Classic auto driving down the road in Santa Barbara on a California road trip.

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The Ultimate Road Trip: San Francisco to Los Angeles

With its diverse landscapes and iconic cities, California offers travelers an unforgettable journey filled with natural beauty, cultural experiences, and Hollywood glamour. In this blog post, we’ll embark on an exhilarating road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, stopping at key destinations, including Monterey, Big Sur, San Simeon, Santa Barbara, and Hollywood. It is the ultimate road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Preparing for the Ultimate Road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

How Far

The drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast Highway is approximately 500 miles and takes 10-12 hours. Most travel days will average around 100 miles of driving on this trip. 

How Much Time Should You Allow

You could do this ultimate road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under 7 days, but you won’t have time to explore all there is to offer along the route. Allow anywhere from 8 to 14 days to really experience the best this road trip has to offer.

Best Time To Travel

The best time to make this incredible Pacific Coast Highway road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles is between May and October. The weather all along the coast is perfect during the summer months. Late fall to early spring tends to be the rainy season throughout the California coast. The heaviest rains occur between December and March, impacting travel along Highway 1.

Pacific Coast Highway

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) from San Francisco is an exhilarating adventure that promises stunning coastal vistas, winding roads, and unforgettable experiences. As you embark on this coastal drive, you’ll experience some of California’s most breathtaking scenery.

Due to massive rock slides along parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, they have closed sections of the road. It is best to check on any closures before you hit the road. 

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Lodge at the Presido. The starting point on the ultimate San Francisco to Los Angeles drive.

San Francisco Day 1 & 2

Our journey begins in the vibrant city of San Francisco. With its rolling hills, iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, and eclectic neighborhoods such as Chinatown and the Mission District, San Francisco offers a taste of diverse cultures and rich history. Spend the morning exploring the bustling streets, sipping on artisan coffee, and indulging in a delicious breakfast at one of the city’s many charming cafes.

San Francisco offers so many activities from which to choose, from biking and hiking to museums and shopping. Here are a few suggestions:

Explore the Presidio

The Presidio is a National Historic Landmark and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Previously a military installation, the military deactivated it in 1994. Congress established the Presidio Trust in 1996 to prevent the property from being auctioned off. The park has many wooded areas and incredible scenic vistas overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. For a list of the top 10 places to experience the Golden Gate Bridge, check out my post, The Best Vista Points To View The Golden Gate Bridge.

It is a great place to hike, bike, and stroll. The area also has several restaurants and hotels, making it a great home base for your visit to San Francisco. And since this is a road trip, it’s a great place to stay if you have a car; parking is inexpensive and easy. Plus, the Presidio offers a complimentary shuttle to downtown San Francisco.

Bike The Golden Gate

Biking the Golden Gate Bridge is an incredible adventure. You can rent bikes in the Presidio at the Sports Basement in Crissy Field. Then, ride through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. The total distance is about 8.5 miles. You will share the trail with pedestrians, so be careful. At different times of the day, you travel on different sides of the bridge; I suggest doing this in the morning or early afternoon during the week. That way, you are on the east side facing the city. Also, weekends can be hectic, so a weekday affords you a slower pace for photos and gawking.

Read more about staying at the Presidio in my post The Ultimate Guide To Staying In The Presidio.

Distant view of Sausalito from the back of the ferry with the American flag waving off the back of the boat.
Visit Sausalito

Whether you bike, take the ferry, or drive across the Golden Gate, make a stop in Sausalito part of your plans. Sausalito, nestled along the northern shores of the San Francisco Bay, is a charming waterfront town renowned for its picturesque views, artistic community, and relaxed atmosphere. Whether you are seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or a leisurely day by the bay, Sausalito has something to offer. Here are three must-do activities for tourists visiting Sausalito:

Explore the Waterfront and Downtown Area

One of the best ways to experience Sausalito’s unique charm is by strolling along its scenic waterfront and exploring the quaint downtown area. Take a leisurely walk along the Sausalito Boardwalk, where you can soak in the panoramic views of the bay with the San Francisco skyline. Along the way, you’ll find charming boutiques, art galleries, and cafes housed in colorful Victorian buildings.

