20 July 2010

Heavenly Highway 1

The term God's country had little relevance to me...until we drove the historic Highway 1. From Cambria to Monterey, this stretch of highway truly feels a bit like heaven.

We started our trek from Paso Robles, heading west to the coast. While the crown jewel is the coastal drive, the "getting there" wasn't bad either! Winding roads through hills that keep the cool sea air from blasting Paso; vineyards and wineries leading the way; and morning fog making for an eerie
proach to the quaint town of Cambria. Could it really get any better than this?

Whether starting in Cambria (as we did) or elsewhere along Highway 1, this lazy vacation town is a must-stop. The main strip of downtown boasts quaint shops and bistro-gourmet dining. Try Indigo Moon for a bountiful brunch experience. Live music every Sunday, outdoor garden seating, and copious cuisine make this stop more than worthwhile. And the food is fresh and affordable! Eggs Benedict served atop crab cakes instead of muffins; fish and chips that put its competitors to shame (I think they fried the entire fish for this dish!); and thick, juicy, gourmet burgers served with a side of sweet potato fries...there is a little something for everyone here.

Continuing north back toward home, the road takes you down, up, and up-close-and-personal with the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Winding along mere feet from sea level and climbing up for beautiful views are what this drive is all about. Try accessing the fireroad across from Ragged Point for some killer panoramas and a good hike (4 miles gaining 1,700 feet gives even the in-shape a workout). Or for the tourist in all of us, visit the Hearst Castle (media mogul William Hearst's
picturesque mansion) in San Simeon.

From Ragged Point (a good pit stop along the way), Big Sur starts to dominate the east side of Highway 1. All along the way, hiking trails invite the adventurous, and viewpoints invite the rest. But for hikers and non-hikers alike, one trail is a must for everyone...the McWay Waterfall Trail. A mere .6 mile stroll along boardwalk takes you to Big Sur's most distinctive photo-op – an 80 foot waterfall cascading into the ocean.

Continuing north takes you to the heart of Big Sur and toward Carmel and Monterey. But for a quick dinner stop away from Carmel crowds or Monterey mayhem, try Big Sur Roadhouse. Though the happy hour was what led us in, the California-Latin cuisine kept us there. Some of the freshest tortilla soup I've ever had – chunks of veggies and delicate broth served with homemade tortilla chips.

With outstanding food, outstanding views, outstanding hikes, and fewer crowds than you'd expect, Highway 1 is truly a bit of heaven right here in California.


  1. Here, here! I always love the drive along highway 1. For those that like to drive fast and take turns, it is some of the most driving around too!

  2. That is for sure...the turns, going fast, and doing it in a convertible! Could life get better?=)