The Ultimate San Francisco to San Diego Road Trip Itinerary (2024 Guide)

If you’re going to be driving between San Francisco and San Diego, check out our scenic San Francisco to San Diego road trip itinerary!

San Francisco is the crown jewel of Northern California, whereas San Diego is a gem of Southern California.

These two incredible cities attract visitors from all over the globe thanks to their dynamic cultural offerings and famous landmarks.

For example, the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco is an architectural masterpiece, whereas the coastal hotspots of San Diego such as Pacific Beach and La Jolla Cove are stunning as well.

Though it’s a quick and easy flight from San Francisco to San Diego, considering driving between the two locations. California’s coastline has so much to offer, from the iconic Santa Monica Pier to the dramatic views of the Bixby Creek Bridge.

This article will outline an ideal San Francisco to San Diego drive itinerary. You’ll get to see all the highlights of California’s west coast, from idyllic cities like Santa Barbara to the sandy shores of Pfeiffer Beach.

You’ll see the Golden Gate Bridge, the famous Hollywood Sign, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and more. So much beauty, culture, history, and wildlife lies on the journey from San Francisco to San Diego, so get ready for the road trip of a lifetime!

How Long Is A San Francisco to San Diego Road Trip?

There are a few different ways to drive from San Francisco to San Diego. The most direct driving route covers just over 500 miles and takes about 8 hours with no stops.

So if efficiency is your goal, you could drive from San Francisco to San Diego in one day!

But for this article, we’ll be focusing on a more scenic San Francisco road trip that weaves along the California coast and covers some of the state’s top attractions!

There is so much to see between San Francisco and San Diego, from gorgeous beaches like Pebble Beach, Carmel Beach, Natural Bridges State Beach, Pismo Beach, and Laguna Beach, to vineyards, small towns, state parks, and more.

So we’ll be discussing the scenic route for this San Francisco to San Diego drive, which largely sticks to the famous Pacific Coast Highway.

The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the US’s most famous drives, and it trails the west coast of California. For most of this road trip itinerary, you’ll be traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway!

So following this itinerary, you will cover roughly 650 miles and have 12 hours of driving time. To really make the most of California’s Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll want to take your time and spend a few nights in various locations along the way.

We would recommend spending around 3-5 days on this San Francisco to San Diego road trip, with plenty of stops at California’s best attractions!

Mission Santa Barbara
The Old Mission of Santa Barbara is just one of the many cool attractions included in this road trip itinerary!

The Ultimate San Francisco To San Diego Road Trip Itinerary

So let’s kick off this epic San Francisco to San Diego road trip itinerary! Start your journey in San Francisco Bay, grab a rental car if you don’t already have a vehicle already, and hit the road.

For this particular road trip, you’ll often be following the Pacific Coast Highway. However, road closures are frequent, as this is a coastal road subject to wind, waves, and all sorts of weather conditions.

Currently, there are closures along the Central part of the Pacific Coast Highway just south of Big Sur, so you may have to make some detours on your drive from San Francisco to San Diego. Modify the itinerary as necessary, and check for local updates throughout your San Francisco road trip!

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a vibrant and iconic city known for its rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking landscapes. With its world-renowned landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, the city’s distinctive skyline is a testament to its unique blend of modern innovation and historical charm.

San Francisco’s hilly streets are lined with colorful Victorian houses, creating a picturesque setting that has captured the imagination of artists, writers, and filmmakers for generations.

Beyond its striking aesthetics, San Francisco is a melting pot of cultures, fostering a sense of inclusivity and acceptance that is deeply ingrained in its social fabric.

The city’s neighborhoods, each with its own character and personality, offer a delightful array of culinary experiences, from the bustling streets of Chinatown to the artisanal eateries of the Mission District. The tech boom in Silicon Valley has also left an indelible mark on San Francisco, making it a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Amidst the energy of the city, a laid-back attitude prevails, inviting both residents and visitors to enjoy a leisurely stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf, explore the vibrant murals of the Mission, or simply savor a fog-shrouded morning coffee overlooking the Bay – all of which contribute to the enchanting allure of this coastal gem.

From the famous Golden Gate Bridge to the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf, there is always something to see in San Francisco. Book a hop-on-hop-off bus tour around San Francisco to make the most of your time in the city and see all the sights efficiently!

