Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Witnessing spectacular McWay Falls is of the best things do in Big Sur and an unmissable stop on the scenic drive from San Francisco to LA

An epic scenic drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles with 20 unmissable places to see along the Pacific Coast.

THE MOST SCENIC ROUTE FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO LOS ANGELES 

Big Sur at Breaker Point in California 
 on my San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Sand Dollar Beach in Big Sur in California © World Travel Connector

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This marvelous California road trip goes from the north to the south – from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Moreover, it takes the best route from San Francisco to Los Angeles and one of the most scenic roads in the World – the legendary Pacific Coast Highway (aka Highway 1) on this California coast road trip.

This magnificent San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip takes scenic route from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Driving San Francisco to Los Angeles scenic route and driving Pacific Coast Highway means basking in stunning coastal views, pristine beaches, unspoiled forest and nature trails, charming vineyards, admiring upscale golf courses, picturesque Californian seaside towns, and villages, luxury multi-dollar mansions, and creative cozy cottages.

Without any doubt, this scenic drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Highway 1 is the best drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles to take!

In case you are wondering how far is San Francisco from Los Angeles, the distance from San Francisco to Los Angeles is about 385 miles (620 km).

But this San Francisco to Los Angeles drive is not about distances and miles, rather about impressions and experiences the San Francisco to LA Pacific Coast Highway road trip offers. The distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles can easily be covered. But impressions and experiences are ones to be counted on this road trip. This Pacific Coast Highway roadtrip from San Francisco to Los Angeles offers an abundance of impressions and experiences.

Been there, done that. Speaking from my own experience.  Road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles grants so much fun!!

San Francisco Los Angeles by car is one of the best drives in life you can treat yourself with!

Interested to learn more about my perfect San Fran to Los Angeles drive?!

Here’s my San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip with 20 top places to go in California from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

THE MOST BREATHTAKING SAN FRANCISCO TO LOS ANGELES ROAD TRIP

STEPS AND TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR PERFECT TRIP
1. Find and book your flight: Skyscanner
2. Find and book your stay: Booking.comHotelsCombined.com
3. Find and book the best car rentals: Discover Car Hire
4. Get travel insurance (insure yourself against any accident, sickness, theft, and canceled flight): WorldNomads.com
5. Find and book great guided day tours: GetYourGuideViator

SAN FRANCISCO TO LOS ANGELES ROAD TRIP: 20 Best Stops on the Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles

This wonderful West Coast USA road trip starts in San Francisco and ends in Los Angeles.

You can rent a car at SFO Airport and return it at LAX Airport. But if you prefer to do this ultimate California road trip in the opposite direction driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, don’t worry. You can rent a car at LAX Airport, enjoy the scenic drive from LA to San Francisco and give the car back at SFO Airport.

Click here to get the best car rental rates:
− For your road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles: SFO Car Rentals 
− For your road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco: LAX Car Rentals

San Francisco to LA scenic routePlaces to visit from San Francisco to Los Angeles:

1. SAN FRANCISCO

scenic drive from san francisco to los angeles

The City by the Bay attracts over 17 million tourists a year. And with a good reason: San Fransisco is simply stunning. It’s easy to fall in love with gorgeous San Francisco Bay, fascinating turquoise Pacific ocean, hilly San Francisco streets, and colorful Victorian and Edwardian architecture. It’s exciting to have an old-time ride in the San Francisco cable car in the Fisherman’s Wharf. It feels good to be a part of the welcoming, culturally diverse, and liberal community of San Francisco.

San Francisco cable car on my scenic drive from san francisco to los angeles San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
San Francisco cable car © World Travel Connector

San Francisco is world-famous for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, 43 hills, Twin Peaks, Alcatraz prison, zig-zag Lombard Street, Alamo Square with vibrant Painted ladies, exciting and culturally diverse community, hippies and liberal society, legendary Chinatown, and Castro neighborhood, Fisherman’s Wharf, great seafood, Ghiradelli chocolate, Dirty Harry movie, and Transamerica Pyramid skyscraper.

If you are visiting San Francisco for the first time, consider spending at least 3 days in San Francisco.

My list of the best things to do in San Francisco for the first-time visitors would be:

  • take a photo of the Golden Gate for your private album (yes, it is a touristy thing but you make your own memories!),
  • have a cable car ride (one-way ticket costs 7 USD), stroll historic Fisherman’s Wharf,
  • have some chocolate at the Ghirardelli Square,
  • visit curvy Lombard Street,
  • enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of SF from popular Twin Peaks,
  • visit infamous Alcatraz,
  • explore well-known Chinatown and Castro,
  • take a rest at Alamo Square while watching colorful Painted Ladies,
  • have a picnic or just relax next to the Palace of Fine Arts (feel like a local!),
  • ‘get lost’ in SF downtown.

Ok, this is only a shortlist of things to do in San Francisco.

7 days in San Francisco would be great. But you are on your road trip to California. So, plan 3 days in San Franciso and get on the road. An awesome trip has just started!

