Highway 1 begins unceremoniously, emerging from a tangle of freeway ramps in Orange County’s Dana Point. There’s a glimpse of ocean, but it isn’t until Laguna Beach that Highway 1 becomes Pacific Coast Highway in more than name. In the O.C., the luxe life is everywhere—pastel villas, yachts, and the requisite Ferrari dealer—while Huntington Beach delivers the simpler pleasures of 10 miles of beachfront. Then the road veers from the ocean, even going underground beneath the runways at LAX. All of which makes it that much sweeter when Highway 1 escapes the darkness of the McClure Tunnel to bask in the Santa Monica sun.
Miles: 60 | Number of boats in Newport Harbor: 9,000 | Surf shops in Huntington Beach: 13 | Lights on Santa Monica Pier’s Pacific Wheel: 160,000