Visit the Bay Area Discovery Museum

Located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area Discovery Museum is a must-visit attraction for families and curious minds of all ages. Dedicated to inspiring creativity, imagination, and exploration, this interactive museum has many hands-on exhibits and activities focused on art, science, and the environment.

Enjoy Outdoor Recreation in the Marin Headlands

Just a short drive or bike ride from downtown Sausalito lies the Marin Headlands, a pristine coastal wilderness teeming with outdoor recreation and exploration opportunities. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails to discover hidden coves, secluded beaches, and sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

One of the most popular hikes in the area is the Coastal Trail, which offers stunning views of the rugged coastline. If you prefer to explore on two wheels, bring your bike and tackle the winding roads and scenic bike paths that crisscross the Headlands.

Visit Muir Woods

Visiting Muir Woods National Monument is an enchanting experience that offers a peaceful retreat into the heart of one of California’s most majestic redwood forests. Muir Woods is home to some of the tallest trees on Earth—the coastal redwoods. These ancient giants can reach over 250 feet and have thrived in the forest for centuries. 

Muir Woods offers a variety of scenic trails for visitors of all ages and fitness levels. The Main Trail is a paved loop that meanders through the forest’s heart, offering easy access to some of the park’s most iconic trees. For those seeking a more extended adventure, the Dipsea Trail connects Muir Woods to the nearby Mount Tamalpais State Park, providing stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Where to Stay In San Francisco

Luxury: The St. Regis San Francisco

The St. Regis San Francisco is synonymous with luxury, offering unparalleled elegance, sophistication, and impeccable service. Located in the vibrant SoMa district, this five-star hotel boasts lavish accommodations, including spacious rooms and suites with stunning city views, marble bathrooms, and contemporary furnishings. Guests can indulge in world-class amenities such as a luxurious spa and Michelin-starred dining at the renowned Grill restaurant.

Budget Friendly: Staypineapple San Francisco

StayPinapple combines modern, updated amenities in a classic San Francisco building built around 1913. Located steps from Union Square, StayPineapple San Francisco provides a metropolitan home base for your San Francisco adventures. The hotel is a short walk from the Moscone Center, with shopping, dining, and entertainment just around the corner. Rooms can range from $150 a night to around $250, depending on the day of the week and time of the year.

Different Vibe: The Inn ​at the Presidio

The Inn at the Presidio offers a unique blend of history, charm, and natural beauty, providing guests with a tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This boutique hotel is located in the Presidio of San Francisco and features beautifully restored historic buildings and scenic trails. The inn offers comfortable and cozy accommodations in a serene setting, with complimentary breakfast, evening wine and cheese receptions, and access to outdoor seating areas with fire pits.

View point of the California coast in Point Lobos State Park with the waves crashing against the rocks.

Monterey, Carmel-By-The Sea, and Big Sur Day 3 & 4

Our next stop is Monterey, a picturesque coastal town known for its stunning views and historic significance. If possible, spend two nights in this area; there is much to see and do. On your way, make your first stop at the charming town of Half Moon Bay, known for its picturesque harbor and world-class surfing spots. Stop for a stroll along the waterfront or indulge in some fresh seafood at one of the local eateries before resuming your journey.

Further down the coast lies the quaint town of Santa Cruz, famous for its laid-back vibe and iconic Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. Take a detour here to ride the vintage roller coasters, stroll along the bustling promenade, or dip your toes in the cool waters of the Pacific.

Explore Monterey Bay

As you approach Monterey Bay, the scenery becomes even more dramatic, with rugged cliffs giving way to expansive ocean views. Take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where you can marvel at the diverse marine life that inhabits the bay’s waters. Stroll along Cannery Row, once home to a bustling sardine industry.

Hiking along the Coast

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is the “crown jewel” of California’s state park system, thanks to its dramatic coastal landscapes, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife. The park features a network of trails that wind through cypress groves, rocky cliffs, and secluded coves, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Don’t miss the Cypress Grove Trail, which leads to a grove of ancient cypress trees overlooking the ocean, and the Sea Lion Point Trail, where you can observe sea lions and harbor seals basking on the rocks below.

