The coast of California between San Francisco and Los Angeles is home to one of the most famous stretches of road in the world, and one of the most romantic and dramatic road trips: the dramatic 90-mile Big Sur. Travelling south from San Francisco, the famous Route One highway passes through long stretches of wild, rugged scenery, with cliffs, sparsely populated beaches and the Pacific Ocean on your right,
and Californian Redwood forests and the hills of the Santa Lucia sierra on your left. The things to do here involve driving slowly and taking in the panoramic views (although preferably not at the same time), and stopping at some of the many hundreds of viewpoints to explore the area on foot. There are numerous walking trails along the attractive beaches or in the hills. All in all, this is one of Original Travel's favourite road trips and provides a refreshing alternative to the major cities at either end of this stretch of coastline.
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The towns of Carmel and Monterrey to the north, and Morro Bay and Santa Barbara to the south are all worth a visit and there are some beautiful places to stay here too – some of the most romantic and stylish in the US. Monterrey is slightly more touristy than Carmel, while Santa Barbara is known as the American Riviera, with good beaches, a long promenade and excellent shopping. Dotted along this coastal road are charismatic and chic villages such as Carmel (Clint Eastwood's home town) with its smart boutiques and restaurants, Monterrey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur, Morro Bay and Santa Barbara, and also such curiosities as Hearst Castle – final redoubt of the reclusive billionaire on whom the film Citizen Kane was based.