NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Highway 1 North- San Francisco to Leggett

Pt. Arena Light Station

Point Arena Light Station

The California coastline is a pretty one. The stretch in Big Sur has to be rated at the top of the list, but this section is a close second. On a basic level its a nice drive, relatively undeveloped and unspoiled, with lots of pull-offs and state beaches where you can stop and admire the view. Close to the start, Muir Woods National Monument preserves and protects groves of coastal redwoods. Its main virtue is its proximity to San Francisco. If traveling north you're going to encounter many more opportunities to view and hike among giant coast redwoods so this one becomes an option rather than a must-see. Point Reyes National Seashore is a must-see. Beautiful beaches, drives thru rural land shared by tule elk and working farms. Hiking opportunities abound. The trip passes some of our most picturesque villages. Just north of the national seashore stop at Point Reyes Station and have a meal, or stop at the Cowgirl Creamery retail store and pick up a supply of farmstead cheeses and a baguette for an on-the-road meal. Later stop at Bodega Bay for some fresh fish, either eaten there or saved for the campfire. Near Jenner, enjoy the stretch of Sonoma State Beaches and consider camping next to one. In the spring see wild azaleas in bloom at Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve, and get a history lesson at Ft. Ross. Definitely stop in the village of Mendocino, at a historic inn if you're not camping. Views, shopping and romance are in the cards. When civilization calls, stop at any one of the small coastal towns and grab a meal; Noyo Harbor at Fort Bragg is particularly recommended. Read our itinerary for more detail and links to attractions along the way. Note that at the village of Leggett Hwy. 1 merges with Hwy. 101, which then continues on to the Oregon border. So past Leggett see our write-up on Hwy. 101 North.

Itinerary Things To Do Campgrounds Photo Gallery