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Everett, Massachusetts

Southern California

Trip up the coast


Will be heading to California in August. Discarding flying days will only have 5 days. Is driving from San Diego to SF unreasonable? Better off LA to SF? Not ready interested in Wine Country. Itinerary suggestions welcome. Thanks in advance!

5 Answers

top answer by
Robert Glenn from Manhattan Beach

LA to SF along Highway one. Stopi in Santa Barbara; Ragged Point Inn in Big Sur; and Carmel

3 thanks

answered by
Courtney from San Diego

I just did San Diego to Seattle in 2 days! The entire coastline drive is amazing and you are going to be taking the best stretch of it, at the best time of year!

If you're starting in San Diego just beware the traffic heading north into Los Angeles. I like the Highway 1 drive which starts (from the south) near Dana Point and Laguna Beach which is definitely a fun town to drive through or spend half a day. Great waves and good access if you're into that.

Anyway, just to add on what others have mentioned. I agree about Big Sur and I would also add Carmel By the Sea -  they are relatively close to one another. Honestly if I had to pick between those two I would pick Carmel-by-the-Sea. You said you're not interested in wine country - but if you like wine there's a ton of tasting within the charming little town. The beach here is beautiful. If you want to splurge a bit and appreciate the outdoor vistas from a gorgeous hotel - stay at La Playa Hotel Carmel-By-The-Sea It's one of my favorite hotels of all time, hands down. If you want novelty, there will be a brand new hotel open, in time for your trip called Hotel Carmel.

Carmel is adjacent to Monterrey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium is worth planning a day around. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Laguna Beach (city)
  2. Big Sur (city)
  3. Carmel By the Sea (city)
  4. La Playa Hotel Carmel-By-The-Sea (hotel)
  5. Monterey Bay Aquarium (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Crystal from Anchorage


Five days to drive from San Diego to San Francisco is not unreasonable if this is one of those "it's about the journey, not the destination" kind of trips. You could easily spend the entire five days in either one of those cities alone or all five days in Los Angeles.

But it is definitely possible to make the trip in five days. Even taking the coastal highway (highly recommended) it is about 650 miles and about 13 hours of driving time (not including stops for food/gas/sights).

Your itinerary could look something like this: 

Day 1: Spend in San Diego. There are plenty of things to do there, and personally I really like it.

Day 2: Los Angeles. Try to avoid rush hour times when getting there. Again, there are tons of things to see and do here. You could spend the night here or continue north if you would prefer to stay somewhere more peaceful like Ojai or even beautiful Spanish colonial Santa Barbara.

Day 3: Following the coast the next place to rest your head could be the Big Sur/Monterey area. It will be a scenic drive with lots of potential pit stops for cool towns and natural beauty.

Day 4: Complete the drive to San Francisco swinging by California Coastal National Monument and/or Big Basin State Park.

Day 5: Yours to  play in San Francisco!

This is just a sample and there are a million different ways to do it. Here are a couple of resources to help you brainstorm and plan where you might want to go:

Of course if that all sounds like too much driving, base yourself in a city of your choice and do lots of day trips. Then you can sleep in the same bed every night. That of course is just a matter of preference.

Happy travels!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Diego (city)
  2. San Francisco (city)
  3. Los Angeles (city)
  4. Ojai (city)
  5. Santa Barbara (city)
  6. Big Sur (city)
  7. Monterey (city)
  8. California Coastal National Monument (attraction)
  9. Big Basin State Park (attraction)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Sam from Southern California

If you are arriving into LA for your CA trip, drive south to San Diego for a day trip, then maybe drive up the 1 or 101 to SF. It's going to be packed with fun food, open spaces, great surf and awesome drives. Safe travels

1 thanks

answered by

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hearst Castle (attraction)
  2. San Luis Obispo (city)
  3. Carmel By the Sea (city)
  4. Big Sur (city)
  5. Santa Barbara (city)
comments (1)

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