One Week Itinerary Road Trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

You’re planning your next road journey starting from San Francisco to Los Angeles? This 7-day road trip route beginning in SF through LA will take you through all the major attractions of California’s California coast!

A great way to take in the Californian landscape and its unique urban areas is to travel in an automobile without a doubt. When you’re on two wheels you are able to drive through the coasts of the Pacific Ocean coast and dream about the waves. You’ll be able to swiftly travel from one place to the next and carry along with you all the hats, lipsticks sandals, towels, and lipstick you’ll require!

This is the reason it is why a Pacific Coast Highway road trip schedule starting from San Francisco to Los Angeles is the most ideal Californian journey.

The first thing to do is to rent the car (or locate a friend who has one!) and begin making plans. In this article, I will share ideas as well as suggestions to plan a seven-day San Francisco – Los Angeles road journey through and along the Californian coast.

Naturally, it is possible that you could quickly change this plan and do the opposite Los Angeles- San Francisco road journey (check out the other blog post that I’ve written about the most popular stops along route LA up to San Francisco drive!)

I normally prefer using to compare the prices of rental cars and choose the most affordable option. You can use the form below to determine the cost of the rental car you choose from San Fran to L.A.

  • Day 1 & 2: San Francisco
  • Day 3 Monterey and Carmel By-The Sea, Big Sur
  • Day 4: Hearst Castle, Cambria, Paso Robles
  • Day 5: Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach
  • Day 6 Solvang as well Santa Barbara
  • Day 7: Los Angeles
  • FAQ Route Trip starting from San Francisco to Los Angeles
  • WAIT! Here’s more info for you!

This itinerary is a comprehensive list of all the things you’d like to visit on your journey between San Francisco to L.A. It’s crowded, certain, but it’s also is doable. I recommend leaving earlier in the day in order to get the most of it however if you’re looking for a less comfortable experience, you are welcome to skip a few places. You’ll surely become awed by the area in any case and a return trip is in the future.

In the next day, you’ll not require a car, so now let’s go!

Day 1 & 2: San Francisco

San Francisco is famous for everything you can imagine. I suggest beginning your journey on foot, as the heart city of San Francisco is best explored without the hassle of searching for parking.

Before we begin with our plan, I’d like to suggest two combos/ tours that could assist you in saving time and money when you visit San Francisco.

If you’re planning on taking the time to take a trip to Alcatraz Island and visit the city on a hop on the hop off bus, then you’ll be able to save money using this combination premium hop-on-hop-off bus ticket as well as an Alcatraz Island visit.

If you’re only given one day to spare or are looking to maximize your time, take a look at tours like the San Francisco City Sights, Muir Woods, and Alcatraz day tour. The full-day tour will take you to 15 destinations in one day. You’ll be able to experience all the major attractions of San Francisco including Alcatraz, Chinatown, and many of the most well-known neighborhoods like The Castro and The Mission.

Day 1. Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz & Chinatown

On the initial day of your San Francisco road trip, begin your trek north to Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf and explore the stores (like Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace on 900 North Point St).

On the Wharf, there is also views from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to your left and the sea lion colony to your sea lions in front of you. Or, visit one of the many museums located in this bustling area in San Francisco (my favorite is the Musee Mecanique located on Pier 45, featuring cool vintage coin-operated games and arcade machines from another time).

From here, walk east along the Embarcadero. You’ll pass by the well-known Pier 39 (another shopping paradise) and within under 30 minutes and you’ll be at The Ferry Building. It’s an absolute paradise for foodies who would like to experience of old-fashioned San Francisco.

means from here there are two excellent alternatives. You can take a boat trip around Alcatraz Island and listen to the tales of criminals who attempted to flee the island. It also takes you through the Golden Gate Bridge for spectacular photos. The island won’t be visited in its entirety, but this one-hour and 30 minutes tour is great for people who have a limited amount of time. You can book online to avoid lines.

= Another option is to go to Alcatraz and experience the famous prison for yourself. Instead of buying the ticket on its own (which you could certainly do directly at the Pier) I recommend taking a look at this tour which includes Alcatraz as well as a visit to Muir Woods and much more I believe it is the best value.

Once you’ve returned to land, on the opposite side of the street, you’ll find an attraction called the San Francisco Railway Museum which is where you’ll be able to visualize how the locals traveled through town in the iconic streetcars before car-sharing apps saw the dawn of the day. Museum’s entry point is situated on the opposite part of the waterfront located at the number 77 Steuart St.

