Pacific Coast Highway - Route 1

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Pacific Coast Highway - Route 1: Our most recommended tours and activities

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

The tour departs from Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where the boat sets sail into the harbor, home to breathtaking sea views. As the tour leaves the dock, catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Upon leaving the harbor, the boat passes the historic Cannery Row and then enters the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Monterey is one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to the deep submarine canyon close to shore. This is where the search for the wonders of the bay’s marine life begins. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Keep your eyes peeled as you scan the water for the abundance of marine life that lives here. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, fin whales and more. As you sail, listen to the onboard biologist provide fascinating insight into the creatures of the bay, and what is done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. You can expect to see humpback whales daily but, you may also see blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales. One of largest movements of mammals on earth happens just off the coast of Pacific Grove, CA – the south end of Monterey Bay. Gray whales pass by the coast, about a 30-minute ride from Monterey Harbor. Due to the short distance from the “gray whale super highway”, the trips can be shorter in duration for the winter time.

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Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

2. Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

Soak up the beautiful coast of Northern California on this 3.5-hour guided e-bike tour. Visit Lover’s Point with a gorgeous view of the ocean and try to catch a glimpse of sea otters as you ride through the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Conservation Area. Pay homage to the memory of John Denver as you pass his memorial, continue your trek up the coast, and have a chance to see the Point Pinos Lighthouse, which has shone since 1855. Pedal past the sandy shores of Asilomar State Beach, making stops at viewpoints to take in ocean vistas and the fresh sea breeze. Marvel at The Links at Spanish Bay, a stunning golf course with fairways overlooking the ocean, and snap a photo of China Rock and Bird Rock. Last but not least, take a minute to imagine yourself in one of the luxurious mansions along the path. Your local guides will share their knowledge of the area’s unique ocean wildlife and iconic landmarks throughout the tour. The full ride is 21 miles round trip and lasts approximately 3.5 hours, including plenty of time for photographs.

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From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour

3. From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour

Travel scenic California’s Pacific Coast Highway 1 to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, famous for its spectacular ocean views, abundant wildlife, and historical past. You will stop at Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck, where there are great shops and restaurants overlooking the Pacific. Next travel through the famous 17-Mile Drive and see Pebble Beach Golf Course. Photo stops will be made along this gorgeous drive. Your tour continues to Carmel by the sea where ample time is given to walk through this charming town dotted with lovely shops, and beautiful architecture.

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Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

4. Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

Travel along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. This full-day tour takes you along California’s stunning coast to experience the beauty of Highway 1. When you arrive at the Monterey peninsula, follow the 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach to visit the Lone Cypress, where your guide will stop for you to take photos of the rugged, beautiful coast. As your tour continues, visit Monterey city where you can walk down Cannery Row, or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (for an additional cost). From Monterey, your tour continues to the coastal town Pacific Grove, which features charming Victorian-era buildings; and the artsy Carmel-by-the-Sea, where you will visit the historic mission established in 1770. On the way back to San Francisco, drive through Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the United States; and, as you circle round the north end of San Francisco, catch a glimpse of the Seal Rocks in the distance.

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San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

5. San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

Explore the Big Sur and Monterey areas of California at your own pace, and avoid the hassle of organized bus tours. Traveling by private car, enjoy the comfort of seeing the places you want to see without worrying about your departure or arrival time. Learn more about the famous landmarks with a reliable service, offering maximum security and, most of all, the best level of hospitality in the industry. Following a pick-up from your accommodation in San Francisco (pick-ups in other cities in the Bay Area are available on arrangement), get recommendations on the best places to stop to take pictures or explore further; you decide where you want to go. Take a scenic drive from San Francisco to Carmel and Big Sur via State Route 1, the north-south highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of California. Travel the forested road of 17-Mile Drive. Discover the Mission District and Monterey Bay Aquarium. See all the sights of Fisherman's Wharf. Drive down to the Big Sur Bixby Creek Bridge, and marvel at the flora and fauna of Poit Lobos State Reserve south of Carmel before your return to San Francisco.

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California Highlights Express: 3-Day Tour from Los Angeles

6. California Highlights Express: 3-Day Tour from Los Angeles

This 3-day tour includes highlights of the Golden State, such as Santa Barbara, Solvang, the famous Pacific Coast Highway, Carmel, San Francisco, and Yosemite National Park. Day 1: Monday Departing north, travel along the spectacular and scenic California Coast to Santa Barbara. Visit a Spanish Mission and learn how these religious outposts were key in the development of the entire region. Continue to Solvang, a quaint Danish community, and browse the local shops. Your trip continues along Highway 1 through Big Sur to charming Carmel, home to actor Clint Eastwood. Enjoy some free time to stroll through town before heading on to Silicon Valley for overnight. Overnight: Santa Clara – La Quinta Inn & Suites Day 2: Tuesday See for yourself why San Francisco is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Start your day at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise on the world famous San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge and around the notorious Alcatraz Island. Visit Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch and a peek at the sea lions before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square, Chinatown, and the magnificent Nob Hill neighborhood, home to the rich and famous. The tour ends with a night view of the city from the Bay Bridge. Overnight: Modesto – Best Western Palm Court Inn (In Winter: Monterey/Holiday Inn hotel) Day 3: Wednesday Today’s route goes through farmlands of the Joaquin Valley to Yosemite National Park. This 1,200 square mile wonderland of forests, lakes, and waterfalls is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Stop at El Capitan, Bridal-Veil Falls, and the Half Dome before walking to the Yosemite Visitor Center to reach the highest waterfalls in North America, the 730-meter-high Yosemite Falls. In the winter, depart south to route no 1, for a visit to the world famous Hearst Castle, built by the newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. Tour the famous house filled with antiques and see why the castle served as a playground for the rich and famous for the first half of the 20th century.

