You'll never run out of adventures while traveling the second longest highway in the United States.
Traveling along Highway 1—the iconic twisting road that follows the California coastline—is on nearly every bucket list, but far too many heads remain turned west for the entire stretch, missing hundreds of inland treasures. Born and raised in California, I understand the draw of sandy beaches, but I’m here to let you in on three of the most stunning gems that lay east of the winding coastal highway.
Muir Woods is a favorite place to see the iconic California redwoods along Highway 1 for three reasons: location, accessibility, and beauty. It is only 10 minutes off of the highway and a half hour from San Francisco, which is ideal if you want a day full of attractions without spending all your time on the road. For a good distance, the hike is also very accessible to those with lower mobility. Then, it branches off into more difficult hikes for those seeking adventure. Lastly, its trail runs along a perpetually full creek, making it more beautiful than other redwood trails along Highway 1. Many will warn you not to go because of the crowds, but it is easy to avoid them by showing up at opening time.
This gem certainly isn’t hidden, but it’s one of the most beautiful and historically rich places you will see on your trip. The tours balance sharing the intriguing history of the property and its owners with allowing lots of free wandering through the vast castle and gardens. Plus, the castle sits high above the sea, and you won’t get a better view of the rolling green hills and the ocean anywhere else. The best part, in my opinion, is walking across real gold floors beside an indoor pool where actor Cary Grant was known to go swimming.
The Getty Center
This sprawling art museum comprises several buildings and holds thoughtfully curated gardens between each. You will find ancient Egyptian relics, classical-era art, modern sculptures, and rotating exhibits that bring something fresh for each visit. You can also inquire if they have any visiting lecturers, stop at the café for a delicious lunch, or enjoy the hilltop views of Las Angeles To make it an all-day affair, make sure to also visit the Getty Villa Museum, the Getty Center’s counterpart that sits closer to the coastline (just be aware that it requires a separate reservation and fee).
Wherever you choose to visit, though, you really can’t go wrong. The coastline of California is as diverse as it is beautiful, and traveling the second longest highway in the United States, you will never run out of adventures.