Colorful cottage in the coastal town Carmel By The Sea.
Explore Carmel

Stroll along Ocean Avenue, the main thoroughfare of Carmel-by-the-Sea, one of the most charming coastal towns. Lined with picturesque cottages, colorful gardens, and boutique shops, Ocean Avenue exudes small-town charm and is perfect for browsing unique galleries, artisan shops, and specialty stores. Visit the iconic Carmel Mission Basilica, a historic Spanish mission founded in 1771.

Stop in a local cafe, pick up a picnic lunch, and head to Devendorf Park, a tranquil oasis in the heart of downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea. This serene green space features lush lawns, towering trees, and peaceful fountains, providing the perfect setting for a leisurely outdoor meal. 

Indulge in a wine-tasting experience at one of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s over 18 wine-tasting rooms. Sample various locally produced wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and learn about the region’s rich winemaking history from knowledgeable sommeliers. 

Pebble Beach

Golfing at Pebble Beach is a bucket-list experience that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, challenge, and prestige. Even if you are not a golfer, Pebble Beach boasts some of the most picturesque coastal scenery in California, and driving through the area provides an opportunity to enjoy breathtaking ocean views and stunning natural landscapes. The famous 17-mile Drive is a scenic route that winds through Pebble Beach, offering glimpses of iconic landmarks such as the Lone Cypress, Bird Rock, and the Del Monte Forest. There is an entrance fee to take the drive.

Where To Stay and Eat Near Monterey

Luxury: The Post Ranch Inn

Located 30 miles south of Monterey, the Post Ranch Inn is one of the West Coast’s most memorable hotels. A stay at this iconic hotel is an unforgettable experience that combines luxurious accommodations, breathtaking natural beauty, and unparalleled tranquility. Nestled on the cliffs of Big Sur overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this award-winning resort offers a range of highlights that make it a truly exceptional destination.

Budget Friendly: Wave Street Inn

This area has few budget-friendly hotel options, but the Wave Street Inn is a solid choice—a nicely renovated boutique hotel steps from the waters of Monterey Bay. A vibrant modern design and refreshing coastal vibe create an atmosphere of intimate style and comfort.

Stunning Views: Tickle Pink Inn

Tickle Pink Inn sits above the rocky coastline at the gateway to the world-famous Big Sur. In addition to the fantastic views, enjoy homemade breakfast pastries and an evening wine & cheese reception.

Camping Along Highway 1

If you are feeling adventurous, check out this great guide to Big Sur Free Camping Along Highway 1: Ultimate Guide

Check out the Mission Ranch Restaurant when looking for a place to eat with a view. It combines gourmet cuisine, picturesque surroundings, and a touch of historic charm. Located in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, Mission Ranch Restaurant offers a unique dining experience set against the backdrop of sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the lush greenery of the surrounding meadows.

San Simeon and San Luis Obispo Day 5

As we drive down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur’s breathtaking beauty will surround you. Towering cliffs, rugged coastlines, and ancient redwood forests create an awe-inspiring and humbling landscape. Take some time to stop at the best viewpoints, like Bixby Creek Bridge and McWay Falls. You will find tons of great photo opportunities.

Our ultimate road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles leads us to San Simeon, home to the magnificent Hearst Castle. Perched atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this opulent estate offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Before hitting the road again, take a guided tour of the castle and explore its ornate rooms, lush gardens, and impressive art collection.

Exterior of Hearst Castle with palm trees and a bright blus sky.
Photo courtesy of Carol Lee from Unsplash
Visiting Hearst Castle

A visit to San Simeon and Hearst Castle is a journey into the opulent world of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, set against the stunning backdrop of California’s Central Coast. 

Hearst Castle, a magnificent estate perched atop the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is the centerpiece of any visit to San Simeon. Embark on a guided tour of this grandiose mansion, which features 165 rooms filled with priceless art, antique furnishings, and architectural wonders from around the world. Marvel at the lavish interiors of the main house, including the ornate Assembly Room, the opulent Neptune Pool, and the iconic Casa Grande, Hearst’s personal residence.