Half Moon Bay

  • Driving time from San Francisco: 50 minutes

Half Moon Bay, a serene coastal enclave located just a short drive south of San Francisco, offers a tranquil escape from the bustling urban landscape.

Nestled between the dramatic cliffs of the Pacific coastline and the rolling hills of the California countryside, Half Moon Bay presents a captivating blend of natural beauty and small-town charm. Renowned for its stunning beaches and rugged shoreline, the area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Visitors can wander along the sandy shores of Half Moon Bay Beach, watch the dramatic waves crash against the cliffs at Mavericks Beach, or embark on scenic hikes along the coastal trails, immersing themselves in the breathtaking scenery that defines this coastal retreat.

Beyond its scenic landscapes, Half Moon Bay boasts a close-knit community that exudes a welcoming and laid-back atmosphere.

The town’s Main Street is lined with quaint boutiques, art galleries, and local eateries, where visitors can savor fresh seafood, indulge in farm-to-table cuisine, or browse for unique treasures crafted by local artisans.

The annual Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, a beloved tradition, draws crowds from near and far to celebrate the region’s agricultural heritage with pumpkin-themed festivities, lively parades, and vibrant displays of gourds in all shapes and sizes.

Whether seeking a peaceful seaside escape or a taste of authentic coastal living, Half Moon Bay offers a serene and captivating retreat that captures the essence of California’s coastal allure.

Find more things to do in the area with our list of the 15 best day trips from San Francisco!

Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay is a true gem of Northern California.

Santa Cruz

  • Driving time from Half Moon Bay: 1 hour

Next on your San Francisco to San Diego road trip is Santa Cruz. Framed by the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Cruz boasts a stunning coastline adorned with gorgeous beaches that beckon surfers, beachcombers, and sun-seekers alike. Natural Bridges State Beach is a gorgeous beach in Santa Cruz that offers amazing photo opportunities.

The city’s most iconic landmark, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, exudes vintage charm with its colorful rides and classic seaside amusements, making it a nostalgic haven for families and thrill-seekers.

As the gateway to the magnificent Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Santa Cruz offers unparalleled opportunities for marine exploration, from whale watching and kayaking to exploring tide pools teeming with fascinating marine life.

Santa Cruz’s unique character is deeply rooted in its diverse and creative community. The city is home to the University of California, Santa Cruz, known for its progressive academic programs and stunning hillside campus overlooking the bay.

The downtown area is a bustling hub of activity, where local boutiques, art galleries, and farm-to-table restaurants flourish. The Pacific Avenue district pulses with a bohemian vibe, showcasing street performers, musicians, and a thriving arts scene.

From the towering redwood forests of nearby Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to the vibrant cultural festivals that color the city’s calendar, Santa Cruz is packed with fun things to see and do and is an ideal stop as you cruise south along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Read next: 21 Best Things To Do In Monterey, California

Carmel By The Sea

  • Driving time from Santa Cruz: 50 minutes

A must-see on any San Francisco road trip is Carmel By The Sea. Situated along the rugged coastline of the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel By The Sea is a charming and enchanting village that has captured the hearts of artists, writers, and travelers for generations.

Characterized by its storybook architecture, quaint cottages, and cobblestone streets, Carmel exudes an old-world charm that transports visitors to a bygone era. The town’s architecture, which blends European influences with local craftsmanship, creates an idyllic atmosphere that is both timeless and captivating.

Strolling through the heart of Carmel, visitors are treated to a delightful array of art galleries, boutique shops, and gourmet restaurants, all nestled amidst lush gardens and meandering pathways. The white sand of Carmel Beach stretches along the coast, providing a serene backdrop for breathtaking sunsets and leisurely walks.

Carmel By The Sea also offers access to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and the renowned Pebble Beach golf courses.

Pebble Beach is revered for its iconic golf courses, including the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links. Pebble Beach attracts golf enthusiasts and professionals alike who come to experience its challenging fairways and breathtaking oceanfront views.

