Coasting down Highway 1 is every bit the dream drive it’s made out to be: breathtaking views of of the Pacific Ocean crashing on the coastline. Warm salty breezes and clear blue skies. Delicious California cuisine. All of these elements are what make driving through the Central Coast of Cali one next-level road trip. Now, after more than 18 months of road closures following an 18-acre landslide that took out a section of the legendary route, this iconic road has reopened, giving more reason than ever to check this epic voyage off your wanderlust list. —Karen Kwan
stay. Start your road trip in Monterey and drive south through the Central Coast so you can more easily pull off the road to vista points. Stay at Casa Munras Garden Hotel, a comfortable property in Monterey’s heritage district with hacienda-style rooms and a tapas restaurant on site, along with a pool and spa. Plus, you’re just a 10-minute walk from Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can grab a fresh seafood meal at Scales Steak & Seafood (try the bountiful seafood paella) while enjoying the views of the harbour. Once you return home, rewatch Big Little Lies after your visit to Monterey to see what sights you recognize.
see. Rent a convertible for that signature Highway 1 experience—nothing beats having that warm ocean breeze in your hair as you swoop down the coast in your whip—and plan for plenty of time for your drive so you can stop at as many viewpoints as you wish. Pindrop on your smartphone iconic points of interest: the princely Bixby Bridge, a visit to the renowned Monterey Aquarium if you have time, and the purple sands of Pfeiffer State Beach, to name just a few.
savour. Perched on the edge of the continent, Ventana Big Sur is a worthy stop for a meal and for a break to stretch your legs. Enjoy the view of forest and the Pacific Ocean from their restaurant Sur House as you enjoy your meal. Think refined coastal cuisine: crispy oyster lettuce wraps, gulf shrimp rolls and cioppino (with an impressive choice of California wines to pair with it, if you’re not the designated driver, natch).
sip. It’d be a sin to not stop for a wine tasting when California has an abundance of delicious vino to offer. Pull off of Route 1 to stop at the Hearst Ranch Winery tasting room in San Simeon. It’s set inside the historic Sebastian’s General Store, which dates back to 1852, and you’ll be just steps away from the San Simeon Pier and you get dig your toes into the sand at the charming quiet beach here. Art lovers, plan for plenty of time for a visit across Highway 1 to Heart Castle as there are more than 25,000 artifacts at this gem of a historic estate.
swim. Standing 581-feet high, Morro Rock is an impressive volcanic remnant in the town of Morro Bay. Resist the urge to climb the rock (it’s illegal to), and instead watch the surfers taking advantage of the waves in the bay. The beach break is wide enough that it offers different waves for whatever level you are, so surf lovers should definitely rent a boar, pull on a wetsuit and hang ten while in this charming San Luis Obispo County town.