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20 Locations To See On A San Diego To San Francisco Highway Journey In 2022


A drive alongside the Pacific Coast from San Diego to San Francisco is likely one of the most gorgeous highway journeys in California. As you go by pretty seaside cities, vibrant cities, and leisure and tech business hubs, you’re always reminded of the state’s measurement and variety of landscapes. From San Diego’s scorching seashores and Mexican-American cultural fusion to San Francisco’s tech headquarters and steep streets, you’ll go incredible locations to cease, some hidden, some not, some massive, some small.

From the Hollywood signal to the Danish-inspired city of Solvang, the magnificent Hearst Fort to Palo Alto, the place the following crop of tech entrepreneurs are learning furiously, the highway journey from San Diego to San Francisco is stuffed with superb sights. Right here’s what to see as you wind your means alongside the Californian coast from San Diego to San Francisco.

San Diego To San Francisco

20 Locations To See On A San Diego to San Francisco Highway Journey

1- Coronado

how far is san diego to san francisco Summer in Coronado San Diego. South and North Bay,
One of many locations to see earlier than you permit San Diego on a San Francisco driving trip is Coronado.

Coronado may be a rich neighbourhood of San Diego, however the proximity to Los Angeles makes it a incredible vacation spot to plan your first cease in your option to Los Angeles, which is lower than a two-hour drive additional north.

Coronado has a surprising white sandy seashore however what you need to go to for is Resort del Coronado, which is on the seashore and a well-known landmark in its personal proper.

Coronado buzzes with glorious eating places and bars; it additionally has a sizeable naval base, so that you’re more likely to spot the odd fighter jet or submarine too.

It’s the place to go for one of the best view of the San Diego skyline throughout the bay and is particularly gorgeous at evening when the buildings shimmer brightly on the horizon from afar.

Coronado is 6.4 miles (10.2 km) and roughly a 15-minute drive from San Diego.

2- La Jolla

train from san diego to san francisco An aerial view of La Jolla Cove, a small picturesque cove and beach surrounded by cliffs
Searching for a final swim or snorkel earlier than heading off on a protracted driving journey from San Diego to San Francisco? La Jolla Cove is simply the spot!

The beautiful La Jolla Cove, flanked by spectacular cliffs, is likely one of the most picturesque and photographed websites alongside the Californian shoreline.

The cove is a part of a marine life reserve and gives quite a lot of great actions for all ages to get pleasure from.

Northwest of San Diego’s downtown, the cove and surrounding areas present glorious spots for kayaking, snorkelling and swimming.

It’s a excellent cease alongside your highway journey from San Diego to San Francisco for images.

Enterprise barely north of La Jolla Cove to discover sea caves, the place sea lions and seals can typically be noticed lounging on cliffs and rocks, having fun with the solar.

After being out on the water, head to one of many eating places overlooking the ocean to absorb the incredible surroundings in a extra relaxed atmosphere.

La Jolla is 12.5 miles (20 km) and roughly a 21-minute drive from San Diego.

3- Torrey Pines

san diego to san francisco drive Coastal road trip vacations, sunset seat scenic vista view point. Roadtrip on freeway 101 along ocean.
Torrey Pines State Pure Reserve is a stunning park to cease for a hike whereas journeying from San Diego to San Francisco.

With so many beautiful parks in California, deciding which of them are one of the best to go to may be troublesome.

Torrey Pines State Pure Reserve is one in all California’s 16 parks with reserve standing and is actually a contender for one of the best park within the area.

Due to this reserve standing, Torrey Pines stays untouched simply because it was earlier than the city sprawl that’s San Diego turned the dimensions it’s in the present day.

Mountain climbing trails and pristine seashores beckon you to return and benefit from the park’s environment.

Wild and untamed, this 1,500-acre (607 ha) park is an absolute delight to go to and is properly price stopping at as you progress from downtown San Diego additional north in your option to Laguna Seaside and past.

Torrey Pines is 15 miles and roughly a 20-minute drive from San Diego.

4- Laguna Seaside

flights san diego to san francisco Sunset view over Laguna Beach
For galleries, boutiques and wellness experiences, make time to discover Laguna Seaside when planning a San Diego to San Francisco highway journey.

Laguna Seaside is a beachside city about 80 miles (128 km) north of downtown San Diego that pulls 1000’s of holiday makers to its galleries, boutiques, gardens and seashores.

It’s a haven for surfers, nature fanatics and concrete explorers with an eclectic mixture of solar, surf and tradition.

In the event you’re eager on seeing Californian artwork, go to the Laguna Artwork Museum and the JoAnne Artman Gallery or should you’d fairly laze about on the seashore all day, head for Laguna’s Fundamental Seaside.

Laguna Seaside is 67 miles (107km) and a one-hour drive from Torrey Pines.

