Route 1 North: Best Drive of My Life (Thus Far)

I left Santa Barbara before the sun came up (5:30 a.m.), taking 101 North to Morrow Bay where I picked up Highway One.

That was all the navigating I needed to do – the rest was a straight shot – 200-plus miles of winding cliffs and ocean views.

I took my time – as I mentioned, it didn’t make sense to go the long way and rush – and I arrived in San Francisco at 3 p.m.

That’s just short of a ten-hour car trip, but I’ve got to be honest: The day flew by and never once was I bored or anxious.

Every corner I turned there was a view that amazed me, something I wanted to capture and hold on to. I probably could have spent three to four days on this route and been happy, content.

The cool thing about the drive is that you hop from small town to small town, all with their own swagger – from the outdoor paradise that is Big Sur to the $9.50 toll road to drive through Pebble Beach (I did not do it yesterday, but I think we’re going to spend the day in Carmel next week, so stay tuned).

Nepenthe Patio Seating

I found an awfully nice spot for a bite and a drink – it’s called Nepenthe and it’s right on Highway One in Big Sur and overlooks a cliff. A coffee, a beer, brunch, lunch, or dinner, it doesn’t matter – stop in and check this place out.

Once that mellows you out, cruise up further into Big Sur and check out Pfeiffer State Park. There are beautiful trails through the thick, burly redwoods (which, FYI, are 500-700 years old), and I did a quick hike (about a mile round-trip) to Pfeiffer Falls.

The breeze was blowing in off the cool Pacific water, passing through the pines along the rocky coast – the air crisp and smelling clean and fresh as if it was winter, as if it wasn’t in the seventies and I wasn’t sweating from the hike.

Tip: It’s ten dollars to park for the day, but you can park on the side of Highway One and walk in for free. There is a turnout just past the park entrance on the left – spend your money on a beer at Nepenthe.

All right – I’m headed out to wander around and walk up some really steep hills. Tonight, we’ll check out Alcatraz for a night tour. Apparently there are a lot of flies?

Photos (click on one, then you can scroll through):

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