It’s been voted among the best drives in the world, but there’s never been ‘one’ best way to do it. The Pacific Coast Highway, that stunning 1,000 km-odd stretch along the west coast of the US, has plenty of sights and sounds to take in. Due to tourists visiting the place, the road runs have been spoilt for choice, and some other stops are arguably more popular. Here’s our list of some off-beat spots that are worth a visit.
Where to stay: San Diego
For those who consider Beverly Hills a tourist attraction, this one should be exciting. The affluent neighbourhood is an 11 km stretch that is surrounded on three sides by the ocean. It’s home to Hollywood personalities Raquel Welch, Robin Wright Penn, Gore Verbinski, Theodor ‘Dr Seuss’ Gabriel, John McCain and Mitt Romney, among others. Late actor Gregory Peck, too, lived here, and so did Indian-American author, Deepak Chopra, until recently. A number of Nobel Prize winners have also made La Jolla their home. The best way to look around is with a guided Segway tour. Expect plenty of trivia as you go around, making stops every now and then to take in the lush surroundings. Later, drive up to the Carbillo National Monument for panoramic views of the city.
Where to stay: Santa Barbara (53.6 km)
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this Danish settlement is actually a Disney film set that the studio left behind as a permanent tourist attraction. Its name means ‘sunny field’,
and the little town was founded by a group of Danish teachers in 1911. There are windmills, wagons and, of course, weiner schnitzel (deep fried Schnitzel from veal) to gorge on. The little bakeries here have cheery women selling kringles, butter cookies and homemade gelato; the men — in traditional attires — offer carriage tours and a number of eateries stock grub and beers that transport you to Denmark instantly.
Where to stay: Culver City (19 km)
Whether you’re staying in Los Angeles, Culver City or Malibu, make a stop at late oil magnate J Paul Getty’s estate that houses a museum and education centre now. This is a great place to check out Roman-style gardens as well as 44,000-odd Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities — some of which date back to 400 AD. Famed items include the Lansdowne Heracles sculpture and Victorious Youth — one of the only life-size Green bronze statues remaining. Jewellery and coin collections and a library that has over 20,000 books are among the other attractions. Entry is free, but do book a slot before visiting.
Where to stay: San Simeon (8.6 km)
Why visit: Media mogul William Randolph Hearst inherited 2,50,000 acres of ranch land from his father and dreamt of transforming it into what would become a historical landmark. Constructed between 1919 and 1947, the estate boasts of a whopping 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a movie theatre and an airfield. Hearst’s collection of art is also enviable. In the 1920s and ’30s, an invitation to the castle was highly coveted. Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Cary Grant and Bob Hope were among the A-list guests.
Interestingly, the property was also the inspiration behind the Xanadu castle in Citizen Kane (1941) — a film that was a fictional account of Hearst himself. Take our advice and don’t side-step this one.
Where to stay: San Francisco (19 km)
Why visit: The city is better known for its sloping streets, pretty pier and ferries to the defunct prison, Alcatraz. But for nature lovers and trekking enthusiasts, the National Monument is the place to visit. The park has been around for just over a century, but the oldest tree here is over 12 centuries old. It is home to the California Bay Laurel, Tanoak, Bigleaf Maple and the biggest attraction — Sequoia Sempervirens. The latter is the only remaining species of its genus. Trees here are as tall as 79m and in clusters, they make for breathtaking sights.