PCH Hwy 1, LA to SF.
Greetings! Currently planning a late January trip which, among other things, will take us from LA to San Francisco in a day's drive. I've never driven the Pacific coast Highway (highway 1) and have always wanted to. I understand very well that it will be slower, and add some mileage as opposed to going up 101, but, hey, I don't get to be around oceans much, and the Great Salt Lake is a poor substitute. :)
Questions: Is this feasible to do in a day, and if so, what's worth stopping and seeing?
I would say that one FULL day of driving would 'get you there' but the trip will be much more enjoyable if done in two days and one night.
I agree with taking 2 days. Last year a friend and I drove that route and ended up staying in Monterey which was beautiful. Seeing that area in the early morning was awesome and getting to San Francisco in the afternoon when it's bright and sunny was great. My friend lives in Santa Barbara so I suggest you stop there it's the most beautiful city. I'm from Michigan and wish i could be there again. I plan on driving west come summer I cannot wait. It's freezing here..I truly hate Snow!!!
Maximize the Daylight
Something the previous poster said reminded me to encourage you to start at sunrise and stop after sunset on both days. Maximizing your daylight makes sense for any scenic drive, but especially so for a Pacific coast drive. There are few other places where you will truly experience the subtle differences between early morning light, day light, twilight, etc.
Good luck and safe driving.