Trucking services can sometimes be a slo0g–try driving straight through the middle of the country sometime and see how sick you get of corn fields and nondescript highways–but driving around the United States can also lead to seeing and visiting some amazing places. We’ll be looking at some of the country’s best road trips in the weeks to come, starting with one of its most famous.
Route 101: The Pacific Coast Highway
U.S. Route 101 runs right along the Pacific Coast, from Los Angeles, through Oregon and all the way up to Olympia, Washington, offering amazing, picturesque views along the way. Also known as El Camino Real (or “The Royal Road”), the Pacific Coast Highway runs approximately along a centuries old trail linking various Spanish missions, pueblos, and presidios.
Today, driving the 101 will present you with breathtaking sheer cliff sides that plummet into the Pacific Ocean below, especially if you take the California Highway 1 whenever possible to hug the California coast. The 1 will also take you over the Bixby Bridge outside Monterey, where you’ll get to drive right over the Rainbow Canyon as it empties into the ocean.
You can stop just about anywhere along the 101 and 1 to catch an amazing view, but be sure to check out Hearst Castle–the inspiration for Citizen Kane‘s Xanadu–in San Simeon. Or grab a bite at Nepenthe in Big Sur, a mid-20th Century diner that affords oceanside views. And don’t miss the Prehistoric Gardens in South Port Orford, Oregon to catch a glimpse of some life-size dinosaurs, albeit reconstructed out of concrete.