To stop for lunch in the area I’ve always enjoyed Boulette Larder and Balibar which is an easy cafe with a French theme within the Ferry Building. If you’re happy and satisfied you can walk to Washington St at Drumm St and then turn to the west. On the horizon, you’ll spot the iconic Tower Transamerica Pyramid ( 600 Montgomery St).

After visiting the highest point of the pyramid-shaped structure begin your day by perusing the books in City Lights, the city’s most well-known bookshop and publisher located at 261 Columbus Ave, and taking a stroll around the area of Chinatown (roughly spread across Broadway and Bush St. Bush St and Powell St at Montgomery St), the oldest Chinese community in the United States.

You could also take part in The San Francisco Chinatown Culinary Walking Tour. The tour includes eating Dim Sum, visiting a Buddhist temple, going to Chinese markets, and observing the process of making fortune cookies. Make reservations here.

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At night the night is when you can end your first day with a meal and relax in Union Square, just a couple of blocks to the south. There are a variety of options to choose from you can check out the Asian-themed E&O Kitchen and Bar located at 314 Sutter St and the Swedish-themed Sears Fine Food located at 439 Powell St.

Day 2: Golden Gate Bridge & Golden Gate Park

On the 2nd day in Your San Francisco to LA road journey, you’re ready to book a rental car since the city’s top tourist sights are waiting for you unless you want to stay clear of all the stress and explore San Francisco on the hop-on, hop-off bus which will take you to all of the locations on this day, and much more. I highly suggest it, since you’ll be spending more when you rent a car, and on parking.

The first stop for your day will be the narrow part in Lombard St between Hyde St and Leavenworth St (in this order! ) This tangled road is perfect to take a leisurely stroll down.

Then, it’s time to look at the famous row of colored houses, dubbed painted Ladies located which are located on Steiner St by Alamo Square Park.

Go on towards going to Golden Gate Park, which has more than 1000 acres located on the north-west edge of town, including the de Young Museum (an art museum that is dedicated specifically to the local art scene) The San Francisco Botanical Garden, where you can explore across the globe in 55 acres, as well as the Stow Lake Boathouse at the central point in the parks (for the most convenient to visit, park at the Music Concourse Garage on Fulton St at 10th Ave).

There’s also the famous red Golden Gate Bridge that you can ride over until you reach it’s Vista Point on the other side of the river channel (technically located in Sausalito). Sausalito).

If you’ve got a bit of time, you can take the walking route up to Baker Beach – it’s off the typical tourist trail however I can assure you that you will be amazed by the view. stunning!

When you’re leaving San Francisco, wander in the Castro neighborhood and the adjacent Mission District. Great locals, amazing restaurants, and nightclubs are the perfect ending to the top of your San Francisco 2-day stay.

Here are 3 suggestions on hotels to stay within San Francisco.
Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
Mid-Range / Boutique Hotel: Staypineapple, Union Square
on a budget: HI San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel

Day 3 Monterey, Carmel-By-The-Sea, Big Sur

Begin your third day of the San Francisco to Los Angeles journey by saying goodbye to San Francisco and making your route south. The first stop, is Monterey, the city of Monterey is approximately 2 hours from the I-101 or 2.5 hours if prefer riding along the coast of the more scenic State Route 1.


Just to the south of Monterey Bay, this old town of fishermen is ideal to shop for ocean-themed items around the harbor, or for great sights of fish in the Monterey Bay Aquarium ( 886 Cannery Row).

Another exciting activity that children and adults will love is the Whale watching tour In fact it is in Monterey Bay you can spot whales at all times of the year! Explore the whale watching tour led by naturalists or marine biologists.

Lunch is a possibility. take a trip up to the lighthouse that was built in the Victorian period that is the longest-running lighthouse of its kind in the US West coast, situated in the Point Pinos Lighthouse reserve, which is just 15 minutes away from Monterey downtown (and maybe take a picnic from it, with sandwiches from The Sea Harvest Restaurant and Fish Market 598 Foam Street).

If not, you can take a drive across the peninsula to reach Carmel-ByThe-Sea (another 15-minute ride away from Monterey).


