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Groove on with the perfect Highway 1 Summer Road Trip

Can you hear it, adventure-seekers? That mesmerizing siren song beckoning you to load up the car, crank the tunes and set a course down the sun-drenched ribbon of Highway 1? If ocean breezes and windswept vistas have been dancing through your daydreams, it’s time to stop dreaming and start driving towards the ultimate summer Highway 1 road trip! From the craggy, mist-shrouded cliffs of Ragged Point to the undulating, bronzed dunes of Nipomo, this iconic coastal byway unfurls a wealth of natural riches begging to be explored. Discover pristine beaches populated by majestic elephant seals, emerald hills revealing peaceful sanctuaries and boardwalks bustling with surfers and sea life. One thing’s for sure: The perfect summer Highway 1 Road Trip is no one hit wonder. Discovering new adventures each time you hop in the driver’s seat, visitors will want to hit repeat on this playlist, again and again.

1. Tune into the magic

Do you believe in magic? You soon will. Let the romantic splash of waves ignite your imagination as you map out an exhilarating Highway 1 summer road trip. Take time to dream: Maybe you’ll chase the allure of planet earth’s largest creatures aboard a whale-watching tour. Perhaps you’ll lose yourself among the laid back beach towns where time ticks a little slower. Will this be the summer you kayak into sea caves or tread dazzling coastal trails? Whether you’re traveling with the family or Fido, discover incredible Highway 1 summer road trip itineraries tailored to give life to your most decadent daydreams. Whichever path you choose, rest assured that jaw-dropping vistas, hidden coves and wildlife encounters galore will make this Highway 1 summer road trip a classic hit.

Hit Play: “Do You Believe in Magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Whale Watching San Simeon

2. Explore with Abandon

Catch a wave and you’re sitting on the top of the world! For those seeking a sun-drenched summer full of outdoor fun, we’ve curated the region’s most epic surfing, kayaking, biking and hiking adventures from sandy bluffs to secret black sand beaches. Whether you mountain bike along the renowned trails of Montaña de Oro State Park or discover a hidden waterfall at the Gateway to Big Sur, find a million and one ways to traverse this captivating coastal terrain. While there’s ATVs, horseback rides and even biplanes to consider, not all Highway 1 outdoor activities are ultra-rugged: Visitors can just as easily search for glowing treasures on Cambria’s Moonstone Beach, savor a seaside wine tasting in San Simeon or enjoy a stroll through the storybook town of Harmony, population 18. 

Hit Play: “Sitting on Top of the World” by The Beach Boys

Biplane ride over Oceano & Pismo Beach, CA

3. Be one with Nature

The sound of silence is golden on Highway 1. For summer roadtrippers seeking solitude and serenity, meet your new happy place! Explore protected sanctuaries and preserves all along the route offering up beautiful flora and fauna, coastal views and (most importantly) a break from the hustle of modern life. Allow Highway 1’s ethereal hills, untouched cliffs and uncrowded beaches to ease your mind. Delight in hundreds of Monarch butterflies in flight in Pismo Beach or birdwatch along the Bob Jones Trail in Avila Beach, stretching from forested mineral springs to sea. From the fairytale charm of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria to the epic vistas of Oceano’s Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, tranquil pockets of wilderness beckon all. Plus, we’ll equip you with helpful Stewardship Travel for Good tips ensuring Highway 1’s astounding ecosystem remains vibrant for generations of roadtrippers to come. 

Recommended song: “Big Sur” by Jack Johnson

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Bench

4. Go with the flow

Throw out the map. Yes, you heard that right! While there’s tons of awesome Highway 1 adventures to choose from, the most important factor is free-wheeling fun. Steal a page from the wanderers’ manifesto and leave at least a slice of freedom for those unplanned detours that so often pop up along this dynamic coastal route. Sure, mark our favorite must-stop seafood restaurants, historical sites (world-famous Hearst Castle comes to mind) and prime wildlife-viewing pullouts. But don’t be afraid to veer from the agenda when an enticing farmstand or surprise animal sighting presents itself. With zero traffic, friendly coastal communities and awesome boutique shopping to discover, life opens up along Highway 1. Who knows—you might even stumble upon a real life shipwreck surrounded by glittering tidepools. This summer road trip is yours to travel.

Recommended song: “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Avila Valley Barn, Avila Beach

5. Share the Love

Share happiness, share Highway 1. No Highway 1 summer road trip is complete without stunning selfies and Instagram-worthy stretches of coastline sure to inspire double-taps of awe. Share your own amazing Highway 1 summer road trip with on Instagram or Facebook for a chance to be featured on your social media feed! Inspire your friends and keep your family members guessing what you’re up to next. From wildflower-strewn hills and historic walking tours to historic lighthouses, there’s much to capture along around every sun-kissed curve.

Recommended song: “Happy” by Pharell Williams

Share the Vibe

Share your Highway 1 roadtrip experience on Instagram and Facebook and watch the love roll in. Sure, you might inspire a bit of FOMO among your followers, but that’s a chance we’re willing to take. From Hearst Winery’s picture-perfect oceanfront hangout toto Ragged Point’s famous selfie-approved photo opp, Highway 1 has a way of punching up even the dullest feeds (plus, you’ll have a lasting keepsake of all the wonderful places you’ve ventured).Truly, Highway 1’s golden landscape was meant to be shared with the world: You never know when one of Hearst’s famous zebras, an adorable gaggle of sea otters or a fluttering mass of Monarch butterflies will cross your path. From pristine beaches to historic lighthouses and romantic Mission architecture, there’s a reason why so many folks celebrate weddings, anniversaries and birthdays along Highway 1. Our landscape is simply unforgettable, both in photo and IRL. That said, you need no big reason to #Highway1 along your route. Any old day along our coast is worth celebrating, posting and sharing. Go forth and #highway1roadtrip to be featured on our account!

Do Good Along the Way

Do good and feel good when you practice sustainability on your Highway 1 road trip. We know how much you appreciate this incredible landscape, its ecosystems and rich history. With that in mind, we humbly ask that you help keep our coastline pristine for generations to come. Home to countless fauna, flora and animal life, there’s plenty of important reasons to consider your own ecological footprint. To support and care for our Highway 1 ecology, follow these easy Stewardship Travel for Good tips along the way. That’s right: our handy guides encompass everything from beach cleanup opportunities, educational enrichment and wildlife viewing best practices. You can even roll up your sleeves and get involved in local conservation efforts! What can we say? With much beauty comes much responsibility. Thank you for taking the time to keep Highway 1 healthy.

Morro Bay Audubon Society Sign

See You Soon

Ready to hit Highway 1 for the ultimate road trip? We sure are. With so many incredible stops to explore along the way, the breadth of ideas could make your head spin! Thankfully, we’re always here to help you navigate the road ahead (and it is a beautiful road, indeed). From daydreaming up the ultimate adventure to picking perfect sightseeing stops and curating a cruise-worthy playlist, we’ve prepared you to hit the pavement. As always, keep our Stewardship Travel for Good mantras in mind and be sure to share your experiences of Highway 1 on social media for the whole world to see. Now, one last thing to remember: Go have some fun out there!