I used to be challenged just lately with what I’d counsel for folks to see and do on per week-lengthy street go back and forth from San Diego to San Francisco with a weekend on each side. That isn’t a very simple problem. Let’s get it out of the means at this time that you just gained’t see the whole lot that California can be offering. I’m going to skip the deserts and maximum of the nationwide parks. But I will promise some superb towns, some nice meals, some California wine and a few nice surroundings alongside the means.

Pismo Beach - California's Central CoastPismo Beach - California's Central Coast

Pismo Beach – California’s Central Coast

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San Diego to San Francisco Road Trip - 9 Days on the California Coast #california #travel #trip #vacation #road-trip #san-diego #los-angeles #san-francisco #monterey #wine #itinerary #planning #tipsSan Diego to San Francisco Road Trip - 9 Days on the California Coast #california #travel #trip #vacation #road-trip #san-diego #los-angeles #san-francisco #monterey #wine #itinerary #planning #tips

How a long way is it from San Diego to San Francisco

It is slightly over 500 miles or 800 km from San Diego to San Francisco on the quickest path which is Interstate 5. The pressure will take you a minimum of 7 hours and 15 mins in case you pressure without delay, no longer counting stops. And you must completely no longer do it. The quickest means is up the Central Valley of California which is sizzling and by no means scenic from the Grapevine to Tracy. That is the path to take if you need to get there however don’t have time to see anything else alongside the means. I’m going to take you up the coast as an alternative. It will likely be longer, however we can ruin it up into shorter drives.

Friday Night – San Diego

I’m assuming with this itinerary that you’re flying into San Diego on Friday and gained’t have a large number of time to do one thing the day you arrive. If you arrive ahead of time for dinner there are two nice San Diego spots which are close to the airport and is usually a nice possibility on your first night. So pick out up your condo automobile and head to Old Town or Little Italy.

Old Town San Diego, San Diego, California (27)Old Town San Diego, San Diego, California (27)

Old Town

The middle of previous Spanish San Diego may also be observed in Old Town which expenses itself as the birthplace of California. It is the first position that Europeans settled in what’s now the state of California. The Spanish based the presidio (fortress) on May 14, 1769. No authentic constructions nonetheless stand from the presidio however the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park preserves constructions from the 1800s. This a part of the city may be stuffed with the sound of mariachi bands and has an collection of Mexican eating places. The busiest day of the 12 months to discuss with Old Town is Cinco de Mayo.

If you keep close to Old Town, one possibility for purchasing round is to go away your automobile parked and take the Old Town Hop-on Hop-off Trolley. The trolly stops at Old Town, the Maritime Museum & Star of India, the Embarcadero Marina close to the USS Midway Museum, Seaport Village, the Marina, Horton Plaza Park, the Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park, Barrio Logan, Coronado, Balboa Park, and Little Italy.

Welcome to Little Italy, San Diego!Welcome to Little Italy, San Diego!

Little Italy

Little Italy in San Diego is all of two-three blocks lengthy. The absolute best day of the 12 months to discuss with Little Italy is Columbus Day when the streets fill with meals carts, chalk artwork, and bands, however any evening in Little Italy is festive. My favourite spot for dinner is Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. The meals is excellent and really quite priced. Kids will adore it additionally. This eating place is a San Diego establishment.

Where to Stay in San Diego

Just up the hill from Old Town are quite a lot of Victorian-style constructions that have been relocated to Heritage Park when the freeways have been constructed. One of those is the Heritage Park Inn which is a fantastic B&B. There also are some beautiful Airbnb choices in the identical community. If you might be in search of the cheap lodge, there are a selection of choices in close by Hotel Circle. For individuals who need to pattern the nightlife then I’d counsel the Gaslamp Quarter as an alternative. Of path, if you’re in search of a luxurious seaside keep then you could bring to mind the vintage Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island.

