Top 6 destinations for a Highway 1 road trip

California's Highway 1 is located right on the coast and is one of the most popular road trip routes in the entire country. While the route alone offers incredible views of the Pacific, it will also take travelers to a variety of exciting destinations that the whole family can enjoy. Make sure you get the most out of your trip by hitting the spots that best suit your tastes. Here are the top 6 destinations for a Highway 1 road trip.

1. Explore the Golden Gate city of San Francisco

As the shining star of the Bay Area, San Francisco has virtually endless offerings for anyone looking for fun on a road trip along Highway 1. You can visit famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, or you can attend an inspiring theater production including local shows and Broadway productions. There are even fun museums and tours that kids can enjoy.

2. Find coastal fun in Monterey County

Monterey County is one of the top destinations for any kind of Highway 1 road trip. Just getting here will have you winding down the coastline near Big Sur. Once you arrive, you can visit the beach or explore the local culture that offers handcrafted wine as well as world-famous golf courses. You can even take a surfing lesson if you'd like to hit the waves.

3. Find endless charm in Carmel-by-the-Sea

When you visit Carmel-by-the-Sea, you'll find yourself surrounded with a rich artistic history and stunning architecture showcasing the town's Spanish roots. Of course, that's just the beginning, as the main reason art is so popular here is that artists are inspired by the natural beauty. You can find walking trails and beachfronts just as easily as shopping centers and specialty art shops.

4. Trek through the mountains of Big Sur

Big Sur is one of the most iconic areas on any Highway 1 road trip, thanks to its soaring cliffs bordering the Pacific and even higher mountaintops to the east. You can explore it all, from beaches to mountain trails. The redwood forests are particularly fascinating, as you can see massive trees that have stood tall for centuries upon centuries.

5. Enjoy natural beauty and artistic culture in Santa Barbara

When your Highway 1 road trip takes you to Santa Barbara, you can get the best of both worlds with a fun town and scenic natural features. The surrounding trails and mountains include stunning waterfalls, while the coast delivers unforgettable golden sunsets. Meanwhile, the town itself has a bustling arts scene complemented by SoCal-style food and wine.

6. Find endless fun by the beach in Santa Monica

Your road trip down Highway 1 is bound to take you near Los Angeles eventually, so make sure you stop by Santa Monica while in the area. This beachfront community is packed full of fun, with the beach itself being just the beginning. On the boardwalk, you'll find an entire amusement park along with delicious seafood restaurants and arcades.