What Roads Run Along the Coast of California?


Quick Answer

The Pacific Coast Highway, State Route 1, runs the length of California with few exceptions. Interstate 5 and State Route 101 also cover some coastal sections, sometimes sharing the roadway with Route 1. In some places such as Lompoc and Santa Barbara smaller feeder routes lead to beaches or towns.

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Full Answer

Much of the Pacific Coast Highway twists and turns along the coast, formed from a two-lane ribbon of asphalt carved out of local cliffs. Two of the most scenic sections are Big Sur, in Central California, and the Sonoma Coast, located north of San Francisco.

The Big Sur route begins in Monterey and ends in Morrow Bay, crossing over the Bixby Bridge that spans the open ocean. The Sonoma Coast section begins just south of Bodega Bay, winds past the beaches of Sonoma Coast State Park and continues north to Fort Ross. Both are one-lane each direction, have countless hairpin turns and hug the coast. Most RVs and larger vehicles can make the trip, but it can be a white-knuckle ride.

Most of Interstate 5 runs inland, through the California Valley. South of Huntington Beach, the roadway merges with the Pacific Coast Highway and runs along the coast to the Mexican border.

State Route 101 also runs mostly inland, but does follow the coastline near Santa Barbara. It also merges with the Pacific Coast Highway in the north near Garberville, where both highways run inland until Eureka. Both follow the same coastal route north to the Oregon border.

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