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On the horizon? All-American Road Trip

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Time to rent a convertible and tear down the Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway snakes some 198 kilometres along the California coast, and has been designated an All-American Road, one of the country’s most scenic. Hugging the cliffs, it’s extremely narrow in places with sharp drop-offs providing glorious views of the ocean below. There are amazing places to stay along the way.

In Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park the roads and trails are lined with redwoods, sycamores and ferns. Head down Sycamore Canyon Road to Pfeiffer Beach, a long-time hippie haunt known for its ‘good vibrations.’ The crescent-shaped beach is dominated by a huge, arched rock formation through which surf and sunlight stream in equal quantities.


Picture perfect Carmel-by-the-Sea comprises whimsical cottages, inns, shops and galleries. It’s home to artists, poets, actors and the seriously well-heeled. Take a walk on the mile-long Carmel River State Beach, visit the 1919 home of poet Robinson Jeffers, and treat yourself to a round of golf at world-class Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Bixby Creek Bridge is one of the world’s highest single-span bridges, arching 80 metres high and 200 metres across. Lauded for its graceful architecture and magnificent setting, it was completed in 1932, five years before the Golden Gate Bridge came up in San Francisco Bay.


The road to Monterey is lined with pretty beaches from which you can spot all kinds of marine life, including sea lions, harbour seals, bat rays, pelicans and dolphins. Stay at Cannery Row in Fisherman’s Wharf, where the old canning factories have been converted into a gentrified strip of hotels, gift shops, seafood restaurants and bars.

Retro-hip Santa Cruz is best known for its beach boardwalk and ‘50s-style amusement park. As a tourist you feel like you’ve walked straight on to a film set, and the 1987 vampire movie The Lost Boys was in fact filmed here. You meet surfers, hippies, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs (slumming it) and loads of students.

All hail Big Sur: a 145-kilometre stretch of pure scenic bliss. Here the coastline gets truly dramatic – elemental even – as massive waves beat against the rocks and towering redwood groves stretch skyward. It’s easy to understand why Henry Miller, who lived in Big Sur for 18 years, said it was here that he learned to say amen.

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