I'll admit, when my husband first suggested we do the Pacific Coast drive down to L.A., I didn't really jump at the chance. He said "scenic route" and I heard '10 hour drive... with a baby'. However, once I started researching, and he threw in a quaint hotel stop, I was game.
The drive took us two days, but it could have easily taken a week if we had the time to enjoy all of it's sites. Running North-South, the Pacific Coast Highway offers up some of the most breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline. And driving it's winding, mountainous roads (p.s. - probably not the trip for you, if you have vertigo) proves nothing short of an adventure. Personally speaking, the best part of this trip was driving alongside the ocean. It was like a sparking blue expansive treasure chest, guarding a world of wildlife. We saw pairs of dolphins skip through the waves, pelicans skim the surface, and seals washed up on shore. Perhaps animals we've all seen before, but there was something nice about driving the open road and seeing them in their natural habitat. (Hey, I'm coming from suburbia, where the only wildlife I see is the weekly raccoon-cat brawl on garbage night. This was a treat.)
A must see is 17 Mile Drive. It'll cost you $10, but well worth it to take the drive through Pebble Beach's gated community. Here you'll get a mix of beautiful coastal scenery, as well as the mansions and golf courses of the small community - The Hamptons of California if you will. You can follow the numbered look out brochure, or simply drive through at your own leisure. Either way, you'll take in some gorgeous views.
As promised, we made that hotel stop for the night, at none other than Tickle Pink Inn. Located in the Carmel Highlands, this luxury hotel meets cozy cottage was the perfect stop after a long day's drive. With ocean front view, marshmallow soft bed linens, and impeccable service, I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone doing this drive. (They secretly stole my heart when they magically produced a crib for our baby - but that's another story for another post).
We continued our journey through Big Sur to cap things off. Although we didn't have enough time, Big Sur is well known for it's camp grounds and hiking trails - a fantastic spot for the outdoorsy traveler. We did however stop at the famous Bixby Bridge, home to thrillers such as James Bond and Fast and the Furious. It wasn't nearly as much fun driving it at 25 miles per hour, but exciting to see nonetheless - as was the entire drive.
*Click all images to expand
It started out as an overcast day - but we were on our way! Down the PCH.
If you're considering hotels in the Carmel area, may I suggest the Tickle Pink Inn
Take a drive through 17 Mile Drive at your own leisure, or plan a detailed trip with their interactive map.
Waves crashing down like thunder at 17 Mile Drive.
From a distance, it's just a rock formation.
But take a closer look and...
...it's a giant island, home to seals and pelicans.
It's true what they say, at some point in your life, you should live by the water.
To let the waves drown out your thoughts.
To stare out at it's peaceful expanse.
Our last stop before hitting the interstate - Elephant Seals
(No they're not dead. They're sleeping, scratching, sparring, vocalizing, and flipping sand.)
I'm glad we did the drive, and honestly can't wait to do it again to see everything we missed. Between the open roads and water, wrapping around winding cliffs, and jumping out every few miles to shoot, this 'scenic' drive was pleasantly unexpected. For those seeking adventure, add it to your bucket list - file under must do road trips!