Where to stay in San Francisco – recommended hotels in San Francisco:

Hotel Nikko San Francisco (5-min away from Union Square),
Americania Hotel (in SoMa neighborhood),
Inn San Francisco (in the Mission),
Stanyan Park Hotel (in Haight-Ashbury),
Courtyard by Marriot Fishermans Wharf (in Fisherman’s Wharf)

Check here to get the best rates for your stay in San Francisco

RELATED:

2. MONTEREY

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San Francisco to Monterey

After San Francisco, put Monterey on your California coast road trip itinerary. From San Francisco take Freeway 101 (US-101) and then scenic California’s Highway 1 (CA-1) and you are going to be in Monterey in 2 hours.

Monterey is a lovely historic Californian town. Once the capital of Alta California and former cannery town, popularized by John Steinbeck’s novel, modern Monterey is home to one of the best aquariums in the US.

My list of recommended things to do in Monterey would be:

  • stroll around Old Monterey with historic houses (the Monterey State Historic Park),
  • visit Monterey’s Old Whaling station (the entrance is free!),
  • walk along the Cannery Row,
  • treat yourself with a seafood lunch in one of the restaurants,
  • amuse yourself with the underwater world of the Monterey Bay Aquarium (especially with the psychedelic jellies),
  • watch the sea lions from the Monterey piers, or
  • go for a Monterey Bay whale watching tour,
  • visit Monterey’s public beaches; and
  • if you have time opt for a longer stop to do some biking along 29 mile-long (47 km-long) Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.

But if you love the sea, most certainly you could be thrilled with amazing 3-Hour Monterey Bay Winter Whale-Watching Tour in California!

Recommended stay in Monterey:
Monterey Plaza Hotel, Monterey Bay Inn

Driving distanceDriving time
San Francisco to Monterey115 mi (185 km)2 h

3. PACIFIC GROVE – 17-Mile Drive

Pacific Grove on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf

Monterey to Pacific Grove

The next place to visit in California on your trip is Pacific Grove, nicknamed ‘the Butterfly Town’.

Pacific Grove is a small Californian coastal town with old-fashioned charm and a 10-minute drive from Monterey.

Pacific Grove represents a mix of natural beauty and historic architecture. Pacific Grove offers to its visitors walkable downtown with historic old Victorian buildings and houses of which are many converted to B&Bs, iconic Pacific Grove lighthouse (the oldest continuously working lighthouse on the West Coast!), pretty Lover’s Point, and overall spectacular scenery. The drive along the Ocean View Blvd is lovely just as scenic 17-Mile Drive with breathtaking vistas is. Pacific Grove is popularly called ‘the Butterfly Town’. In October thousands of Monarch butterflies come to the cypress and eucalyptus trees of the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove. Butterfly Parade and Bazaar take place in Pacific Grove every October to celebrate their return. Pacific Grove isn’t touristy as Monterey or Carmel-by-the Sea. It’s more relaxing and somewhat sleepy, but doubtlessly charming.

Recommended stay in Pacific Grove:
Green Gables Inn, Gosby House InnSeven Gables Inn

Recommended restaurants in Pacific Grove:
Red House Cafe (you should try Crab Cake Benedict!), Max’s Grill, Fandango, Passionfish (famous for innovative seafood)

Pacific Grove on the scenic drive from san francisco to los angeles San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf

When you pass Pacific Grove and drive more south one of the highlights of the road trip comes – the official beginning of famous 17-Mile Drive.

Iconic 17-Mile Drive starts from Pacific Grove Gate. The 17-Mile Drive is a 17-mile long road from Pacific Grove to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Although Carmel can be reached in only 20 min, a slow drive with several stops for taking photos along the route from Pacific Grove to Carmel can take up to 3 hours. Today this historic road is privately owned and managed by the Pebble Beach Corporation. Here you will need to pay the 17-Mile Drive toll which costs 10.25 USD per vehicle and it can be paid in cash only. But the good news is, the toll is reimbursed for all purchases of minimal 35 USD at almost all Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants.

17-Mile Drive is one of the most romantic roads in the World. It was first opened in 1881 to horse carriages. While bicycles are allowed, motorbikes are forbidden on the 17-Mile Drive.

Driving distanceDriving time
Monterey to Pacific Grove2 mi (3 km)5 min

4. MOSS BEACH, PEBBLE BEACH – 17-Mile Drive

Moss Beach on the scenic drive from san francisco to los angeles San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Moss Beach, Monterey Peninsula © World Travel Connector

Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach

Driving further south of Pacific Grove along 17-Mile Drive, you will enter Pebble Beach.

Pebble Beach is a gated community in the Monterey Peninsula between Monterey and Carmel. The Pebble Baech is a famous upscale Californian tourist destination and a synonym for elegance and romance. Prices of homes in Pebble Beach go to the tens of millions of dollars.

About 3 miles south of Pacific Grove next to the Spanish Bay you will reach Moss Beach in the Pebble Beach community. Moss Beach is a sandy beach with cobbled stones in the back. This impressive beach is well-worth of a stop!