Saturday – San Diego

If you need a seaside day in California, this will likely be considered one of your absolute best choices. I’d counsel Pacific Beach if you’re in search of a really perfect California seaside the city vibe or Coronado Beach on Coronado Island.

If as an alternative, you’re a “see as much as possible” more or less particular person then the Go San Diego City Pass can prevent cash. This go can get you into 55+ sights together with a few of the absolute best like the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND, SeaInternational, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Birch Aquarium, and the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. It additionally contains motorcycle leases, kayak leases, stand-up paddleboard leases, or surfboard leases. It even contains front to Knott’s Berry Farm additional north.

LEGOLAND and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park I’m saving for Sunday as they’re between San Diego and Los Angeles. The San Diego Zoo is international-elegance however I believe the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is even higher so you could skip it until you will have the go.

San Diego has a really perfect maritime connection so imagine the excursion of the USS Midway if you’re a historical past buff.

Mkhaya - San Diego Zoo Safari ParkMkhaya - San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Sunday – San Diego

We have stored LEGOLAND or the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for Sunday as you pressure north. If you will have younger youngsters LEGOLAND could also be the position for you however don’t underestimate the Safari Park. This is as shut as many of us gets to an African safari as you get in a automobile and head out right into a scaled-down savanna.

If neither park appeals to you there are different issues to do in north county San Diego together with seeing the Cardiff flower fields.

Sunday Night – Anaheim or Los Angeles

Sunday evening whole your pressure to the LA house. Where you keep will rely on what you propose to do in LA for a few days. If you promised the youngsters or your sweetie that you’d take them to Disneyland then keep close to the park for each Sunday and Monday evening. Plan on getting a excellent evening sleep and being in the park for the rope drop when it opens in the morning. Get your tickets forward of time to reduce your time spent in line.

If you aren’t visiting Disneyland then you will have some choices for the place to base your self in Los Angeles. Downtown Los Angeles is maximum centrally situated for lots of of the different LA websites and has a extra fascinating nightlife at the present time.

Although in case you plan on spending the complete day at LEGOLAND, it is advisable to simply plan on getting so far as Newport Beach or Long Beach and no longer struggle the site visitors all the long ago to LA on a Sunday evening. Both Newport Beach and Long Beach are nice seaside cities with some great eating places on the harbor.



Monday – Los Angeles

If you propose to see Disneyland then lately is your day. While I desire a few days at the park, you’ll be able to see and do so much in sooner or later. I desire a park hopper go so you’ll be able to discuss with each Disneyland and California Adventure which might be adjoining. I deliberately deliberate these days for a non-weekday when the crowds will likely be smaller, however if you’re visiting Disneyland throughout the vacations then get ready for lengthy traces.

If you aren’t seeing Disneyland on this go back and forth and it’s your first time getting to Los Angeles then I’d counsel spending a while finding out the film industry. You can and must get to Hollywood, however that a part of the city isn’t the maximum fascinating. I’d counsel a studio excursion as an alternative. If you will have youngsters who love rollercoasters then you’ll be able to do Universal Studios which is each a theme park and a film set. While I like Universal, I additionally love the Paramount Studios excursion or the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. Fun reality, my son proposed on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour on the set for Gilmore Girls.

Los Angeles additionally has a Go Los Angeles go which is able to permit you get entry to to a 40+ sights. Interestingly, a few of the sights integrated are San Deigo sights like the San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND, so in case you aren’t doing Disneyland on this go back and forth you may want to get this go and use it beginning on the weekend. It contains Six Flags Magic Mountain (north of LA for actual rollercoaster fanatics), the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, the Santa Monica Pier, the Sony Pictures Studio Tour, the Queen Mary in Long Beach, the La Brea Tar Pits, superstar house excursions and extra.

Tuesday – Los Angeles

There are loads of issues to do in Los Angeles that we’ve got written about somewhere else.

This is your 2d and ultimate absolute best day for a seaside possibility as the water gets less warm as we head north. I really like the seaside at Manhattan Beach or considered one of the neighboring cities or the seaside the city of Santa Monica.

