California, Destinations, USA 12

Driving along the Pacific Coast- Morro Bay to San Francisco – West coast part of our 3 week USA trip

As part of our USA trip travelling through California, Maine, New England and Pennsylvania, we did Pacific Coastal Highway 1 featured in National Geographic’s ‘Drives of a Lifetime Series’. We had just been in Los Angeles and Bakersfield before and planned to spend a few days in San Francisco after. Here I only write about the fantastic scenic drive and activities we did along the central California coast.


The coastal drive started in Morro Bay a lovely working fishing village, known for its natural beauty and great place for outdoor adventures. Top attractions here include the Morro Bay National Estuary and Morro Rock both of which are famous for birdwatching, seeing wildlife and fascinating geological formations. We only had half a day (as we had spent the other half of the day wine tasting at different vineyards along the way from Bakersfield). We went kayaking with seals all around us! We got off on the islands and explored the massive rock structures. On the way back, I nearly crashed into a seal, and we also had some good seafood on the pier. We enjoyed walking along the town, looking at the pretty quaint shops. And yes, if you are wondering from the pictures, I wasn’t dressed very appropriately being in a dress for kayaking and hiking!





Next day we continued northwards driving along the coast, through windy narrow roads with gorgeous views (which we had to imagine some of the times as it was very foggy that day). We did stop a few times at different viewing stations and one of the highlights was seeing elephant seals basking in the sun. We saw the males fighting on one side while the females chilled by the rocks πŸ™‚





We then continued on to Big Sur, home of the ancient Redwoods along the coast. The average mature trees are from 200 to 240 feet high with diameters of 10 to 15 feet at 4 feet 8 inches above the ground, very impressive to see! We went on a few hours hike, absolutely gorgeous, saw different birds and squirrels, saw had our lunch by gushing waterfalls, and everywhere you looked, the trees were simply magnificent.




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Next day we went to Monterey Bay, located at the former sardine canary wharf, made famous by John Steinbeck’s Canary Row. Monterey Bay is part of a National Marine Sanctuary stretching from near San Francisco to south of San Simeonβ€”a distance of about 5,300 square miles. It is also home to the wonderful Monterey Bay Aquarium. We are very careful when choosing zoos or aquariums to visit and would only go to ones that are doing good conservation work – rehabilitation, rescue and research (being a marine scientist, I would know πŸ™‚ A Really great place for children and adults alike! Highlights included the open sea feeds , octopus and squids, seeing a sunfish Mola mola, the amazing jellyfish, sea otters and viewpoints on the balcony from which you can see seals and at different times of the year, dolphins and whales passing through. The staff were so brilliant in making all the talks and feeding times informative, interesting and fun for children and adults alike. The little touches of information on sustainable fish to eat, the detailed habitats around the globe, the views onto the bay and so much more, made this place one of our personal favourites.




We stayed with family in Serena, just a short drive from Monterey Bay. We were also recommended Carmel, a picturesque charming village with white sand beaches, but time was too short this time. We had to move onwards to San Francisco next, few days there and then fly out to Boston so we could do our east coast drive through Maine to Pennsylvania.

We definitely plan to be back and travel in California longer. I have been to Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe before and look forward to taking the kids there when we are back. I lived in America for 7 years (feels like it was in a previous life, but in reality was just 10 years ago!) California is definitely one of my favourite states in USA. It was nice to be back here again, this time as a family unit of four πŸ™‚


Linked to Natures Notes hosted by Rambling Woods

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  • 5sOnTheFly says: September 17, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Looks awesome! We were able to get to a few of the national and state parks on the West Coast before we headed to Mexico, but the redwoods of Northern California are something we are very eager to see in person the next time we head through the States πŸ™‚

    • samselim says: September 17, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      I know right! I would love to do this again, at a slower pace, and do more national parks, best part of being in USA, has so many great nature parks! Have to browse through your blog and read up on your posts πŸ™‚

  • McCool Travel says: September 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I used to live a block from Monterey Bay Aquarium and must say it was a great choice. Carmel definitely would have been a great stop, along with so much more in the area. As you said, limited time. Looks like you hit some fantastic highlights.

    • samselim says: September 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks, I feel like we missed sooo much! Even the places we went to, I could have spent more time in each. Definitely will be back for a longer road trip and experience this beautiful coast!

  • Travel Theme: Strong | RAASTA says: September 23, 2014 at 8:00 am

    […] We went to West coast and east coast of USA for 3 weeks […]

  • sophierose233 says: January 12, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Wow looks beautiful. Great photos! Such an incredible experience.

  • Eileen says: February 3, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Looks like you had an awesome vacation in California.. It is one of my favorite states to visit.. I love the seals.. Great photos..

    • samselim says: February 3, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      Thank you πŸ™‚ It is definitely my favourite state, out of the 18 states I have been to!

  • bettyl - NZ says: February 4, 2015 at 5:25 am

    There’s so much to see out that way and your photos are just awesome.

  • Laura Hegfield says: February 5, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Wow! What an amazing adventure!!!

  • Rambling Woods says: February 6, 2015 at 3:51 am

    So many parks and I have not been to any of them in the west… We are close to Niagara Falls too, but we do go once in a while. I love all the family photos and think of what wonderful memories and what great conservationalists they will be. I have always been bothered by zoos even as a child. Ours is small and it wasn’t until I went up to Toronto Canada that I saw huge appropriate habitat for them. I also was bothered by this marine park here with huge killer whales in small tanks. I remember standing and looking at one and it turned and came and looked at me. I saw intelligence and a sadness and I cried and my Father comforted stays with me..Michelle

  • Florence says: February 15, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Looks like everyone had a wonderful time!

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