Escaping the cold always seems like a good choice. If you love nature and adventure and are looking for something different to do this summer, a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles through Highway 1 could be ideal. Although there are many beautiful scenic spots along the way, these two are so hidden that they’re often overlooked: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and the Calla Lily Valley.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

About two hours south of San Francisco, you will reach Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Here you will find landscapes, geological formations, birds and sea lions! There are many different trails that you can hike, but the entire loop is 6.7 miles.

Antonia Mufarech / North by Northwestern 

The parking fee is usually $10 if you want to park your car inside, but you can also park it outside and pay a $1 entrance fee.

If you look closely enough, you will notice unique geological formations throughout the reserve.

And of course… the sea lions! This route tends to be a little crowded, so waking up a little early might be a good choice. This reserve is also an excellent spot for scuba diving and snorkelling, especially during the summer. Other activities include picnicking, photography and nature study.

Calla Lily Valley

Further down Highway 1 you will find the Calla Lily Valley. This valley is a 12 minute drive south of Point Lobos.

Although there are no signs indicating the start of the hike, Google Maps or any app on your phone can serve as a guide. This trail is about 0.5 miles (roundtrip),  and it is free.

After parking, the walk toward the beach is short — about 0.3 miles. You’ll have the ocean to your left and wildflowers to your right.

There will be a stair at the end of the trail which leads to a small valley full of calla lilies.

There you will find people taking photos as well as enjoying the view.

The valley will end when it meets the ocean. You can then enjoy a day at Garrapata Beach. I personally would recommend going there during the sunset and taking some snacks! This is the perfect picnic spot.

Antonia Mufarech / North by Northwestern 

Although these are only two spots, I am sure that there are many other beautiful places along Highway 1. Yes, getting to Los Angeles is extremely exciting. But, this is definitely the kind of trip in which the journey is far more interesting than the final destination. Allow yourself to make some spontaneous stops along the way. All you will need is some good company, some good music and of course, a car. I promise you it will be the trip of a lifetime.