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Scenic Drives Near SLO To Go On Now
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Scenic Drives Near SLO To Go On Now

Some of the best views in San Luis Obispo can be seen from your car. From the iconic Highway 1, here are the scenic drives in SLO to go on.

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5 min read

March 16, 2022

San Luis Obispo is well-known for its hospitality, laid-back atmosphere, and unparalleled natural beauty. What might be the best way to experience it all, you ask? On a leisurely Highway 1 scenic drive, of course. Grab your sunglasses, favorite snacks, and best adventure buddy. Between coastal views, farmlands, and sprawling vineyards, the best drive in S.L.O. offer plenty of vistas that can be enjoyed from the air-conditioned comfort of your vehicle.

Whether you’re searching for a Highway 1 scenic drive from San Francisco or one heading to Big Sur from down south, you’ll find a scenic stretch of road that’ll make you fall in love with the Central Coast of California all over again.

The Best Scenic Drives in S.L.O. to Add to your Itinerary

All you need is one wheel in hand and four wheels on the road. Any road will take you wherever you want to go. Just pick one and go.

Twist and Turn Along Prefumo Canyon Road

Get behind the wheel and get on the scenic Prefumo Canyon Road. A well-kept secret of the region, Prefumo Canyon Road is a Highway 1 scenic drive that exceeds all expectations. Cruise by storybook landscapes of lush, green hills, climbing higher into the clouds as you advance. Pack a picnic and take a little dinner break at sunset as you enjoy astonishing views of San Luis Obispo, Morro Rock, and the Pacific Ocean at the highest point on your drive in S.L.O.

On your way back down, you’ll take the sun-kissed See Canyon Road. Pass along rows of apple orchards and picturesque countryside landscapes dotting the small towns and you’ll soon find yourself facing open views of the coast in the distance. Next stop on your scenic drive near Highway 1 in California? A mini getaway at Avila Beach, which happens to be your final destination after an awe-inspiring drive.

Communing with the open road. It listens, feels, and understands. It's always better to travel than to arrive.

Traverse the Undulating Foothills of Nipomo

It’s no secret that an old-fashioned way of life still exists in S.L.O. CAL. Want to get a taste of that behind the wheel? Circle Nipomo and Oceano on your California Highway 1 scenic drive map. A road less traveled, the undulating foothills of Nipomo give you peeks at picturesque patchwork fields and grazing cattle.

If you’re looking to add a bit of an adventure to your drive in S.L.O., make a turn towards Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. The quiet charm of Nipomo’s rural community only gets heightened by the otherworldly landscape of the Oceano Dunes. Once known as a refuge of poets, dreamers, and wanderers in California, one of the largest dune complexes in the world is also famous as the state’s only drive-on beach! Off-roading by the beach, who can say no to that?

Driving on the highway, listening to the radio, rolling the windows down, and breathing the wild air. What a great time to be alive!

Admire the Oceanside Views of Ragged Point

While the entirety of the U.S. Highway 1 is a scenic drive, Ragged Point is one of its most popular stretches for million-dollar views. Offering some of the best scenery from the road, Ragged Point is a drive in S.L.O. that makes sure ocean views are never far. As you cruise down this road, you’ll likely be accompanied by motorcyclists. Due to its tight turns, narrow roads, and expansive ocean views, Ragged Point happens to be one of the most popular motorcycling destinations in the world.

Would you be down for a bit of a leg-stretching adventure on your drive in S.L.O.? Before you find yourself in Big Sur, mark your map near the Cliffside Trail for a great view that’s hidden from the road. Thrill-seekers will love going down the steep walk down to the secluded and super unique,  black-sand beach. Here, Black Swift Falls tumbles down to the beach and rewards you with a view that’ll make all the muscle aches to follow worth it.

Extraordinary things happen when you don’t know where you’re going. It may be a long journey, but it will take you to freedom.

See the Elephant Seals by the Piedras Blancas Light Station

If you’re a sucker for unique viewpoints, direct your Highway 1 scenic drive to Elephant Seal Vista Point. While you can see the Piedras Blancas Light Station and the elephant seals from the road, many people prefer to park their car and walk the Boucher Trail for a more close-up look.

In addition to elephant seals and lighthouses, this drive in S.L.O.’s San Simeon also offers many more things to see down the road, the opulent Hearst Castle being one of them. The previous home of the historic newspaper baron William Hearst is one of San Luis Obispo’s most coveted attractions and will definitely make you feel like you’re traveling back in time. What’s more? The famous zebras descending from Hearst’s private zoo still roam at the Hearst Ranch nearby. Slow down on your drive in S.L.O. and you might see them wandering near Highway 1.

It is actually the interruptions that happen along the way that makes up the whole journey. Look at life through a windshield.

Pull onto the Sun-Dappled Moonstone Beach Drive

Nothing feels quite as freeing as cruising down an oceanside road. Want to know where the best stretch of it is in San Luis Obispo? Along the oceanfront roadway parallel to Highway 1 known as Moonstone Beach Drive. Offering excellent beachcombing and classic coastal California views, this drive in S.L.O. is a definite winner to add to the list.

If you’re starting your adventure at the north end of Moonstone Beach Drive, the best place to stop for a stretch is at the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. This is a perfect spot for a romantic stroll spanning the majority of the shoreline. Prefer to stay behind the wheel? Pack a picnic and take a break at the Santa Rosa Creek Parking Lot, the Moonstone Beach Park nearby offers an ideal setting for a snack break with a sunset view.

Keeping the windows down and letting the wind blow your worries away. Leave everything behind and just go ahead the road.

Enjoy a Backcountry Adventure From Cambria to Cayucos

Can’t make up your mind between backcountry and ocean views? You don’t have to choose! Begin your drive in S.L.O. by the coast in Cambria, where the pines meet the sea and the waves glisten a little brighter. Take an unexpected turn inland along Santa Rosa Creek Road and you'll find yourself driving along green hills and century-old farmhouses. 

As you cruise along scenic farmlands, traveling deeper into the mountains west of Highway 1, you’ll come across more quiet meadows, fragrant California poppies and lavenders, and views straight out of fairytales. Before you know it, you’ll be heading back to the beach along Old Creek Road, with your destination being the small California beach town of Cayucos.

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