5- Huntington Seaside

flights san francisco to san diego Huntington beach Surf City USA pier view with lifeguard tower and city
One other pretty seashore city to take a break whereas on a highway journey from San Diego to San Francisco is Huntington Seaside.

Often known as “Surf Metropolis USA”, Huntington Seaside was first positioned on the worldwide radar within the 60s by the Seaside Boys and has since risen in recognition to change into one of many nation’s fashionable browsing locations.

A pristine 10-mile (16 km) stretch of seashore, with incredible eating and purchasing choices all through the city, Huntington Seaside is a wonderful vacation spot to spend a whole day.

What’s extra, it’s lower than 40 miles (64 km) from Downtown LA.

It’s a nirvana for energetic travellers, with a lot of actions each out and in of the ocean.

From browsing, paddleboarding and kayaking to seashore volleyball, jogging and biking, Huntington Seaside is a prime spot for out of doors enjoyable below the solar.

The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is the place for avid bird-watchers to see egrets, owls, hummingbirds and plenty of extra of the reserve’s 200-plus distinctive fowl species.

With a lot to expertise, there are few locations as synonymous with Southern California’s beach-going life-style, fairly like Huntington Seaside.

Huntington Seaside is 15.5 miles (25 km) and roughly a 35-minute drive from Laguna Seaside.

6- Anaheim

Anaheim is correct subsequent to Los Angeles and is likely one of the greatest locations in California should you’re visiting with youngsters.

The colourful metropolis is the house of Disneyland, Journey Metropolis and Knott’s Berry Farm.

In the event you’re a sporting fan, you’ll need to watch the NHL’s Anaheim Geese or the MLB’s LA Angels play a house sport in entrance of enormous crowds of followers.

Anaheim is a gorgeous metropolis that mesmerises guests with enjoyable actions and is properly price a cease when travelling from San Diego by Southern California’s Orange County.

Anaheim is 23 miles (37 km) and roughly a 35-minute drive from Huntington Seaside.

7- Hollywood Signal

san francisco to san diego road trip Hollywood California road sign on redlight with pam trees sky photo mount
Hollywood is an iconic place to go to on a highway journey.

The must-see for everybody visiting Los Angeles, the Hollywood signal on Mount Lee is likely one of the metropolis’s most photographed landmarks and a beacon for the movie business ingrained in Californian popular culture.

Whilst you can’t entry the signal itself, the Griffith Observatory and the summit of Mount Lee are the 2 greatest locations to see the enroll shut.

An iconic sight to see and price a cease in your option to San Francisco from San Diego, the Hollywood signal is sure to be one of many highlights of the whole highway journey.

The Hollywood Signal is 34 miles (55 km) and roughly a 50-minute drive from Anaheim.

8- Santa Monica

Searching for concepts for a San Diego to San Francisco highway journey? Listed here are 20 locations you’ll love!

Town of Santa Monica and its illuminated pier lies simply a few miles west of Downtown Los Angeles, but it surely seems like a world away with its full of life seashores, carnival rides and laid-back vibe.

Santa Monica is the beating coronary heart of LA’s browsing and skateboarding scene, residence to full of life rooftop bars and golf equipment overlooking the ocean and a few of LA’s greatest eating places.

It’s a incredible cease simply earlier than you hit the highway and say goodbye to the cityscapes of Los Angeles as you head north.

Keep so long as you want, as Santa Monica’s Third Avenue Promenade and well-known pier will maintain you entertained for hours.

Santa Monica is 24 miles (38 km) and roughly a 45-minute drive from the Hollywood Signal.

9- Malibu

flights to san diego from san francisco Rock sea stacks at a beach near Malibu
You’ll undoubtedly need to stretch your legs in Malibu in your means from San Diego to San Francisco.

Malibu is a well-liked Californian city recognized for its pristine shoreline, a backdrop of the Santa Monica mountains and its well-known residents.

Because it’s solely 33 miles (53 km) from downtown Los Angeles, Malibu is a really accessible but unique seaside getaway sure to please out of doors lovers and metropolis slickers.

Malibu’s prime attraction is its seemingly limitless and ideal seashores which, regardless of being bordered by lavish personal properties, are all publicly accessible from nightfall to daybreak.

The close by Santa Monica Mountains are a deal with for hikers and supply incredible views of town and the Pacific Ocean whereas surrounded by gorgeous So-Cal fauna and flora.

If the seashore and mountains should not sufficient to entice you to cease for a day or two, for foodies, Malibu’s fabulous eating places may simply seal the deal.

Malibu is nineteen miles (30 km) and roughly a 35-minute drive from Santa Monica.

10- Channel Islands

amtrak san diego to san francisco
Black sea bass (Centropristis striata) within the Channel Islands.

