7 Stunning Viewpoints on the Pacific Coast Highway

At just over six hundred and fifty miles in length, and running along much of the coast of California, the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most popular road trip destinations in the United States. Featuring possible stops in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with some superb coastal scenery, the great variety of the route is what has helped it to be one of the enduring journeys in American culture. There are also some great spots along the route where you can stop the car, relax and take in the sensational views that can be seen along this wonderful stretch of coastline.

01 of 07

Bixby Bridge

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This spot just a short distance from the town of Big Sur has appeared in car commercials as well as plenty of visitors photographs, and there is a very good reason it is a popular place to stop. This arching concrete bridge spans the Bixby Creek, and is on a lush green section of the coastline with excellent views both up and down the coast. This is a great place to stop if you are looking for a good photograph, especially when the weather is fair, while it is also popular for those wanting to enjoy the sunset here.

02 of 07

The Shrine Drive-Thru Tree

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It isn't just the coastline that is spectacular along the Pacific Coast Highway, as this lovely site in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park is well worth the stop along the route. The tree itself is a large tree which has a split through the base of the tree, which is large enough for vehicles to drive through. Along with this interesting detour from the highway, you can also enjoy stunning views of the spectacular redwood trees that soar hundreds of feet above you.

03 of 07

Point Dume

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This superb promontory is just a short distance from Malibu, and has some great views along the cliffs. The best spot of all is a short hike from the car park, with the path taking you through some interesting scenery before you get to the viewpoint at the top of the cliffs. The lovely view across Zuma Beach is a great spot on a clear day, and you may even recognize the beach as it has often been used as a film setting in some significant Hollywood productions.

04 of 07

Mendocino Bay Viewpoint

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The town of Mendocino is a great place for a stop, and just south of the town is this pleasant spot which has nice views back over the town itself, along with point where Big River enters into the Pacific Ocean. At the top of the cliffs from this viewpoint, there is a simple bench where you can sit and appreciate the views, while you will sometimes see surfers and swimmers enjoying the water on the beach below.

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

McWay Waterfall

McWay Falls in Big Sur

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre  

This waterfall is one of only two in California which cascades directly on to the beach, and while you don't quite get a view of the falls as you drive by, you can pull over and view the falls from the shoulder, or take a walk down to the beach to take a closer look. The waterfall used to be a part of a domestic property, but this was donated to the state in the 1960s, and became a public park, allowing everyone to enjoy this attractive spot.

06 of 07


Tom Hilton/Flikr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Just a short hop across the bridge from San Francisco, the town of Alexander is a great place to stop, and this is mainly because it offers some superb places from which you can view the most distinctive man-made landmark along the entire coast. The Golden Gate Bridge is certainly one sight which you shouldn't miss, and on a clear day, you can see the two towers and the soaring cables over the glistening water, making this a great place to stop and make the most of the view.

07 of 07

Greyhound Rock Beach

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Named for the distinctive rock that rises from the ocean just offshore, you can stay on top of the cliffs here to enjoy the view along the coast, or you can make your way down to the beach to enjoy the area for a little while longer. The road down to the beach is quite steep, while you can also climb up on to Greyhound Rock itself to get a great view back on to the beach and of the cliffs that back on to the beach.

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