California is a beautiful state but everyone knows Southern California (SoCal) and Northern California (NorCal) are very different. From the scenery and weather to the mannerisms of the locals, there are so many unique factors that make up the different areas of California.
In SoCal we have the love for authentic Mexican food, as it is closer to the border and a stronger love for fast food chains. Unlike NorCal which is thriving on the farm to table movement. In San Francisco, you can expect windy, gloomy days versus the beautiful warm, sunshine-filled Los Angeles days. When people think of California beaches, they are thinking of SoCal sandy beaches. There you can always find people swimming and tanning. NorCal beaches, on the other hand, are very different from the stereotypical California beaches, but still so beautiful in their own way. If you are in Los Angeles and are needing a change of scenery, grab a travel buddy on GirlCrew today and plan your LA to San Francisco road trip.
Stop 1: Santa Monica
Not too far from the heart of Los Angeles is Santa Monica. This bustling city is the perfect first stop on your LA to San Francisco road trip. Take a quick stop and ride the Ferris wheel or win a stuffed animal on the infamous Santa Monica Pier. Amusement parks, not your thing? Grab a bite to eat or do some retail therapy on Third Street Promenade. The Promenade is filled with lively street performers, stores and yummy restaurants.
Stop 2: Malibu
After a little over a half hour in traffic, take another detour in Malibu. If you are only wanting a quick stop, sit in the sand and dip your toes in the water on the beautiful beaches. If you are wanting to spend a bit more time in this gorgeous town, adventure onto a Malibu Wine Safari, where you can feed zoo animals while enjoying a nice glass of wine from their winery.
Stop 3: Santa Barbara
Drive an hour up the coast to reach the beautiful beach town of Santa Barbara. Known for its town of Isla Vista, rent a bike and ride around the coastline. Then go shopping along the streets before stopping for a bite to eat. Freebirds is a famous burrito chain that started right here in Santa Barbara and is worth the stop on your LA to San Francisco road trip.
Stop 4: Pismo Beach
An hour and a half from Santa Barbara lies the beautiful Pismo Beach. There are a ton of outdoor activities to choose from in San Luis Obispo County. Take a break and go horseback riding along the beach or explore the sand dunes in a four-wheel ATV. Feeling hungry? Stop and grub on some seafood at one of their many great restaurants in the area, like SeaVenture Restaurant.
Stop 5: Cambria
An hour north of Pismo Beach is the coastal town of Cambria. Take a walk on Moonstone Beach and gather a few of their shiny gemstones this beautiful beach has to offer. When you’re done, drive up to the national historic landmark of Hearst Castle, 6 miles north of Cambria. Hearst Castle is home to 56 rooms and 61 bathrooms, movie theater, airport, and many more attractions; definitely worth the detour.
Stop 6: Big Sur
After a long 3.5 hours of driving, you will be ready to take a break in Big Sur; one of the beauties that the California coast has to offer. Stop to surf the waves or spend the night camping along the coastline. Walk along Sand Dollar Beach and get rich in shells before hitting the road again.
Stop 7: Monterey
About an hour from Big Sur is Monterey Bay. You have to go and see the highly praised Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is filled with all the wonders of the bay. If you are feeling hungry, stop at the historic Fisherman’s Wharf, before continuing your trek to Pier 39 in San Francisco.
Stop 8: Santa Cruz
Only a forty-five minute drive away, Santa Cruz is the best last place to stop on your LA to San Francisco road trip! There are so many tourist attractions to stop at here. To ride some roller coasters and enjoy the fair-like atmosphere visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. After all the fun, take a breath at the gorgeous phenomenon Natural Bridges State Beach, before making it to your final destination!
Stop 9: San Francisco
After about an hour north from Santa Cruz is San Francisco! Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge with your road trip girls, and take a ton of selfies! Travel back in time at Alcatraz Island, feel the love visiting all of the Hearts of San Francisco and so much more!
To see all the best places to dance, eat and explore San Francisco visit GirlCrew.com. Join the GirlCrew San Francisco group to see what your fellow natives suggest for the long weekend and make some new friends along the way. Did we miss one of your favorite stops on the LA to San Francisco road trip? Let us know in the comments below! If this feels like too much organization – pop over to GirlCrew Premium where you can kick back and enjoy hosted events. We know where to eat once you arrive in San Francisco. Check out some great farmers markets while you are there to taste food from San Francisco’s finest merchants.
*GirlCrew may benefit from bookings as an affiliate partner of Booking.com.
It does not add any extra cost to you, and helps support our team, website, and app 🙂 Thanks in Advance!