Driving distanceDriving time
Pacific Grove to Moss Beach2.7 mi (4 km)8 min

5. MONTEREY PENINSULA GOLF COURSES – 17-Mile Drive

A golf course in Monterrey Peninsula  on the scenic drive from san francisco to los angeles San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la  san fran to la I I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
A golf course on the Monterey Peninsula © World Travel Connector

Monterey golf courses on Pebble Beach 17-Mile Drive

Along 17-Mile Drive between Pacific Grove and Carmel, you will get stunning million-dollar views of the world celebrated golf courses.

The Monterey Peninsula is a golf paradise as the area holds the largest number of world-class golf courses in the World. It is a world-renowned golf destination with the most dramatic natural setting in the World and thus a bucket list of golf devotees. Bookings for the courses are made several months in advance. While golf courses are pricey, enjoying the surrounding scenery is free. The dazzling scenery of the coastal dunes, beaches, golf fields, and the forest will make you stop several times. Most likely you won’t be playing golf there, but a road trip following the 17- Mile Drive from Pacific Grove to Carmel is good as golf.

Here are some golf clubs you will see along the 17-Mile Drive: The Links of Spanish Bay (a public golf course. Weekdays and weekends fees are the same, 260 USD), the Pebble Beach Golf Links (another public golf course. The fees for weekends and weekdays are 495 USD), the Cypress Point Club (among Top 100 Golf Courses in the World and America’s Greatest Golf Courses.  Famed to be the World’s most exclusive golf club and often described as a Haven on Earth), the Monterey Peninsula Country Golf (another scenic private golf course).

Click here to see the interactive map of Monterey Peninsula golf courses

Recommended Stay: The Inn at Spanish Bay

Driving distanceDriving time
Pacific Grove to Monterey Peninsula golf courses5 mi (8 km)13 min

6. LONE CYPRESS – 17-Mile Drive

The Lone Cypress on the 17_mile Drive on the San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
The Lone Cypress on the 17-Mile Drive

Monterey golf courses to Lone Cypress on 17-mile Drive Monterey

Continue driving the 17- Mile Drive and your next stop on the scenic route from SF to LA is the Lone Cypress.

The Lone Cypress in Pebble Beach is the most famous cypress tree in the World. And one of the most photographed trees in the Word ever.

The Lone Cypress is a landmark of California and everyone wants a photo of it. There’s no doubt, you want your photo too. It is believed to be about 250 years old. The Lonely Cypress is a rare and protected Monterey cypress which is a special species native to the Central Coast of California.

Driving distanceDriving time
Monterey Peninsula golf courses to Lone Cypress1.2 mi (2 km)4 min

7. CARMEL BY THE SEA

Carmel-by-the-Sea on the San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Me in Carmel-by-the Sea © World Travel Connector

Lone Cypress to Carmel

A 10 min drive via 17-Mile Drive from the Lonely Cypress takes you to the next stop on your San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip – Carmel.

Carmel-by-the Sea is a small seaside town with an arty vibe, and many upscale art galleries, pricey shops, gourmet restaurants, storybook-like cottages, a gorgeous sandy dog-friendly beach, and amazing landscapes.

Although it has a population of fewer than 4.000 people, some of the residents are the world’s superstars like Clint Eastwood who was a major of Carmel in the 1980s, and Doris Day who runs an animal shelter in Carmel. At the beginning of the 20th century, Carmel was a colony of writers, poets, and artists. Carmel is especially loved by nature lovers, writers, musicians, artists, and other creative personalities. Today Carmel is also known as the pet-friendliest town in the US as pets are welcome everywhere in Carmel! And Carmel beach is one of the top dog-friendly beaches in California!

If you are a foodie like me, then there’s no doubt you would enjoy this delicious 3 hour Carmel Small-Group Food and Wine Walking Tour!

Carmel Mission in Cramel-by-the-Sea on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Carmel Mission in Carmel-by-the Sea © World Travel Connector

It’s no secret, I fell in love with Carmel at first sight. If you ask me where I would live in California, my finger would be pointing Carmel on the map.

My favorite things to do in Carmel-by-the Sea:

  • take a walk along sandy and dog-friendly Carmel Beach,
  • go for a drink at the sunny patio of Mission Ranch with some fine jazz sounds in the background (Clint Eastwood is a co-owner of the Mission Ranch),
  • visit nearby Carmel Mission and
  • enjoy in its old Spanish Adobe architecture and charm.

Recommended stay in Carmel-by-the Sea:
Lamp Lighter Inn, Mission Ranch, Coachman’s Inn, L’Auberge, Sea View Inn, Lincoln Green Inn

Driving distanceDriving time
Lone Cypress to Carmel-by-the Sea4 mi (6.4 km)12 min

8. POINT LOBOS STATE PARK 

Point Lobos on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip: Point Lobos

Carmel to Point Lobos

Next stop on this scenic San Francisco to Los Angeles coastal drive is Point Lobos. It is only 4 miles south of Carmel, between Carmel and Big Sur.

