Seeking to knock California off your bucket record? Have you ever at all times dreamed of driving a convertible alongside California’s Pacific Coast Freeway (PCH) and don’t know the place to begin?

Look no additional.

California has one in every of America’s finest street journeys. Learn on to be taught in regards to the 9 “must-see” stops on the drive from San Francisco to San Diego together with what every vacation spot has to supply.

Editor’s Word: We up to date this text in October, 2022 to maintain it contemporary.

San Francisco bridge

CONTENTS: On this article, you’ll be taught the very best locations to cease on a scenic drive from San Francisco to San Diego, together with the very best issues to do and see.

Learn how to Plan a California Street Journey

The Pacific Coast Freeway properties a few of California’s most opulent gems.

Driving Freeway 1–also referred to as the Pacific Coast Freeway or PCH–lets you cross a number of locations off your bucket record, together with a few of California’s greatest cities like San Francisco and San Diego.

Between peaceable nature, pleasant meals, and hip nightlife, there’s something for everybody to like.

The most effective half about driving is that you just’re in a position to resolve how little or how a lot time you need to spend at every cease. You’re the driving force!

To get essentially the most out of the journey, you’ll need to head south once you drive from San Francisco to San Diego

Heading south ensures you’ll cruise proper beside the coast which implies you’ll get the very best views of the glowing Pacific Ocean and steep cliffs.

Associated: Be sure to know the pros and cons of car travel earlier than you start.

Cease 1: San Francisco

alcatraz san francisco

Beginning in San Francisco is extraordinarily handy as a result of you’ll be able to fly into the San Francisco Worldwide Airport and get a one-way automotive rental.

San Francisco has an abundance of sights to see so staying two or three nights could be possible if you wish to match all the pieces in earlier than hitting the street.

Listed below are some San Francisco highlights you’ll need to see:

  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Alcatraz Island
  • Angel Island
  • Pier 39
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Ferry Constructing Market

One strategy to maximize your time is to charter or rent a boat in San Fransisco whilst you’re there.

You may sail San Fransisco Bay, cruise the islands, and even simply putter round in a dinghy.

Not solely is that this an environment friendly strategy to expertise San Fransisco sights, however so memorable!

Or, if you wish to path inland from the freeway, Yosemite Nationwide Park is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from San Francisco.

Yosemite has a plethora of waterfalls, animals, and climbing that nature lovers will get pleasure from. It’s definitely worth the detour you probably have the time to spare.

Cease 2: Half Moon Bay

half moon bay

After wrapping up the primary few days in San Francisco, it’s time to move forty minutes south to Half Moon Bay.

Although quaint, this city could be very energetic and is an ideal vacation spot to probe for a couple of hours once you drive from San Francisco to San Diego.

In the event you want to splurge and keep in luxurious, Ritz Carlton has a resort and golf-course overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Try these Half Moon Bay Highlights:

  • Pigeon Level Lighthouse
  • Golf
  • Año Nuevo State Reserve
  • California Coastal Path

Cease 3: Santa Cruz

santa cruz

Subsequent cease on the freeway, about an hour from Half Moon Bay, is Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz has a lot to supply.

Except for the gorgeous seashores, the city is filled with classic shops, cafes, and galleries.

That is one in every of my favourite stops on a drive from San Francisco to San Diego!

Santa Cruz highlights embrace:

  • Pure Bridges State Park
  • Santa Cruz Seashore Boardwalk
  • Santa Cruz Seashore
  • Santa Cruz Wharf
  • Heart Avenue Antiques

Cease 4: Massive Sur

bigsby canyon bridge

You possibly can’t drive the Pacific Coast Freeway with out dedicating time to cease at Massive Sur.

Massive Sur is about an hour and thirty minutes south of Santa Cruz.

It’s residence to one of the iconic bridges photographed in California: Bigsby Canyon Bridge.

