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Patrick asked

San Fran all the way to San Diego 5 friends one car what do we need to do!

So five of us Bostonians are taking a road trip all the way from San Fran to San Diego we are all in our late 20s and have never seen the Cali cost! What do we a most defiantly need to see?! 

Its San Fran for three days then LA for an over night then on to San Diego for three days! And all the road in between. 

San Francisco (California)   San Diego (California)   Los Angeles (California)

10 Answers
top answer by
Matthew from Copenhagen

Definitely stay in Big Sur and go hiking and check out the natural hot springs. Eat at Manresa in Los Gatos. Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium. Stop at Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz for a cup. Check out Venice Beach and go drinking at night. Go hiking at Torrey Pines State Park in San Diego. Drink as many micro brew beers as you can in San Diego.  

Have a good trip

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. Manresa (restaurant)
  3. Los Gatos (city)
  4. Monterey Bay Aquarium (attraction)
  5. Verve Coffee Roasters (attraction)
  6. Santa Cruz (city)
  7. Venice Beach (city)
  8. Torrey Pines State Park (attraction)
  9. San Diego (city)
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answered by
Andy from San Francisco

Ha! I just did this trip about 3 weeks ago so the memories are still fresh in my head. Here's what we did on our trip. 

  1. Half Moon Bay. Checked out the beach and had oysters for lunch overlooking the ocean. 
  2. Drove down highway 1 and stopped multiple times to take pictures of the grew views. 

  3. Santa Cruz. Swam in the hotel pool. Went out downtown and had an awesome night out. Started with Hula's Island Grill where we had a couple of Scorpion bowls before bar hopping around Santa Cruz. Can't really go wrong with $2 PBRs. Ended the night with getting an entire bar to sing Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline with us. Epic. 
  4. Spent the morning walking around Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Nothing was really open but the sand and the beach was nice. 
  5. Drove towards Monterey on California 1 and again stopped for lots of pictures along the way. 
  6. Drove around 17 Mile Dr for some nice views and rock climbing. The climbing part is not recommended but pretty fun. 
  7. Had lunch at Pebble Beach (California) golf course. Try to go to the restaurant downstairs so you can sit outside and enjoy the nice weather. 
  8. Drove through Big Sur and stopped by Pfeiffer State Beachto play on the beach and watch the sunset. 
  9. Stayed the night in San Luis Obispo. Not much to do here but to chill at the hotel. 
  10. Stopped in Solvang to check out the weird Danish town in the middle of California. Had some pretty good baked goods through. 
  11. Stopped at Boardwalk Ln in Santa Barbara for lunch. Kind of a tourist trap and paid too much for average food. The weather and the views were beautiful though.  
  12. Stopped by Malibu Beach for some pictures. Didn't have much time cause we wanted to make it to SD by early evening. (We ended up going to Tijuana before coming back up to LA)
  13. Got to San Diego and went to watch the sunset at the Torrey Pines Gliderport on the UCSD campus. Gorgeous place to watch the sunset. 
  14. Drove to La Jolla Cove at night for dinner by the beach. Nice little area but we were there too late and most things were already closed. 
  15. Drove through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and stopped by a place for some margaritas. It was only Wed night so not much was happening. I imagine it's more busy towards the weekend. 
  16. Went to Coronado Beach the next morning. Awesome beach and nice in the morning before too many people show up. Bring some drinks but be discreet cause the lifeguards are watching. 
  17. Got lunch at Kansas City Barbeque, where a scene from Top Gun was shot. It's the scene where Goose plays the piano in the bar. The piano is still there, along with tons of Top Gun memorabilia. You can even play You Lost That Loving Feeling on the jukebox. 
  18. Did a rooftop bar hop of downtown San Diego. We went to Altitude Sky Lounge, RoofTop600 at AndazFloat at Hard Rock Hotel San DiegoLounge Six. The rooftops were nice but the views weren't great. Many of them were obstructed by other tall buildings. It gets better the closer you get to the ocean. Ended up crashing a bday party on the room of the Ramada. Fun night. 
  19. The next morning we checked out USS Midway Museum. Make sure to give yourself enough time. You need at least 2 hours. 
  20. Next we drove to Balboa Park and walked around. It's a beautiful area to hangout for the day. We had lunch at the Japanese cafe which was good and not overpriced. 
  21. Since you're going to SD, why not take a quick trip over to Tijuana? If you do, don't drive there. Park your car by the border, and walk over. It's much easier and faster, plus you won't have to worry about driving around Mexico. If you do go, have as many tacos as you can. They are amazingly delicious. 
  22. On our way to LA from Tijuana, we stopped in SD again for some In-N-Out Burger. Then we went to Mission Bay to play some volleyball and to toss a football around. It's actually a great place to go swimming since the water is super calm and super warm. Bring your trunks. 
  23. Now back to LA. We checked into our Airbnb and then went out for dinner at Cat and Fiddle Pub & Restaurant with a friend. Then we walked to the The Powder Room LA for drinks. They have a bunch of old games you can play there. We ended up having an epic game of Jenga. It got to the point where people were literally watching our game from the bar. 
  24. The next day started out with going to the Apple store to get my friend's new iPhone 6 replaced. He dropped it from the roof of the party we crashed in SD. Then we went to the LACMA
  25. We didn't go in, but there's plenty to see outside the museum, including the La Brea Tar Pits
  26. That afternoon we did the touristy crap like HollywoodMann's Chinese TheaterHollywood Wax Museum, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It really wasn't that fun and you can skip it if you like. 
  27. In the evening we decided to bar hop along Hollywood Blvd, starting at W Hotel Hollywood. We hit a few more bars along the way before stopping at a Pizza Hut for our night cap. 
  28. The next day we went to Santa Monica Pier and walked around. Then we went to the Third Street Promenade to walk around and have lunch. 
  29. After that we went to the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show taping. We got tickets ahead of time so we didn't have to wait as long. It was an awesome show and we even got a free concert afterwards outside. 
  30. Following the show we met up with friends and went to Korean BBQ in Koreatown (Los Angeles). It was freakin awesome! Of course we had to follow that up with some karaoke in K-town. 
  31. For our last day we went to Venice Beach Boardwalk and just walked around. I think it's a lot more interesting than Santa Monica, but that's because I live in the Mission in SF and I'm used to seeing the homeless. 