The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is often called ‘the crown jewel of California’s 280 state parks’. It offers beautiful vistas, serenity and many great photo opportunities. Point Lobos State Reserve is a great place for sightseeing, hiking, watching sea lions, seabirds and whales. Don’t forget to take your camera with you. It is a photographers paradise!

The Point Lobos got its name after sea lions. Early Spanish explorers called sea lions sea wolves. Several reserve’s trails go along the shoreline through the woods and meadows. The hikes range from easy ones such as the Cypress Grove trail to more difficult ones that take climbing such as the Whalers Knoll.  A hike in the reserve can go up to 5 hours.

Working hours of the Point Lobos reserve: 8 am-5 pm. Car entrance fee: 10 USD. You can park your car at Whaler’s Cove parking lot. Keep in mind, Pont Lobos reserve can be overcrowded in summer, especially at weekends.

Driving distanceDriving time
Carmel-by-the Sea to Point Lobos4 mi (6.4 km)1o min

9. BIXBY CREEK BRIDGE – Big Sur

Big Sur on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I san fran to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Big Sur © World Travel Connector

Point Lobos to Bixby Bridge on Big Sur

Scenic San Francisco to Los Angeles drive is impossible without visiting iconic Big Sur and Bixby Bridge.

Legendary Big Sur and Bixby Bridge are the highlights of a scenic drive from San Fran to LA!

Big Sur is considered to be one of the most beautiful passages in the World and the most scenic drive on California Hwy 1. It is a 100 mi-long (145 km-long) area of rustic beauty and home to 9 state parks and several hiking trails. Big Sur goes from Carmel in the north to San Simeon in the south.

The Bixby Bridge is a world-famous landmark of Big Sur. It is one one the tallest single-span bridges in the World.

If you wish to spend some more time in spectacular Big Sur’s scenery, here are recommended things to do in Big Sur: hike some of several parks (Julia Pfeiffer State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Garapatta State Park, or Andrew Molera State Park), or head to Pfeiffer Beach or Sand Dollar Beach. Or try out glamping in Big Sur!

Recommended restaurants in Big Sur: Sierra Mar Restaurant, Nepenthe

RELATED:

Driving distanceDriving time
Point Lobos to Bixby Creek Bridge11 mi (18 km)17 min

10. MCWAY FALLS – Big Sur

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McWay Falls in Big Sur

Bixby Bridge to McWay Fall on Big Sur

A 40 min drive from the Bixby Bridge via California Hyw 1 along Pacific Coast will take you to another Big Sur landmark and unmissable stop – the McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

The McWay Creek drops directly into the Pacific Ocean creating one of the most scenic waterfalls in the world.

Make a quick stop for a spectacular overlook of the waterfall. There are two ways to reach the McWay Falls Overlook Trail. Park along Hyw 1 and hike 0.3 miles down to the viewpoint. If you want to see more of the park, you need to pay the entrance fee of 10 USD.

Driving distanceDriving time
Bixby Creek Bridge to McWay Falls24 mi (39 km)38 min

11. ELEPHANT SEAL VISTA POINT – Big Sur

Elephant Seal Vista Point on Big Sur on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Elephant Seal Vista Point on Big Sur © World Travel Connector

McWay Fall to Elephant Seal Vista Point on Big Sur

San Francisco to LA drive continues and your next stop is the Elephant Seal Vista Point.  The viewing area of elephant seals is a part of the Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area.

Elephant Seal Vista Point is in the southern part of Big Sur, 1.5 miles south of Point Piedras Blancas and 5 miles north of Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

The elephant seals come ashore and form colonies only for a few months to give birth, breed, and molt.  Elephant Seals are protected earless seals. It could be up to 18.000 elephants on the 4-mile long San Simeon State beach.

Stop your drive from SF to LA for a few moments, park your car in the parking area of the Elephant Seals Big Sur vista point, and enjoy their loud chorus.

Driving distanceDriving time
McWay Falls to Elephant Seal Vista Point40 mi (64 km)1 h

12. HEARST CASTLE

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Hearst Castle

Big Sur to Hearst Castle

Keep on driving on Pacific Highway and about 53 mi south of McWay Falls you will come to Hearst Castle.

The Hearst Castle in San Simeon was the home of newspaper magnate Randolf Hearst. The castle is actually an extravagant palace with 165 rooms, 127 acres (51 ha) of gardens, fountains, and pools. The art collection of the castle is one of the most impressive collections in the World holding European masterpieces, oriental rugs, and tapestries, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiques to name a few. The castle gives an insight into the lifestyle of Holywood’s elite of the ’50s and ’60s who were Hearst’s friends and regular visitors.  The castle sits at 1600 m above sea level and the vistas from the castle are sublime.

Today the castle is a California’s landmark. More than one million people a year visit Hearst Castle.

You can easily spend a day at the castle. Tickets are sold at the Visitors Center and a tour bus takes the visitors up the hill to start the tour. 

The Visors Center opens at 8 am. The ticket starts at 25 USD per adult and 12 USD per child. You can also consider taking an amazing Hearst Castle tour with an expert guide and pick up in San Simeon or Cambria.

