Have you been dreaming of taking the iconic Pacific Coastal Hwy road trip? We did it in 2017, and despite Big Sur being closed at the time, there were still plenty of instagrammable stops and amazing sights to see. Here are a few of our favorites.
The California Road Trip of a Life time
In late 2016, I began planning the California Road trip of a lifte time for May 2017! Right away my husband expressed his desire to experience the infamous Pacific Coast Highway. I quickly took to planning our route and researching all the major stopping points: San Francisco, Monterey, Pacific Grove, the 17 mile Drive, Big Sur, Julia Pfiffer Burns State Park and so much more! I chose hotels, booked everything, and began daydreaming about all we would encounter.
Big Sur No More!
One afternoon in early February 2017, I logged on to take a look at our route. I couldn’t figure out why the map kept rerouting after o highway 101 after Carmel-by-the-Sea. No matter how many times I tried to force it back to highway 1, it refused to stay put! Curious, I did a quick google search. Low and behold I discovered California was experiencing the wettest season in over a decade. This was great news for California’s drought, but bad news for it’s highways, and BAD NEWS for us!
Saddened by these developments, I was concerned our day dreams about California coastal driving and epic west coast crashing waves would remain a day dream forever. I began following all the Caltrans pages and twitter feeds! I kept up so closely! In fact, even much of our route along the eastern half of California was in jeopardy early in 2017. Many roads into Sequoia National Park and Yosemite were also experiencing large landslides and road closures. Then there was flooding in the central valley! I was really beginning to wonder how I could have picked such an unwise year to travel to California for the first time in our lives!
Sadly, Big Sur is still out of commission. A week after we left this area, while in Yosemite, another massive landslide occurred destroying another major section of the coastline along the Pacific Coast Highway. As a business owner, my heart breaks for the people here who have their homes and livelihoods now in such jeopardy.
Should You Delay Your California Road Trip? I say NO!
Now, the question remains. Is a Pacific Coastal Highway road trip worth it even when major parts of the road is closed? From my perspective, ABSOLUTELY! Of course, my perspective is from someone who did not experience Big Sur, Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, or Julia Burns Pfeiffer State Park. Maybe I missed more than I realize, but we had an amazing time and found it to be beautiful at every turn.
But, as you can see from these amazing pictures, I feel we experienced some of the most beautiful west coast scenery! After we experienced amazing sunrises in Monterey, we headed into Pacific Grove and were greeted with the amazing landscapes of Lover’s Point Park.
Pacific Grove, 17 Mile Drive, and Carmel-by-the-Sea
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Point Pinos Lighthouse is owned by Pacific Grove and is the oldest existing lighthouse on the West Coast. Unfortunately, it wasn’t opened yet so we were only able to snap a quick picture from the outside.
Leaving Pacific Grove, we headed on to the famous 17 mile drive. The entry fee is $10, but it was well worth it!
Another great pic from our drive through #pebblebeach last week. We finished our coastal tour of #California and are headed into @sequoiakingsnps today. Super excited! #epic #california #roadtrip Visit my website or FB page to sign up for our #giveaway #worlderlust #ig_travel #doyoutravel #welltravelled #exploringtheglobe #travelawesome #serialtraveler #IAmTraveler #worldnomads #neverstopexploring #wonderfulplaces #planetwanderlust #openmyworld #traveltheworld #instago #roamtheplanet #fantastic_world #travelgram #fromwhereistand #livelovetravel #traveler #wanderlust #goextraordinary #ig_captures
The Tuck Box-Tea and Scones Anyone?
While on the 17 mile drive, we stopped in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Taking a recommendation from a friend, we took our daughter to The Tuck Box for tea and scones! I’m pretty sure this was one of the highlights of the entire trip for her!
I would absolutely do it all over again in a heart beat. The only change I would make to the itinerary would be to extend my time in each destination by one or two more days! I share this post in an effort to encourage anyone out there considering a California coastal road trip not to be too discouraged by the closure of Big Sur! There is still so much to see!
Highway 101 Is Scenic Too!
Also, don’t discount Hwy 101! On Highway 101 you will see the vast diversity of California’s geography! If you had followed me on Facebook while there, you would have seen my amazement and pure pleasure at the landscape’s we experienced. The geography of California seemed to change every thirty minutes.
We went from sweeping coastal vistas, to acres of flat gorgeous agricultural farmland, back up to lush green mountains, followed by large foreboding rocks and cliffs! There was barely a moment that I wasn’t snapping pictures, posting to social media, or just exclaiming WOW!
Don’t Miss SLO!
Santa Barbara: Not A Bad Place To Pause
After our great dinner, we headed on toward Santa Barbara, California. We arrived late, but were greeted the next morning with amazing views. We enjoyed two fabulous days of exploring this beautiful Spanish influenced coastal town. Stick around for more reasons why I don’t regret my 2017 Epic California Road Trip!