 One of the most memorable aspects of visiting Hearst Castle is the breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and coastline. From the terraces and gardens of the estate, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Lucia Mountains, and the lush green hillsides of San Simeon. Take a moment to soak in the natural beauty of this idyllic setting and imagine what life was like for Hearst and his guests during the castle’s heyday.

The Grand Rooms Tour is a good option for first-time visitors. Tickets are $30 for adults, and the tour lasts approximately 70 minutes. Reserve your tickets ahead of time.

What to do in San Luis Obispo On The Ultimate Road Trip

San Luis Obispo (SLO) is a charming city on California’s Central Coast, known for its beautiful landscapes, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene. Stroll through downtown San Luis Obispo and explore its quaint shops, art galleries, and historic landmarks. Don’t miss the iconic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, founded in 1772, which serves as the centerpiece of the city’s historic district. 

Where To Stay Near San Simeon

Closest to San Simeon: Cavalier Oceanfront Resort

Full-service hotel, the only oceanfront resort property in San Simeon, situated 3 miles south of Hearst Castle.

Solid Option: San Luis Creek Lodge

If you are looking for a solid choice for lodging in the area, check out the San Luis Creek Lodge. It gets excellent reviews.

Weirdest Hotel Ever: Madonna Inn

Staying at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo is an experience like no other. Honestly, it is the most unique hotel experience I ever had. Each of the 110 guest rooms at the Madonna Inn has its theme. From the quirky Caveman Room to the very pink extravagance of the Love Nest, every room is an experience. 

The Madonna Inn is renowned for its iconic dining experiences, including the Copper Cafe and the Gold Rush Steakhouse. If you are not game to spend the night, this is a great way to experience the oddities of this hotel. 

Santa Barbara Day 6

Next on our itinerary of ultimate road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles is the coastal town of Santa Barbara, often referred to as the “American Riviera” for its Mediterranean climate and Spanish colonial architecture. Packed with things to do, allow at least an entire day to explore this area. 

Things to Do In Santa Barbara
Walk Along The Wharf

Stearns Wharf is one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks, offering panoramic views of the harbor and coastline. Explore the wharf’s various shops, restaurants, and attractions, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, where you can learn about local marine life and ecosystems.

Shop

State Street is the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, lined with shops, boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Walk along State Street and explore its charming Spanish-style architecture, vibrant street art, and bustling atmosphere. 

Head To The Beach

Santa Barbara boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the California coast, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Famous beaches include East Beach, West Beach, and Leadbetter Beach, where you can enjoy surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and beach volleyball. For a more secluded experience, head to Butterfly Beach in the upscale neighborhood of Montecito.

Funk Zone

The Funk Zone is Santa Barbara’s hip and eclectic arts district, known for its colorful murals, wine-tasting rooms, craft breweries, and boutique shops. Spend an afternoon wandering through the Funk Zone and sampling local wines at tasting rooms such as Municipal Winemakers, The Valley Project, and Santa Barbara Winery.

Explore the Mission

The Santa Barbara Mission, founded in 1786, is one of the city’s most iconic and historic landmarks. Take a guided tour of the mission grounds and learn about its rich history, Spanish colonial architecture, and cultural significance. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens, cemetery, and museum, which feature exhibits on California history and Native American artifacts.

Visit The Gardens

Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a peaceful oasis of native plants and wildflowers. Explore miles of trails that wind through oak woodlands, meadows, and creeks, and enjoy stunning views of the city and coastline. The garden also hosts educational programs, workshops, and special events throughout the year.

Foggy Pacific Coast Highway, part of a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Photo courtesy of Robson Hatsukami Morgan from Unsplash
California’s Other Wine Region

Just a short drive from Santa Barbara, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to some of California’s most renowned wineries and vineyards. Take a scenic drive through the valley and visit tasting rooms in charming towns such as Los Olivos, Solvang, and Buellton, where you can sample award-winning wines and enjoy breathtaking views of the rolling hills and vineyards.