Beyond its greens, Pebble Beach encompasses a picturesque landscape of rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and an enchanting 17-mile Drive, offering a scenic journey through cypress groves, iconic landmarks, and stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Carmel By The Sea is also surrounded by state parks and wineries! Embark on a Carmel Valley wine-tasting tour if you’d like to dive into the vineyard culture of the California Coast.

Next on your road trip, you can continue south down California’s Pacific Coast Highway, passing the famous Bixby Creek Bridge on the way to Big Sur. However, due to current closures, you can’t continue past Big Sur down the California Pacific Coast Highway, so you’ll have to turn back north and go around on an inland route.

Big Sur

  • Driving time from Carmel By The Sea: 40 minutes

Big Sur is a classic stop on any California Pacific Coast Highway road trip. But as mentioned, current closures make it difficult to continue driving south past Big Sur. So you can skip Big Sur and just head inland after Carmel By The Sea to continue on to San Simeon.

Or you can head 40 minutes down to Big Sur and then just head back up to continue on your way instead of continuing south down the Pacific Coast Highway.

If you do choose to spend some time in Big Sur, you’re spoilt for options in terms of amazing things to see and do! The Bixby Creek Bridge is a must-see as you’re heading into town.

Big Sur’s enchanting charm has long captured the imagination of artists, writers, and travelers seeking inspiration and solace amidst its remote and untouched vistas. Pfeiffer Beach and iconic hiking trails like the McWay Falls Trail and the Ewoldsen Trail are also top locations in Big Sur.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a sanctuary of towering trees and tranquil rivers, where you can go hiking and camping. Big Sur’s eclectic blend of rustic retreats, charming inns, and cozy cabins offers a range of accommodations for those looking to immerse themselves in the region’s natural splendor and savor its serene isolation.

After enjoying the Big Sur Coast, you’ll have to backtrack north up the Pacific Coast Highway before heading slightly inland to continue south on your San Francisco to San Diego road trip.

Bixby Creek Bridge
The iconic Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur

San Simeon

  • Driving time from Big Sur: 3 hours with current Pacific Coast Highway road closures (2 hours without road closures)

The next stop on your incredible San Francisco road trip is San Simeon! At the heart of this charming area stands the opulent Hearst Castle, a testament to the grandeur and vision of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

Perched atop the Enchanted Hill, the castle’s lavish architecture, lush gardens, and impressive art collection offer a glimpse into the glamour of a bygone era. The castle’s terraced pools and sweeping ocean views create a setting of unparalleled beauty that has attracted countless visitors from around the world.

Beyond the splendor of Hearst Castle, San Simeon boasts a pristine shoreline that invites travelers to explore its rugged beaches and vibrant tide pools.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, located just north of San Simeon, offers a rare opportunity to witness thousands of magnificent elephant seals lounging on the shores and engaging in their captivating rituals.

The nearby coastal cliffs and rolling hills provide a picturesque backdrop for outdoor adventures such as hiking, birdwatching, and horseback riding.

San Simeon stands as a captivating destination that offers a harmonious blend of culture and natural beauty. It’s a stunning place to stop on any San Francisco to San Diego road trip!

Planning more road trips along the US west coast? Here is our itinerary for driving from San Francisco to Seattle!

Morro Bay

  • Driving time from San Simeon: 35 minutes

Another gem on the California coast is Morro Bay, a charming seaside town known for its iconic Morro Rock and picturesque harbor. The massive volcanic peak, Morro Rock, stands sentinel at the entrance of the bay, creating a striking backdrop that is synonymous with the town’s identity.

Morro Bay itself is a haven for marine life and water enthusiasts, offering opportunities for kayaking, sailing, and stand-up paddleboarding.

The Embarcadero, a bustling waterfront street, is lined with quaint shops, seafood restaurants, and art galleries, inviting visitors to explore the town’s maritime heritage and indulge in freshly caught seafood while watching boats sway in the gentle waters.

Morro Bay’s natural beauty extends beyond its harbor, as it encompasses diverse ecosystems that attract birdwatchers, hikers, and nature lovers. The Morro Bay National Estuary is a haven for migratory birds and serves as a vital habitat for a variety of wildlife species.

The surrounding state parks and natural reserves, including Morro Bay State Park and Montana de Oro State Park, offer hiking trails that lead to breathtaking coastal vistas, secluded beaches, and wildflower-strewn landscapes.