If I had to pick out an excellent Los Angeles day I’d imagine the La Brae Tarpits, lunch at the Grand Central Market downtown, or the Original Farmers Market. And then I’d do a strolling excursion of considered one of LA’s extra fascinating neighborhoods or higher but a meals excursion.

For nice concepts what to do downtown concentrate to Travel to Los Angeles, California – Amateur Traveler Episode 624

Wednesday – Central Coast

Most of the using we can do will occur over the subsequent two days as we get from Los Angeles to Monterey. The overall go back and forth is set Five and 1 / 4 hours no longer counting stops so we can have time to forestall alongside the means. On Wednesday I’m making plans that you are going to get from LA to round San Luis Obispo or about three hours of using.

Along the means, there are Four puts I’d counsel you forestall relying on your pursuits. I’d recommend you pick out a minimum of 2.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a gorgeous town on a slim strip of land between the mountains and the sea. It is usually a great place to forestall and notice considered one of California’s missions or to take a ship cruise or simply experience the coastline. You are by no means a long way from it in Santa Barbara. It isn’t all the time the absolute best spot to experience a seaside as there are regularly tar balls on the seaside on this house on account of offshore oil. Did you’ll be able to get oil off your ft by means of dissolving it with lighter fluid? I didn’t know that till a discuss with to this house.


Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Ynez Valley is considered one of California’s many wine areas. You can go out freeway 101 at Santa Barbara to get on freeway 154 over the hills to the valley. The Santa Ynez Valley has quite a lot of great wineries, maximum of that have a tasting room. You can have an possibility for extra wine on Thursday so let your plans for Thursday tell your choice to forestall on Wednesday. The house used to be featured in the film Sideways (2004). If you’re a BBQ fan this a part of California (from right here to Santa Maria) is understood for its tri-tip.

The Santa Ynez Valley may be the house to Solvang which is a Danish group. You must a minimum of forestall lengthy sufficient to take photos of a few of the windmills, however I’d additionally counsel choosing up one thing in considered one of the Danish bakeries. I’m part Danish and no longer an enormous fan of Danish cooking however a large fan of Danish baking.

Pismo Beach Sunset

Pismo Beach Sunset

Pismo Beach

For a street go back and forth, you must imagine a forestall at Pismo Beach. Pismo Beach is the simplest seaside in California the place you’ll be able to pressure on the seaside. You can input the seaside from the Oceano Beach Access on Pier Avenue in Oceano.

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo has every other considered one of the absolute best-preserved of the California Missions and a fantastic downtown, despite the fact that I don’t love the parking scenario there.

Wednesday Night

On Thursday you’re going to have to make a selection. Do you need to pressure the gorgeous California Highway 1 or do you need to see extra of California’s nice wineries and hike in some caves at a National Park? If you select the Coast and Castle possibility then spend the evening in Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, or San Luis Obispo. The quirkiest lodge in the San Luis Obispo house is the Mount Madonna Inn the place no two rooms are the identical. Morro Bay and Pismo will provide you with a possibility to keep inside the sound of the breakers.

If you select the Pinot and Pinnacles possibility beneath then spend the evening in Paso Robles however plan on getting to the house by means of round three pm so that you could experience a few of the wines on this up and coming wine area. The house is understood for its Pinot Noir and tasting charges are a lot inexpensive than in Napa or Sonoma (assume $Five no longer $20). I’d recommend Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ in the adorable downtown close to the Downtown City Park.

Thursday – Central Coast to Monterey

Read extra about each choices in Things to do on a Central Coast of California Road Trip – Pinnacles, Parks, Pinot, and Paddling.

Option 1 – Coast and Castle

If you need to pressure the maximum quintessential California coastal path, Highway 1 via Big Sur is the path for you. We are using it south to north so that you’re a bit farther from the cliffs on this scenic pressure.

