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Brian from Vancouver asked

1 Week Road Trip from SF to Santa Monica- must see stops down the coast?

Hello all,

I would love some of Trippy's expert input on the must see stops down the Californian coastal route.

My two friends and I have one week between leaving San Francisco and arriving in Santa Monica.

We want our first stop to be in Yosemite National park before we take the coastal route.  Any advice on how long or what we should do in Yosemite would be appreciated.

We are into all sports, nature, craft beer breweries/bars, hiking, outlet stores, historical areas and of course any hidden gem food recommendations.



San Francisco (California) Santa Monica (California)   Yosemite National Park (California)   Big Sur (California)   Los Angeles (California)   California (CA)

7 Answers
top answer by
Kristal from San Francisco


It depends on how much you want to see, you could easily spend 4 days in Yosemite - I guess it's all about how much nature you want to see and how into hiking you are. A few absolute must sees in Yosemite National Park are: 

- the tunnel view - make sure you go and just get a view from there - amazing at sunset!

- Tuolomne River

Glacier Point - the view is amazing and the hike is an easy one

Mariposa Grove - the walks/hikes around there are great simply for the view of all the sequoias (largest grove of sequoias) - you can take a tram ride for info on the sequoias 

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir - I really like hiking here, the dam is beautiful and there are hikes you can take to waterfalls. If not it's an easy walk and a nice place to stop for a picnic. 

- Waterfalls: Bridalveil FallUpper Yosemite FallsLower Yosemite Falls.

Other things to see along the coast: 

If you're going to Yosemite National Park you can drive to Tahoe CityLake Tahoe - it's gorgeous and there's great food - for breakfast it doesn't get much better than Log Cabin Caffe (blog post about it here). Drinks are fun at Chambers Landing Bar & Grill. Desserts and drinks are amazing at Cottonwood Restaurant.

Carmel - quiet beach town with great views of the water - 17 mile drive

Morro Bay - beach town

Hearst Castle - Just a stop for a few hours if you want to see it

Santa Barbara - beach town, laid back

For San Francisco foodie recommendations, look at other Trippy questions - I have answered many, here's the most recent one:

Must sees:

Ferry Building Marketplace - If you're a foodie, you'll love walking around this place and just enjoying the different restaurant and food options. Worthy stops inside: Cowgirl Creamery for some cheese - I love the Mt. Tam brie. Acme Bread Company for some bread - eat it with the cheese! Blue Bottle Coffee if you like coffee - I like their affogatos. Hog Island Oyster Co., Incfor oysters, grilled cheese and clam chowder. Frog Hollow Farm Cafe for avocado toast. Miette Cakes for sweet treats.

Review of Hog Island here.

Review of Frog Hollow Farm here.

- Mission District - There are new restaurants popping up every second here, but if you're down to walk and explore - this neighborhood is great. I also feel like tourists don't really visit this area and it's definitely worth the trip. For foodie destinations: La Taqueria(best burritos in SF - make sure you ask for it dorado), Tartine bakery - one of SF's most well-known bakeries, Myriad Gastro Pub - great appetizers and lamb sandwich, Little Star Pizza - great deep dish pizza. There's a ton of places, be adventurous and pick something that looks great!

Marin Headlands - This is just over the bridge on the north side, but it's definitely worth a trip out there - the views of the bridge are spectacular - definitely one of my favorite places.

Golden Gate Park - there's so much to do, but a few hours will give you a great escape from a city feeling and make you feel like you're somewhere else. It's fun to rent a boat to row around Stow Lake.

Food places that can't be missed:

B. Patisserie - GET THE KOUIGN AMAN - clearly i'm excited about it haha

20th Century Cafe - if you like honey - their honey cake it AMAZING!

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse - get their early and get the cruffin - you need to be there by 8:30, wait in line and they come out at nine - trust me it's worth it

Chantal Guillon Patisserie - make sure you go to the Howard location - they serve breakfast and all their desserts and they are great!

Rove Kitchen - hands down best fried chicken sandwich ever!!!

Sushirrito - SOMA - make sure you check locations for hours - all locations are different. Sushi burritos definitely worth trying!

For Los Angeles:

Tito's Tacos Mexican Restaurant - not traditional but delicious!

The Apple Pan - still one of my favorite burgers and pies in LA

Stout Burgers & Beers - open til 4 am and they serve burgers and beer - what more do you want? :)

Hide Sushi - amazing, affordable sushi

Il Pastaio - great Italian place in Beverly Hills, with still reasonable pricing

Urth Caffe - a cafe that is so LA, Vinny Chase lived there haha. If you went to LA and didn't go here - did you even go to LA? 

