Trying to knock California off your bucket listing? 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 certainly one of America’s finest highway journeys. Learn on to study concerning 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 study 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.

Methods to Plan a California Highway Journey

The Pacific Coast Freeway properties a few of California’s most luxurious 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 listing, together with a few of California’s largest cities like San Francisco and San Diego.

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

One of the best half about driving is that you just’re in a position to determine how little or how a lot time you need to spend at every cease. You’re the motive force!

To get probably 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 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’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 can be possible if you wish to match the whole lot in earlier than hitting the highway.

Listed here 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 option to maximize your time is to charter or rent a boat in San Fransisco when you’re there.

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

Not solely is that this an environment friendly option 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 mountaineering 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 go forty minutes south to Half Moon Bay.

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

When 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.

Apart from the gorgeous seashores, the city is filled with classic shops, cafes, and galleries.

That is certainly one 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
  • Middle Road Antiques

Cease 4: Large Sur

bigsby canyon bridge

You’ll be able to’t drive the Pacific Coast Freeway with out dedicating time to cease at Large Sur.

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

It’s dwelling 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 towering redwood bushes or look to the coast for majestic coves.

You may even take into account a couple of luxurious days of glamping in Big Sur in case you have the time in your drive from San Francisco to San Diego.

You’ll want to go to some these Large Sur highlights:

  • Bigsby Canyon Bridge
  • Pfeiffer Large Sur State Park

Large Sur has numerous Instagram worthy pictures spots. Try a few of the Top 10 Adventure Photographers on your Instagram photograph inspiration. 

Cease 5: Hearst Fort (San Simeon)

hearst castle

Ever seen the best film of all time?

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

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

Cease 6: Malibu

malibu california

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

Apart from being referred to as dwelling to Hollywood film stars, Malibu provides unimaginable 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.

Just a few Malibu highlights you may take pleasure in 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 go 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 just forty-five minutes away from Santa Monica.

In Los Angeles, you’ll be able to spend time buying, visiting celeb Beverly Hills properties, or mountaineering as much as the Hollywood signal to see magnificent views of Los Angeles

Stopping to remain for a day or two would can help 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 stress-free on a few of California’s best seashores.

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

  • Predominant 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 take pleasure in.

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

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

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

San Diego can be the right 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.

Remaining 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, chances are you’ll not even know the place to start out with packing.

You’ll be able to take a look at the Top 15 Best Fashion Blogs on Instagram for the very best outfit inspiration so you feel and look your finest on certainly one of America’s finest highway journeys.

And if you happen to’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 beneath!

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