Driving distanceDriving time
Elephant Seal Vista Point to Hearst Castle5 mi (8 km)12 min

13. CAMBRIA

Cambria on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Cambria © World Travel Connector

Hearst Castle to Cambria

A 15 min drive further south on California Highway One (CA-1) from the Hearst Castle leads to Cambria.

Cambria is another picturesque oceanside spot with village charm. It is located right in the middle of San Francisco and LA, 240 mi south of SF and 240 mi north of LA. Cambria is well-known for the wildflowers, especially blooming in spring.

Cambria is a popular place in California for antiques and art, artwork, handicrafts, vintage clothing, but also for the restaurants and wine tasting rooms. The Moonstone Beach in Cambria with tide pools and semi-precious stones is often listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the US.

Book your stay in Cambria: Click here to get the best rates for your stay in Cambria

Are you interested in more USA road trips like this one? If so, you should check out my The Ultimate USA Southwest Road Trip: California-Arizona-Nevada

Driving distanceDriving time
Heart Castle to Cambria9 mi (14 km)15 min

14. MORRO BAY

Morro Bay on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Morro Bay © World Travel Connector

Cambria to Morro Bay

A half an hour drive south along California Highway 1 (CA-1) comes Morro Bay, popularly called the Gibraltar of the Pacific.

Morro Bay is a Californian waterfront small town known for 581 foot (177 m) volcanic Morro Rock in Morro Bay’s harbor. The bay is one of the largest estuaries on the west coast. Morro Bay can easily be explored on foot. The town is a well-liked eco-tourist destination in California, especially appreciated by sea mammals lovers and bird watchers as it is a bird sanctuary.

Morro Bay is popular also among surfers for the Morro Strand State beach.

Recommended restaurants in Morro Bay:
Taco de Mexico, Bayside cafe, Galley Seafood Grill & Bar

Book your stay in Morro Bay:
Click here to get the best rates for your stay in Morro Bay 

Morro Bay on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Sunset in Morro Bay © World Travel Connector
Driving distanceDriving time
Cambria to Morro Bay20 mi (32 km)30 min

15. SOLVANG

Solvang on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Solvang © World Travel Connector

Morro Bay to Solvang

After numerous stunning sea vistas, you will enjoy a change in the scenery and a completely different vibe on your next stop.

In fact, a short detour off the route will take you to another fairytale town in California – Solvang.

Solvang, nicknamed ‘California’s Little Danemark’ and ‘Danish Capital of America’ is a cute and unique town where the old-world charm mixes with the Nothern European atmosphere. It was founded in the early 20th century by Danish pioneers. Solvang literally means ‘sunny field’. Early Solvang settlers were farmers from Danemark who built Danish style houses and windmills, gave to the streets Danish names, and kept cherishing Danish tradition and customs. The town has been reflecting Danish culture and Danish village-style ever since.

Solvang on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Solvang © World Travel Connector

If you are looking for the best things to do in Solvang, I would say:

  • walk along Copenhagen Drive (the main street in Solvang),
  • shop for some authentic gifts (cuckoo clocks, wooden shoes),
  • visit old Spanish adobe Mission Santa Ines and Hans Christian Andersen Museum,
  • treat yourself with some treats in authentic Danish bakeries (like Danish butter cookies, Danish waffles, Winerbrod Danish pastries, marzipan, kringles, almond ring cakes, ‘aebleskiver’ – Danish pancake balls served with raspberry jam) or
  • take a yummy Danish food tour in Solvang.

Recommended bakeries and shops in Solvang:
Danish Mill Bakery, Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery &b Coffee Shop, Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolate, Old Danish Food Farm, Paula’s Pancake House (for Danish pancakes, Danish sausages)

Recommended wineries:
Lincourt VineyardsGypsy Studios (offers a 2-hour painting session in the vineyard!)

Book your stay in Solvang: Check here to get the best rates for your stay in Solvang

Driving distanceDriving time
Morro Bay to Solvang80 mi (128 km)1 h 20 min

16. SANTA YNEZ

Santa Ynez on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Santa Ynez © World Travel Connector

Solvang to Santa Ynez

When visiting Solvang, it would be a pity not to visit Santa Ynez. Town of Santa Ynez is a completely different story from Solvang and it is only 4 miles from Solvang.

Can you remember, I have told you that driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles is the ultimate driving treat?!

Well, welcome to Santa Ynez, welcome to a cowboy-style town!

The town of Santa Ynez is a rustic cowboy style town full of history, with surrounding rolling hills and picturesque vineyards. Santa Ynez Valley with more than 100 wineries is a popular wine tasting destination in the US, but much low-key than Napa or Sonoma.  Prices of wine tasting average 10 – 15 USD. The vineyards and wine tasting rooms are run by families. Don’t forget to visit the famous Santa Ynez wineries!

Drive smart and combine your visit to Solvang with a visit to Santa Ynez.