In Carmel-By-The-Sea I would suggest that you spend time enjoying everything related to the mission of the area It is possible to hike through the Mission Trail Nature Preserve which is a 34-acre nature preserve and also go to Carmel Mission Basilica. Carmel Mission Basilica which was built in 1777, offers a peaceful space to study, worship and art.

Once you’re back in the Carmel-by the-Sea central region visit the gorgeous beach and then relax at one of the many wonderful restaurants this tiny town offers. I particularly like most of the Mexican Bistro Cultura Comida y Bibida (on Dolores St between 5th and 6th Ave) and Basil Seasonal Dining (on San Carlos St between Ocean and 7th Ave).

After the luxurious surroundings in Monterey and Carmen-By-The-Sea Enjoy the remainder of the third day driving down the coast to what is known as Big Sur.

Big Sur

The stretch of the California coastline stretching between Carmel-By-The-Sea through San Simeon offers really amazing panoramas for both the motorist and passengers.

To get it right You must follow to State Route 1 (not the I-101 that goes in inland) and stop at some key places to snap photos. There’s the Pfeiffer beach and its purple sand. Then you must consider the stunning McWay Falls as well as The Elephant Seal Vista Point.

At the end of your day, look for the perfect place to rest on one of the campsites at the Hearst San Simeon State Park, or in a hotel located south from San Simeon Bay. San Simeon Bay.

I highly recommend that you visit the Cambria Pines Lodge located in Cambria and The Cavalier Oceanfront Resort in San Simeon – both are very nice and not too expensive.

Day 4 Hearst Castle, Cambria, Paso Robles

Hearst Castle

Whatever you decide to do for your night, your fourth day will begin in the best way by going to Hearst Castle It is a museum unlike nothing else in the mountains that are above San Simeon.

It was initially designed by the media business tycoon William Randolph Hearst in 1919 together with the architect Julia Morgan, Hearst Castle is now a beautiful and lavish mansion that recalls what it was like to be a part of the elite during the beginning of the early 20 century. century.

After parking near the beach and then hopping onto the bus (the only method to get to the castle at the top of the hill) visitors can visit the gardens and the insides (don’t overlook to visit the Roman pool! ) In the castle, visitors will find antique furniture and a theatre as well as other treasures. If it’s a clear, sunny day and the views from the castle’s outdoor patios are stunning!

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In just 20 minutes drive in the direction of the south. You’ll come across the charming town on the sea, Cambria.

Explore the old downtown, take a break at Moonstone Beach, and grab food in the Hidden Kitchen (2164 Center St) which serves only organic food. You can also dine at The Sow’s Ear (2248 Main St), popular among locals.

The restaurants are just just a couple of minutes each from The Old Santa Rosa Chapel, the oldest church in the county. It is also it’s also home to the Moonstone Redwood Gallery If you’re looking for art from the local area (the fortunate you are, as there are a lot of art galleries within the city! ).

Paso Robles

It’s just a 40-minute drive to the inland side, Paso Robles is the third and final point of your day 4. It’s possible that I’m slightly biased as I’ve been here for a full year as an exchange student at high school however, Paso Robles is definitely worth visiting. It’s a mixture of hipster, wine country eateries and boutique hotels it’s a regret to not go.

In the town in Paso Robles hosts the military aviation museum Estrella Warbird Museum (4251 Dry Creek Rd) The artwork Field of Light at Sensorio by Bruce Munro, just north of I-46 along with The Pioneer Museum (2010 Riverside Ave) in which local history dating from the beginning of the 19th century is portrayed.

But, your trip to Paso Robles will be really worthwhile in the event that you go to an establishment that produces wine. Wineries, vineyards, along with wine cellars are plentiful in the region, and with every tour you take you’ll be able to travel through the area in a comfortable couch (so you can continue to enjoy the wine without having to worry) and taste 3 to 8 locally produced wines, and then purchase a bottle or two of that wine that you loved so greatly.

= These are the tours I suggest:
HalfDay wine Adventure Tour (you’ll visit three wineries);
Full Day Wine Adventure (you’ll visit four to six wineries),

If you’re visiting on your own, looking for an eco-friendly alternative (you already know that I am concerned! ), I recommend Tablas Creek Vineyard (9339 Adelaida Rd).

