RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Lonely Planet Road Trip: California Highway 1, by Paige R. Penland

California Highway 1

"The first thing you will notice when you pick up a copy of Lonely Planet Road Trip: California Highway 1 is its diminutive size. Don't be fooled! There is a wealth of road trip information inside this 4"x 8" booklet, and it's the perfect size for your glove box or even your back pocket as you stroll the beach towns profiled inside. Paige Penland did an especially thorough job of identifying and evaluating eating and recreational business establishments along the 625 miles between Leggett and Dana Point on California Highway One. There's stuff in this book you won't find anywhere else.

Most of us don't normally read guide books cover-to-cover, but the author's sense of humor and derring-do approach as she conveys insider tips about this journey may well lead you to read it in a single sitting as I did. The book includes nine fold-out maps that are well designed and incorporated into the front and back covers of the book. It's possible to find all of the attractions she describes in the book with no other maps.

The book features twenty-two towns and cities along the route, and the author includes tips for finding superb scenery, attractions, unusual restaurants, sleeping options, and information about some of the scenic destinations between the larger towns. I have been to many of the places she describes, and her recommendations match well with my own experiences in those locales.

In this book you will discover the location of the top nine nude beaches, the single best park bench, and the author's choices for the best places to harvest strawberries, apples, and mushrooms. Penland also looks for and shares some great bargains including San Francisco's "Pluto's Fresh Food for a Hungry Universe," where organic salads and classic meat-and-potatoes meals range from $3 to $7. There are a number of suggested side trips, including one to the Santa Lucia hot springs where guests can stay overnight in yurts at a Soto Zen monastery. She also shares tips about a street-side kiosk in Santa Monica where you can get free tickets to watch TV shows being filmed. The book provides information about choosing destinations that appeal to children and detailed information about hiking and exploring many of the county and state parks along the route.

Since road trips are often not prepackaged, totally planned excursions, the author does a good job of detailing some of the challenges that road trippers may face following this route. The experience of traveling California's Highway One is something everyone should aspire to—this book will help make such a journey a real adventure.


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