- Get a view from Griffith Observatory

- Hike Runyon Canyon Park

- Great brunch at Blu Jam Cafe

- AMAZING french toast Square One Dining

- Best margaritas and Mexican food at Paco's Tacos

Reviews and a lot more information at my blog, Eat and Escape.


Let me know if you have any questions.


Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Yosemite National Park (park)
  2. Glacier Point (attraction)
  3. Mariposa Grove (attraction)
  4. Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (attraction)
  5. Bridalveil Fall (attraction)
  6. Upper Yosemite Falls (attraction)
  7. Lower Yosemite Falls (attraction)
  8. Yosemite National Park (park)
  9. Tahoe City (city)
  10. Lake Tahoe (attraction)
  11. Log Cabin Caffe (restaurant)
  12. Chambers Landing Bar & Grill (attraction)
  13. Cottonwood Restaurant (restaurant)
  14. Carmel (city)
  15. Morro Bay (city)
  16. Hearst Castle (attraction)
  17. Santa Barbara (city)
  18. San Francisco (city)
  19. Tito's Tacos Mexican Restaurant (restaurant)
  20. The Apple Pan (restaurant)
  21. Stout Burgers & Beers (restaurant)
  22. Hide Sushi (restaurant)
  23. Il Pastaio (restaurant)
  24. Urth Caffe (restaurant)
  25. Griffith Observatory (attraction)
  26. Runyon Canyon Park (attraction)
  27. Blu Jam Cafe (restaurant)
  28. Square One Dining (restaurant)
  29. Paco's Tacos (restaurant)
likes (7) thanks
answered by
Alexis from Baltimore, Maryland

There is a ghost town in the Sierra Nevadas called Bodie. It is sprawling and it's incredibly well preserved. It's not very far outside of Yosemite, although a bit off the beaten path (3 miles of bumpy dirt road to get there) but it is really worth going out of you way for. I have never seen anything like it before! 

Wiki Page

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bodie (city)
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answered by
Joy from Los Angeles

Go camping at Big Sur and go on several hikes. My favorite is the McWay Waterfall Trailhead- real easy and you get a view of waterfall falling straight onto the beach. Bixby Creek Bridge has an amazing view also. There are also several spots you can go river tubing. Pfeiffer State Beach has purple sand- gorgeous at sunset. Another good place to stop is Santa Barbara. I went to college here and there are tons of great hikes, beaches, and a downtown scene. Have a great road trip! It's my favorite one!

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. McWay Waterfall Trailhead (attraction)
  3. Bixby Creek Bridge (attraction)
  4. Pfeiffer State Beach (attraction)
  5. Santa Barbara (city)
likes (4) thanks
answered by
Jo from New York City

If you can go a bit north, Avenue of the Giants is awesome. Fern Canyon and the beach that's by Fern Canyon in the same national park are to die for. Go for sunset, KILLER views and no tourists, lots of wildlife. Route 1 is a blast, just make plenty of time to stop along the way, it's gorgeous!! The state parks on the coast are cool too, and buy a pass at one you can get into the rest of them for free the same day.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Avenue of the Giants (attraction)
  2. Fern Canyon (attraction)
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answered by
Richard from Long Beach, California

I would stop Monterey Santa CruzMorro Bay Don't miss out on Hearst Castle.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Monterey (city)
  2. Santa Cruz (city)
  3. Morro Bay (city)
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answered by
Gil from Corona

Yosemite National Park and the coast are two distinct things. Things you don't want to miss on the coast are The Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17 Mile Dr and Hearst Castle. Everything else is just beautiful vistas, beaches, and hairpin turns. Stop and jump in the ocean if you'd like. Stay on highway 1 out of Oxnard thru Point Mugu State Park and Malibu Beach to Santa Monica.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Yosemite National Park (park)
  2. Monterey Bay Aquarium (attraction)
  3. 17 Mile Dr (attraction)
  4. Hearst Castle (attraction)
  5. Oxnard (city)
  6. Point Mugu State Park (attraction)
  7. Malibu Beach (attraction)
  8. Santa Monica (city)
likes (2) thanks
answered by
Haleigh from Paris

As a California native I'll take a run out this one from North to South! These should keep you busy!

  • Big Sur (need I say more)
  • Hearst Castle (amazing views and history)
  • Solvang (old Danish settlement)
  • Sante Ynez & Los Olivos (wine country)
  • Cold Springs Tavern (an amazing place to eat)
  • Knapps Castle (spectacular ruins)
  • Santa Barbara (for eating, hiking, shopping, beach & more!)
  • Montecito (shops and dine on Coast Village Road)
  • Butterfly Beach
  • Santa Claus Beach
  • Leo Carillo Beach (off highway one north of Malibu)
  • Malibu Country Mart

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