Top 5 Things to Do This Spring Along Highway 1

With endless blue skies and awe-inspiring sights, Spring is the perfect time to visit scenic Highway 1. Home to charming coastal communities like Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay and Avila Beach, discover countless ways to enjoy the beauty of springtime on the California Central Coast. Whether enjoying a beach day, visiting art galleries, savoring fresh dining experiences, hiking or exploring historic sites, Highway 1 is brimming with refreshing ways to soak up the season. Admire colorful wildflowers, discover shimmering tide pools and paddle pristine waters. Ready to embark on your own Highway 1 road trip? Read on for the top things to do this Spring along Highway 1’s coastal towns and best beaches.

Avila Beach Family

1. Find Your Beach

Plan an epic beach adventure on Highway 1! Luckily, this task is as easy as pulling off the highway and following your bliss. With an expansive and dynamic coastline, choose from white sandy beaches, sweeping cliffs and secluded coves. Aside from boasting incredible natural beauty, Highway 1 beaches are known for uncrowded vibes, historic piers, astounding animal sightings and epic surf spots, too. Find a diverse collection of attractions nearby each of Highway 1’s celebrated beach cities, from seaside wine tasting and elephant seals in San Simeon to antique shopping and e-bikes in Cayucos. Whether you beachcomb for moonstones in Cambria, romp along dog-friendly sands in Morro Bay or savor a dreamy sunset picnic in Avila Beach, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to unfurl your beach towel along Highway 1.

Avila Beach SUP Paddleboard

2. Hike and Paddle

Embrace the great outdoors (and beyond) along rugged Highway 1. Combine the charm of Highway 1 beach destinations with invigorating outdoor activities, including world class hiking and kayaking excursions. Known for legendary trails and nature walks, bask in breathtaking spring views from Montaña de Oro State Park to the Fiscalini Preserve. From the wildflower-dotted peaks of Ragged Point to the rolling sand dunes of Grover Beach and Oceano, you won’t believe the diversity—or unbridled beauty—of Highway 1’s famously wide-open spaces. Kayakers are in for a similar treat: Whether you paddle to a lighthouse in Avila Beach or investigate Pismo Beach’s ancient sea caves, Highway 1 is equally breathtaking from sea level. Plus, popular Highway 1 whale watching tours provide the added promise of spotting a magical breech along the horizon!

Kelsey See Canyon peacock

3. Savor Wine and Food Experiences

Taste freshness in every sip along Highway 1. With several renowned wine regions accessible from Highway 1, savor balanced, cool-climate wines, including Edna Valley’s award-winning pinot noir and chardonnay. Located just a few miles from the Pacific, the SLO Coast Wine region is as diverse as it is delicious: Visit welcoming Edna Valley tasting rooms surrounded by lush vineyards, discover the quaint wineries of Arroyo Grande and meet a band of roaming peacocks while sipping in Avila Beach. With a dynamic urban wine trail winding through downtown San Luis Obispo and dozens of enticing farm-to-table restaurants nestled all along Highway 1, taste a cornucopia of culinary experiences, including special pairings and multi-course winemaker dinners. You’ll also want to check local calendars for exciting food and wine festivals, many of which blend chef-crafted eats with the best local producers of wine, craft beer, spirits and more.

Tour the Dana Adobe in Nipomo

4. Explore Cultural and Historic Sites

History, art and culture collide along Highway 1—don’t miss a monument. The jewel of San Simeon, majestic Hearst Castle is a world famous destination and a sight for both first-time and repeat visitors to behold. Perched on a seaside cliff overlooking the ocean, this lavish abode is open for tours of its many opulent rooms, pools, architectural features, art collections and terraces. Several historic mission structures are also easily accessible from Highway 1, including Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and the Dana Adobe, representing lasting relics of early California life. Discover the fascinating legacy of train transport at the Oceano Train Depot or get an introduction to Highway 1’s early bohemian residents, the Dunites, in Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. Kids will get a kick out of walking an ancient swinging footbridge in Arroyo Grande, an adventure culminating in a self-guided tour of a historic one-room schoolhouse (keep an eye out for wild chickens). Plus, art shines everywhere along Highway 1, from glass and ceramics in Cambria to unique works depicting local surf culture in Cayucos.

Hearst Ranch wine

5. Jump into Spring Festivals and Events

Spring is the most exciting time to take part in annual Highway 1 festivals and events. Spanning food, wine, arts, live music and more, enjoy a unique combination of top shelf talent and home-grown community spirit. Kick back and relax as the SLO International Film Festival (April 25 – 30, 2024) brings movie magic flickering to life across multiple theaters. Sip dozens of local wines at the seaside SLO Coast Wine Classic (April 6-7, 2024), which combines delicious food and wine pairings, seminars and a sunset grand tasting by the sea. Love live music? Rock out to national and emerging indie and electronic artists at the Shebang Music Festival (May 3 – 4, 2024) in San Luis Obispo or check out Avila Beach’s popular Concerts at the Cove (May-Oct. 2024). For those ready to savor life’s simple pleasures, the family-friendly Morro Bay Kite Festival (April 26, 2024) sends colorful kites dancing in the wind.

Tickets and info

For up-to-date information and tickets to Highway 1’s best Spring festivals and events, check out our Highway 1 Road Trip events page or go to the event’s official web page, ensuring you know before you go.

See You This Spring

Now that you’ve cruised through our ultimate California road trip itinerary along Highway 1, it’s time to hit the gas. Plan your Highway 1 road trip with the area’s best Spring travel destinations—and don’t forget to share your findings with us on Instagram and Facebook! Along the way, discover amazing California coastal towns and beaches, fun outdoor activities, photo-worthy views, fresh wine tasting, farm-to-table culinary experiences and so much more. Sounds like you’re well on your way to the best Spring road trip yet.