Masking 5 particular person islands, California’s Channel Islands Nationwide Park is a world away from the remainder of the Golden State.

The Channel Islands’ unblemished landscapes and majestic views of the Pacific Ocean make the islands a preferred vacation spot for these seeking to decelerate and benefit from the solar and ocean breeze distant from the crowds.

Every island affords guests one thing distinctive, so it’s possible you’ll need to cease at a number of islands in your option to San Francisco from San Diego.

Accessible through ferries from coastal cities in California, the Channel Islands present tenting alternatives and out of doors enjoyable round each nook, making it a incredible possibility should you love nature.

Channel Islands Nationwide Park is roughly midway between Malibu and Santa Barbara.

For extra California concepts, see:

11- Santa Barbara

san francisco to san diego drive street with trees in santa barbara
Santa Barbara is likely one of the locations you’ll need to spend time in when driving from San Diego to San Francisco.

Santa Barbara is a stunning metropolis the place the streets are lined with palm bushes and Spanish Revival structure provides it a definite aura.

It’s additionally a preferred vacation spot the place Hollywood celebrities and socialites hang around.

With Spanish Missions, top-notch eating places and a metropolis the place you’ll discover out of doors actions on its seashores to scenic mountain climbing trails, it’s simple to fall in love with Santa Barbara.

For one of the best views in Santa Barbara, take a tour to the highest of the Santa Barbara courthouse for unrivalled 360-degree views of the city and the Pacific Ocean.

In the event you’re visiting with youngsters, go to Stearns Wharf to observe the boats coming up and down off the shoreline.

Santa Barbara is 67 miles (107 km) and roughly an 80-minute drive from Malibu.

12- Solvang

train from san francisco to san diego windmill
One of many windmills in Solvang, a novel city in California and a worthy milestone to go to in your San Diego to San Francisco driving journey.

Who would have thought you’d discover an genuine Danish-themed city in sunny California?

Solvang within the Santa Ynez Valley is an uncommon place that can enchant you.

Solvang was based by Danish immigrants who fled the chilly winters of the Midwest to settle within the Golden State, bringing their wood windmills and charming homes together with them.

Few Danes nonetheless dwell in Solvang in the present day, nonetheless, the city’s duplicate Copenhagen Spherical Tower, quaint Christmas retailers, Danish bakeries and Danish cottages nonetheless exist.

Cease on the Solvang Brewery, Paula’s Pancake Home and the fascinating Elverhøj Museum to be taught extra concerning the city’s historical past, former residents and distinctive traditions and tradition.

Solvang is 33 miles (53 km) and roughly a 45-minute drive from Santa Barbara.

13- Pismo Seaside

san francisco to san diego flights
It’s time for one more swim! Pismo Seaside is the midway mark on a highway journey from San Diego to San Francisco.

About midway between San Diego and San Francisco, Pismo Seaside is one in all central California’s greatest beachside cities.

It’s full of incredible eateries, stylish boutiques and retailers, and exquisite stretches of golden sandy seashore which can be excellent for lounging round all day lengthy.

Pismo Seaside could be very a lot a vacation spot that must be found, loved and explored at a gradual tempo, so plan an in a single day keep right here in your option to San Francisco

Pismo Seaside is 54 miles (86 km) and roughly a one-hour drive from Solvang.

14- Hearst Fort

Designed by architect Julia Morgan, the primary feminine architect in america, and accomplished in 1947, Hearst Fort is one in all California’s most visited historic landmarks.

The 165-room monument is a memorial to the prosperous and indulgent life-style of its former proprietor, William Randolph Hearst and covers a sprawling space of 127 acres (51 ha).

Hearst Fort is an unmissable Californian landmark on any highway journey from San Diego to San Francisco and it’s such a captivating place, you’ll most likely need to spend not less than half a day.

Hearst Fort is 54 miles (86 km) and roughly a one-hour drive from Pismo Seaside.

15- Massive Sur

san diego to san francisco flights Long exposure
The Bixby Bridge is an iconic landmark alongside Pacific Coast Freeway and driving throughout it’s a memorable expertise on a San Diego to San Francisco highway journey.

Probably the most well-known part of the Pacific coast driving route is the Massive Sur and its most well-known landmark is its Bixby Bridge, which is an engineering marvel hovering 260 toes (79 m) above a rocky canyon.

The Massive Sur area stretches between Carmel and Hearst Fort, stretching for over 90 miles (145 km).

The Bixby Bridge was constructed in 1932 and is likely one of the world’s most photographed and largest concrete span bridges.

Greater than 5.8 million individuals go to the bridge every year to see the landmark and admire a 360-degree view of the coast.

Massive Sur is 67 miles (107 km) and roughly a 90-minute drive from Hearst Fort.

