Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in a rental car

The Pacific Coast Highway or also known as State Route 1, is a highway that connects several cities in the state of California in the United States. As starting and ending points, it has the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and its tourist attraction is in the wonderful view that the Pacific Ocean provides for most of the way.

On this occasion, we are going to make the route starting from Los Angeles in a rented car, because on this side of the road you can admire the sun in all its splendor. It is important to know that the route can be done during a single day trip, but if you do it this way, you will miss out on many things and the idea is to know little by little, to make the most of the time ; so it is best to do it in two days to be able to visit some of its most important points.

First day

We will start in Los Angeles, specifically at the airport (LAX), since most of the hotels in the city are close to it, also because many car rental companies have offices nearby, so it is easier to pick up the rental car with the that you are going to travel, to be ready and embark on the journey.

Click here to see the route on Google Maps

Saint Barbara
To go from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara you have to go through places such as the Santa Monica Pier and the city of Malibu, generally it is two hours between one city and another driving by car. Being there, you can visit various places; there is the Santa Barbara Zoo, which is famous for having more than 500 species of animals and for providing a personal experience with them, or you can also visit the Lotusland, which is a set of 18 gardens, considered the Jewel of the city .

Saint Barbara
San Luis Bishop
From Santa Bárbara we will leave for the next stop, which is San Luis Obispo, on a journey that also lasts a little over two hours. There we will go in the middle of the road, and the reason why many of these routes can take time is because the maximum speed in some sections of the route does not exceed 88 kilometers per hour, this measure is to avoid accidents, as well When renting a car in California, the ideal is that you include vehicle insurance such as LIS and CDW, which protect you against third parties and cover you in case of accidents on the road.

In San Luis Obispo there are many places to visit, such as the Botanical Garden, or the Bishop Peak (in English Bishop Peak), but there is a site that usually attracts the attention of many visitors due to its tourist attraction, this is the “ Bubblegum Alley ”. An alley 4 meters high and 20 meters long, totally covered with chewing gum, in which tourists and locals leave their “sweet contribution” to the street art work. The alley is in the heart of the city and there is a parking lot only two minutes away, where you can leave your rental car.

Saint Simeon
To get to our last stop on the first day, we will pass through wonderful cities, such as Cayucos, Harmony and Cambria; But we will stay in San Simeón not only because the lodging is a little cheaper, but also because it is very close to the first tourist destination on our second day. And although you can rest a bit, it does not hurt to take turns at the wheel to get to appreciate the view of the second day from the passenger seat, the good thing is that you can include an additional driver when you book a rental car, as long as it is over 25 years old, meet the same requirements as the main driver, and be present when picking up the car.

Second day

Click here to see the route on Google Maps

Hearst Castle
Only five kilometers are between the Pacific Coast Highway and Hearst Castle; and the main reason to deviate for a moment to visit this place is that this castle is a tribute to opulence and art, there you can take tours since it works as a museum. Something that you cannot miss are the wonderful pools of the residence, one outdoors called Neptuno and the other indoor called Roman, which are surrounded by sculptures and are as extravagant as the rest of the residence.

Monterey Bay
Once we visit the castle, it is time to return to the route and drive 149 kilometers to Monterey Bay, where there are several tourist sites. First up is Carmel by the Sea, a city known for its bohemian flair and art galleries. Then, 13 minutes away we will drive to the 17 Mile Drive natural area, which is a path that hugs the Pacific Ocean and where it is common to see sea lions concentrated on the rocky surfaces of the road, so the limit of Maximum speed in this area is 40 kilometers per hour, thus avoiding any type of accident on the road.

And to end this small tour of Monterey Bay, we have the city of Santa Cruz, where you can find the Surf Museum and the city’s pier.

San Francisco
And if you’ve spent enough time in Santa Cruz, you can go to San Francisco, from there it is only an hour and 20 minutes driving. It is up to each person to decide when to finish walking, and that is the good thing about traveling in a rented vehicle , you can choose what to do with your time and why not? take the wheel to "The City on the Bay" at sunset, while the sun goes down and the wind caresses your hair.

The route along the Pacific Coast Highway is a journey that is worth doing, due to the impressive landscapes that the road has. One point in favor is that many car rental companies in the United States can deliver the vehicle to you in one city and let you return it in another, so you can make trips like this, without having to rent a car in San Francisco, or in each city ​​you visit, since the one you rented in Los Angeles is enough.