Anyway, that was my trip and I hope you get some good ideas from it. I had an absolute blast on my trip and only wish I had more time to spend in Big Sur and Tijuana. 

Have an awesome trip!

Check out my blog if you want more recommendations for SF. 

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Half Moon Bay (city)
  2. Santa Cruz (city)
  3. Hula's Island Grill (restaurant)
  4. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
  5. California 1 (attraction)
  6. 17 Mile Dr (attraction)
  7. Pebble Beach (California) (attraction)
  8. Big Sur (city)
  9. Pfeiffer State Beach (attraction)
  10. San Luis Obispo (city)
  11. Solvang (city)
  12. Boardwalk Ln (attraction)
  13. Santa Barbara (city)
  14. Malibu Beach (attraction)
  15. San Diego (city)
  16. Torrey Pines Gliderport (attraction)
  17. La Jolla Cove (attraction)
  18. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (attraction)
  19. Coronado Beach (attraction)
  20. Kansas City Barbeque (restaurant)
  21. Altitude Sky Lounge (attraction)
  22. RoofTop600 at Andaz (attraction)
  23. Float at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego (attraction)
  24. Lounge Six (attraction)
  25. USS Midway Museum (attraction)
  26. Balboa Park (attraction)
  27. Tijuana (city)
  28. In-N-Out Burger (restaurant)
  29. Mission Bay (attraction)
  30. Cat and Fiddle Pub & Restaurant (restaurant)
  31. The Powder Room LA (attraction)
  32. LACMA (attraction)
  33. La Brea Tar Pits (attraction)
  34. Hollywood (attraction)
  35. Mann's Chinese Theater (attraction)
  36. Hollywood Wax Museum (attraction)
  37. Hollywood Walk of Fame (attraction)
  38. W Hotel Hollywood (hotel)
  39. Santa Monica Pier (attraction)
  40. Third Street Promenade (attraction)
  41. Jimmy Kimmel Live! (attraction)
  42. Koreatown (Los Angeles) (attraction)
  43. Venice Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
likes (4) thanks
answered by
Kyle from Costa Mesa

Hi Friends!