This glorious beach town is a highlight of the Pacific Coast Highway and is an excellent place to watch the sunset as you drive south to San Diego.

San Luis Obispo

  • Driving time from Morro Bay: 15 minutes

Just 15 minutes away from Morro Bay is San Luis Obispo, another convenient stop on your San Francisco to San Diego road trip.

San Luis Obispo, often referred to as SLO, is a vibrant and welcoming city nestled in the heart of California’s Central Coast. Known for its charming downtown area, SLO exudes a friendly and relaxed atmosphere that captivates both residents and visitors.

The city’s iconic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa stands as a testament to its rich history, offering a glimpse into its Spanish colonial past.

The downtown core is a hub of activity, with tree-lined streets, sidewalk cafes, and a diverse array of shops and boutiques. The historic Thursday night Farmers’ Market is a beloved local tradition, drawing crowds for its lively atmosphere, street food, and abundance of fresh produce.

Surrounded by rolling hills and verdant vineyards, San Luis Obispo is situated within close proximity to some of California’s finest wine regions, including the Edna Valley and Paso Robles.

Wine enthusiasts can embark on wine-tasting tours to sample world-class vintages, while outdoor enthusiasts can explore the nearby hiking trails, such as Bishop Peak and Cerro San Luis, which provide panoramic views of the city and its picturesque surroundings.

Or enjoy an adventurous day out in the Santa Monica Mountains with a guided off-road tour! This adventurous hummer tour takes you through the gorgeous landscapes outside San Luis Obispo and through rural California towns.

Whether it’s wine tasting, hiking, shopping, or off-roading through the mountains, there are tons of cool things to do in San Luis Obispo.

Pismo Beach

  • Driving time from San Luis Obispo: 15 minutes

The next stop on your San Francisco to San Diego drive is Pismo Beach, a laid-back beach town on the California coast. Renowned for its picturesque coastline, Pismo Beach boasts golden sands that stretch for miles, inviting visitors to sunbathe, stroll along the water’s edge, or hit the waves with a surf lesson.

One of the town’s most distinctive features is the towering Pismo Pier, which offers breathtaking views of the ocean and serves as a hub for fishing, sunset gazing, and leisurely walks. The annual Monarch Butterfly Grove, located nearby, provides a captivating spectacle as thousands of butterflies gather during their winter migration, creating a magical and fleeting natural wonder.

Pismo Beach’s relaxed atmosphere extends beyond its shores, as the town’s bustling downtown area offers a delightful blend of boutiques, art galleries, and seafood eateries. The famous clam chowder served here is a local delicacy, drawing food enthusiasts to savor its flavors while enjoying oceanfront dining.

The surrounding vineyards and wineries of the Edna Valley wine region provide opportunities for wine tasting and exploration.

Outdoor enthusiasts can hike along the Shell Beach Bluff Trail, offering panoramic vistas of the coastline, or go off-roading in the Oceano Dunes, a unique and exhilarating adventure.

Pismo Beach embodies the essence of a classic California beach town, where a tranquil atmosphere meets diverse recreational opportunities. As you continue south down the California Pacific Coast Highway, get ready for your next stop: Santa Barbara.

Pismo Beach
Surfers of all levels will have a blast in the waves at Pismo Beach!

Santa Barbara

  • Driving time from Pismo Beach: 1 hour and 25 minutes

Nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara exudes an irresistible charm that has earned it the moniker “The American Riviera.”

This beautiful beach city boasts a perfect blend of Mediterranean-style architecture, palm-lined streets, and a laid-back yet sophisticated atmosphere. You’d be wise to spend at least a day here, exploring downtown Santa Barbara and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley.

The historic Mission Santa Barbara, often referred to as the “Queen of the Missions,” stands as a testament to the city’s rich heritage and Spanish influence, while the iconic red-tiled roofs and white-washed walls of downtown buildings contribute to its timeless allure.

Stearns Wharf, a hotspot in Santa Barbara, offers a picturesque setting for shopping, dining, and panoramic ocean views, while the Funk Zone, an artsy neighborhood, captivates visitors with its vibrant street art, galleries, and wine-tasting rooms.

