Distance: 43 miles
Driving Time: About an hour
Between Monterey and Santa Cruz, the climate is just right for growing artichokes, strawberries, lettuce and more crops of all kinds. The artichokes are the big, silvery-spiky-leafed plants, bearing their produce atop tall stems. If you see lots of plastic covering the ground, it's strawberries (plastic helps keep them clean and away from pests).
Near the town of Marina, hang gliders float over the ocean. Further north, Elkhorn Slough is home to a lively cross-section of coastal birds and mammals.
Near Santa Cruz, the highway gets very busy on any sunny weekend day and at rush hour on weekdays. Try to time your drive so you don't have to sit in a traffic jam, or take the side drive through town described on the next page.
Staying on Hwy 1 while traveling southbound from Santa Cruz can be tricky, but is easier if you focus on the fact that you're headed toward Watsonville and Monterey. Traveling in either direction, observe the daytime headlights-on section of the road, which is quite busy and requires extra-attentive driving skills.
Points of Interest
This drive goes inland for most of its length, flirting briefly with the ocean at Moss Landing before returning oceanside near Monterey or Santa Cruz.
- Pezzini Farms: Exit the highway at Nashua Rd., just north of Monterey to visit their farm stand, where you can buy fresh artichokes, artichoke products and sometimes even pick up an artichoke plant.
- Moss Landing ★★☆☆ is quite small, but it's the home of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Center (MBARI) and a small fishing fleet. Elkhorn Slough Safari offers a great way to get close to sea otters and wild creatures and Phil's Fish Market is a local favorite dining shop. After you get into town, just follow Sandholdt street across the small bridge to get to it.
- Watsonville Farmers Market: The produce is so good here that it makes you suspect the growers are keeping all the best stuff for themselves. It runs on Fridays, 2:30 - 6:30 p.m., May through November at Peck and Main.
Gasoline and food are available in Castroville and Watsonville, but you'll have to get off Hwy 1 to find them.
You can find public restrooms in the parking lot just behind the Little Baja pottery shop, which is just north of Moss Landing.