in northern hemisphere.

Time for lunch so we picnic at the William Hearst Memorial State Beach,DSCN1969

across the street is the famous Hearst Castle. We see some wildlifeDSCN2211

and make a new friend.DSCN2222

We didn’t do the tour of the castle, but I heard it’s amazing.DSCN2234

Heading back past HearstCastle on the hillside of Hearst Ranch, we are lucky enough to see the wild zebras.DSCN2045

Off to our next adventure, as we leave to head towards the Montery area. We stay at the Salinas/ Montery KOA in Prunedale, about 1/2 drive to Monterey. We pay $365.00 for 7 night stay. It is nothing special but they have FHU, dog run, laundry, nice pool area.
The Monterey area will turn out to be one of my favorites so far on our year long journey. The area is breathtaking.DSCN2579

Over the course of the week we did the following:

Monterey Bay Aquarium-DSCN2334

49.00 per adult and received military discount of $7.00.DSCN2260
Quite expensive but very nice,

and has walkouts to view the bay.


Here we saw harbor seals and sea otters.
Cannery Row- shops and restaurantsIMG_7219

Fisherman’s Wharf (built in 1845) –DSCN2394

shops, restaurants and this is where you take a whale tour.


Today was one of my favorite days, as we loaded up the dogs 🐢 and packed
a picnic 🐜 for a full day. As you drive this portion we did today you keep thinking it can’t get more beautiful and then it does.DSCN2409

It reminds me of the road to Hana in Hawaii, with the curvy roads and ocean views. Then the other side is green, mountainous and pine trees. Make sure you have gas, few stations along the way.
Our first stop, 50 minutes from RV park is the famous Bixby Bridge,DSCN2538

built in 1932 and in many commercials the last 20 years.

Great views of the bridge from the north.DSCN2436
Point Sur Lighthouse, was not open nor was the Village Shops, but they was a general store and restrooms. Next along the route is Pffeifer Big Sur State Park (one of
Californias most popular), we did not stop though, because California State Parks do not allow dogs on trails, but we did find a gem, Pfeiffer Beach.DSCN2454

The cost is $10.00 to get in and finding it isn’t easy, there are no signs. It is the only paved road between Big Sur post Office and Pffeifer Big Sur StatePark, with a very sharp turn and then 2 miles down the road.DSCN2439
It has a beautiful beach, with purple sand along the cliffs.DSCN2463

We had our picnic here.

Next stop is Nepenthe, definitely worth a stop. I would suggest to eat lunch here, it has fabulous views.

We had the dogs so we couldn’t eat here. There is a very nice gift shop here also.
Off next to Julia Pffeifer Burns State Park, again we didn’t pay to go in since dogs not allowed on trails. But you can park outside the State Park on Highway 1, and walk the trail to see McWay Falls, where a 80 ft waterfall plunges to the sandy shore.DSCN2527

It is the one major waterfall in California that plunges into the ocean. It is an easy .07 mile round trip hike with spectacular scenery at the waterfall.

Along this portion of PCH, again my favorite so far we also saw 3 gray whales 🐳 along the way. It’s been along day so we head into Carmel for some coffee and cannoli at the quaint 1906 bakery, The Carmel Bakery.DSCN2540

We end our day at the beautiful white sand beach at Carmel beach (with free parking and dog friendly).DSCN2542
It took us about 8 hrs with stops and driving, it was a great day.

Day One Hundred Seventy- One on this journey brings us to the Famous 17 Mile Drive in Pebbles Beach. We start at at the Pacific Grove gate with a cost of $10.25 to help drive the 17 miles. You can get this back if you eat at certain restaurants on the drive if you spend $35.00 or more.
They give you a map at the gate with the 21 points of interest along the way,

including the Links at Spanish By, Spyglass Hills and Pebble Beach Golf Links.DSCN2638


We did walk around Pebble Beach, to the shops, pro shops, lodgeDSCN2635

and the famous 18th hole.DSCN2630

You are allowed to walk around all the public places at these has courses.DSCN2569

Of course we stop at the Lone Cypress tree,DSCN2602

which has been perches on the rock more than 250 years. It is also the most photographed tree 🌲 in the world.


Many beautiful stopping points along the way.DSCN2562

Once we finished the 17 miles we head to Ocean View Blvd in Pacific Grove and stopped at the charming Point Pinos Lighthouse, and walked around.DSCN2655

They suggest a $4.00 donation to go in. It is the oldest operating Lighthouse on the west coast, since 1855.

If you would like to see the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary it is few blocks away. We didn’t stop, since we saw the one in Pismo Beach. Nearby is Lovers Point on Ocean Blvd where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Again beautiful views and we saw some seals.

Today we will north of Monterey on PCH , passing Moss Landing, then Santa Cruz
(past the historic boardwalk, California’s only seaside amusement park from 1907 )
We did not stop, as everything seemed closed. We drove today as far as Pescadero, the town is 2 miles off highway 1, nothing special. But we stop at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse (about 8 miles south of Pescadero).DSCN2676

It is the 2nd tallest on west coast , you can drive up to it and is worth the visit.


Carmel by the Sea, is charming and quaint with expensive shops but worth walking around.DSCN2709

We had lunch at Hogs Breath Inn, mostly because Clint Eastwood once owned it, cute ambiance but the food was not very good.DSCN2720

I wouldn’t recommend eating here. Afterwards , we headed to Point Lobos State Reserve ( one of my favorites).DSCN2736

It cost $10.00 to get in, or you can park on the side of road outside the reserve and walk or bicycle in for free. No dogs are allowed. There a short hikes to absolutely stunning views,




including China Cove,DSCN2794

where there was a mama and baby seals on the beach. This is a must do.

All packed up and ready for our 2 hour drive to Half Moon Bay. Here we splurge on the $84.00 night( taxes included) for ocean view site at Pillar Point RV.

They do not take reservations, but they update their website through out the day to tell you what’s available. We will spend three nights here and the views are outstanding. There is FHU, cable, Wifi and that’s it, but you get the views, dog friendly beachDSCN2846

and a nice bike and walking path to the marina and restaurants. It is 75 and β˜€οΈ,blue skies, can’t beat it.

We did stop in downtown, which has some shops and restaurants, but we will just hang at RV next three days and enjoy the view. Bob is currently fishing 🎣 out on the rocks. Dinner was the very popular Sam’s Chowder House next to RV park. They are famous for their $26.00 Lobster Roll Sandwich, it was good, but not sure worth the money. You should go and make reservations for sunset πŸŒ… and sit on the patio, with views of the harbor.DSCN2855
Super Bowl Sunday 🏈 we will eat and watch game while it’s sunny and 75, and home will be cold and snowy.

Monday off for a whole 1/2 hr drive to Pacifica, which will be our home base for 6 nights to explore San Francisco.

5 thoughts on “PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY- (Santa Barbara to Pacifica)

Add yours

  1. Beautiful pictures and hearing about your adventures. And glad to hear that the weather is so nice. It really stinks this month with the snow almost every other day.


  2. Hi , doing this trip next Monday! Except we are going south from Pacifica to Santa Barbara. What’s the best way around the road closer at Big Sur? Thanks, Alan


    1. Hi Alan, look at our blog, shows what we did. We had to go around due to mudslides, and you don’t want to do Big SUr area in RV, one road near Ragged Point is still closed on highway 1. We stayed in Salinas and did days trips in towed vehicle, and we took Highway 101 all the way with motorhome


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