The natural beauty of Santa Barbara is equally captivating, with pristine beaches inviting sunbathers, surfers, and kayakers to embrace the coastal lifestyle. The Santa Ynez Mountains provide a stunning backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts, offering hiking and biking trails that lead to panoramic viewpoints.

The nearby Santa Barbara Botanic Garden showcases a diverse collection of native plant species within a tranquil setting. The city’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its local cuisine, with farm-to-table dining experiences that highlight the region’s bountiful harvest and culinary creativity.

One of the best things to do in Santa Barbara is take a day trip out to Channel Islands National Park. This stunning chain of islands off the California coast offers excellent kayaking and wildlife spotting.

From frolicking amongst the marine life to exploring the cosmopolitan town, Santa Barbara is one of the most amazing places to visit in Southern California.

Find more things to do in Santa Barbara here!


  • Driving time from Santa Barbara: 1 hour and 25 minutes

After thoroughly enjoying Santa Barbara, head into downtown Los Angeles to get a taste of Hollywood! If you’re not a big city lover, you could skip this step and just drive straight from Santa Barbara to Santa Monica.

But a San Francisco to San Diego drive is a great opportunity to explore the highlights of Southern California, with Hollywood being one of them!

Hollywood, synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, is a legendary district in Los Angeles that has captivated the world’s imagination for decades.

As the epicenter of the global film and television industry, Hollywood is home to the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame, where the stars of screen, stage, and music are immortalized on the sidewalks, drawing millions of tourists each year.

The iconic Hollywood Sign, perched atop the Hollywood Hills, stands as a symbol of dreams and aspirations, offering panoramic views of the sprawling city below.

The TCL Chinese Theatre, with its elaborate architecture and celebrity handprints, represents the heart of Hollywood’s cinematic heritage, while the Dolby Theatre hosts the annual Academy Awards ceremony, cementing the district’s place in entertainment history.

Beyond its showbiz allure, Hollywood is a vibrant neighborhood with a rich history and diverse cultural scene. The Hollywood Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater, hosts world-class musical performances against the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills, creating a unique and unforgettable concert experience.

Griffith Observatory, nestled in Griffith Park, offers a chance to explore the cosmos through its telescopes and interactive exhibits while enjoying breathtaking views of the city skyline.

Hollywood’s trendy neighborhoods, like West Hollywood and Melrose Avenue, buzz with artistic expression, offering trendy boutiques, art galleries, and innovative culinary experiences. From star-studded events to a dynamic urban landscape, Hollywood continues to enchant visitors with its energy, creativity, and the allure of the silver screen.

Read next: The 21 Best Things To Do In Hollywood

Santa Monica

  • Driving time from Hollywood: 30 minutes

Next on your San Francisco to San Diego road trip is the iconic beachfront city of Santa Monica, a sun-soaked haven located on the edge of Los Angeles.

The famous Santa Monica Pier, adorned with a colorful Ferris wheel and nostalgic amusements, epitomizes the city’s laid-back yet lively spirit. The bustling Third Street Promenade offers a pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining experience, with street performers, upscale boutiques, and an eclectic array of restaurants that showcase the diverse culinary landscape.

And of course, as one of the most visited beach towns in Southern California, you’ll have to spend some time soaking in the sun in Santa Monica.

A great way to explore Santa Monica and the nearby Venice Beach is by electric bike! Ride from beach town to beach town, soaking in the coastal views of the Pacific Ocean and enjoying that warm Southern California breeze.

Santa Monica’s allure extends beyond its shores, as Palisades Park provides a scenic escape with lush green spaces, palm-lined walkways, and stunning views of the coastline.

The city’s commitment to sustainability and outdoor living is evident in its bike-friendly infrastructure and the picturesque Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which offers hiking trails and sweeping vistas just a short drive away.

The California heritage of Santa Monica is reflected in its architectural gems, like the historic Casa del Mar and the art deco-style Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome.

From exploring Santa Monica and the neighboring beach towns by bike to strolling along the famous Santa Monica Pier, there is no shortage of fun things to do here. Next stop on your San Francisco to San Diego road trip, head south into Orange County and explore more beach towns on the California coast!

Santa Monica
Santa Monica offers so much in terms of entertainment and attractions!