For the drive from SF to LA, I'd stick to the coast and check out Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park where there is an amazing cove with a waterfall right off the road.  Then I'd also hop out at Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery in the San Luis Obispo area.  These giants are hard to describe in words.  The coastal drive from SF to LA is very long and time consuming so these two activities are right off the road and won't slow you down too much.  It's not a bad idea to camp around the Big Sur area and spend one less day in SF or SD if you'd consider it.

From LA to SD I'd get back on Pacific Coast Hwy and grab lunch at K'ya Bistro Bar in Laguna Beach.  This is one of my favorite restaurants in the Orange County area and it has a killer roof top bar.  You'll get pretty much the best of the OC area out of that one stop.

Finally, San Diego! Garnett is the main drag in Pacific Beach that has a ton of bars and restaurants to pop in and out of.  This is the most lively area in PB and if you don't mind staying at a hostel, I'd stay at Banana Bungalow Hostel.  It's right on the boardwalk/beach with a sweet deck and you'll meet tons of cool people.  It's also a walk away from Garnett.

Have fun and safe travels!

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answered by
Cherie from Bay Area

Just gonna add in some San Diego favorites here that haven't been mentioned yet. 

Have fun!!!! I <3 SD! 

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mount Soledad (attraction)
  2. Cotixan Mexican Food (restaurant)
  3. Super Sergio's (restaurant)
  4. Rigoberto's Taco Shop (restaurant)
  5. Phil's BBQ (restaurant)
  6. Coronado Hotel (attraction)
  7. Hillcrest Neighborhood (attraction)
  8. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery (restaurant)
  9. The Tractor Room (restaurant)
  10. Hash House a-Go-Go (restaurant)
  11. Spruce Street Suspension Bridge (attraction)
  12. Extraordinary Desserts (restaurant)
  13. Extraordinary Desserts (restaurant)
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answered by
Joe from Sacramento

Sounds like a lot of fun and I agree with all the recommendations that you are getting, you can't go wrong. I can some add some restaurants in San Luis Obispo County if you head that way. The first one,The Madonna Inn because it is so cheesy it's awesome. You can stay in one of their themed rooms if you would like, I recommend the coffee shop for breakfast and you can wander around the Inn. Second restaurant is F. McLintocks Saloon and Dining Housegood food, nice bar and a killer view, try an order of turkey nuts (yep that's what they are). Finally, my favorite steak house, Jocko's for a spencer (rib eye) cooked over an oak grill. Make reservations and prepare to wait anyway. They have a great bar to hang out; get a buzz and prepare for a steak that will melt in your mouth. 

Hope this helps, have a fun and safe trip

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answered by
Krista from San Francisco

First: so cool! I moved to San Francisco from New Hampshire six years ago, and the coast will never get old - it is spectacular.

Coming from San Francisco, I'd suggest traveling down 1-S through Pacifica. You'll ultimately pass through Half Moon Bay (cue the song by Train) and eventually arrive in Santa Cruz. Stop here to enjoy the beach, surfers and a typical California sunset!

Next you'll be set to visit the Monterey Peninsula, home to Moss Landing (California), Carmel, Pacific Grove & Pebble Beach (California). You could do a little bit of research on each place and see if you want to spend a night exploring. Though more laid back, each place is naturally very beautiful.

Continue on 1-S to drive through Big Sur (my favorite place in the entire world!), San Luis Obispo, San Simeon (California) and Santa Barbara. This part of the drive will take about six hours, and provides lots of opportunity to stop for food and the beach.

