Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip in One Day: Los Angeles to San Francisco

Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day

This trip was part of my repatriation; I won’t beat around the bush and will be blunt that to fully enjoy a Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day, you have to do it in more than just a day. Did that make sense? I do hope so. Then again, if you really need to traverse it in such a short period, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re no longer in for some stopovers.

Oxnard

Within an hour after leaving Los Angeles we were at Oxnard Beach Resort, appreciating the fine sand and watching people swarm it. An oil drilling platform visible from the coast gave rise to a conversation on the nitty-gritty of offshore drilling since Joey, a Sugar Land-based high school classmate introduced in the abovementioned post, works in the oil industry. *rolls eyes—kidding!* It came as no surprise that I was able to interject Clarke’s hunt for the last Nightblood because apparently he also watches The 100.

Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day stopover: Oxnard

Oxnard Beach Resort

Oxnard Beach Resort

Offshore oil platform seen from Oxnard Beach Resort

Would’ve taken a quick dip if the situation allowed it. Necktime!

Oxnard Beach Resort

Oxnard Beach Resort

Santa Barbara

After about an hour we arrived in Santa Barbara, a coastal town city which I found rather quaint and silent (could’ve been just due to the timing). As unenticing that may have sounded, Joey actually considered the place to be ideal for retirement. (There’s no accounting for taste, brotha.) We parked in front of El Presidio Real de Santa Barbara and just walked to the downtown to grab kaffee. Google Maps failed me (nope, it wasn’t me) in that we initially walked away from our destination. (Boo! You only had one job, Nelson!)

Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day stopover: Santa Barbara

El Presidio Real de Santa Barbara

The buildings had a vibe of those in movies where kingpins reside and it’s just a matter of time before an exchange of gunshots between the henchmen and the police transpires. Also, flags that had the color of Spain’s gave a feeling that we weren’t in California.

Santa Barbara

Having coffee in Santa Barbara

On top of something to drink, Joey also bought some Turkish sweets and it was inevitable—since he becomes a cooker in his spare time—that he critique them. Of course, everything was a no for him. ‘Kaw na!

Turkish sweets in Santa Barbara

Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara

Turkish sweets in Santa Barbara

Solvang

At a quarter past one o’clock we arrived in Solvang. Boy, that city was pretty! Its buildings were simply ogle material! Known as the Danish Capital of America and “Little Denmark”, it was founded in 1911 by three Danish-American educators in hopes of preserving and protecting Danish heritage in their adopted homeland. The name is Danish for “sunny field”. (O, ha! May pa-trivia si mayor!)

Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day stopover: Solvang

Solvang: Danish Capital of America

Solvang

Solvang

Not captured in the photos but the place was crawling with people so it must’ve been worse if there was no virus lurking. We were to have a quick bite so while we were at it, I hunted down booze.

Solvang

Google Maps led us to a non-existent bar (another failure from the tech giant), though, that we had to retrace our steps to look for a place with available seating. At this point it was evident that oldie Joey was already getting impatient. (Nah, like most my age, he admitted that he’s already at the point where not having enough sleep makes him dysfunctional.) We ended up at a tavern where the bastard condemned me as follows:

Joey: We’re supposed to be in Denmark, yet here we are at an Irish pub.
Me (in my head): The nerd nerve! You were a ticking time bomb, @$$#073!

Solvang

Irish pub in Solvang

We’re actually close, but, you know, he had all the reasons to be ticked off because he was the one driving all the way and he didn’t want to arrive late in San Francisco. That being said, those pejoratives were actually terms of endearment.

As we were munching our late lunch (it was required in the state, by the way, to buy food for you to be able to buy anything alcoholic), he suggested that we vidjakol video-call Naiza, a high school classmate. That lifted the mood; she and another classmate eventually accompanied us, as long as the signal permitted it, throughout the rest of the trip.

Video call with high school classmates

Big Sur

We set off a quarter-hour before three and it was as clear as vodka that we were no longer having city or town stopovers and would instead savor the scenic stretch with ocean views and seaside cliffs.

Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day stopover: Big Sur

Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day stopover: Big Sur

Big Sur

Our nosiness got the best of us almost half past five when we saw people in a shoulder road on the opposite side. It was worth the stop. The overlooking view showcased people surfing and a family which looked like they were looking for the perfect spot for a picnic on the beach.

Big Sur

Big Sur

Surfing in Big Sur

Around an hour later we were helping ourselves to our takeaways from lunch and gassed up one more time where Joey was so ecstatic on how compact-looking the gasoline station at Ripplewood Resort was. (He digs oil for a living, remember?) K, pagbigyan!

A sort of tunnel in Big Sur

Takeaways from lunch

Gassing up at Ripplewood Resort

Bixby Creek Bridge

Before getting to our final stop-off, the following weren’t left unnoticed: a plateau by the sea which looked like a fortress ready to take on any adversary, a shoreline where I could roll onto in a heartbeat, and sunlight seeping through clouds as if it was the day the Earth stood still for judgment day.

A fortress in Big Sur

A shoreline in Big Sur

Sunlight through clouds in Big Sur

The funny silly thing was, I read in a blog post that there are two bridges. And from what I understood, they look the same so I no longer took the trouble of looking the other one up. When we passed Bixby Creek Bridge and it didn’t look like the photos I saw online, I thought it wasn’t the real deal so I suggested that we check out the next one instead.

Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day stopover: Bixby Creek Bridge

Crossing Bixby Creek Bridge

Turns out they don’t look the same. At all. I was about to just give it up since it might further irk the driver but since they weren’t far from each other, Joey decided to maneuver the wheels Fast & Furious style and went back to burn the damn bridge. When I saw people—not water—under the bridge, I imagined that virtually all of Big Sur is probably hikeable.

Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day stopover: Bixby Creek Bridge

Hiking under Bixby Creek Bridge

Bixby Creek Bridge

We left at 10:00 AM and, including all stops, spent almost 12 hours on the road. Definitely not fun when you’re the only one driving (not that I was!) unless you’re used to it. From then on it was all about the Golden Gate City.

Tips

  • Leave at your earliest so you can maximize stopovers and your duration in them.
  • Research how long it takes from one point to another and carefully plan what to do at every stopover and for how long.
  • A spare driver is valuable if the designated driver is not used to or comfortable with long drives. If there is none, the previous items should give the sole soul driving an idea of what to anticipate (and be angry about).
  • This is out of context because it would then be at least two days, but if it’s the case, consider staying for a night in Solvang. (That should’ve been an exclamation mark there.)
  • We were already pressed for time so I don’t have many, but take time to take photos in different angles from both sides of Bixby Creek Bridge after crossing it! You may have to compete with many sightseers, though.
  • Be realistic in your planning. I originally had a long list but in the end we only ticked four. (Four, for the love of Pete!)
  • As there’s more than one way to skin a cat, at the end of the day your stopovers still depend on the routes you’ll be taking and how much time you’re willing to invest on a Pacific Coast Highway road trip in one day.

Visited: August 2020

Nelson

View posts by Nelson
An outdated software engineer with the attention span of a fruit fly. Follow me on Instagram if you have one? Cheers!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: