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The Perfect Family Road Trip Along Highway 1 Discovery Route

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There was too much awesomeness to contain in just one article, so I decided to break this story up into two.

So glad I did, because once I started thinking about everything I wanted to share, I could have easily shared 10 posts. Highway 1 Discovery Route is jam packed with family friendly activities and over our hosted days, we packed in as much as we could.  We are already planning a return visit because we felt like we just started to explore the area, and we want to see even more!

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One of the most well-known sights along California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route is the Elephant Seal Rookery lookout area.

The Elephant Seal Rookery is 4 miles north of Hearst Castle in San Simeon. So plan to do both when you are in the area. There is a huge parking lot and signage so you won't miss it, and there are Elephant Seals Docent Talks happening throughout the day from 10 – 4 pm. The docents are a wealth of information and they welcome questions!

We learned about The Northern Elephant Seal which migrates thousands of miles twice each year, from the open oceans to a land-based rookery, where it breeds, births, molts, and rests between trips. The Piedras Blancas rookery, on HWY 1, north of San Simeon is home to about 15,000 animals. The area is open for viewing every day of the year and there is no admission fee or reservation required. 

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Another exemplary experience is Covell Clydesdales Horse Ranch Tour. This is a bucket list item and a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour a working horse ranch located in one of the most unique ranches. 

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We met owner Ralph Melvin for a private tour of his historic 2,000-acre ranch made up of Monterey Pines and open meadows with views of Highway 1 Discovery Route. This ranch has recently opened up to ranch tours and private events, with plans to host weddings and maybe even become a small dude ranch. Ralph took us on a tour of the ranch and explained to us the historical importance of the ranch that has only changed hands twice in nearly 200 years, and is now an official conservation easement, meaning it will never be up for development.

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On our tour, we were driven through the ranch and we made frequent stops to see the horses as they roamed free on the property. All I could think of around each turn was that there were so many places that would make the most beautiful wedding spots. There were vistas with sweeping ocean views and valley views around each corner. I know that this is going to be the next big place to get married and celebrate new beginnings. I can't wait until they start hosting them. Until then, this is a family adventure that you will be talking about for years to come! 

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There have even been movies filmed here and we walked through the set!

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We all adored the owner, Ralph Melvin.  His love for the area and his horses makes this tour extra special. You leave feeling like you have so much more of an understanding of the area and an adventurous spirit renewal!

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We were very well fed during our stay in Cambria because the restaurants are all amazing!

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If you are looking to get even more out of your time on California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route, you will love their eco-travel focused Stewardship Travel program.  Stewardship Travel embodies ecotourism's qualities of appreciation for place and culture, adventure, enjoyment, and learning, but takes one step further by also providing clear opportunities to participate in regional conservation and preservation.

There are over 70 opportunities for visitors to learn more and connect deeper with opportunities in each stop along the discovery route ranging from organized beach cleanups o helping to resort park trails. Even after your visit you can continue to help through their donor program.

Another noteworthy activity for you to consider participating in is Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Self-Guided Nature Walk. This is a Stewardship Travel Experience and approximately a six-mile loop assessable from Moonstone Beach Drive near the hotel we stayed at El Colibri Hotel. The Ranch is far from the largest of coastal ecosystems but packs more biological diversity into a confined area than many larger properties. It is bordered on the north by a mile and a half of riparian habitat that encompasses tidal effect zones, seasonal freshwater marshes and wetlands dotted with birds. The Monterey pine forest, part of three remaining native stands in the world, serves as habitat and cover for wildlife moving between the coastal range and the ocean bluffs. Additional items:

The Ranch packs more biological diversity into a confined area than many larger properties. It is bordered on the north by a mile and a half of riparian habitat that encompasses tidal effect zones, seasonal freshwater marshes and wetlands dotted with birds. The Monterey pine forest, part of three remaining native stands in the world, serves as habitat and cover for wildlife moving between the coastal range and the ocean bluffs. 

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We had such an amazing time on Highway 1 Discovery Route and we can't wait to explore more areas along the route! 

When was your last road trip?

Heather
Heather Delaney Reese is a Lifestyle and Family Travel Writer currently on the road with her family 150 days a year sharing exceptional family memory making moments and life's everyday fun times. She is a big proponent of encouraging others to join her journey and become a professional blogger to make money at home so that they too can spend more time with their families.

36 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness I think my boys would absolutely love seeing all of those elephant seals. My boys are obsessed with everything related to the ocean, so they would have so many questions and of course wait for some other creatures to come by.

  2. OMG, you weren’t joking about having 10 blogs worth of comments, lol. We went to that elephant seal colony and it blew our mind, one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen!

  3. what an amazing experience for you and the family… I’d love to go there and see this for myself (with the kids, of course!) thanks for sharing this treasure :)

  4. I’ve never been that far west before and it looks really nice. I would love to see horses up close and personal like that!

  5. I didn’t even know that there’s so much that you can do here! I can’t wait to hear more about the trip! That’s a lot to take in and I’m sure it was a lot of fun.

  6. I just love reading about you family adventures. You all get to see beautiful places and the kids are learning a lot from it. Highway 1 Discovery Route would be a great road trip destination. I will have to remember this when we get to visit California.

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