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Top Destinations  ·  Northern California  ·  Pacific Coast Highway

Explore California's Coast: Travel Vacation Guide to Pacific Coast Highway Activities and Recreation along the Pacific Coast Highway

Things to do along the California Pacific Coast Highway:
 
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco and Marin County. World’s largest urban park with 72,000 acres. Miles of urban beachfront, redwood groves and dozens of hiking trails.
(415) 556-0560.

Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area. On the north shore of the Golden Gate, between the bridge and ocean, with outstanding views. The Farallon Islands can be seen from the western cliffs.
(415) 331-1540.
 
Mount Tamalpais State Park. Extensive panorama of the Bay Area and the ocean coast; numerous hiking and mountain biking trails.
(415) 388-2070.
 
Muir Woods National Monument. Pristine redwood grove with trails and limited guided tours.
(415) 388-2595.

Muir Beach. Scenic beach in southern Marin County.
 
Point Reyes National Seashore. Miles of trails, some with sweeping coastal vistas. Variety of habitats to lure hundreds of water and shore birds. Unique vantage points to spy whale migrations.
(415) 663-1092.
 
Point Reyes Lighthouse, at the end of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, 16 miles west of Inverness, Point Reyes National Seashore. Located at the bottom of 300 stairs. With ocean views and late-winter whalewatching.
(415) 663-1092. Closed Tues. & Wed.
 
Point Bonita Lighthouse, in the Marin Headlands. Connected to mainland by small suspension footbridge; fabulous views.
(415) 331-1540. Open Sat. and Sun. afternoons.

Bolinas. Bordering Bolinas Lagoon, a birdwatching paradise, this town may be hard to find. Local residents keep removing the road signs.
 
Audubon Canyon Ranch, on Hwy 1 at Bolinas Lagoon. Outstanding birdwatching opportunity. Trail leads to observation area overlooking blue herons and egrets nesting in treetops. (415) 868-9244. Open weekends, mid-Mar.- mid-July. Open Tues.-Fri. by reservation.

Tomales Bay State Park, on Tomales Bay, near Inverness. Tranquil destination for non-motorized boating and swimming. Bay well sheltered from strong ocean winds. (415) 669-1140.
 
Tomales Point Trail, at the end of Pierce Point Rd off Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Point Reyes National Seashore. Easy 4.7 mile trail with numerous tule elk and other wildlife. Tomales Bay on one side, Pacific Ocean on the other.
(415) 669-1140, (415) 663-1092.
 
Bodega Head State Park, Bodega Bay. Part of the Pacific Flyway; seasonal whale migrations and great ocean vistas. (707) 875-3422.
 
Salt Point State Park. Beautiful coastal park popular with divers; good tide pools. (707) 847-3221.
 
Fort Ross State Historic Park, 11 miles north of Jenner on Hwy 1. Restored Russian compound built in 1812. (707) 847-3437.

Sonoma Coast State Beach. From north of Russian River south to Bodega Head. Over 5,000 acres of beachfront with great views from oceanside cliffs, especially at Duncan's Landing.
(707) 875-3483, (707) 875-3483.
 
Wrights Beach. 
(707) 875-3483 Sonoma Coast State Beach.

Gualala. Tiny old lumber town close to many coastside wonders.

Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve, near Gerstle Cove, half-mile east of Hwy 1. Amid a redwood forest, some of the blossoming plants are over 30'. Best April through early June.
(707) 847-3221.

Mendocino. Built along seaside cliffs, a charming New England-like village with shops and nearby coastal state parks.
 
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 2 miles south of Fort Bragg on Hwy 1. Old botanical gardens featuring north coast plant species.
(707) 964-4352.

Mendocino Headlands State Park, Mendocino. Sandstone bluffs and sculptures. Great vantage points for whale watching in season.
(707) 937-5804 Mendocino State Parks.

Mendocino National Forest. Miles of forested trails, numerous mountain lakes and rivers. More than 885,000 acres west of the Sacramento Valley, including the Snow Mountain Wilderness Area and the southern half of Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel. (916) 934-2350.

Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, 2 miles north of Guerneville. Numerous trails through 4000 acres of redwood groves.
(707) 869-2015.

Fort Bragg. Good vantage points for seasonal whale migrations; boat trips for deep-sea salmon fishing.

MacKerricher State Park, on Hwy 1, just north of Fort Bragg. Access to beaches, forests and wetlands. Good tidepooling and fishing.
(707) 937-5804.
 
California Western Railroad’s Skunk Train, connecting Fort Bragg and Willits. Historic train passes beneath famous redwood giants. (800) 866-1690 or (707) 964-6371.

Point Arena Lighthouse, 1 mile west of Hwy 1 on Lighthouse Rd. 1908 lighthouse includes a museum; guided tours available. (707) 882-2777.

Manchester State Park, west of Hwy 1, 7 miles north of the town of Point Arena. Lots of driftwood. Excellent for birdwatching.

Boonville. Small town in the scenic Anderson Valley, known for its own language, Boontling. Stop and have a horn of zeese (cup of coffee) or use a bucky walters (telephone). 


   


 
© David Baker
Egrets are a common sight near California coasts, rivers and wetlands.

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