Where to Stay In Santa Barbara

Relaxed Luxury in Wine Country: The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern

Staying at The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern offers guests a unique blend of historic charm, modern comfort, and luxurious amenities in the heart of California’s Santa Ynez Valley. 

The inn is home to the renowned Mattei’s Tavern Restaurant, where guests can savor farm-to-table cuisine inspired by the bounty of the Santa Ynez Valley. Located in the heart of wine country, The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern offers guests easy access to some of California’s most acclaimed wineries and vineyards. 

Mediterranean Luxury In Santa Barbara: The El Encanto

The El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel in Santa Barbara, is an experience of timeless elegance, luxurious comfort, and unparalleled service in one of California’s most enchanting destinations. 

Nestled in the lush hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, El Encanto boasts a picturesque setting that exudes tranquility and natural beauty. The hotel’s expansive gardens, winding pathways, and panoramic views create a serene oasis that feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. El Encanto offers a variety of luxurious accommodations, including beautifully appointed rooms, suites, and bungalows.

Chic & More Affordable: Drift Santa Barbara

Staying at Drift Santa Barbara offers guests a unique and unforgettable experience that captures the essence of coastal California living. Drift Santa Barbara offers stylish and comfortable accommodations, from cozy guest rooms to spacious suites with ocean views; there’s a perfect retreat for every traveler.

Just steps from West Beach and the Santa Barbara Harbor, Drift Santa Barbara offers a prime location for exploring the city’s most iconic attractions. Take a walk along the waterfront, visit nearby Stearns Wharf and State Street, or enjoy outdoor activities such as biking, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Los Angeles and Hollywood Day 7 & 8 — The End of Ultimate Road Trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Our final destination brings us to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the world’s entertainment capital. Walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and spot your favorite celebrities’ stars embedded in the sidewalk. Visit iconic attractions like the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Sign for that quintessential Hollywood experience. And if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of a movie being filmed or even spot a celebrity at one of the trendy restaurants or nightclubs in the area.

Getty Museum viewed from above.
Photo courtesy of Joel Muniz from Unsplash

The top sites in Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park

Perched atop Mount Hollywood, Griffith Observatory offers panoramic views of the Los Angeles skyline, the iconic Hollywood Sign, and the surrounding landscape. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits on astronomy, space exploration, and the observatory’s history, as well as enjoy planetarium shows and telescope viewings. Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States, offers miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, and recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Getty Center

The Getty Center is a world-renowned art museum and cultural institution in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Designed by architect Richard Meier, the museum features an impressive collection of European paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and photography from the Middle Ages to the present day. Visitors can also explore the museum’s stunning architecture, gardens, and outdoor sculptures and enjoy panoramic views of the city from its hilltop location.

Santa Monica Pier as the sun sets, the sky is bright orange and pink and the lights of the pier are glowing.
Photo courtesy of Venti Views from Unsplash
Santa Monica Pier and Beach

Santa Monica Pier is a historic landmark and popular tourist destination located in the coastal city of Santa Monica. Visitors can stroll along the pier, enjoy carnival rides and games at Pacific Park, sample local cuisine at the many restaurants and eateries, and take in stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and coastline. The adjacent Santa Monica Beach offers miles of sandy shores, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, as well as a scenic bike path and walking promenade. It is the perfect end to the ultimate road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Hollywood Glamour

When visiting Hollywood, there are iconic attractions and experiences that you won’t want to miss. Here are the top three things to do:

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Stroll along the world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, a sidewalk with over 2,600 brass stars honoring celebrities from the entertainment industry. Take photos with your favorite stars’ stars, and explore the history and glamour of Hollywood as you walk along Hollywood Boulevard.

TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre)

Step into Hollywood history at the TCL Chinese Theatre, known for its historic handprints and footprints of Hollywood stars in the forecourt. Marvel at the ornate architecture and experience the grandeur of a classic movie palace. You can also catch a movie screening or attend a special event at this iconic landmark.

