California is a state having many scenic routes. The back roads and byways of this state have breathtaking views in addition providing access to many recreation areas. On these routes, different activities can be done like having family picnics, swimming, scuba diving or go hiking.
Some of the best California scenic drives are:
Sonoma-Mendocino Coast Scenic Drive
Angeles Crest Scenic Byway, and Route 1
San Francisco to San Diego
Carson Pass Scenic Byway
Sonoma-Napa Valleys Scenic Drive.
The Route 1: San Francisco to San Diego also known as the Pacific Coast Highway is the top scenic drive in California.
Pacific Coast Highway is also known as the Highway One and it is a 485 mile highway connecting Los Angeles with San Francisco. It is not the fastest connection between the two cities but is a drive worth taking. The drive offers plenty of variety of marine life, breathtaking views and sandy beaches along its way. The construction on this highway began in the year 1919.
The sixty five mile stretch between Spruce Creek and area north of San Simeon required heavy construction. It required blowing up with the help of dynamite at several areas; the areas still have the scars from that blowing up. In all there are thirty three bridges on the highway and the Bixby Rainbow Bridge at Big Sur is the biggest bridge.
Maintenance work is carried out all year around on the highway as landslides cause damage to this highway. Winter storms cause erosion leading to the closure of the highway. With the spring season, highway is reopened after all necessary repair work has been done.
Some of the California's top tourist spots can be seen while traveling on Pacific Highway Coast. Monterey served as the capital of California under the rule of Spanish, Mexican and American flags.
California's First Theatre was built in Monterey in 1847 by British sailor, Jack Swain and is even today a popular playhouse. One must visit Fisherman's Wharf and Steinbeck's Cannery Row although these now sell souvenirs instead of sardines. Founded as a U.S Army base in 1917, Fort OD became a military post in World War II. It is now California State University at Monterey Bay.
Clint Eastwood's Hog's Breath Inn at the Carmel-by-the -Sea is a great place to take a break before one embarks on the tour of Carmel Mission. Carmel-by-the-Sea is an upscale village consisting of colorful cottages, inns, shops, art galleries and restaurants. There is Carmel River State Beach home to kingfishers and pelicans. The remains of Padre Juniper Sera also known as the Apostle of California, lie on the foot of the Main Altar of Basilica.
With the construction of Bixby Creek Ridge in 1932, Big Sur, named El Sur Grande became approachable and the mountains, redwood forested canyons and beaches of the area became accessible. In the Jade Cove, pieces of small jade can be located which a treasure hunter who loves scuba driving can climb down and find the jades. In the Point Lobos State Reserve, there are nature trails to Sea Lion Point, China Cove and Cypress Grove.
Sea Lion Point Trail leads to a breathtaking view on the coast above the Headland Cove. From the cliff, the views of Sea Lion Rocks, Sea Lion Cove and the whitewaters of Devil's Cauldron are awesome. The rocky coves and offshore sea stacks have barking sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse is 115-feet lighthouse one of the tallest lighthouses in USA. The lighthouse is closed for renovation but the grounds are open. The Pebble Beach is 17 miles away and tourist can go and visit it.
Going south, the view is breathtaking with surf and ocean while on the other side are the bent and twisted Cypress trees. The town of Cayucos, lies between the Pacific Ocean and the hillsides of open ranchland is a great getaway for quiet strolls. The town still retains the Old West look and there are many antique shops in the area. It is a complete resort providing a relaxed atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of California's metropolitan areas.
Morro Bay is an active fishing port having good Victorian seaside cottages. There are Harbor cruises available, and one can take a ferry to the Spooner's Cove. In the Morro Bay State Park, there is a Museum of Natural History which has hundreds of bird species attracting bird-lovers from all over the world. San Luis Obispo is also known as the starting point of Big Sur coastline.
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa located at Chorro and Monterey streets, built in 1772 is now a parish church. The mission is home to Chumash Indian artifacts. San Luis Obispo's downtown offers great option ranging from dining to shops and nightlife. Also there is an arts center, Children's Museum, wine country tours and world-class performing arts center.
The 115-room Hearst Castle at the nearby San Simeon is the lavish home of William Randolph Hearst. Hearst was the owner of several newspapers and magazines, radio stations and movie companies. The construction of the castle began the same year as the highway in1919 and castle cost almost as the highway to build. It became state monument in 1958. There are four tours in the castle which cover Hearst's art and antiques collection, gorgeous gardens and private quarters.
The construction of the Pacific Coast Highway led to reaching those places and many more even if coastal weather, landslides and engineering obstacles can cause some time delays. The initial estimate of $1.5 million sky rocketed to $15 million in nineteen years time but still this highway remains a historian and a tourist dream. Some would say the drive from south to north on the Pacific Coast Highway is better as one is furthest from the cliffs while others love the thrill that being on the edge gives and also having an unrestricted view of the ocean scenery. Either ways, it's the drive on the Pacific Coast Highway that counts.