Also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, this sea-hugging road winds its way down the USA’s western coastline. It’s a way to see the best of California and everything this state has to offer: not just golden beaches, but towering redwood forests, national parks, and glittering cities.
You can take your own virtual Highway One, which will start here.
To get outdoors here, explore the rugged Lost Coast Trail for an easy, enjoyable hike which leads to some picturesque look-outs. Architecture buffs will love the 1880s Carson Mansion, and the Blur Ox Millworks offer an insight into the Victorian era of Eureka. Self-guided tours take you past tradespeople demonstrating the old-fashioned techniques of milling and carpentry.
2. Humboldt Redwoods State Park
One of the most amazing attractions in the whole of the USA, you won’t easily forget a drive along the Avenue of the Giants. The park is famed for its coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), many of which grow to over 90m in height. Over 100 of the 137 known trees 110m tall live in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
3. San Francisco
Try and spend a few days here to take a break from your drive to really get a feel for this unique city. Wander around Union Square – the heart of the city – before exploring the alleys of Chinatown and stopping for lunch on North Beach. Don’t miss noisy Fisherman’s Wharf or pretty Telegraph Hill.
For many, Malibu is quintessential California, bursting with surfer dudes and beach babes to rival the stars of Baywatch. Muscle Beach is the spot to see the locals pumping iron and Zuma Beach is typically Malibu. In Zuma, the hills meet the ocean and there are some great spots to eat freshly caught seafood. The Malibu Family Wines vineyard is open for tastings, yours and food for something a little different.
5. Morro Bay
The landmark Morro Rock sits astride the pretty bay here - a turban-shaped, extinct volcanic cone about 23 million years old and inhabited by rare peregrine falcons. The Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History is a top spot to visit for a few hours. Or wander around the bay, keeping your eyes peeled for great blue herons and monarch butterflies from October to March.
6. Point Lobos State Reserve
This 550-acre seaside park boasts an assortment of coves, headlands, meadows, tide pools, and the nation's first undersea ecological reserve. Well-marked trails lead past Monterey cypresses, hundreds of species of birds and mammals include black-tailed deer, gray foxes, sea otters, and sea lions. Migrating gray whales are often spotted from land from December through April as they migrate.
7. Big Sur
Big Sur extends 90 miles south to San Simeon. Redwoods soar up to the sky and mountains plunge into the sea. There are lots of great inns and restaurants to stop at with great character.
8. La Jolla
Meaning ‘the jewel’ in Spanish, this little town is one of California’s prettiest seaside retreats. There are lots of beaches to relax upon - La Jolla Shores is often said to be California's most beautiful - and there are lots of brilliant restaurants to cater for all the visitors.
9. Torrey Pines State Park
Lying between La Jolla and Del Mar, Torrey Pines makes for a scenic stop, with hills and cliffs overlooking the coast and trails leading down to the beach. Continuing north along the coast will take you through the lovely towns of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside, you'll drive right next to the coast and over a few lagoons connected to the ocean.
10. San Diego
San Diego offers many interesting attractions to the visitor in the neighborhoods away from the beach, such as Balboa Park, Downtown and Old Town. Check out Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma for some panoramic views of the coastline, encompassing San Diego, the Bay, and the ocean, and learn about some of the history of the area.