Sea Otters Morro Bay

Sea Otters Morro Bay

Morro Bay

If you keep in Morro Bay and make an early get started you could be ready to get out on the Bay for an overly sheltered sea kayak paddle. This is considered one of the very best puts in the international to take a look at sea kayaking for the first time as a result of the water is normally lovely flat. Watch for sea Otters.

Hearst’s Castle – San Simeon

William Randolph Hearst constructed considered one of the maximum spectacular mansions in the U.S. top on the hills above the the city of San Simeon. The complicated is referred to now as Hearst’s Castle.  It is price a forestall however don’t even hassle to forestall until you will have complicated reservations.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal RookeryPiedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

It simplest takes a couple of mins to forestall and notice the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas as it’s proper off Highway 1. The shot above used to be taken in May when the seaside used to be stuffed with seals together with younger men doing mock battles.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Take a forestall at Pfeiffer Big Sur and take the quick hike up to the Pfeiffer waterfall on this nice California state park.

Pinnacles National ParkPinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park

Option 2 – Pinot and Pinnacles

Pinnacles National Park

You had a possibility to take a look at the wine close to Paso Robles ultimate evening and we can forestall at a minimum of yet one more vineyard this afternoon, however first, you’ll pressure to Pinnacles National Park close to Soledad. There is not any level in heading this fashion until you need to opt for a hike. Pinnacles will get heat in the summer season months so carry water and get there as early as your agenda lets in. Also, carry a flashlight as a result of I’m going to counsel the Balconies Cave Loop (2.4-mile) which is able to take you via a sequence of caves. The caves are more difficult to get entry to in spring when they are able to flood. Central California will get no rain from kind of May to October so the caves will likely be dry at the moment.

Santa Lucia Highlands

Also close to Soledad are about 100 wineries in the hills west of the town. These are referred to as the Santa Lucia Highlands. I like to recommend a forestall at Hahn Family Winery or at considered one of the smaller wineries on Aroyo Secco Rd west of Greenfield.

Monterey CaliforniaMonterey California

Thursday Night Monterey Penninsula

I’m going to counsel one evening in the Monterey Penninsula house. This is considered one of my favourite portions of California, however we simplest have such a lot time on this itinerary.

There are some (no longer many) Hotels on the Beach on the Monterey Peninsula from Carmel to Marina. There are some great lodges in Downtown Monterey or inexpensive lodges on Alverado or Fremont Avenue. I for my part love staying at considered one of the B&Bs in Pacific Grove like the Centrella or the Martine Inn however the ones are more difficult to guide for a one evening keep.

Friday – Monterey

There are 2 belongings you must see in Monterey in case you simplest have sooner or later there.

Monterey Bay AquariumMonterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Since it’s openingm the Monterey Bay Aquarium has temporarily change into the premier enchantment in the house. It is an international-elegance aquarium even supposing you assume you might be somebody who does no longer like aquariums. My favourite spots are the nice large kelp wooded area tank, the otters, and the jellyfish.

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

The different enchantment that merits your consideration is loose. The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail runs alongside the coast throughout the duration of Pacific Grove, Monterey, and on north to Seaside and Marina. It contains Lover’s Point, Cannery Row (and the aquarium), and Fisherman’s Wharf. You can hire a motorcycle or a surrey or simply stroll it and take the time to search for otters, watch the harbor seals and sea lions.

Some folks would counsel the beautiful 17 Mile Drive as an alternative, however it’s the identical stunning beach with out the front price. However, if you need to see mansions and golfing classes like Pebble Beach then you could do 17 Mile Drive as an alternative.

Friday Night – San Francisco

I’d recommend getting to San Francisco Friday evening and spending Friday and Saturday evening there. San Francisco lodges aren’t affordable or a minimum of be suspicious when they’re and take a look at the critiques moderately. I’d counsel staying close to Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf.

