Ten Things to Do on California's Highway One

a screenshot of the highway one website


Highway One is home to some of the USA’s biggest attractions and most visited cities. But what else is on offer? We take a look at some of the more unusual pit stops along the route.

Editor’s Note: The following article is a promotional piece written by the creators of the Highway One Ultimate Roadtrip website.

1. Wine tasting

An official Wine Trail leads visitors to six of the best boutique wineries in North San Luis Obispo County. Dotted off the road from San Simeon to Harmony, stop in at Hearst Ranch Winery, Moonstone Cellars, Black Hand Cellars, Twin Coyotes, Stolo Family Winery, and Harmony Cellars to explore the cellars and taste hand-crafted wines from the local vineyards.

2. Surfing

One of the best surfing locations on the coast, Mavericks doesn’t just have a cool name. Just north of Half Moon Bay, this beach is a top winter destination for serious, big wave surfers. Amateurs shouldn’t attempt to ride the often deadly surf here, but it is still plenty of fun to watch the experts have a go.

3. Wildlife watching

The 550-acre Point Lobos State Reserve 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, grey foxes, sea otters, and sea lions.

4. Channel Islands

This little-visited national park consists of five islands, all easily accessible from the harbours of Ventura and Oxnard. Their complete isolation from the mainland means that there are plenty of completely unique plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. It’s an ideal spot for day and overnight camping trips, snorkelling, kayaking and hiking.

5. Waterfall trek

Take the McWay Waterfall Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which ends in views of an 80-foot waterfall dropping directly onto a sandy beach with turquoise-blue water.

6. Monterey Bay Aquarium

But surely it’s just an aquarium? No, this is one of the finest in the world, and well worth a visit. There’s a focus on local marine life but you’ll find all kinds of flora and fauna here, from psychedelic jellyfish to penguins, otters, sharks and turtles.

7. Roll uphill

The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz is an intriguing place which will fascinate visitors of all ages. The operators claim that the laws of physics and gravity do not apply in this tiny spot, and a series of optical illusions act in support of this. But can water really flow upwards?

8. Walk to a waterfall

Salmon Creek Trail is a popular track venturing deep into the Silver Peak Wilderness in the Monterey District of Los Padres National Forest, but you only need to hike 0.3 miles from Highway One to see a beautiful 120-foot waterfall.

9. Hearst Castle

More modern in appearance than it sounds, the Hearst Castle complex was constructed by media tycoon William Randolph Hearst starting in 1919. By 1947, the estate sprawled across 127 acres. This is a fascinating and unusual place to explore, both inside and out.

10. Driving through a tree

Where else in the world can you drive through a tree? This living tunnel near Leggett, known as the Chandelier Tree, is thought to have been carved in the 1930s and as long as your vehicle is less than 1.8m wide and 2.06m tall, you can drive on through!