16- Carmel-by-the-Sea

distance from san diego to san francisco
Carmel Seaside in Carmel-by-the-Sea is a stunning seashore and seaside city to cease for lunch or for just a few days whereas on a San Diego to San Francisco driving journey.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is likely one of the Golden State’s most romantic locations and is known for its incredible white-sand seashore and proximity to Pebble Seaside.

Carmel affords a big selection of actions and issues to see for the whole household, full of whimsical cottages, fabulous eating places, boutiques, and artwork galleries.

Carmel and Monterey are two stopover locations you merely can not go up on as you journey additional north to San Francisco.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is 26 miles and roughly a 40-minute drive from Massive Sur.

17- Monterey

flights from san francisco to san diego Crashing Surf in Monterey with houses.
In the event you don’t have time to remain in a single day in Monterey, be sure you cease to observe the waves crashing onto the rocks. It’s a sight that can envigorate you in your San Diego to San Francisco driving trip.

Charming, low-key and spectacularly lovely, Monterey has a temperate local weather, award-winning culinary scene and staggering cliffs.

It’s a world away from the city sprawls of the Bay Space and Southern California.

Near Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Seaside and Massive Sur, Monterey is the epicentre of a number of the Golden State’s hottest occasions.

{Golfing} fanatics are entertained by the skilled {golfing} championships held at Pebble Seaside yearly, whereas motorsports followers get pleasure from catching a race or two on the Laguna Seca Raceway close to Monterey.

Monterey is 4 miles (6.4 km) and roughly a 12-minute drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea.

18- San Jose

san diego to san francisco train aerial view of San jose
The view of the north aspect of downtown of San Jose, California, the capital of Silicon Valley, and a excessive tech cease of in your drive from San Diego to San Francisco.

San Jose is a thriving metropolis and the monetary and political hub of Silicon Valley. A number of the world’s most influential tech corporations have their headquarters right here.

The Bay space’s largest metropolis blends conventional and fashionable and is jam-packed with issues to do, together with a superb artwork museum (the San Jose Museum of Artwork), and the intriguing Winchester Home (constructed within the nineteenth century by Sarah Winchester) and the stunning Japanese Friendship backyard.

San Jose is 72 miles (115 km) and roughly an 80-minute drive from Monterey.

19- Palo Alto

san diego to san francisco Stanford Campus in Palo Alto
In your highway journey from San Diego to San Francisco, you may need to pop into the Stanford College campus in Palo Alto to take in the vibe.

Palo Alto in California’s Silicon Valley is our final cease earlier than coming into San Francisco.

The house of Stanford College, Palo Alto is the birthplace of Silicon Valley and attracts 1000’s of curious vacationers, jobseekers and tech companies to its tree-lined streets yearly.

Exploring the campus of Stanford College is likely one of the highlights of any journey to Palo Alto, whereas the Palo Alto Artwork Heart and the Baylands Nature Protect show that there’s extra to see in Palo Alto than simply Stanford.

Whether or not it’s to cruise round its streets making an attempt to identify as many well-known tech corporations as doable or to tour the grounds of the city’s well-known college, Palo Alto has a vibe it’s a must to be there to expertise.

Palo Alto is eighteen miles (29 km) and roughly a 22-minute drive from San Jose.

20- Golden Gate Bridge

flights from san diego to san francisco Image of San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge on foggy morning
The very first thing you’ll need to see if you arrive in San Francisco is the long-lasting Golden Gate Bridge.

Drawing over 10 million guests yearly, the Golden Gate Bridge and its 746-foot tall (227 m) iron towers, Artwork Deco design, and well-known orange color is the final cease on our journey from San Diego to San Francisco.

Opened in 1933, the Golden Gate Bridge spans the size of the San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Marin County, a distance of over 8,980 ft (2,737 metres).

Open every day from 9 am to six pm, the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Heart operates guided excursions of the bridge and likewise has a memento store and incredible vantage factors to get one of the best views of this mighty marvel of the trendy world.

The Golden Gate Bridge is 40 miles (64 km) and roughly a one-hour drive from Palo Alto.
Drawing over 10 million guests yearly, the Golden Gate Bridge and its 746-foot tall (227 m) iron towers, Artwork Deco design, and well-known orange color is the final cease on our journey from San Diego to San Francisco.

Opened in 1933, the Golden Gate Bridge spans the size of the San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Marin County, a distance of over 8,980 ft (2,737 metres).

Open every day from 9 am to six pm, the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Heart operates guided excursions of the bridge and likewise has a memento store and incredible vantage factors to get one of the best views of this mighty marvel of the trendy world.

The Golden Gate Bridge is 40 miles (64 km) and roughly a one-hour drive from Palo Alto.

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