Huntington Beach

  • Driving time from Santa Monica: 1 hour

Huntington Beach is a must-visit while driving through Orange County along the California Pacific Coast Highway.

Often referred to as “Surf City USA,” Huntington Beach is known for its surfing culture and endless stretches of sandy beaches. The Huntington Beach Pier stands as a symbol of the city’s vibrant seaside culture, offering sweeping ocean views and opportunities for fishing and people-watching.

The annual US Open of Surfing draws surfers and spectators alike to witness world-class competitions and celebrate the sport’s heritage. Surf lovers can also check out Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, which pays homage to the city’s surfing legacy and showcases vintage boards, memorabilia, and art that highlight its integral role in the sport’s history.

Beyond the waves, Huntington Beach boasts a lively and diverse community with a range of recreational activities and entertainment options. The bustling downtown area, known as Main Street, is a hub of activity, lined with trendy boutiques, surf shops, and a variety of dining establishments.

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve offers a peaceful retreat for birdwatching and exploring wetlands, while Central Park provides ample green space for picnicking, sports, and relaxation.

The city’s commitment to arts and culture is evident in its vibrant arts scene, with regular festivals, art walks, and live performances that add to its energetic atmosphere.

Whether it’s catching a spectacular sunset over the Pacific or experiencing the thrill of catching a wave, Huntington Beach is a beloved destination on the California coast that should definitely be on your San Francisco to San Diego road trip itinerary.

Looking for more fun things to do near the City of Angels? Here are the top day trips from Los Angeles!

Laguna Beach

  • Driving time from Huntington Beach: 30 minutes

Laguna Beach, a picturesque coastal gem perched along the stunning Orange County shoreline, exudes a unique blend of artistic inspiration, natural beauty, and upscale living.

The town’s breathtaking beaches, framed by rugged cliffs and crystal-clear waters, create an idyllic setting for sunbathing, tidepool exploration, and water sports.

The iconic Main Beach, with its iconic lifeguard tower and volleyball courts, serves as a vibrant gathering spot for locals and visitors alike.

Artistry is deeply woven into the fabric of Laguna Beach, evident in its numerous galleries, public art installations, and the world-renowned Pageant of the Masters, a unique production that brings famous artworks to life through live performances.

Hit up downtown Laguna Beach to browse through the boutiques, restaurants, and cafes, or take to the coast and explore the coves and hidden beaches along the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

From its rich artistic heritage to its breathtaking vistas and upscale coastal living, Laguna Beach invites travelers to indulge in a luxurious seaside escape that is equally enchanting and inspiring.

After enjoying the beauty of Laguna Beach, continue south down the California Pacific Coast Highway! You’re about to officially enter San Diego County and your road trip down the west coast of California will be coming to a close.

San Diego

  • Driving time from Laguna Beach: 1 hour and 15 minutes

You’ve made it to San Diego! This San Francisco to San Diego drive has been action-packed, but make sure you conserve your energy for exploring the mighty city of San Diego. From downtown San Diego to the coastal neighborhoods, state parks, and beaches, you’ll need at least 3 days to see it all!

You’ll want time to explore Balboa Park, visit the San Diego Zoo, and go surfing at Pacific Beach. Check out the famous Hotel del Coronado, go for a coastal walk in Torrey Pines, enjoy the views from Sunset Cliffs, or go kayaking with sea lions in La Jolla Cove.

San Diego is packed with amazing attractions, and it’s a true highlight of West Coast California. So finish up your San Francisco to San Diego road trip with a bang and live life to the fullest in San Diego!

Hit the road with these exciting road trips from San Diego!

San Diego
Enjoy exploring San Diego and all the city’s wonders.

Wrapping Up

We hope you’ve enjoyed this San Francisco to San Diego drive itinerary! It could also be considered a Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary since you pretty much drive along the famous Highway 1 for most of the trip.

You can also reverse this itinerary and drive from San Diego to San Francisco with the same stops. Or consider exploring more of Northern California, or even head north to Oregon or Washington if you have time. The Pacific Coast Highway continues all the way up to Olympia, Washington, so there is lots more to see.

However you chose to complete your San Francisco to San Diego road trip, it was a blast and you’re keen to come back and explore more of beautiful California!

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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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