The Pacific Coast Highway has long been considered a “dream drive.” Technically, it starts in Washington State, but one of the most famous stretches is in California, beginning in Laguna Beach and culminating in Big Sur along the central part of the coast, though you can also do it vice versa, of course. Laguna Beach has often been referred to as Southern California’s prettiest beach town – it hosts countless art galleries, an art museum and hosts a ton of art festivals, while surfers and sun worshippers share coves and gorgeous stretches of sand. From there, head north and stop at the Santa Monica Pier to ride the iconic Ferris wheel and check out the shops. Next stop, legendary Malibu, home to lots of celebrities, beautiful stretches of sand, outstanding eateries and fun shopping opportunities.
Further north, you can take a slight detour inland to enjoy a day of wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country, home to a diverse array of wines, made from grapes near the ocean in Lompoc up to the inlands of Happy Canyon. About 100 miles more, and you’ll reach Hearst Castle in San Simeon, a must-visit along the way, where you can tour one of America’s true castles. Finally, in Big Sur, you’ll enjoy unbelievable views that include deep gorges cutting through rugged mountains, pine forests that extend to the edge of sandy beaches and even cascading falls plunging to the sea below, as well as one of the world’s most unique beaches, Pfeiffer State Beach, a rare purple sand beach.