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LA to San Francisco

Pacific Coast Highway

One of the most popular routes in the USA, the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, can be done in one long day. However, the region offers stunning views and activities for all ages groups and different interests. It would be a shame to dismiss the opportunity to get to know it in depth. Experience the best of what the coast of California has to offer with this 4-day guide.

Start: Los Angeles

Finish: San Francisco

Duration: 763km – 4 Days

Day 1: LA to Santa Barbara

Distance: 155km

Time: 1hr 30 minutes

After a few days in Los Angeles, it is time to hit the road. Take the US-101 S in LA for a scenic drive overlooking the Pacific ocean, passing Through Santa Monica and the famous Malibu Beach. Santa Barbara is known for its broad, sandy beaches, the Mediterranean building style that reflects the influence of Spanish colonial heritage. Iconic for being home to many Hollywood celebrities. Whether looking to catch the perfect wave or fine dining and shopping, there are plenty from which to choose.

Visit the Shoreline Park for panoramic views of the Pacific ocean, swimming or sailing. The Santa Barbara Zoo is a perfect option for families to enjoy a day in the sun.

Recommended Accomodation:

Santa Barbara, CA

Day 2: Santa Barbara to Monterey

Distance: 370km

Time: 4hrs 30minutes

On the way to Monterey Bay, a deserved quick stop in Morro Bay to see the world-famous Morro Rock and get some rest is a fun activity that can incorporate swimming, kayaking or surfing. Monterey has the most productive marine ecosystems in the world, feeding large sea mammals such as blue and humpback whales.

A popular stop for families is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, renowned for its Ocean Sunfish, stingrays, jellyfish and sea otters. For the free spirits craving adventures, a visit to Carmel-by-the-sea, or simply Carmel.

Founded as a seaside resort in the 1880s – the village attracted famous artists and writers, such as Sinclair Lewis; Clint Eastwood was one of its mayors for two years. The artistic flavour survives in nearly 100 galleries, fairy tale houses, bars and restaurants, giving it a romantic, creative vibe.

Recommended Accomodation:

Big Sur

Day 3: Monterey to San Jose

Distance: 120km

Time: 1hr 30minutes

Take the CA-1 along the coast and enjoy the ocean breeze on the way to San Jose. Make a quick stop in Santa Cruz, famous for its high-stoke surf culture. Check out Santa Cruz Wharf for restaurants, shops and marine wildlife and the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park with rides and activities for all ages. Last stop before San Francisco, San Jose is the heart of Silicon Valley. Stroll around the city to see modern skyscrapers sitting alongside restored 19th-century buildings.

The contrast between classic and high tech thrives in the downtown area and the cultural scene with museums, theatre and art. Don't miss the Tech Museum of Innovation and the Municipal Rose Garden, with its that has an extensive range of roses and redwood trees with a charismatic beauty. The best time to visit is during spring and winter.

Santana Row is Silicon Valley's premier outdoor destination for shopping, dining, living and working. Surrounded by landscaped gardens, parks and plazas, it is the perfect spot for a relaxing dinner after a day packed with activities.

Recommended Accommodation:

Lombard St, San Francisco

Day 4:San Jose to San Francisco

Distance: 79km

Time: 55 minutes

On the last leg of the trip, only a short drive will be necessary. When arriving in San Francisco, be prepared to drop off your car downtown: the city centre has many depots to choose from, and enjoy walking around. San Francisco is famous for its picturesque houses, big hills and colourful art scene.

San Francisco is an incredibly culturally diverse city, with over 45% of the population speaking another language apart from English at home. Its impressive Chinatown and Japantown are some of the largest and best in the USA. Make sure to stop by the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown to see where this famous treat was invented.

Book a Ferry Building and Alcatraz tour, to soak up the history of the most famous prison in the world, which had some of America's most complex and dangerous felons during its years of operation from 1934 to 1963. The prison has a reputation for being haunted by its infamous prisoners, like Al Capone.

On the Presidio precinct, the Palace of Fine Arts hosts an ever-changing roster of performing arts in the Marina District. The Greco-Roman building is surrounded by beautiful greenery and views of San Francisco's most famous landmark: the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Walt Disney Family Museum presents interactive galleries and state-of-the-art exhibits narrated in Walt's voice for families. It features early drawings, cartoons, movies, music and a spectacular model of Disneyland.

When your legs get tired from exploring, hitch a ride on a cable car and take in those hilltop views.

Recommended Accommodation:


LA to San Francisco Road Trip

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