If you’re on the West Coast (whether you’re visiting or you live there), I would recommend a day trip of driving along the coast. Now, this particular activity may not be the cheapest, especially if you’re a traveler who would need to rent a car, but there are ways to try and offset the cost of this. And, if you are a local or a traveler who brought their car, this should be a bit easier.
For my family, since we are from the Midwest, we had to rent a car to do this trip. We were staying in San Francisco and wanted to the experience of driving up Pacific Coast Highway. If, like us, you need to rent your car, and are worried about the trip overall costing too much, consider some of the following tips:
1) Pack your own food, whether that be lunch or just snacks (but always bring at least one snack, even if you pack a meal along with it too, it’s always better to have that backup snack, just in case!). There are plenty of places to stop and eat along the way that will not cost any more, which will be detailed below!
2) Dress for hiking! There are many absolutely beautiful hiking trails off of Pacific Coast Highway and they do not cost a cent. Though you may be paying for your transportation, you won’t have to pay for your further entertainment.
3) If it’s during the beach-going months of the year, bring your beach gear, too. I was there in January, so I did not make it a beach day. Muir Beach is part of the National Parks Service area called Golden Gate National Recreation Area, so that means it is free of charge, as well.
Hopefully, with these few tips, will mostly only be spending money on the car and/or gas, and being able to save any other money in your budget for emergencies or your next trip or excursion!
Though there are many places to see as you drive along Pacific Coast Highway, I would recommend Muir Beach and the Muir Beach Overlook. Both of these sites, located right near each other, have stunning views, even in the winter. Check out the pictures below that I took when I was at the overlook in January of 2017.
As you can see, the views were absolutely stunning. The water was shining and expansive, and the clouds looked so fluffy, I swear we could have sat on them. There are multiple picnic tables located here at the Muir Beach Overlook, so this could act as the perfect place to have your lunch or snack.
Not far from Muir Beach and its overlook, there are multiple hiking trails that will offer just as amazing views, this time with a little bit of exercise. The trails nearby include the Overlook trail and the Coastal/Coast View trail.
If you’re looking for a more daring adventure off of the Pacific Coast Highway, check out the northern end of Muir Beach, which, according to the National Parks Service website, is “popular with clothing-optional sunbathers.” In other words, it’s a beach where you can sunbathe nude, which is almost always an adventure.
If you have other ideas of ways to enjoy the West Coast, let me know!