Recommended places to visit in Santa Ynez:
Sunstone Vineyards and Winery, Bridlewood Estate Winery, Rancho Olivos ( for testing extra virgin olive on the farm).

Driving distanceDriving time
Solvang to Santa Ynez4 mi (6 km)6 min

17. SANTA BARBARA

Santa Barbara on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la
Santa Barbara courthouse © World Travel Connector

Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara

After visiting wineries, vineyards, and farms in Santa Ynez, your next destination is Santa Barbara aka ‘American Riviera’.

Oh, you are going to love the Riviera’s vibe!

Santa Barbara on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Santa Barbara © World Travel Connector

As soon as you come to Santa Barbara you will notice wonderful architecture. And only in a few minutes, you will immerse yourself into great restaurants and shops.

State Street is the heart and the most famous avenue in Santa Barbara. Stroll the State Street with art galleries, and spend some time in some of over 300 shops, theaters, and museums, and 160 restaurants in Santa Barbara. Of course, don’t miss visiting historic sites in Santa Barbara like the spectacular Santa Barbara courthouse built in Spanish-Moorish architecture with colorful interior mosaics of Santa Barabara Old Mission (the entrance fee is 9 USD). And check out Moreton Bay Fig Tree at the Amtrak Train Station!

As an obvious gourmand, I would recommend Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour and Authentic and Boutique Wine Tour Experience.

Recommended restaurants in Santa Barbara:
Los Agaves, Mesa Verde, Arigato Sushi, the Lark.
Book you stay in Santa Barbara: Check here options for your stay in Santa Barbara

RELATED: 18 Absolutely Best Santa Barbara Airbnbs

Driving distanceDriving time
Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara30 mi (48 km)40 min

18. MALIBU

Malibu on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf

Santa Barbara to Malibu

Driving from San Francisco to LA is getting more and more exciting by each new stop!

After visiting Santa Barbara and hopefully not overcharging your credit card, you are continuing to drive from San Francisco to LA and the next stop is Malibu.

Malibu is a beach town and popular weekend hideaway and home of many Holywood celebrities. Malibu is famous for weekend beach homes, sandy beaches, cliffs, piers, and restaurants. Malibu is almost all about the sea, beach, relaxation and good times.

Getty Villa on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Getty Villa in Malibu

One of the main attractions in Malibu is Getty Villa which is a part of the John Getty Museum. The Getty Villa in Malibu is built in Italian villa style and it holds a collection of more than 44000 Roman, Etruscan, and Greek artifacts and fine European art.

In Malibu, make a short stop to Zuma Beach, hike trails to Point Dume Natural Preserve, enjoy the ocean views from the famous Geoffrey’s where once Frank Sintra, Marylin Monroe or Lana Turner had dined frequently, or go to legendary Paradise Cove Beach Cafe and don’t be surprised if you stumble on a celebrity there.

Point Dume Natural Preserve on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf

RELATED: Best Airbnbs in Malibu

Driving distanceDriving time
Santa Barbara to Malibu67 mi (108 km)1 h 10 min

19. SANTA MONICA

Santa Monica Pier on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Santa Monica © World Travel Connector

Malibu to Santa Monica

After Malibu, the next stop on this San Francisco to LA itinerary is Santa Monica. When someone mentions Santa Monica, most likely the first thoughts are Santa Monica beaches, Santa Monica Pier and the Third Street Promenade.

I in Santa Monika on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf

Santa Monica is widely-known for the beaches, sea, sand, wind, sunsets, and a relaxed vibe.

Visiting iconic Santa Monica Pier that officially marks the end of Historic Route 66 is a must in Santa Monica.

My list of the best things to do in Santa Monica is:

  • catch the sunset at Palisades Park overlooking the ocean and the pier,
  • walk the 3rd Street Promenade for some shopping or just for people watching,
  • buy some fresh fruit at Santa Monica’s Farmer Market,
  • have a fine Mexican dinner at Mercado,
  • enjoy in homemade ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery or
  • go for a wood-fired pizza at Milo & Olive.
Driving distanceDriving time
Malibu to Santa Monica19 mi (30 km)28 min

20. LOS ANGELES

Hollywood Sign in LA on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Hollywood sign in LA © World Travel Connector

Santa Monica to Los Angeles

And finally, your last stop on this Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary is the City of Angeles.

Your San Fran to LA drive was magical but movie magic awaits you in La La Land. It’s your time to have some fun in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Venice Beach on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Venice Beach © World Travel Connector

If you are visiting LA for the first time, plan to spend 3 days in Los Angeles.  And consider getting Go Los Angeles Card. It is a discount pass to 35 top Los Angeles attractions and a good investment for sightseeing in LA.

