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San Diego to Santa Cruz via Monterey

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

10:00 am  start in San Diego
drive for about 1.5 hours

11:16 am  Laguna Beach
eat at Javier's Restaurant - Newport Beach
stay for about 1.5 hours
and leave at 12:46 pm
drive for about 1 hour

1:54 pm  Los Angeles
stay for about 4 hours
and leave at 5:54 pm
drive for about 2 hours

7:48 pm  Bakersfield
stay overnight and leave the next day around 10:00 am

day 1 driving ≈ 4.5 hours
find more stops

 Day 2

10:00 am  leave from Bakersfield
drive for about 49 minutes

10:49 am  Lost Hills
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 11:49 am
drive for about 3 hours

2:53 pm  Monterey
stay for about 4 hours
and leave at 6:53 pm
drive for about 49 minutes

7:42 pm  arrive in Santa Cruz
eat at Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria

day 2 driving ≈ 4.5 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

Bakersfield  (19 answers)
    questions about Bakersfield:
        Best free things to do in Bakersfield?

Lost Hills

Monterey  (167 answers)
    Monterey Bay Aquarium  (41 mentions)
    Pebble Beach  (21 mentions)
    Point Lobos  (9 mentions)
    Point Lobos State Reserve  (8 mentions)
    17-Mile Drive  (6 mentions)
    restaurants around Monterey:
        Passionfish
        Katy's Place
        Epsilon Fine Greek Restaurant
        Flaherty's Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar
        Sunset Lounge
    questions about Monterey:
        Restaurant recommendations for a large group dinner?
        What to do for a family outing in Monterey?
        Things to do with the kiddos besides the aquarium
        hotels in Monterey, CA


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 481 miles
driving time of 7 hours, 47 minutes
256 San Diego travel answers
60 Laguna Beach travel answers
612 Los Angeles travel answers
19 Bakersfield travel answers
167 Monterey travel answers
85 Santa Cruz travel answers





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