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San Francisco to Santa Monica via Monterey

driving   /   2 days   /   no pets   /   no RV

San Francisco to Santa Monica road trip planner

Here's a sample itinerary for a drive from San Francisco to Santa Monica. If you're planning a road trip to Santa Monica, 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

11:00 am  start in San Francisco
drive for about 2 hours

12:57 pm  Monterey
stay overnight at Mission Ranch Hotel
leave the next day around 10:00 am

day 1 driving ≈ 2 hours
find more stops

 Day 2

10:00 am  leave from Mission Ranch Hotel
drive for about 2 hours

11:57 am  Paso Robles
eat at Niner Wine Estates
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 12:57 pm
drive for about 1.5 hours

2:28 pm  Buttonwillow
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 3:28 pm
drive for about 2 hours

5:16 pm  eat at Six Flags Magic Mountain
stay for about 1 hour
and leave at 6:16 pm
drive for about 43 minutes

7:00 pm  arrive in Santa Monica
eat at Gjelina
stay at Shutters On the Beach

day 2 driving ≈ 6 hours

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San Francisco to Santa Monica questions


Where should I stop along the way?

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
    hotels around Monterey:
        Mission Ranch Hotel
        Lodge at Pebble Beach
        Seven Gables Inn
        Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
        La Playa Hotel Carmel-By-The-Sea
    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

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

Buttonwillow

Six Flags Magic Mountain  (10 mentions)


Where's the best place to stay in Santa Monica?

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 Santa Monica.

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 Huntley Hotel  (15 mentions)
Hotel Casa Del Mar  (12 mentions)

Want to research more popular hotels in Santa Monica? Click the blue button below.




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

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:

Urth Caffe  (13 mentions)
The Apple Pan  (12 mentions)
Joan's on Third Cafe  (12 mentions)
Gracias Madre  (11 mentions)

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




What are some things to do in Santa Monica?

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)
Venice Beach Boardwalk  (62 mentions)
Abbot Kinney  (56 mentions)
Third Street Promenade  (55 mentions)
LACMA  (50 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 Monica. Click on any question to see answers from the community!

profile  Courtney from Los Angeles asked:
Drinks in SM?  (4 answers)

profile  Allie from Portland asked:
Fun things to do in Santa Monica?  (3 answers)

profile  Andrea from Rockville Centre asked:
Fun Santa Monica hotels under $400/night?  (3 answers)

profile  Brew from Manhattan Beach asked:
Good breakfast spot for a business meeting?  (3 answers)

profile  Pat from Cambria asked:
Avoiding sticker shock in Santa Monica  (3 answers)

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




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 Monica 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 Santa Monica. Or get a full San Francisco to Santa Monica 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 437 miles
driving time of 7 hours, 3 minutes
630 San Francisco travel answers
167 Monterey travel answers
49 Paso Robles travel answers
225 Santa Monica travel answers





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