Here are 3 suggestions on hotels to stay in that are located in Paso Robles.
Luxury: Geneseo Inn
Mid-Range * Mid-Range Boutique Hotel: Hotel Siri Downtown – Paso Robles
on a budget: Melody Ranch Motel

Day 5: Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach

After a restful evening within The Paso Robles countryside, start the 5th day on your journey towards Los Angeles from San Francisco by taking a drive to Morro Bay approximately 30 miles away from Paso Robles. It’s back to the beach after what should have been a great wine tour.

Morro Bay

Morro Bay is well-known for its name 581 feet Morro rock – – a lot of guess what-rock which sits on the beach as a giant placed it there. It’s quite a view! The entertainment area that surrounds it filled with souvenirs and candy corn is worth a stroll around.

There are a few activities to consider including enjoying the beach to the north from Morro the Rock (perhaps by hiring kayaks) or spotting otters near the pier and hiking through nearby Elfin Forest (an incredible forest created by the bush with a great view at the Morro Bay estuary). The best place to eat lunch at can be found at Taco Temple ( 2680 Main St) for Mexican American food fare.

San Luis Obispo

The next stop is San Luis Obispo (about 20 minutes away) It is a vibrant college town that has an adorable historic downtown walkable, and a catholic church. As per Oprah Winfrey, this is the happiest spot in America! To verify the truth of this claim, park downtown and stroll throughout.

It’s a must to visit Bubblegum Alley (a narrow street that runs between Higuera St and Garden Alley covered in chewing gum, a truly Instagram-friendly area) The Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa ( 751 Palm St), which is the reason the town gets its name as well as the Historic Jack House and Gardens which is a Victorian house that is free to take guided tours are provided in case you wish to plunge into the furniture and lifestyle of the Victorian era.

Not to be left out If you decide to get back in your car, a must-see spot in the region is Madonna Inn ( 100 Madonna Rd). The restaurant is a swank affair, entertainment, and hotel it is not just possible to get great food (don’t let those pies slip away from your lips) but you can also enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As an exchange student at Paso Robles High School, our prom was held in this restaurant and it was memorable.

The final stop of the day is Pismo Beach, only 20 minutes from San Luis Obispo and right at the beach.

Pismo Beach

There are plenty of activities you can do at Pismo Beach, but since you’ll be arriving later in the afternoon, take in the sunset and late-timer surfers walking along the pier, gazing at the ocean while sipping cocktails with friends at Puffers of Pismo, located at 781 Price St (choose if you enjoy entertainment) or enjoy a locally-brewed beer at Pismo Brewing Company (500 Cypress St).

In the evening, you can find a variety of locations to have a night out and my favorite one is The Cliffs Hotel and Spa ( 2757 Shell Beach Rd) If you’re looking to indulge yourself.

If you’re seeking something more central I would suggest TheInn on the Pier ( 601 Cypress St). The Inn also has a wonderful roof-top bar as well as a restaurant that you could enjoy.

Here are three other suggestions for hotels located within Pismo Beach:
Luxury: Vespera Resort on Pismo Beach, Autograph Collection
Mid-Range / Boutique Hotel: SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel
on a budget: Ocean Palms Motel

The next day, be sure that you do not go to Pismo Beach before you tried donuts and freshly coffee brewed from Surfside Donuts and Coffee Delicious! ( 603 Dolliver St).

Day 6: Solvang and Santa Barbara

Take a break from the central coast on one prior to the final day and make your way towards Solvang approximately 65 miles away from Pismo Beach. This truly is a singular location in California or perhaps America. The United States.


The entire area of Solvang is devoted to Danish culture. Take a look at Solvang’s Solvang Windmill and the Little Mermaid Fountain Enjoy the most delicious breakfast in the theme of Danish Mill Bakery (1682 Copenhagen Dr) when you arrive or out and replenish your desserts in Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates (1679 Copenhagen Dr).

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For lunch, take advantage of the all-you-can-eat menu in the Bit O’Denmark Restaurant ( 473 Alisal Rd) or go for a light and light at one of the many local cafés.

You’re contemplating your next visit to a winery at Paso Robles? Take a look at the options available in the area on the 6th day because they’re as renowned for those who love wine. If you are in downtown Solvang where you can go to Casa Cassara Winery and Vineyard ( 1607 Mission Dr) If not, you should consider visiting Sunstone Winery in the east, located at 125 North Refugio Road (technically in the town of Santa Ynez).

