• Carmel to San Simeon - A Scenic Drive Along the Big Sur

      102 miles - 3 hours

      The 90 miles or so of coastal highway south of Carmel, California are, arguably, the most iconic of all American drives. Familiar from book and film, Highway 1 clings to the edge of the country, carrying the driver from dune to forest, past Pacific breakers, towering cliff top views and more than one man-made wonder. This is Big Sur, up there with the world's greatest coastal drives.

      Here are some of the highlights to look out for along the way:

      Carmel (Starting Point)
      Carmel is a pretty seaside town, famous for once having had Clint Eastwood as its mayor. If the appeal of its innumerable art galleries and other chic stores begins to wear thin, seek sanctuary in the quiet calmness of Carmel Mission, founded in 1770 by Father Junipero Serra and the most important of California's chain of 21 missions. And if you're here overnight, there are few better places to watch the sun set than Carmel beach.

      Find Hotels and Motels Near Carmel

      Point Lobos State Reserve
      Point Lobos State Reserve is area of pristine sands, granite bluffs and foaming white surf. Alongside the pleasant and easy walks, the main appeal is the offshore kelp forest that attracts sea lions and - if you're lucky - sea otters. Look out too for the Monterey cypress tree, a species that appears to grow out of the granite rocks and is unique in thriving in this salt-sprayed environment.

      Bixby Creek Bridge

      At 260 ft tall and 700 ft long, Bixby Creek Bridge was, when it in opened in 1932, the largest single-arch span bridge in the world. However, these stark figures do nothing to convey the beauty of this construction. This is a bridge that stands out as being something special, spanning its valley with real grace and style; appropriately enough, it was on Bixby Creek Bridge that Highway 1 was named California's first scenic highway in 1966.

      Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

      Stretch your legs with a hike among the redwoods. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers sensational views of the coast as well as the opportunity to escape the crowds via a number of lengthy trails. For the less energetic, a footpath under Hwy 1 leads to the beautiful McWay Creek waterfall. As the prime camping spot along this section of the coast it can get busy so booking is recommended.

      San Simeon

      San Simeon itself is a fairly unprepossessing village standing at the foot of a mountain. Just up the hill though is one of the most mind-blowing, some might say bizarre, houses in the world, Hearst Castle. Built for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst over a 28 period in the early part of the last century, it is a collection of the world's finest architecture and artwork, set in a fantasy castle of mosaic pools and Roman temples.

      Find Hotels and Motels Near San Simeon

      Frolicking along the beach at Carmel

      Comments 5 Comments
      1. Mark Sedenquist's Avatar
        Mark Sedenquist -
        Yep, this is one of the classic American road trip routes!

      1. Mark Sedenquist's Avatar
        Mark Sedenquist -
        Highway One is closed near the Bixby Bridge -- Click here to see the video from breaking news today
      1. drwhois's Avatar
        drwhois -
        Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
        Highway One is closed near the Bixby Bridge -- Click here to see the video from breaking news today
        still closed?
      1. Midwest Michael's Avatar
        Midwest Michael -
        Yes, if you read the provided link, you'd see that the road reopened last year. However, there have been other sides since. There are no problems right now, but that link is providing information as we hear about new issues.
      1. KeystoneKid's Avatar
        KeystoneKid -
        All I can tell anyone on here who has never driven this route is, DO IT BEFORE YOU DIE, because this is one of the most beautiful scenic drives I have ever taken. We drove it in September (Which is the best time because the kids are back in school and there is little to no traffic) We did a fly drive landing and leaving from LAX where we pick up our rental car and drove up to Yosemite NP, then over the mountains out the Eastern entrance and hit California Rt 395 north to Reno, NV, then we took Rt 50 over to Lake Tahoe and on to San Fransisco where we picked up Rt 1 and drove it along the Beautiful coast the whole way back down to LA. Its was one of the best vacations my wife and I ever had.