This is arguably one the most scenic road trips in North America, heck maybe even the world and tops bucket lists for tonnes of travelers. I spoke to many about what not to miss and where to go? To which, the list goes on and on. Yet the biggest question I was asked time and time again before leaving for Highway 1 was, “Are you going North or South?”
Surely, driving one way or another down the same road wouldn’t make much of a difference. Well if you ask some, they will be sure to inform you there is, in fact, a ‘preferred route.
The most popular route is between Los Angeles and San Francisco or visa versa on Highway 1, also known as Pacific Coast Highway.
I started in San Diego and went South to North and in my opinion would say if you are concerned by traffic, should do the same and head North to avoid the trails of camper vans, jeep wranglers and convertible mustangs traveling down from San Francisco.
Many would argue driving South, on the coastal side, makes it easier to pull over at all the incredible vistas. Either way, you will be driving so slowly round the pin tight cliffs you will have more than enough time to pull off to the side.
The next question many ask is, ‘how long should I take to drive Highway 1?’, which to me is a rather silly question. It’s like asking how long is a piece of string. Of course, this all depends on how long you like to be on the road for as well as how long you have off work. Many chose to do the trip all in one day, which is totally achievable, but lots will simply be ‘glanced’ over. It’s sort of like the Spark Notes for a trip. If you can, allow at least 2 days for the bigger cities and 2-3 nights on the coast.
And finally, the question I was most interested in, where should I stop? To which I can now tell you, you can’t go wrong. Sure there are the few ‘must see’s like McWay Falls and Santa Monica Pier, but make the trip your own. I used to fear I would leave a place without seeing that famous view or that famous spot everyone posts on social media. I have taught myself to just enjoy the trip and make my own magic on the road. Find the spots no one else is posting to social media. There are usually fewer crowds that way!
Herstory is a weekly column on women and travel by Steph Ridhalgh. Steph is a Sydney born; New York based television producer and travel blogger. Not one for being quiet for too long she simply loves talking about travel and lifestyle.
Steph is the founder of STEP(h) ABROAD, a travel and lifestyle resource for those who love to be in the know and know how.