San Francisco: Touring - Driving holiday

San Francisco Touring - Driving holiday

The Pacific Coast Highway – is one of America's most scenic drives. For visitors touring California, taking this road between San Francisco and Los Angeles opens up a variety of coastal scenery, from rugged sea cliffs and pounding surf to nature preserves and rural towns a world away from their big-city anchors.

This 485-mile Pacific Coast Highway drive is not the fastest route between these cities. Allow at least two days to include a minimum of sightseeing, more if you plan to linger along the way. Here are some of the highlights on the northern stretch between San Francisco and Monterey.

Beaches: Leaving San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway, the urban sprawl of the Bay Area gradually gives way to the freedom of the ocean road. A string of state beaches hugs the coast along Highway 1, beginning at Pacifica and running south to Pillar Point Harbor, a natural harbor and former whaling station.

Wide sandy beaches stretch for four miles along Half Moon Bay, an old agricultural town which hosts an Art and Pumpkin Festival every October. Further south, Pescadero is another quaint farming town with whitewashed churches and buildings.

In between are more sandy beaches backed by rocky bluffs, and idyllic coves with roaring surf, tidepools and lagoons. Sea lions can often be seen offshore from the lighthouse at Pigeon Point.