Highway No. 1: 17 Miles Drive to Monterey to Castroville - Santa Cruz - San Francisco
In Carmel begins the well-known "17 Miles Drive", a wonderful scenic drive along the peninsula coast and ending in Monterey.
It's a private road and a small fee of ca. $8 has to be paid. But: it pays off and you will enjoy fantastic views, seeing small communities with luxurious houses and a lot of golf courses. It's a good idea to make a stop at Pebble Beach with its upscale shops.
Monterey offers besides of its natural beauty great opportunities to shop, dine, relax and tour the attractions like Cannery Row, the well renowned Monterey Aquarium or for example Fisherman's Wharf.
Cannery Row, as the name suggests, was once the place where fish (mostly sardines) were canned. Later, John Steinbeck choosed it as the location for his novel "Cannery Row".
Fisherman's Wharf, too, has the old times left behind - today you find here galleries and shops instead of commercial fishery.
Meanwhile you're not more than 100 miles away from San Francisco und the route leads you away fro the coast into the heart of the Monterey area farmland and to the small town of Castroville, which incorporated the slogan "The Artichoke Capital of the World": nothing more to say, just drive along Merrit Street, which is actually Main Street, and you find farmers selling artichokes and products. Mid of May takes the "Artichoke Festival" place.
Just 4 miles further on Highway 1 you will reach once again the coast at Moss Landing, once a small fishing village. If you're hungry, this is a good place to have snack - it's all about seafood and fish in this town. Have a try.
Coming closer to the S.F. Bay Area, the city of Santa Cruz is the last city at the coastline before you enter the crowded Bay Area. The city reminds of New York's Coney Island with its amusement park. Some of the rides are pretty historical, i.e. the Roller Coaster of 1924 or the Loof Caroussel (1911).
Sport fans may instead decide for the surf museum housed in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse (West Cliff Drive, ph. 831-420-6289, Winter: Thu-Mon, 12.00 to 16.00 hrs (4pm); Summer: Wed-Mon, 12.00 to 16.00 hrs (4pm)).
From Santa Cruz its only a stone's throw to San Francisco. If you want to enjoy swimming a last time before entering the metro area of the bay, do it between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, where several nice spots can be found.