The drive from San Diego
to San Francisco can be a beautiful one. But it can also be a stressful one. Which route should we drive? How long will it take? What is there to see along the way? Can’t we just fly? These are all questions you might ponder when thinking of making a trip such as this. Let’s answer them quickly – PCH, 8-10 hours, a lot, yes. Very good. But now let us go into detail.
Which route should you drive? If you are not on time restraints and have a week or longer to make this trip, take the PCH for sure. It is one of the most fun drives you can make in the U.S. and maybe the world. If you are a So Cal native, you may opt to take the 5 or 15 freeways up past L.A. and catch PCH in Malibu. That is where it starts to get scenic (and new) for those of you who have seen Southern California’s coast already.
After you swing through Malibu, home to Cher, you will be coming to your first stop point – Santa Barbara. This region is vast and filled with green landscape for miles. Here you can taste wines, not too much if you’re continuing on, visit State Street, and see UCSB. Around the area is Solvang, a danish themed town with MAJOR shopping and tourist potential. Keep an eye on your watches here if you are addicted to shopping as time can fly. Like Indian Gaming? Try the Chumash Casino. Other places of interest might be, Santa Maria, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and for camping choose Lake Cachuma.
After you spent all your vacation cash in Solvang, get back on the road. About an hour and a half north of Santa Barbara you can stop in 3 cities. Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay. Pismo offers a great, clean beach, with more shopping and restaurants, but the water is freeeeeezing. You can hang in Pismo for a few hours, and then check out the Madonna Inn located in San Luis Obispo. Men and Women, make sure you go in the Men’s Restroom (with permission). Now that you have reached this point, it is about halfway to your destination. It serves as a good place to spend the night. Morro Bay is the northern-most of the three cities, so try finding a hotel there. You can eat dinner at one of the shoreline restaurants or drive about 10 minutes north to Cayucos. There is a good Italian place there.
Ready for day 2? Sure you are. Get up early again and make your first pit stop of day 2 Cambria. It’s just a quaint little town, similar to Solvang, but fun to drive through nonetheless. Cambria won’t eat your wallet quite like Solvang does either. After Cambria, you’ll wonder why I recommend PCH. There will be quite a stretch of drive time on this route that will take you through winding hills, but it’s worth it. You stay on the ocean the whole time and the further north you get, the more blue the water gets. Not to mention the record-breaking bridges you will see around Big Sur. Get out and admire those. I should add, if you see a gas station, use it. Pebble Beach. Enough said. Take the 18 mile tour. It is amazing. You’ll have to see for yourself.
Monterey, a converted Cannery town, is your next stop. Cannery Row is the main attraction there, which houses the largest Aquarium in the U.S. Penguins, Sharks, Otters, its all there. Hungry in Monterey? Chart House is a great choice for food! Once you wrap up your stay in Monterey, it’s back on the road.
Tired of driving yet? Maybe you should have flown!!!
Your last stop before S.F. is Santa Cruz. This is more of a seasonal stop. If you are going during the summer time, chances are you will have a good time at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, complete with rides (including the famous Giant Dipper) and games. Yes, its all on the beach. Check http://www.beachboardwalk.com/ to see the dates they are open.
By this time you are probably so worn out that you just want to go home. Well, good news. San Francisco is only an hour and 20 minutes away now! More good news? You still have to drive back home which means you can make some of these stops on the way back down the coast instead of heading north!
Well, you are there. SAN FRANCISCO! So much to do. Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Alcatraz, Haight Ashbury, China Town, THE BUSH MAN! and much much more. If you are expecting me to give you a guide on S.F. well, you are sorely mistaken. Do I look like Frommers? This is just your guide to get to San Fran. Now, you must fend for yourselves. Good luck and have fun!