Driving along the California Pacific Coast Highway – one of the world’s most scenic drives – is indeed an experience that will remain etched in your mind for a long time. Along with this famous route, you will drive past beautiful cities, mountains, forests, and small coastal towns. The road trip brings you up close with colorful marine wildlife. Explore lovely beach towns, wine regions, and discover amazing outdoor adventure opportunities that await you. Not forgetting the gorgeous scenic views along the road that makes for great photo ops.
Driving non-stop from San Francisco to San Diego takes approximately 10 hours but making a few stops to explore the sights and sounds along the way is fun in itself. Here are some of the best getaways that you can easily hit on your ultimate adventure to San Diego – just don’t forget to bring your camera so you can capture every moment.
Start your epic road trip from one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There’s no denying the fact that you’ll want to spend some time in San Francisco. Go shopping at Union Square, spend some time in Fisherman’s Wharf, escape to Alcatraz Island, and don’t miss the cable car ride.
If you still have much time, take a drive to the Golden Gate Park which features several beautiful attractions including the Japanese Tea Garden and the California Academy of Sciences. There are plenty of things to see and do in San Francisco – just make sure you have a taste of everything this beautiful city has to offer.
Ninety minutes later (with no stops) will bring you to Santa Cruz – a place to experience the old school vibes. Check out the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and enjoy great rides at the amusement parks. You’ll find the Big Dipper along the boardwalk, excellent sandy beaches and other quirky sights like the Surfing Museum and The Mystery Spot.
Your next stop will be Monterey Bay – located just an hour drive from Santa Cruz. Here you’ll find the enchanting Monterey Bay Aquarium which has a wide range of aquatic creatures on display or fill up your shopping bag with great items on display at Cannery Row. Monterey is a fantastic place to enjoy lots of outdoor activities including biking, kayaking, sailing and whale watching.
If you’re fond of flora and fauna, Santa Barbara is a must visit. Fondly called the “American Riviera”, this beautiful coastal town is home to Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and not forgetting to mention Lotusland. Also, there is something for culture lovers here. Check out the extensive collection of items at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum or the Arlington Theatre.
If you want another stop before entering in Los Angeles, Malibu makes for a short break. Malibu is home to many beaches including Zuma Beach, Point Dume State Beach and Malibu Surfrider Beach.
Los Angeles has an endless list of things to see and do. The driving distance from San Francisco to Los Angeles is 382 miles. While in Los Angeles you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to places to explore, so it’s best to narrow your choices to the most iconic sights. Wander around the Hollywood Walk of Fame, check out the Universal Studios, visit the Kodak Theatre, take an exhilarating drive down Sunset Boulevard, or marvel at the magnificent views of the iconic Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory.
From Los Angeles, head for Long Beach, California’s seventh largest city by population. The city is famous for its white sand beaches, great entertainment, cultural events and artistic neighborhoods. Visitors will have a swell time surfing in Seal Beach. Make sure you visit the Long Beach Museum of Art to explore the lovely collection of artworks and paintings.
Other popular attractions include the Aquarium of the Pacific, home to more than 1,000 marine species; Knott’s Berry Farm, an amusement park with lots of great rides, arcades and swimming opportunities; and El Dorado Nature Center, which boasts countless trails and is home to natural wildlife.
After almost 120 miles driving distance from Los Angeles to San Diego, reward yourself by ending your trip in this sunny city. Old Town, Downtown and Balboa Park are a great spot to relax and unwind. Gaslamp Quarters boasts more than 100 local restaurants, bars and beach shops. You’ll find beaches for every personality. Other wondrous attractions include SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo and Legoland California. What a great way to end your trip!
The ultimate adventure from San Francisco to San Diego is the road trip on everybody’s bucket list. After taking this exhilarating 10-hour drive from San Francisco to San Diego, you’ll see why the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most scenic drives in the world.