Driving California's Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point to Santa Monica on California Highway One
Distance: 75 miles
In Orange County and most of Los Angeles County between Dana Point and Malibu, California Highway One is a city street and usually called Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) or just Coast Highway.
If you have visions of an oceanside highway winding above crashing Pacific Ocean surf, this isn't it. Skip on up to the Malibu Coast, where the real Pacific Coast Highway scenery starts.
If you want to travel California Highway One from end to end, or if you're the type who goes down a street just to see what's there, there's plenty to explore along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Pacific Coast Highway in Orange CountyPacific Coast Highway begins at I-5 in Dana Point, running 40 miles between there and the county line just north of Seal Beach.
Traveling north, the first glimpses of the Pacific Ocean start in south Laguna Beach, but perhaps figuring it's better to live on the beach than drive by it, Newport Beach has allowed development between the road and the shore. Once you reach Huntington Beach, you'll follow the oceanfront all the way to the Los Angeles County border.
For a fun detour, take Balboa Blvd (southbound) or Jamboree Rd (northbound) to the Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island, taking the three-car ferry between the two.
Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles CountyNorth of Seal Beach, PCH crosses the Los Angeles County line. This part of our guide ends at Santa Monica, 35 miles north.
Through Long Beach and Torrance, Pacific Coast Highway runs inland going west, then turns north through the "South Bay" cities of Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, where California Highway One is called Sepulveda Blvd.
North of LAX, it becomes Lincoln Blvd. through Marina Del Rey, Venice Beach and Santa Monica. However, it seldom affords even a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. What it does give is a peek at a cross section of Southern California life as it passes used car lots, car washes, apartment buildings and strip malls. On the west side of Long Beach, it will even take you past an oil refinery.
For a better view and a more scenic glimpse of Southern California beach life, go west on I Street from Pacific Coast Highway in South Redondo Beach, then turn north and stay as close to the water as you can.
Connecting With Pacific Coast Highway in MalibuWhere Lincoln crosses I-10, follow the signs for California Highway One north and continue along the Malibu Coast, where the real Pacific Coast Highway scenery starts.
Food is easy to find along this stretch of highway, as is gasoline (and anything else you might need).
Driving the Coast on Highway One
If you're going north, Continue driving on Pacific Coast through Malibu.
If you're going south, you're done. Highway One ends in Dana Point.