California Highway 1
Okay so, hypothetically, you’re driving from L.A. to San Francisco. You have two options. You can take the fast route that will make sure you get to San Fran without running out of gas and in time to check into your hotel, or you can do the smart thing and take the winding, precarious, time-suck route along the coast. I know, I’m not exactly selling it well here, but it actually is worth the extra hassle to see the views and swing through the race-like curves along the way.
I basically scared the stuffing out of my passenger while driving through this highway. It’s incredibly fun if you’re behind the wheel, somewhat less when you’re sitting with your life in someone else’s hands (so I gathered). There are a ton of blind corners, sharp turns, and wavering lines for you to play with, and when you do catch the occasional straightaway there’s always the ocean crashing underneath you that you can look at. Really, it’s best to think of Highway 1 as a National Park, because it hits you again and again with these picture-perfect outlooks that are impossible to ignore and yank you mercifully into the pull-out lanes to take pictures.
For the majority of the drive you’re far above the Pacific, but there are spots where you descend right onto the beach and, even though you’ve surely been stopping about every twenty minutes along the way, you need to step out the care on these opportunities and just soak in the beauty and peace of the ocean breeze.
Word of advice before you start the drive, though: Make sure you have a full tank of gas. Since I was on a trip where I’d be driving 14,000 miles, I was very conscientious of the price of gas. When you’re driving ten miles a day, three cents on a tank of gas isn’t going to matter much, but when you’re logging hundreds of miles every evening and are on a budget, those cents can really add up. So I bypassed what turned out to be the last gas station before entering the wilds of Highway 1, in the hopes of finding a better deal down the road. Instead, I got a really tense fifteen minutes, hoping to find a place to splash some gas in my tank along the way. I did find such a place, but it charged an exorbitant price. So yeah, avoid that.
Other than that, definitely take this route and enjoy the ride. California is a really beautiful and diverse state, and this is one of the spots that you shouldn’t miss on the way.