Santa Barbara

If you get back in your vehicle and drive for about 45 minutes to the south, you’ll end up in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. In this charming, sun-kissed city, spots such as Jaffurs Wine Cellars ( 819 E Montecito St) and Witchcraft Winery ( 36 S Calle Cesar Chavez) offer an experience of tasting wine and the advantage of being located in Santa Barbara’s central area. Santa Barbara central area.

Apart from its locally grown grapes, Santa Barbara is known for its pier and beach along with the historical Stearns Wharf as well as its Coronado Butterfly Reserve close to Goleta and The Old Mission, which was built in 1786. Old Mission.

A room to rent for the Hotel Milo Santa Barbara ( 202 W Cabrillo Rd) that is located right on the beach adjacent to the major shopping avenue State St, has parking spaces for guests and provides free bicycle rides and will ensure that your stay is of the highest quality.

Are you looking for something new? Here are 3 suggestions for hotels located situated in Santa Barbara.
Luxury: Belmond El Encanto
Mid-Range * Mid-Range Boutique Hotel: Kimpton Goodland
on a budget: Agave Inn

Day 7: Los Angeles

A little over 100 miles separated Santa Barbara from Los Angeles and the surroundings could not be more diverse. I’ve written many posts about LA on my blog but want to remind you about some of the most important things to do in the future in this wildly Californian city.

Of course, these are only some ideas. There’s plenty more you could do based on your interests like exploring the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice Beach and exploring L.A.’s lively downtown by taking a self-guided stroll.

equals If this is your first visit to LA and you have only one day to spend, I would recommend taking LA Grand Tour. LA Grand Tour is a full-day tour that takes visitors across Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Beach, and Griffith Observatory all in one day.

is Another great option for getting easily around the city is to use a hop-on and hop off bus which has two routes that have 20 distinct stops that are Los Angeles’ top landmarks. I’m suggesting this choice due to the fact that even though L.A. is extremely auto-friendly however traffic can be an issue and parking is more costly than the ticket for the hop-on-hop-off bus.

If you’d rather visit on your own, here is the recommended plan. When you arrive in Santa Barbara in the morning you can visit The Getty Center, which is a no-cost art museum located on the west side that gives the public an opportunity to view the works of art taken in the collection of J. Paul Getty.

Then, you can make an IG post that includes photos of the art display Urban Light, situated in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ( 5905 Wilshire Boulevard).

Spend your afternoon on just a quick trek up to Griffith Observatory, where you’ll be able to take in the sights of the city’s darkness with the flickering light of sunset (if looking to your right, you’ll notice the famous Hollywood signs).

= Are you looking to meet strangers? Join an organized hike that will take visitors to the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory. You can book it on this page.

Then, for a completely alternative evening, you can watch a movie on the large screen of the outdoor cinema Cinespia which is hosted by Hollywood Forever Cemetery (6000 Santa Monic Blvd), and then spend sleeping at The Bissell House Bed and Breakfast (201 Orange Grove Ave within South Pasadena) between the emerging Highland Park neighborhood and more traditional Pasadena.

You’re looking for something different? Here are three suggestions on hotels to stay in that is located in Los Angeles. Be aware it’s big!
Luxury: The Beverly Hills Hotel
Mid-Range * Mid-Range Boutique The Hoxton Hotel: The Hoxton Downtown LA Downtown LA
On a Budget: Banana Bungalow

If the car you have is a rental car and you’re heading out of California via plane, you could drop the car off at the Los Angeles International Airport (check the car rental agency you have chosen!). In other words, I envy you for owning a car…there are a lot of adventures waiting for those who live in California!

I hope this blog post has been helpful in planning for your SF towards the LA route (or LA to San Francisco road trip if going the other way) If you have any concerns or concerns, feel free to post them on the comment section!

FAQ Answers to Questions about Route Trip From San Francisco to Los Angeles

What is the length of the road trip between San Francisco to Los Angeles?

It could either belong or small as you’d like to want it. It is possible to travel between San Fran to L.A. in just one day, but you should plan at least three days to explore some of the sights and sites along the route. A week, or perhaps 10 days could be the ideal opportunity to take in the road trip starting from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

How do I find the most efficient way to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles?

The best way to travel according me is to travel along the Pacific Coast Highway, which gives you incredible views of the coast and to explore the coast’s charming towns.

What’s the distance between San Francisco to Los Angeles? What is the distance to LA away from San Francisco?

The distance between San Francisco to L.A. is 383 miles. It takes around 6 hours to drive the distance without any interruptions… But is that really fun?

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