Hollywood Sign

Get up close and personal with the iconic Hollywood Sign, an enduring symbol of the entertainment industry. While you can’t hike directly to the sign, there are several vantage points in the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park where you can enjoy stunning views and snap memorable photos with the sign in the background.

Paramount Pictures Studio Tour: 

Take a guided tour of the historic Paramount Pictures Studio, one of Hollywood’s oldest and most famous film studios. Explore soundstages, backlots, and sets used in beloved movies and TV shows.

Where To Stay In Los Angeles

Boutique Hotel In Hollywood: The Prospect Hollywood 

Staying at The Prospect Hollywood offers guests a chic and contemporary experience in the heart of one of Los Angeles’ most vibrant neighborhoods. The Prospect Hollywood features modern and beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites designed with sleek furnishings, stylish decor, and luxurious amenities. The hotel boasts a rooftop pool and lounge area, offering guests a serene oasis to relax and unwind amidst the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. 

If you are continuing on beyond the ultimate road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, check out Palm Springs and Orange County.

Outside of the TLC Theater in Hollywood Boulevard with a walk of fame star in the foreground.
Photo courtesy of BP Miller from Unsplash
A Palm Springs Extention

Palm Springs, California, is a desert oasis known for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant arts scene, and iconic mid-century modern architecture. 

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tramcar, which transports visitors from the desert floor to the pristine wilderness of the San Jacinto Mountains. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley as you ascend nearly 6,000 feet to the Mountain Station.

Indian Canyons

Discover the natural beauty and cultural history of the Indian Canyons, a series of stunning desert oases on the ancestral lands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Explore hiking trails that wind through palm-lined canyons, rocky gorges, and lush desert vegetation, and marvel at ancient rock art, waterfalls, and wildlife. Don’t miss Tahquitz Canyon, home to a spectacular 60-foot waterfall and sacred ceremonial sites that offer a glimpse into the area’s indigenous heritage.

Palm Springs Architecture Tour: 

Explore Palm Springs’ iconic mid-century modern architecture on a guided tour of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, the Kaufmann Desert House, and the Palm Springs Visitor Center.

Orange County

Orange County, California, offers a diverse range of attractions. Here are the top three must-see sights in Orange County:

Laguna Beach

Discover the natural beauty and artistic charm of Laguna Beach, a coastal gem known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant arts scene. Spend a day exploring the tide pools and coves at Crystal Cove State Park, relax on the sandy shores of Main Beach, or stroll along the scenic pathways of Heisler Park. Don’t miss the chance to visit the renowned art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants along Laguna Beach’s picturesque streets.

Huntington Beach Pier and Surf City USA

Experience the laid-back vibes and surf culture of Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA. Take a stroll along the iconic Huntington Beach Pier, one of the longest piers on the West Coast, and watch surfers catch waves at the legendary Huntington Beach Break. Explore the vibrant downtown area, where you’ll find shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, and the International Surfing Museum, which celebrates the sport’s rich history and heritage.

Balboa Island:

Explore the charming waterfront community of Balboa Island, located in Newport Beach. Rent a bike or paddleboard and explore the island’s scenic pathways and harbors, or indulge in sweet treats like Balboa Bars and frozen bananas at local eateries along Marine Avenue.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Step back in time at Mission San Juan Capistrano, one of California’s most historic and picturesque missions. Explore the beautifully preserved Spanish colonial architecture, gardens, and courtyards, and learn about the mission’s rich cultural heritage and significance in California history.

From the bustling streets of San Francisco to the iconic landmarks of Hollywood, our road trip along the California coast offers a glimpse into the state’s diverse landscapes, rich history, and cultural heritage. Whether you’re captivated by Big Sur’s natural beauty or enchanted by Hollywood’s glamour, this unforgettable adventure will surely leave you with memories to last a lifetime. You could easily add 2-3 days to your time in each location; there is so much to see and do on this ultimate road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. 

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

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3 Comments

  1. Having been to most of these cities, I can say that you’ve done a great job with your descriptions and recommendations. Makes me want to go again:-)

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