California State Route 1

About California State Route 1

Often called Highway 1, this classic West Coast road runs for 1,055 km (655 mi) along much of California’s beautiful Pacific shoreline.

It starts in Orange County to the south and ends in Mendocino County to the north. Different sections have different names, including Pacific Coast Highway, Cabrillo Highway and Shoreline Highway.

Along the way, this rewarding route can be multi-lane highway or two- lane blacktop, and driving its entire length produces extraordinary contrasts between urban sprawl and some of the finest coastal scenery in the USA, plus the opportunity to visit many important heritage sites. Highway 1 has mile markers that help locate any listed feature or attraction, numbered from south to north, each Clearing the abbreviated name of the relevant county. Highway 1 is best driven from south to north as the reverse direction ends anti- elimactically with Los Angeles smog.

Starting in San Juan Capistra, the road travels through Los Angeles and the Beach cities, Santa Monica, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Carmel (former Mayor – Clint Eastwood), Pacific Grove, Monterey, Watsonville, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Day, Pacifica, San Francisco, Mill Valley and Fort Bragg. It terminates at Leggett, where it meets US Highway 101 ( with which it actually shares several sections of the coastal route) for the last time. Many of the place names serve as a reminder of California’s historical ties with Spain, and there are a number of old Spanish settlements along Highway 1.

Despite some stretches that are inescapably modem freeways, the leisurely traveller best remembers the characteristic feel of a narrow, winding coast road amidst stunning scenery – not for nothing is it said that to drive Highway 1 is to understand the heart and soul of California.




Unspoiled Big Sur with Its rugged cliffs, where the residents are environmentally conscious and not a billboard is to be seen beside the highway.

Half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco – Hearst Castle in San Simeon, the extravagant edifice built by newspaper tycoon william Randolph Hearst, the model for Xanadu in Orson
Welles’s film Citizen Kane.
Pledras Blancas Lighthouse at the northern entrance to San Simeon Bay, first Illuminated in 1875 and still used as a navigational aid – but the real attraction Is the vast colony of elephant seals.


Be prepared to duck a couple of hours into the journey – Route 1 passes beneath the busy runways of LA International Airport.

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