Getty Center in LA on my San francisco to los angeles road trip San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip I Scenic Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles by World Travel Connector I Scenic Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles I Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive  I San Francisco to Los Angeles drive I san francisco to la I l.a to san francisco I  drive from san francisco to la I la to sf drive I drive from la to san francisco I la to san francisco drive I driving from los angeles to san francisco I drive from la to sf
Getty Center © World Travel Connector

A list of things to do in LA in 3 days can be quiet long. But as a first-timer in Los Angeles, you will unarguably enjoy in:

  • take a walk along the Holywood Walk of Fame and find the handprints of your favorite movie stars,
  • tour the Chinese Theater and recalling the Holywood Golden Age,
  • visit the Dolby Theater (former Kodak Theater) where Academy Awards are held,
  • visit Universal Studios in Hollywood,
  • drive down Sunset Boulevard and Mulholland Drive,
  • go to Griffith Observatory and Getty Center,
  • take a touristy photo with the Hollywood sign,
  • go to the Original Farmer’s Market,
  • have some fun time on Venice Beach,
  • visit LA Downtown and LA Phil and
  • do some window-shopping on upscale Rodeo Drive.
  • or, take this epic LA helicopter tour with a mountain-top picnic!
  • But, if you want to make most of your time in a short time span, take a fantastic Privately Customized Tour of Los Angeles!

Yes, I know, the list is long. But the City of Flowers and Sunshine offers a lot of entertainment.

Where to stay in Los Angeles – recommended stay:

Downtown LA – Metro Plaza Hotel, The Los Angeles Athletic Club, Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn,
West LA – Hotel Angeleno, Best Western Royal Palace Inn & Suites, Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel,
Hollywood– Loews Hollywood Hotel, Elaine’s Hollywood Bed and Breakfast 
West Hollywood – Sunset Marquis Hotel, Ramada Plaza West Hollywood and suites, Grafton on Sunset,
Venice Beach – Ramada Inn Marina Del Rey, The Kinney-Venice Beach, Hotel Erwin
Click here to get the best rates for your stay in Los Angeles

RELATED: 20 Absolutely Best Airbnbs in Los Angeles

To help you navigate through Los Angeles neighborhoods, I recommend reading 20 Best Places to Stay in Los Angeles.

Driving distanceDriving time
Santa Monica to Los Angeles16 mi (25 km)25 min

THE BEST SAN FRANCISCO TO LOS ANGELES DRIVING ROUTE

Stops on San Francisco to Los Angeles scenic routeDriving distanceDriving time
San Francisco to Monterey115 mi (185 km)2 h
Monterey to Pacific Grove2 mi (3 km)5 min
Pacific Grove to Moss Beach2.7 mi (4 km)8 min
Pacific Grove to Monterey Peninsula golf courses5 mi (8 km)13 min
Monterey Peninsula golf courses to Lone Cypress1.2 mi (2 km)4 min
Lone Cypress to Carmel-by-the Sea4 mi (6.4 km)12 min
Carmel-by-the Sea to Point Lobos4 mi (6.4 km)10 min
Point Lobos to Bixby Creek Bridge11 mi (18 km)17 min
Bixby Creek Bridge to McWay Falls24 mi (39 km)38 min
McWay Falls to Elephant Seal Vista Point40 mi (64 km)1 h
Elephant Seal Vista Point to Hearst Castle5 mi (8 km)12 min
Heart Castle to Cambria9 mi (14 km)15 min
Cambria to Morro Bay20 mi (32 km)30 min
Morro Bay to Solvang80 mi (128 km)1 h 20 min
Solvang to Santa Ynez4 mi (6 km)6 min
Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara30 mi (48 km)40 min
Santa Barbara to Malibu67 mi (108 km)1 h 10 min
Malibu to Santa Monica19 mi (30 km)28 min
Santa Monica to Los Angeles16 mi (25 km25 min

10 DAY CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY

To truly enjoy this amazing part of the US, I suggest following San Francisco-Los Angeles road trip itinerary.

California road trip itinerary for 10 days:

  • DAY 1-3: San Francisco: Enjoy your first 3 days in San Francisco.
  • DAY 4: Pacific Grove or Carmel-by the Sea: On the 4th day head to Monterey Peninsula and chose to stay overnight in Pacific Grove or Carmel-by-the Sea
  • DAY 5: Cambria (a visit the Hearst Castle) or Morro Bay: On the 5th-day head down to Big Sur, visit the Hearst Castle, and stay in Cambria or Morro Bay
  • DAY 6: Santa Barbara: On the 6th day, you are visiting Solvang, Santa Ynez, and Santa Barbara, before taking the last leg of your trip.
  • DAY 7-10: Los Angeles: Malibu, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles

The distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles is not huge.

If you take the fastest route – the California 101 freeway, a 6 hour non-stop drive can take you from San Francisco to LA.  But this is the scenic drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles tailored to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Pacific Coast. Thus you will drive Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles and will make numerous stops along the coastal route.

Scenic drive San Francisco to LA on Hwy 1 with all the stops can be done unrushed in 3 days. But still, you need to plan 3 days for LA and 3 days for SF. If you want the best experience of the road trip from SF to LA, 10 days in California are a must.

Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic route: 

As I have already mentioned, you can do this California road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Just follow the above-suggested itinerary and drive Los Angeles to San Francisco. Have a scenic drive Los Angeles to San Francisco and enjoy this scenic route to San Francisco from Los Angeles. The scenic route from Los Angeles to San Francisco is the same. The same excitement from LA to San Francisco awaits you, only in the opposite order. Expect nothing less than an awe-inspiring scenic drive from LA to SF! After all, this is the most scenic route from LA to San Francisco.

Are you interested in more road trips like this one? If so, you should check out my Tuscany Road Trip

RECOMMENDED TRAVEL ACCESSORIES FOR SAN FRANCISCO TO LOS ANGELES ROAD TRIP 

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THE BEST TIME FOR TAKING CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO LOS ANGELES

California is a year-round destination. But summers on the Californian coast are often foggy. The skies along the California coast are clear in spring and autumn. I took my west coast trip in March and had perfect weather. But March can be wet and rainy along the coast as well. The best months to visit Coastal California would be April and May if you seek for sunny days with no crowds. If your schedule allows you, plan your trip to California in April or May!

MAP OF THE SF TO LA ROAD TRIP

West coast driving map: Map of scenic drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles with driving directions 

Pacific coast highway map

MAYBE YOU ALSO WOULD LIKE TO READ: Death Valley must-see sites

San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip

Do you like this scenic drive San Francisco to Los Angeles? Have you done this coastal drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles? Or, Los Angeles to San Francisco scenic drive? Any suggestions for LA to San Francisco road trip? If so, feel free to leave your comment. I would love to hear your impressions about your scenic drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco!

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24 comments

  1. Highway 1 is my dream road trip! With cute towns like Carmel and Solvang as well as some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country (not to mention great wine!) this is the best road trip you can do in the US.

  2. I used to live in LA and so I’ve driven PCH a few times. But once, we went from LA to SF via the interstate and drove back SF to LA down PCH. We’ve just about all of these, but I had never heard of Solvang. How did we miss that??? Your photos are beautiful by the way!

  3. We visited Solvang many years ago and couldn’t resist its charm! The baked goods were to die for! The architecture and the culture are totally different than neighboring towns but so nice and welcoming, it’s like entering a different world! The California coast is a stunning drive and has many beautiful spots along the way, you’ve chosen some of the best. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I live in Los Angeles and have done this road trip many, many times over the past 30 years. The stretch between Los Angeles and San Francisco is without a doubt the most scenic part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

  5. I am totally bookmarking this. I’ve wanted to do this road trip forever – (admittedly due to reading too many Danielle Steele novels in my teen years). I feel like an idiot as I’ve heard a lot about the Santa Ynez Valley, but didn’t realize it was between the two cities.

  6. I have driven a short portion of the Pacific Coast between Long Beach and San Clemente while I was in Orange County. It was gorgeous! When I return to visit my daughter (who lives in L.A.) I will follow your course north. You’ve captured it beautifully here, and have suggested some great stops along the way. I think it would make a great mother-daughter adventure so thanks for the idea!

  7. The Pacific Coast Highway has to be one of the best road trip routes in the world, no doubt! We did part of it years ago just from San Francisco to Monterey and it was incredible! I’d love to go back and do the rest of the trip

  8. This is an absolutely awesome post about our coast from San Francisco to LA. I’ll share it with everyone visiting us from out of state or country.

  9. I enjoyed reading every bit of this post since it deals with one of my favorite places in the whole country! From your whole list, the only place I’ve missed is Solvang and only because I ran out of time. No matter how many times we do the 17 mile drive or visit these towns, they never get old. Thanks for giving me a walk down memory lane. 😉

  10. Looks like I have my October trip planned. I definitely need to see the monarchs in Pacific Grove and all of these other gorgeous stops along the way!

  11. We would love to visit the US and road trip for a few months there. This is, without doubt, the most epic road trip I found so far! My aunt actually lives in the area, so that’s a great extra! I would definitely want to stay longer in LA. I heard that it’s an LGBT hotspot 😉

  12. Know everyplace you noted very very well. You’re in my backyard. 😉 One slight recommendation for your readers, since I do live here and have traveled all over California … March can be very wet and rainy along the coast … you got lucky. I would recommend April and May as ideal if you want to avoid most of the rainfall and foggy days and still not have crowds. And you are right, summer can be very cool and foggy — Mark Twain correctly wrote “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

    1. I am correcting my recommendation for the best time to visit the California coastline according to your suggestions.

      Thank you, Michael, for your help. I really appreciate it!!

      Milijana

  13. Yesterday only I was discussing on getting my USA Visa done, so I can plan trips that side in the future, and the first article I come across is this. Just what I needed. I absolutely love road trips, and the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip is something I so want to do.

  14. Hello Milijana!
    It became suitable! When I go back to go to my sisters. I will comply with your course north. You’ve captured it beautifully right here, and have recommended some notable stops alongside the way. I suppose it would make a awesome mom-daughter journey so thank you for the concept. Thank you

  15. Hi I read in a article that it’s better to do San Francisco to los Angelos as the ocean will be on your side ,instead of starting from Los Angelos
    Can someone please confirm?thanks
    Very nicely explained
    Thanks so much for this great article

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