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San Francisco to Los Angeles via Santa Barbara

driving   /   2 days   /   no pets   /   no RV

San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip planner

Here's a sample itinerary for a drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles. If you're planning a road trip to Los Angeles, 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 Francisco
drive for about 55 minutes

10:55 am  San Jose
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 11:55 am
drive for about 1.5 hours

1:12 pm  Monterey
stay for about 4 hours
and leave at 5:12 pm
drive for about 1.5 hours

6:44 pm  Pinnacles National Park
stay overnight and leave the next day around 9:00 am

day 1 driving ≈ 3.5 hours
find more stops

 Day 2

9:00 am  leave from Pinnacles National Park
drive for about 2 hours

11:07 am  Cambria
eat at Lombardi's Pasta Familia
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 12:07 pm
drive for about 2 hours

2:16 pm  Santa Barbara
stay for about 4 hours
and leave at 6:16 pm
drive for about 1.5 hours

7:56 pm  arrive in Los Angeles
eat at Gjelina
stay at Shutters On the Beach

day 2 driving ≈ 6 hours
find more stops

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San Francisco to Los Angeles questions

profile  Andrew from New Zealand asked:
Where to stay half way between S.F. and L.A.?  (15 answers)

profile  Laurie asked:
Road Trip San francisco to Los Angeles  (9 answers)

profile  Liat from Rehovot asked:
route between los angeles and san fracnisco  (8 answers)

profile  Supun from Carson (California) asked:
Hidden gems on the drive from L.A. to the Bay  (6 answers)

profile  Jacqui asked:
book hotels before we go or when we arrive in places?  (4 answers)

profile  Jawana from Birmingham (Alabama) asked:
Where are some cool places to eat and see on a road trip from LA to SF?  (2 answers)

profile  Monica asked:
Where to stay between LA and San Fran  (2 answers)

profile  Jeanne asked:
driving from SF to LA looking at colleges - places to stay half way  (1 answer)

profile  Darren from Australia asked:
Where to stay driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles?  (9 answers)

profile  Andre from Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro asked:
Driving From SF to LA- what are the best things to see and do?  (7 answers)

profile  Camille from Branford asked:
Two places to stop and sleep from Santa Monica to San Francisco?  (6 answers)

profile  Micki from Mayfield Heights, Ohio asked:
Half way point between LA and San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway?  (6 answers)

profile  Shawna from Benton City, Washington asked:
Traveling in June with 18 year old girls - what can we do in 4 days?!  (5 answers)

profile  Lisa-Marie from Johannesburg, Gauteng asked:
Best stops en route to Los Angeles?  (5 answers)

profile  Mallory asked:
Best places to stop and see driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles?  (4 answers)


Where should I stop along the way?

San Jose  (39 answers)
    The Tech Museum of Innovation  (3 mentions)
    San Jose Museum of Art  (3 mentions)
    Santana Row  (3 mentions)
    Winchester Mystery House  (2 mentions)
    California's Great America  (2 mentions)
    questions about San Jose:
        What's the best neighborhood in San Jose for a first time visitor?
        Hotels with airport parking in San Jose
        Best missions to see & other good activities for kids
        Neighborhood for young professional in San Jose
        Free things to do in San Jose?

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

Pinnacles National Park  (2 mentions)
    questions about Pinnacles National Park:
        Best hikes in Pinnacles National Park?

Cambria  (57 answers)
    Hearst Castle  (86 mentions)
    Moonstone Beach Dr  (3 mentions)
    Burton Inn  (3 mentions)
    San Simeon State Beach  (2 mentions)
    Ball & Skein & More  (2 mentions)
    restaurants around Cambria:
        Lombardi's Pasta Familia
        Sebastian's General Store
        Wild Ginger Cafe

Santa Barbara  (189 answers)
    Butterfly Beach  (7 mentions)
    Bacara Resort & Spa  (6 mentions)
    Hendry's Beach  (4 mentions)
    Stearns Wharf  (4 mentions)
    The Funk Zone  (4 mentions)
    restaurants around Santa Barbara:
        McConnell's Fine Ice Creams
        La Super-Rica Taqueria
        The Lark - Santa Barbara
        Boathouse at Hendry's Beach
        The Palace Grill
    questions about Santa Barbara:
        Favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara?
        Bachelorette Weekend Getaway in Santa Barbara
        Best Beach in Santa Barbara?
        24 hours in Santa Barbara, what do I have to see/eat/do?
        How far from santa barbara to palm springs and PS to Phoenix?


Where's the best place to stay in Los Angeles?

Are you going straight to a hotel, or looking for a vacation rental or Airbnb?

The best resource on neighborhoods, areas, and hotels is the Trippy page on where to stay in Los Angeles.

You can also see most people recommend as the best amount of time to visit. Find out how many days in Los Angeles to stay.

If you're looking for a quick answer, you can check out Shutters On the Beach, which was mentioned 36 times on Trippy.

Here are some more hotels people talk about:

Hotel Erwin  (30 mentions)
The Standard Downtown LA  (20 mentions)
Ace Hotel Los Angeles  (17 mentions)
The Huntley Hotel  (15 mentions)

Want to research more popular hotels in Los Angeles? Click the blue button below.




Where's the best place to eat in Los Angeles?

Need some recommendations on somewhere to get food?

Trippy members suggest Gjelina, which was mentioned 44 times.

Here are some more restaurants people talk about:

Perch  (25 mentions)
Bottega Louie  (18 mentions)
Grand Central Market  (16 mentions)
Bestia  (15 mentions)

Want to research more popular restaurants in Los Angeles? Click the blue button below.




What are some things to do in Los Angeles?

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:

Santa Monica Pier  (70 mentions)
Griffith Observatory  (63 mentions)
Venice Beach Boardwalk  (62 mentions)
Abbot Kinney  (56 mentions)
Third Street Promenade  (55 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 Los Angeles. Click on any question to see answers from the community!

profile  Michelle from Mesa asked:
Where are the top 5 places to see a celebrity in L.A.?  (27 answers)

profile  Maxime from Los Angeles asked:
What's your favorite burger in L.A?  (26 answers)

profile  Clement from Singapore asked:
Free things to do in Los Angeles?  (24 answers)

profile  Steph from asked:
Area an hour away from LAX airport  (20 answers)

profile  Bianca from Miami asked:
What are the top 3 beaches in Los Angeles?  (20 answers)

Click the button below to explore more questions and answers related to Los Angeles.




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 Los Angeles to San Francisco 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 Francisco to Los Angeles. Or get a full San Francisco to Los Angeles 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 Francisco well, please help your fellow travelers and answer their questions about San Francisco!





At a Glance
without making any stops
total driving distance is 420 miles
driving time of 6 hours, 45 minutes
630 San Francisco travel answers
39 San Jose travel answers
167 Monterey travel answers
57 Cambria travel answers
189 Santa Barbara travel answers
612 Los Angeles travel answers





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