The drive on Highway 1 between Carmel, CA, and the sleepy beach town of San Simeon is utterly breathtaking. Along this trek you can take in the wooded wonders of Big Sur, drive along spectacular cliffs of wildflowers that cascade into the Pacific, be awe-stricken by the 80-foot spout waterfall into McWay Cove at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and enjoy the magnificently ostentatious Hearst Castle.
Neither the northern point of Carmel nor the Southern Point are very close to a major metro area (San Francisco is an hour from Carmel and Los Angeles is four hours from San Simeon,) but this is a worthwhile weekend. Be forewarned, there are few lodging options between San Simeon and Carmel, so start your day early. Going south to north would be advised, as you could start your day with Hearst Castle, and end your day with a magnificent sunset. Spring is best when the flowers are in bloom and McWay Falls is at full flow. I've done two round-trip cross-country drives, and this drive tops my list.
These terrific small cities offer strong job opportunities, great schools, low crime, quality health care, and a true sense of community.