LA is only 2-3 hours South from Santa Barbara, and you can opt to take 1-S to enter through Malibu or 5. There's a ton to see and do and you'll likely want to spend some time here - especially if you like beaches! Santa Monica is my personal favorite, though Huntington & Manhattan are always popular too.

Finish the final leg to San Diego with stops in the famous OC: Newport Beach & Laguna. 

Be sure to check out La Jolla when you make it to SD, as well as the short trip to Coronado (California). If you like to surf, Pacific Beach will be your jam.

Enjoy, guys!

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answered by
Ron from Denver

Check out Black's Beach, stay at Glorietta Bay Inn, take a whale boat ride, go to San Diego Zoo Safari Park or San Diego Zoo

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Black's Beach (attraction)
  2. Glorietta Bay Inn (hotel)
  3. San Diego Zoo Safari Park (attraction)
  4. San Diego Zoo (attraction)
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answered by
Jane from San Diego

Take Highway 1. You will drive along the North California Coast/Big Sur, which is the best going south.

Stop at a small beach town, Cambria, to see what California Beachin' is all about---real different from East Coast Beachin'.

If you are into wine, skip LA and go inland to Paso Robles--the semi-unknown wine area of the Central Coast with about 320 wineries. AWESOME!!!!

In SF:

Alcatraz is a must. I recommend a walking tour of San Francisco Chinatown, it is a behind the scenes tour that is good.At Golden Gate Park, the Exploratorium is awesome. If you have a car, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to the beach town of Sausalito.

San Diego:

If it is a shoulder season (not hot/cold) go to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, rather than the zoo. You take a train to see the can also feed the giraffes! If not, go to the zoo, Balboa Park is worth walking, too.

Take a boat tour of the bay, you may see Navy pilots dropping SEALS in the water.

Visit the island of Coronado (California), best beaches in the world.

Visit the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy.

Comments (1)

Amazing answer, Jane! Love all these places! By the way, I'm a community manager here and I've helped you highlight the places in your answer on a map! In the future, you can do this yourself as you answer a question by simply typing the @-symbol followed by the name of the place. Take a look at your map next to your answer :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. Cambria (city)
  3. Paso Robles (city)
  4. Alcatraz (attraction)
  5. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  6. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  7. Exploratorium (attraction)
  8. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  9. Sausalito (city)
  10. San Diego (city)
  11. San Diego Zoo Safari Park (attraction)
  12. Balboa Park (attraction)
  13. Coronado (California) (city)
  14. Gaslamp Quarter (attraction)
  15. Little Italy (attraction)
comments (1)
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answered by
Chelsy from Los Angeles

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
  2. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum (attraction)
  3. Kelly's French Bakery (restaurant)
  4. Los Angeles (city)
  5. Santa Monica Pier (attraction)
  6. Adamson House Museum (attraction)
  7. Venice Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
  8. Abbot Kinney Blvd (attraction)
  9. Farmers Market (attraction)
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answered by
Valerie from Los Angeles

You have to drive down Hwy 101 to see the scenic Californian coast, avoid Hwy 5! 

Like Matthew mentioned above, make a stop in Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur (they are all towns right next to each other). I think Big Sur would be the most scenic spot for you guys. Right before you drive out of Carmel and into Big Sur, stop at Bixby Creek Bridge.

After (about a 20 min drive), check out McWay Falls. I always recommend this to people making this drive. This place is gorgeous. 

Drive into San Luis Obispo and visit Hearst Castle

Spend time in LA and when you head down to San Diego, stop in Carlsbad and take a stroll through the The Flower Fields

LA and San Diego are such big cities, a separate question is needed for all the fun things to do, see, and eat but these are great stops to make along the way. 

Have fun! 

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. Bixby Creek Bridge (attraction)
  3. McWay Falls (attraction)
  4. San Luis Obispo (city)
  5. Hearst Castle (attraction)
  6. The Flower Fields (attraction)
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