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San Diego to Santa Cruz drive

driving   /   2 days   /   no pets   /   no RV

San Diego to Santa Cruz road trip planner

Here's a sample itinerary for a drive from San Diego to Santa Cruz. If you're planning a road trip to Santa Cruz, you can research locations to stop along the way. Make sure you check road conditions to double check the weather. Traveling with a dog or cat? Find pet-friendly stops. Camping along the way? Search for RV campgrounds. Find the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions based on the most talked about places recommended by Trippy members.

customize this trip
 Day 1

9:00 am  start in San Diego
drive for about 1.5 hours

10:16 am  Laguna Beach
stay for about 1.5 hours
and leave at 11:46 am
drive for about 1 hour

12:54 pm  Los Angeles
eat at Gjelina
stay for about 4 hours
and leave at 4:54 pm
drive for about 2 hours

7:02 pm  Grapevine
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 8:02 pm
drive for about 1.5 hours

9:26 pm  Lost Hills
stay overnight and leave the next day around 9:00 am

day 1 driving ≈ 6 hours
find more stops

 Day 2

9:00 am  leave from Lost Hills
drive for about 1 hour

10:02 am  Paso Robles
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 11:02 am
drive for about 50 minutes

11:52 am  King City (California)
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 12:52 pm
drive for about 2 hours

2:40 pm  Big Sur
stay for about 4 hours
and leave at 6:40 pm
drive for about 1.5 hours

8:05 pm  arrive in Santa Cruz

day 2 driving ≈ 5 hours
find more stops

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Where should I stop along the way?

Laguna Beach  (60 answers)
    Crystal Cove State Park  (10 mentions)
    Balboa Island  (8 mentions)
    Balboa Island  (3 mentions)
    Victoria Beach  (3 mentions)
    Dana Point Harbor  (2 mentions)
    restaurants around Laguna Beach:
        Javier's Restaurant - Newport Beach
        Las Brisas
        Cafe Zoolu
        The Beachcomber Cafe
        Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa
    questions about Laguna Beach:
        Where to stay and non-surfing things to do in Laguna Beach
        What is your favorite restaurant in Laguna Beach?

Los Angeles  (612 answers)
    Santa Monica Pier  (70 mentions)
    Griffith Observatory  (63 mentions)
    Venice Beach Boardwalk  (62 mentions)
    Abbot Kinney  (56 mentions)
    Third Street Promenade  (55 mentions)
    restaurants around Los Angeles:
        Gjelina
        Perch
        Bottega Louie
        Grand Central Market
        Bestia
    questions about Los Angeles:
        Where are the top 5 places to see a celebrity in L.A.?
        What's your favorite burger in L.A?
        Free things to do in Los Angeles?
        What are the top 3 beaches in Los Angeles?
        Area an hour away from LAX airport

Grapevine  (4 answers)

Lost Hills

Paso Robles  (49 answers)
    Firestone Walker Brewing Company  (6 mentions)
    Villicana Winery  (5 mentions)
    Terry Hoage Vineyards  (3 mentions)
    Summerwood Winery & Inn  (3 mentions)
    DAOU Vineyards & Winery  (3 mentions)
    restaurants around Paso Robles:
        Niner Wine Estates
        Ecluse Wines
        Pier 46 Seafood Market
        Brecon Estate
        ONX
    questions about Paso Robles:
        Good wineries in Paso Robles
        Where should I eat in Paso Robles?
        Casual eats near Paso Robles?
        Favorite Wineries Near Paso Robles

King City (California)  (2 answers)

Big Sur  (203 answers)
    Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park  (22 mentions)
    McWay Falls  (16 mentions)
    Pfeiffer State Beach  (9 mentions)
    Pfeiffer Beach  (6 mentions)
    Andrew Molera State Park  (5 mentions)
    restaurants around Big Sur:
        Nepenthe
        Post Ranch Inn
        Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant
        Coast Gallery & Cafe
        Big Sur River Inn
    questions about Big Sur:
        Whats the best hike in Big Sur? Best beach?
        First-come, first-serve camping sites in Big Sur?
        how far is the drive to sequoia national aprk


Where's the best place to eat in Santa Cruz?

Need some recommendations on somewhere to get food?

Trippy members suggest Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria, which was mentioned 3 times.

Here are some more restaurants people talk about:

Want to research more popular restaurants in Santa Cruz? Click the blue button below.




What are some things to do in Santa Cruz?

This section could be endless, so rather than trying to suggest every local activity or attraction, we'll leave it open-ended.

These are some of the places people talk about on Trippy:

The Mystery Spot  (4 mentions)
Santa Cruz Beach  (4 mentions)
Seabright State Beach  (3 mentions)

Of course, Trippy is the perfect place to ask questions because there's an entire community of travelers talking to each other and sharing tips and advice. Trippy is where you can get answers personalized for your tastes, budgets, trip dates & more!

For example, here are some questions people have asked about Santa Cruz. Click on any question to see answers from the community!

profile  Drew from Angelika Film Center & Cafe asked:
Activities during reunion in santa cruz  (4 answers)

profile  Allysia from Boston asked:
What are some must places to go to in Santa Cruz, CA  (2 answers)

profile  Paul from Redmond (Washington) asked:
Are there any good restaurants in Santa Cruz?  (2 answers)

profile  Lily from asked:
Names of beaches that aren't so crowded  (1 answer)

profile  Eddie from Bronx asked:
Best Things To Do In Santa Cruz?  (1 answer)

Click the button below to explore more questions and answers related to Santa Cruz.




Do I really have to go back home?

Yes, even this step is optional, because if you're on vacation who wants the trip to end? It's okay, you can start planning your next trip!

Want to plan the trip back? Get the reverse directions for a Santa Cruz to San Diego drive, or go to the main page to plan a new road trip.

You can also compare the travel time if you're flying or driving by calculating the distance from San Diego to Santa Cruz. Or get a full San Diego to Santa Cruz flight plan.

Don't forget about exploring your own hometown with a staycation. You can also find some cool day trips or get away for a weekend. Maybe try typing in a faraway location like London, Hong Kong, or Sydney, and get inspired for your dream trip around the world.

And if you know San Diego well, please help your fellow travelers and answer their questions about San Diego!





At a Glance
without making any stops
total driving distance is 461 miles
driving time of 7 hours, 18 minutes
256 San Diego travel answers
60 Laguna Beach travel answers
612 Los Angeles travel answers
4 Grapevine travel answers
49 Paso Robles travel answers
2 King City (California) travel answers
203 Big Sur travel answers
85 Santa Cruz travel answers





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