Updated: Aug 18, 2019
My favorite thing about traveling on Highway 1 is the little road sign that says "Begin Scenic Route," right after you pass the intersection on Highland Dr. That's my cue to turn on my favorite driving playlist, relax, and enjoy the rolling hills and beautiful views. If you've got a full day on your hands, take advantage of it! Grab some friends, get in the car, and head up the road; you're only going to be here for a couple of years.
From the few years I've lived in SLO, here's my favorite spots to explore along the beautiful Highway 1.
Montana De Oro
Montana De Oro literally translates to "Mountain of Gold," and rightfully so. Their sunsets are honestly some of the best I've ever witnessed in San Luis Obispo. There's a ton of fun things to do during the day like hike Bluff Trail, sit on a bench and watch the surfers and whales, or go explore their unusual rock formations by the ocean. Sand Spit Beach is one of my favorite spots to go. It's a little off the beaten path and the freeway, but the dunes honestly turn the beach golden at sunset and it's SO worth the trip!
From paddle boarding in the bay, getting brunch at the seaside restaurants, or thrift shopping downtown, Morro Bay offers a variety of fun things to do. It also has all kinds of local and unique food, like Waffle Boats from Grandma's Frozen Yogurt and Waffle Shop and Crabby Patties from 'Lil Hut (Outside of Harbor Hut). We love walking on the beach next to Morro Rock, and watching the sea otters play in the bay.
Four words: Brown. Butter. Cookie. Company. This should be your FIRST stop AS SOON as you get into Cayucos. Once you eat these, no other cookie will ever compare (plus, they give you free samples!). This tiny little town often has fun events year round, so make sure to check websites such as Visit SLO CAL to see what's going on. Theres a couple of great restaurants and cafes, and the beach has such a great, relaxing atmosphere. We normally hammock under the pier, it's normally a little quieter than Avila.
Grab some comfy walking shoes and a light sweater, because you'll be walking up and down the beautiful downtown of Cambria. Not only is it such a beautiful drive to get here, but the downtown is really cute and theres a ton of great places to eat. I highly recommend the Olallieberry Pie at Linn's Cafe, and any of their sandwiches or pastries at Sandy's Deli and Bakery. Depending on what time of the year it is, Cambria always has fun festivities that attract tourists from all over the world. If you're going during December, make sure to stay a little later in order to catch their annual Christmas Market.
Elephant Seal Vista Point
Get your phones and cameras ready, because these magnificent beasts will be sure to catch your eye. This is definitely a popular tourist site, but you should be able to easily find parking. The best part is that it's completely free, and it's pretty funny watching them flop around the beach. Be sure to watch quietly and respectfully, keep your dogs on a leash, and refrain from feeding the squirrels. Late December through early February is when most seal pups are born, so be sure to go during this time if you want to see the cute babies.
Remember when we had that massive El Nino in 2016? They ended up shutting down Highway 1 right at the tip of Ragged Point because of the bridge that collapsed. That's how I originally found this cute little side stop. Pull off the road right at Ragged Point Inn, where you can stretch your legs and walk around on one of their trails. They have beautiful views and good food!
Salmon Creek Trails
My roommate and I had a great time on this trail last year. We hadn't even heard of the trail until we talked to one of the locals around Ragged Point, and they highly recommended that we go and check it out. We set out in the car and a couple of twists and turns down the road, we found it.
There's a couple of different things you could do here. If you're very motivated, there's a swimming hole with a waterfall coming into the top. It's VERY difficult (and in my opinion, kinda dangerous) to get to. We ended up trying, failing because we were scared of getting poison oak, and then ended up relaxing by one of the bottom pools for a little while. It's so much fun to watch the fish swimming around and occasionally jump out of the water.
Is there anything I missed?? Let me know in the comments section down below!
As always, thanks for reading!