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From San Francisco: Highway 1 Self-Drive Audio Tour

7. From San Francisco: Highway 1 Self-Drive Audio Tour

Hop in your car and enjoy this self-guided audio tour along the Pacific Coast Highway. Start in San Francisco or LA, and simply follow the GPS guide to explore one of the most beautiful stretches of coastal road in the world. Take your time driving through Monterey Bay, artsy Carmel and more. Your virtual audio guide will share interesting facts and insights as you drive. Admire views of rocky headlands, jewel-like coves, waterfalls and the famous bridges of Big Sur as you explore California’s coastal highlights. Your downloaded guide will give you plenty of opportunities to pull off the road and explore local beaches, wildlife and towns on foot. Wander through San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, Ventura & Malibu before wrapping up the tour in Los Angeles. You will receive an email with the audio tour app link and a unique password from the local supplier within 1 hour of booking. Once the app is downloaded, take the tour whenever you would like. Just head to stop number 1 and begin exploring.

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San Francisco: Muir Woods and Sausalito Experience

8. San Francisco: Muir Woods and Sausalito Experience

The tour departs from Fisherman’s Wharf, aboard a luxury minibus. Relax in comfortable seats and enjoy the scenic views while your tour guide shares fun and informative facts about San Francisco with you. Along the way you will see the Palace of Fine Arts and the Presidio before crossing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. At the North Vista Point, you will stop for some photo opportunities and breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay in the morning lights (weather permitting). The tour continues along the Pacific Coast Highway providing stunning views of the coastal mountains near Mt. Tamalpais, the highest point in the Northern California Coast Ranges and then heads further to Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods is home to Coast Redwoods, some of the world's tallest trees. With maps in hand, take a walk through these spectacular woods and take in the immense natural beauty. Set aside in 1908 as a federally protected area, Muir Woods National Monument is the only surviving stand of Old Growth forest in the Bay Area today. There are a number of paved walking trails where visitors can get a close look at the magnificent giants. Other unpaved walking trails lead up the hills to explore the area further.Please note the admission fee to Muir woods is included ($10 adults, kids are free). After 1 hour in Muir Woods, your tour takes you to charming Sausalito - a small Mediterranean-like village in Marin County, home to some of the country's wealthiest citizens. Sausalito is a gorgeous destination that offers unique boutique shopping, art galleries, fabulous mansions, amazing food and breathtaking views of the bay. You can opt for a drop off in Sausalito should you like to explore this town. If you wish to stay longer in Sausalito, you can enjoy a ferry ride back to San Francisco with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, as well Alcatraz Island (ferry ticket at additional cost).

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San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

9. San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

Begin your tour by traveling south on the famous Pacific Coast Highway, California Highway 1. Head to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. At your first rest stop in Davenport, you will have a chance to take a selfie with the whole Pacific as your backdrop.  At Monterey, you will have 2 hours on your own to explore. You can visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, rent a kayak or paddleboard, hike along the coast, or take a bike to roam. You can also stroll among the quaint boutiques and art shops along the historic Cannery Row. Grab a seafood lunch at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  Enjoy another eyeful of Pacific beauty along the scenic 17-Mile Drive through Del Monte Forest and take photographs of the hardy Lone Cyprus Tree. This famous road winds its way by magnificent homes and the spectacular coastline, between the greens and tees of world famous golf courses, and among the last remaining forest of a rare species of the Monterey Cypress.  Your scenic drive finishes at Pebble Beach Village. Upon arrival in the enchanted town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you can explore the boutique shops on Ocean Avenue and be dazzled by the white sandy beach. If there is time, you can visit the historic Carmel Mission. Then, it will be time to head back to San Francisco. 

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Malibu Wineries Private Group Tour

10. Malibu Wineries Private Group Tour

Take a day trip to Malibu and discover some of the great wineries that the West Coast has to offer. After meeting your expert culinary and wine guide at your hotel or location of choice, get comfortable while your private group travels in a luxury vehicle through one of the most beautiful places in the world. Start out on the Pacific Coast Highway at the award-winning Rosenthal Tasting Room. Known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosenthal was one of the first producers in the area. Ignite your palate by sampling a flight of wine here before continuing north up the coastline and into the hills.  Wind through some of the most scenic and iconic canyon roads in LA County and arrive at Cielo, a private estate and vineyard perched high atop the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounded by 18 acres of grapes. Take a guided walk to a scenic overlook of the property followed by a private tasting of the estate wines, paired with a superb selection of meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, handmade crostini, and fresh bread. Your final stop, just 15 minutes farther into the mountains, is the Cornell Tasting Room. Situated next door to the historic Old Place restaurant, Cornell offers wines from all of the local vineyards in addition to some relatively unknown Central Coast varietals. After this tasting, you will start making your return trip via one of the most beautiful sections of Mulholland Highway.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Pacific Coast Highway - Route 1

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What people are saying about Pacific Coast Highway - Route 1

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 490 reviews

Our Driver and guide, Grady, made this tour worthwhile. The personal stories he interwove into his narration of the sites and scenes made for a most interesting and informative trip. We had adequate time to explore on our own at the various stops and he showed such care and concern for all his passengers, but especially those with challenges.

The tour experience was excellent the tour guide (bus driver) was extremely knowledgeable and polite. He was a true delight. The bus was neat and clean. Ample time was given at rest stops and tour attraction stops. I would go again.

Knowledgeable naturalists add to trip. Clean ship and great experience. Would definitely book again.

It was an nice experience.the crew is awesome and they were so friendly.

Antonio is a knowledgeable tour guide and a good driver.