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San Francisco, Los Angeles

Driving From SF to LA- what are the best things to see and do?

What are the best things to do and see between San Francisco and L.A. and where is the best mid-point to spend a night?

7 Answers

top answer by
Spencer from Los Angeles

It really depends on which route you're taken. Highway 1 (PCH) is the best and most beautiful route, but really takes the most time. I would get down to Monterey as quick as you can and make Monterey/Carmel (great aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium Gift & Bookstore, and a cool little coastal drive right around Monterey) your first stop, but I'd plan on spending most of your time in Big Sur.

Grab some pastries at Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant, glass of wine at Nepenthe while enjoying one of the best views on the west coast. Pfeiffer Beach is my favorite beach stop (for Keyhole Rock) and McWay Falls is a easy, beautiful stop. The last big attraction before exiting Big Sur is Hearst Castle, as folks have already mentioned. 

Morro Bay or Cambria are good midpoint stops. For lodging in Morro, I'd recommend Anderson Inn and have some really unique beers at The Libertine Pub

I've written a few guides about Big Sur:

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Monterey (city)
  2. Carmel (attraction)
  3. Monterey Bay Aquarium Gift & Bookstore (attraction)
  4. Big Sur (city)
  5. Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant (restaurant)
  6. Nepenthe (restaurant)
  7. Pfeiffer Beach (attraction)
  8. McWay Falls (attraction)
  9. Hearst Castle (attraction)
  10. Morro Bay (attraction)
  11. Cambria (city)
  12. Anderson Inn (hotel)
  13. The Libertine Pub (restaurant)
5 thanks

answered by
Kelly from Los Angeles

Hi Andre,

I just did this road trip over the weekend, and it's a lot of fun! I've driven down Highway 1 a few times, and there's always something new to see. As far as staples go -- and if you like aquariums -- Monterey Bay Aquarium is worth a stopover. When you're back behind the wheel, wind your way down the 17-Mile Drive to zoom under a canopy of cyprus trees and across beachfront roads. From there, you can stop at Pebble Beach to work on your golf game (although that'll set your budget back a bit) or ride through pretty downtown Carmel for food and shopping. Then, continue the drive across Bixby Creek Bridge for a stellar photo-op. 

If you want to take a break from the road at this point, I'd check in at the Big Sur River Inn. Like the name suggests, a river runs along the back of the property, and you can sit out on the water in a cozy adirondack chair. It's lovely, but a far cry from what you can see at Hearst Castle further down the Pacific Coast Highway. Save that for the morning.

Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Monterey Bay Aquarium (attraction)
  2. Pebble Beach (attraction)
  3. Carmel (attraction)
  4. Bixby Creek Bridge (attraction)
  5. Big Sur River Inn (restaurant)
  6. Hearst Castle (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Christopher from Tampa, Florida

I would take Highway 1 and make a long day of it... You need to be selective but some good bets are: Santa Cruz (Elephant Seals), Carmel, Cannery Row, 17 Mile Dr, Big Sur, Point Sur Naval Facility, Piedras Blancas (Elephant Seals) and just driving Highway 1...

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Cruz (city)
  2. Carmel (attraction)
  3. Cannery Row (attraction)
  4. 17 Mile Dr (attraction)
  5. Big Sur (city)
  6. Point Sur Naval Facility (attraction)
  7. Piedras Blancas (attraction)
1 thanks

answered first by
Kristal from San Francisco


Morro Bay is a good midway point. From SF to LA, you can stop at a few places:



Big Sur

Hearst Castle

Santa Barbara

Taking highway 1, although longer, will provide a very scenic route and make stopping at these places much easier. 

Happy driving!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Morro Bay (attraction)
  2. Carmel (attraction)
  3. Monterey (city)
  4. Big Sur (city)
  5. Hearst Castle (attraction)
  6. Santa Barbara (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Luke from Blandon, Pennsylvania

If you have the time, stay on the Pacific Coast Highway and hug the coast. It'll take twice as long as Interstate 5, but the views and scenery make up for it exponentially. Spend a night or two in Big Sur (camp or get a cabin) and explore the cliffs and forests. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)

answered by
Bonnie from United States

Make sure you stop at Hearst Castle. It is totally worth the trip!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hearst Castle (attraction)

answered by

Big Sur is beautiful

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)

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