Many lodges downtown will rate one thing like $40 an afternoon for parking. Driving in the town may also be difficult and parking is even more difficult so you could simply need to flip on your condo automobile as you get to the town and get round as the locals do by means of Uber and public transportation. The simplest reason why to have a automobile in San Francisco is to pressure down Lombard Street. Union Square connects to the ariport by the use of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit).

Golden Gate BridgeGolden Gate Bridge

Saturday – San Francisco

If you might be flying out Sunday then you will have one complete day in San Francisco. This most likely is an afternoon to focal point on the absolute best of San Francisco. If you will have extra time I would like to steer you to a few of San Francisco’s hidden gemstones.

If I simplest had sooner or later in the town, I’d trip a cable automobile, watch a side road performer on the level at Pier 39 (and notice the sea lions), devour one thing like a stroll away shrimp cocktail at Fisherman’s wharf and stroll out on the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco has the San Francisco CityPass. It permits you to get into Four of the most sensible 6 sights:

  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure
  • Aquarium of the Bay   OR   The Walt Disney Family Museum
  • Exploratorium   OR   San Francisco Zoo & Gardens

The California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium are two of my favourite arms-on science museums. I additionally love the Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure which does a sightseeing cruise round the bay. But… I believe this go would possibly paintings higher for an extended keep.

San Francisco

San Francisco

I may make a controversy that historical past buffs must prioritize getting a excursion of Alcatraz Island as an alternative. This mythical jail has some nice perspectives of San Francisco and the excursion is considered one of my favorites. Make a reservation weeks prematurely.

If the Giants are enjoying and you’re a baseball fan, then I’d argue that Oracle Park is considered one of the absolute best ballparks in the U.S. and also you must for sure soak up a sport. Get the affordable seats up in view degree the place you’ll be able to see the bay. Have a Cha-Cha bowl or the tri-tip from Orlando Cepeda’s “Orlando’s BBQ”.

If you’re a foodie then you could take into consideration a meals excursion. North Beach which is the previous Italian Neighborhood or Mission which is the authentic community of San Francisco and the house of Mission Delores are each nice puts for sampling the native fare.

Sunday – San Francisco

Our go back and forth is beginning to wind down. Depending on if you end up leaving you will have every other day in the town. You have no longer but observed Golden Gate Park the place my two favourite websites are the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden. Or you’ll be able to take the non-compulsory ideas (Alcatraz, Oracle Park, or a meals excursion).

We discuss different ideas of items to do in San Francisco on this episode of the Amateur Traveler podcast: Travel to San Francisco, California – Episode 622.

Other common aspect-journeys from San Francisco are Muir Woods or the Napa or Sonoma wine area, however I’d most likely no longer upload them on till I had a minimum of 2 complete days in the town.

Lover's Point Pacific GroveLover's Point Pacific Grove

Lover’s Point Pacific Grove


The extra time you will have in California the higher. California is a shocking state with rain forests in the north and deserts in the south. It has the easiest spot in the decrease 48 states at Mount Whitney and the lowest spot in close by Death Valley. It has the tallest bushes in the international (Coastal Redwood), the biggest bushes in the international (Sequoia Redwood), and the oldest bushes in the international (Bristle Cone Pine). It has the tallest waterfall in the continental U.S. in Yosemite. It has lively volcanos (Lassen National Park). It has 10% of the inhabitants of the USA. If California have been a separate country, it will have the international’s fifth biggest economic system on account of the power of its agriculture, top tech, and leisure industries.

You can’t most likely see all that California has to be offering in 9 days. But, 9 days is lengthy sufficient to fall in love with the Golden State.

San Diego to San Francisco Road Trip - 9 Days on the California Coast #california #travel #trip #vacation #road-trip #san-diego #los-angeles #san-francisco #monterey #wine #itinerary #planning #tips

San Diego to San Francisco Road Trip - 9 Days on the California Coast #california #travel #trip #vacation #road-trip #san-diego #los-angeles #san-francisco #monterey #wine #itinerary #planning #tips