Highway No. 1: Cambria - Piedras Blancas - Big Sur - Carmel
A little further north we will reach Cambria, a small town in Victorian look. Small shops and restaurants along Main Street invite to stay a little longer. Or stroll along Moonstone Beach Drive, just off Highway 1, and watch the ocean, may be a sunset...
Next stop on out journey is Hearst Castle, situated only a short drive before reaching San Simeon. Right off Highway 1 is the parking lot from where the shuttle bus to the castle departs.
Publisher William Randolph Hearst was the builder and owner of this huge mansion, which he started to build in 1919 and never finished. He called his house not castle but "the Ranch". The main building had 115 rooms, 50 more are to find in 3 guest houses. "The Ranch" is situated on a 1.600 ft (500 m) high hill named 'La Cuesta Encantada' - the enchanted mountain. The property with an area of 126 acres (500.000 qm) overlooks the city of San Simeon and of course the Pacific Ocean. In 1947 Hearst stopped developing "the Ranch" and died in 1951.
There a different guided tours offered, each showing other parts of the property.
Many say that this is the most impressive stretch of Highway No.1: on your west side you have the Pacific with a steep coastline and on the east side the 5.000 ft (1,500 m) Santa Lucia Mountains.
Big Sur Coast, that's a 90 miles experience, which ends south of Carmel in the beautiful Monterey Bay.
When leaving San Simeon, make sure to look for a lighthouse and a parking lot on the west side of the street (an approx. 6 mi drive from San Simeon). This fantastic view announces what you can expect from the Big Sur Coast. A short trail leads you to the beach, where sometimes seal colonies can be observed.
After an about 60 miles drive along the coast you reach the town of Big Sur. West of it there is another "Don't miss" spot: Pfeiffer Beach, a really small, but very romantic beach, which is popular among visitors to wait for the sunset. The road to the beach is not easy to see from Highway 1. Sycamore Canyon Rd. is about 2 miles long, beginning somewhere between the post office of Big Sur and the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Big RV's will have some problems on this road. At the end of the road there's the parking lot. It's not allowed to stay over night.
Carmel, which is reached after another ca. 28 miles drive, is our next halt. The city is renowned for its numerous residences of celebrities. One of the most visited attractions is one of the most famous Spanish missions, "Basilica San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo", which was built in 1771 and where Father Junipero Serra, who started the missions, found his last rest.
Basilica of Mission San Carlos Borremeo del Rio Carmelo
Big Sur Coast
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony