Trying 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 start out?

Look no additional.

California has one in all America’s greatest highway 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 Be aware: 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 perfect locations to cease on a scenic drive from San Francisco to San Diego, together with the perfect issues to do and see.

Plan a California Highway 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–permits you to 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 wish to spend at every cease. You’re the driving force!

To get probably the most out of the journey, you’ll wish to head south while you drive from San Francisco to San Diego

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

Associated: Ensure you 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 may 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 can be possible if you wish to match every part in earlier than hitting the highway.

Listed below are some San Francisco highlights you’ll wish 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 could possibly 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 points of interest, 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 mountain climbing that nature lovers will take pleasure in. It’s definitely worth the detour in case you 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 may be very full of life and is an ideal vacation spot to probe for just a few hours while you drive from San Francisco to San Diego.

Should 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 stuffed with classic shops, cafes, and galleries.

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

Santa Cruz highlights embody:

  • Pure Bridges State Park
  • Santa Cruz Seaside Boardwalk
  • Santa Cruz Seaside
  • Santa Cruz Wharf
  • Heart Road Antiques

Cease 4: Massive Sur

bigsby canyon bridge

You may’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 dwelling to some of the iconic bridges photographed in California: Bigsby Canyon Bridge.

After driving throughout the bridge, you may cease within the park for hikes by means of towering redwood bushes or look to the coast for majestic coves.

You may even think about just a few luxurious days of glamping in Big Sur in case you have the time in your drive from San Francisco to San Diego.

Make sure you 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 number of the Top 10 Adventure Photographers in your Instagram picture inspiration. 

Cease 5: Hearst Fortress (San Simeon)

hearst castle

Ever seen the best film of all time?

No matter whether or not you will have, or haven’t, you may journey an hour and forty minutes south of Massive Sur to see Citizen Kane’s Xanadu inspiration, the Hearst Fortress.

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 Fortress, you’ll end up again on Freeway 1 touring three and a half hours south to Malibu.

Except for being generally known as dwelling to Hollywood film stars, Malibu gives unbelievable seashores and views.

Don’t fret both, you don’t must 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 may take pleasure in are:

  • Malibu Superstar Houses 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 number of the iconic locations alongside the California coast.

Don’t miss these Santa Monica highlights:

  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Venice Seaside 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 may spend time procuring, visiting superstar Beverly Hills properties, or mountain climbing as much as the Hollywood signal to see magnificent views of Los Angeles

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

Cease 8: Laguna Seaside

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 Seaside.

That’s the place you’ll end up stress-free on a few of California’s most interesting seashores.

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

  • Important Seaside
  • Crystal Cove Park
  • Laguna Artwork Museum

Cease 9: San Diego

la jolla cove seal watching

After Laguna Seaside, 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 Seaside and has many actions so that you can take pleasure in.

It’s is the proper place to spend the final days of your journey exploring extra stunning 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 Seaside

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

Closing Ideas on the Drive from San Francisco to San Diego

California is asking your identify, 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 start out with packing.

You may take a look at the Top 15 Best Fashion Blogs on Instagram for the perfect outfit inspiration so you feel and look your greatest on one in all America’s greatest highway journeys.

And should 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 highway journey within the feedback under!


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