Going on a road trip is one of the best vacations you could take with friends or family, and driving along the 935-mile long Highway 101 could be considered a rite of passage for road-trip fanatics. Going from Mexico to Canada, Highway 101 is close to the Pacific Ocean so you can expect beaches as well as unique shops, cafes, and more.
According to tourist legend, Highway 101 was originally built to connect the 8 missions that Spanish priest Father Junipero Serra built along the California coast. The highway was named El Camino Real, which translates into “The King’s Road.” Fr. Serra is actually about to be canonized as a saint when Pope Francis visits the US this year.
Highway 101, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Besides the sea route, the El Camino Real road was the primary highway for traveling up and down California’s coastline. When Interstate 5 was built in the 1960’s, most modern development was focused on this new highway, and so Highway 101 remained littered with older, nostalgic locales. In 1998, Highway 101 was granted historic designation by California.
Highway 101, Sonoma Wine Country, Northern California
There are many stops along the Highway 101 that are worth exploring, but here are some that are especially noteworthy. As you drive along, you can spot old iron bells near Oceanside. The largest of the missions, San Luis Rey, is only 3 miles of Oceanside. Speaking of old, Oceanside is where the oldest restaurant on Highway 101 can be found. The 101 Cafe has a 1950’s design with historic photos decorating the walls.
Highway 101, Encinitas, Southern California
If you love surfing, flowers, or both, Encinitas is the perfect place to stop. It is known as the surf and flower capital of the world, because of Swami’s Beach (the beach that inspired the Beach Boy hit, “Surfin’ in the USA”) and the San Diego Botanic Garden, which boasts 37-acres of unique and rare plants.
For art lovers, Solana Beach is home to numerous art galleries, most of which are located in the Cedros Design District. With over 2 blocks of colorful industrial buildings, it’s hard to miss. If you love nightclubs or just want to see a bit of history that’s more modern, the Belly-Up Tavern can also be found in this district. Named one of the hottest clubs on the West Coast by Rolling Stone magazine, you can enjoy drinks, dancing, and musical performances by local bands and nationally-known acts, such as Ann Wilson from Heart, Jonny Lang, and others.
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