5 Beautiful Coastal Drives Around the Bay Area

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With a coastline that stretches for over 800 miles, we never tire of the gorgeous vistas that can be admired while cruising down the California coast. Check out these five gorgeous drives (perfect for a day-trip from the city), the next time you want to feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, and the spray of the ocean.


The Great Highway, San Francisco

You don't even have to leave SF for a glorious view of the Pacific. The Great Highway only stretches a few miles from Ocean Beach through the Sunset to Lake Merced, but you can always keep heading south onto Highway 1. This part of Highway 1 meanders through the hills and takes travelers through the small beach towns of Pacifica, Montara, and Half Moon Bay.

West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz's West Cliff Drive can be completed in less than an hour from start to finish. The drive begins just south of downtown Santa Cruz past the Santa Cruz Wharf and winds its way west along the rugged coastline. You'll drive past the famous Steamer Lane surfing spot, Lighthouse Field State Beach, and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, before ending just short of Natural Bridges State Park.

Highway 1 Through Big Sur

Just south of Carmel, this portion of Highway 1 offers 30 miles of some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in California with expansive views that look out across the Pacific Ocean. It's worth it to continue all the way down to Cambria, which is another 60 miles, and stop at the elephant seal rookery just south of Piedras Blancas.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Travelers getting off Highway 101 shortly after the Golden Gate Bridge will be met with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean near Stinson Beach and Bolinas before heading further inland. Once you're at Tomales Bay, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard cuts west toward the Pacific Ocean, ending at the iconic Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Highway 1 Through Mendocino County

Meander the curvy road from from Highway 128 to Highway 1 for varying views of the Pacific and Mendocino's' gorgeous vineyards. From here, Fort Bragg is just a 10-mile drive; stop for a visit at the famous Glass Beach.

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