Going down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles never loses it magic, whether it’s your first time or your tenth.
When Mustafa mentioned he wanted to cast his vote in a very crucial Turkish election down in LA’s Turkish Consulate, he didn’t have to ask twice for me to tag along.
Our friends Hala and Oguz, came too and since it was their first time driving down to LA, we couldn’t wait to show off the stunning California coast.
We started bright and early on Friday, with a birthday girl in tow (Hala). Our first stop on our packed itinerary was San Juan Bautista, where Hala spoiled us with an impressive breakfast spread of homemade bread, olives, cheese and tomatoes. We ate our morning feast picnic-style with the Mission as our backdrop.
I always love passing through Central California’s farmland because it reminds me of where all the fresh fruits and veggies comes from and makes me grateful that it’s possible to have such diverse produce year-round.
We stopped in San Luis Obispo for a lightening fast coffee break downtown and then were back on the road, because time was definitely not on our side.
In an ideal world (read impossible) we were thinking of having lunch in Santa Barbara, but we instead we got there almost for dinnertime, ha. Still, the Spanish-style architecture that dominates downtown is always worth the stop and makes it one of the prettiest coastal towns to wander around in.
We celebrated Hala’s day of birth with sweets at Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro and then wanting something more substantial we decided to pretend it was still lunch and headed over to Pickles & Swiss for some delicious (and filling) sandwiches.
In Malibu, as the sun was setting, we pulled over on the side of the road (coincidently across from the iconic Neptune’s Net) to snap a few shots as it sunk majestically into the Pacific. Man, those sunsets in Malibu never get old, no matter how many times you witness them.
If you go…
For more suggestions on where to stop along the way, check out this detailed post. If you only have limited time, I highly recommend stopping at Santa Barbara and Malibu. If you have more time, there are fun towns like Gilroy (garlic heaven), Solvang (a Danish village) and San Luis Obispo (a college town).
If at all possible, give yourself at least two days to drive down Highway 1 from SF to LA or if you only have one day like us plan to leave as early as possible (read crack of dawn).
To save time, take the 101 from SF all the way down to right before Santa Barbara where it joins the 1 on the coast. If you take the 1 all the way from SF you will have to go through Big Sir, which has some of the best coastal views, but tacks on another few hours.
If hunger strikes in the general vicinity of Malibu, Vintage Groceries is our go-to spot to stock up on snacks. Point Dume is a lovely beach nearby that makes a great picnic spot. For a more substantial meal Malibu Seafood serves up some of the freshest seafood around and has front row sea views.
Have you driven on Highway 1? What are your favorite stops?