After driving throughout the bridge, you’ll be able to cease within the park for hikes by way of towering redwood bushes or look to the coast for majestic coves.

You would possibly even think about a couple of luxurious days of glamping in Big Sur you probably have the time in your drive from San Francisco to San Diego.

Remember to go to some these Massive Sur highlights:

  • Bigsby Canyon Bridge
  • Pfeiffer Massive Sur State Park

Massive Sur has numerous Instagram worthy images spots. Try a few of the Top 10 Adventure Photographers in your Instagram picture inspiration. 

Cease 5: Hearst Citadel (San Simeon)

hearst castle

Ever seen the best film of all time?

No matter whether or not you’ve, or haven’t, you’ll be able to journey an hour and forty minutes south of Massive Sur to see Citizen Kane’s Xanadu inspiration, the Hearst Citadel.

With 46 rooms, artifacts, two swimming swimming pools that maintain a complete of 550,000 gallons of water, a non-public zoo, and a non-public runway, there’s loads of historical past and splendor to seize your consideration. 

Cease 6: Malibu

malibu california

After exploring the Hearst Citadel, you’ll end up again on Freeway 1 touring three and a half hours south to Malibu.

Except for being often called residence to Hollywood film stars, Malibu affords unbelievable seashores and views.

Don’t fret both, you don’t have to be a Hollywood film star to have the ability to keep and benefit from the luxuries Malibu has to supply.

A couple of Malibu highlights you would possibly get pleasure from are:

  • Malibu Superstar Properties Tour
  • Wine Hikes
  • Enjoyable on the seashores

Cease 7: Santa Monica

santa monica pier

When you’ve indulged and splurged in Malibu, it’s time to move to Santa Monica.

It’s simply an hour and thirty minutes from Malibu.

Santa Monica properties a few of the iconic locations alongside the California coast.

Don’t miss these Santa Monica highlights:

  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Venice Seashore Boardwalk
  • Venice Canals

If you wish to path inland from the freeway once more, the bustling City of Los Angeles is barely forty-five minutes away from Santa Monica.

In Los Angeles, you’ll be able to spend time purchasing, visiting movie star Beverly Hills properties, or climbing as much as the Hollywood signal to see magnificent views of Los Angeles

Stopping to remain for a day or two would will let you sightsee in each Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

Cease 8: Laguna Seashore

laguna beach

Able to get out of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and Santa Monica?

Then head an hour and ten minutes south to Laguna Seashore.

That’s the place you’ll end up enjoyable on a few of California’s best seashores.

Listed below are some highlights you’ll love at Laguna Seashore:

  • Fundamental Seashore
  • Crystal Cove Park
  • Laguna Artwork Museum

Cease 9: San Diego

la jolla cove seal watching

After Laguna Seashore, you’ll be heading to your final cease in your drive from San Francisco to San Diego.

San Diego is an hour and quarter-hour from Laguna Seashore and has many actions so that you can get pleasure from.

It’s is the proper place to spend the final days of your journey exploring extra lovely seashores, studying about United States historical past, and reflecting on the fantastic journey you’ve had.

Go to these San Diego highlights whilst you’re there:

  • Seal Watching at La Jolla Cove
  • San Diego Zoo
  • USS Halfway Visits
  • Coronado Seashore

San Diego can be the proper final cease since you’re in a position to flip in your one-way automotive rental and fly residence out of the San Diego Worldwide Airport.

Last Ideas on the Drive from San Francisco to San Diego

California is asking your title, so what are you ready for?

You’re certain to have a good time on this San Francisco to San Diogo drive.

With so many locations and actions alongside Freeway 1, you might not even know the place to begin with packing.

You possibly can try the Top 15 Best Fashion Blogs on Instagram for the very best outfit inspiration so you feel and look your finest on one in every of America’s finest street journeys.

And when you’re new to road-tripping altogether, we’ve put collectively this beginners guide to road trips for you.

Tell us your ideas on this California street journey within the feedback under!


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