9 Sights On California's Pacific Coast Highway
Take the Scenic Route
Let's take a scenic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway.
Bruce Munro: Light at Sensorio, including both Field of Light and Light Towers, is now open and will continue in residence. Tickets may be purchased in advance through September 5th. To book later dates, please check back at the beginning of each month, when additional dates are released for sale.
A jewel in San Luis Obispo County’s already dazzling crown, San Simeon’s Hearst Castle is a decadent and meticulously preserved hilltop estate that brings history to life. Home to art collector and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Hearst Castle is now an accredited museum and a California State Park. Known as the “Enchanted Hill,” the castle displays Mr. Hearst’s extensive art collection, which is surrounded by unparalleled views of the California coastline, framed by the Santa Lucia Mountain Range.
San Luis Obispo County has an abundance of sea life throughout the coastal towns including the infamous elephant seals. The Elephant Seal Vista Point is located about 5 miles north of Hearst Castle. Visit this lookout between mid-November and mid-January, to be sure to see an abundance of these remarkable creatures
The Ragged Point Cliffside Trail begins behind Ragged Point Inn. This trail will bring you down switchbacks to a black sand beach with rigid coastlines. Just north of Ragged Point is the Ragged Point Beach. It is accessible by hiking a narrow-hidden trail that starts along Highway 1. Keep an eye out for the Private Property sign at the trailhead. Be aware of vegetation and a narrow pathway. The journey is worth it as you'll likely have this beach all to yourself.
Founded by Father Fermin de Llausen on July 25, 1797, Mission San Miguel is the 16th in the 21 California Mission chain. The Mission Church is considered the best preserved and most authentic of any of the California Missions. The Self-guided museum and gift shop are open daily.
This park features rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills, including 1,347-foot Valencia Peak. Naturalists and backpackers enjoy the solitude and freedom found along the park's trails. There are also mountain biking and equestrian trails. The best-known beach is Spooner's Cove, across from the campground.
Officially declared as California Registered Historical Landmark No. 939, Nitt Witt Ridge is the two-story, terraced home of the late Arthur Harold Beal, a Cambria pioneer. Beal began collecting the "decor" for his house in 1928, an imaginative hodgepodge of car rims, seashells, mismatched tiles, appliance parts, and beer cans, especially Busch. Beal died in 1992, and today this fascinating property is owned by Michael and Stacey O'Malley who will give you a tour if you make an appointment Call (805) 927-2690. Or you can just drive by and see the exterior at 881 Hillcrest Drive in Cambria.
Piedras Blancas Light Station provides a glimpse into our nation's past when lighthouses served a vital role in maritime navigation. Today it is managed as a historic park and wildlife sanctuary. The light station is part of the federally designated Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area and the California Coastal National Monument. The tower and some support buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Whale Trail looks over the waters of one of our nation's most spectacular marine protected areas, offering some of the best wildlife viewings in the world-including 34 species of marine mammals! This is the trail to see amazing marine life at the Whale Trail's shore-based sites at any time of year. Along the Highway 1 Discovery Route, Whale Trail signs can be found at the following spots: San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, Los Oso, Avila Beach, and Oceano.