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driving from san d 2 san fran

Travel Forums North America driving from san d 2 san fran

1. Posted by cuddlekez (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

Hi, On june 16th i will be travelling from san diedo to san francisco, I have about 3 days to do it and want to take in as much scenery as possible. What will be the best route or best places/beaches to see. Also what is it like driving in the usa as I'm from England and it's my first time. I would be Thankful for your help.

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5597 posts) 8y

Well, haven't been there yet, but seriously considering it in June.

It seems that there are lots of options of course, but regarding scenery personally I would choose the most inland route. So towards Joshua Tree NP, north to Death Valley and Yosemite and to SF from there.
You will be driving for 3 straight days, but I guess that is the enjoy the scenery while driving.

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 2000 posts) 8y

Actually, Death Valley in June will be unbelievably hot--like around 115 to 120 degrees on average (46 to 49 Celsius), and it will be almost as hot in the Central Valley--and even fairly warm in Yosemite.

You should take the coastal route instead, where it will be much more pleasant.

Take Interstate 5 north to Los Angeles, then switch to state Highway 1 when you get to Santa Monica. Take this north to US Highway 101 (you get to this road at Oxnard). Take this north as far as Paso Robles. At Paso Robles, take state highway 46 west through a valley of wineries, then head north on Highway 1 all the way to Carmel, Monterey, and Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, go north on state highway 17 to Interstate 280 (in San Jose), then go north on Interstate 280 all the way to San Francisco.

Along this route, stop and see the following places:

Mission Bay in San Diego
Old San Diego
Del Mar Racetrack (horse racing--takes place in the summer--Where the Surf meets the Turf)
Venice Beach or Santa Monica
Malibu (home of the movie stars)
Santa Barbara--nice pier, state street is nice, and be sure to go see the Mission (largest/nicest in California)
Solvang/Los Olivos--Solvang is an old Danish town, Los Olivos is the winery area made famous by the movie "Sideways"--the best wineries in the area are just northwest of Los Olivos--and the restaurants in town are good ones.
Wineries along Highway 46 just outside of Paso Robles
Cambria--on highway 1--very pretty town and be sure to go to Moonstone Beach (gorgeous)
Hearst Castle--buy your tickets online a week ahead--because they sell out in the summertime
Carmel--another pretty town
Monterey---almost right next door, but much more touristy--visit Cannery Row, the fisherman's wharf (new one), and the world famous aquarium
Santa Cruz--funky town that looks like it still lives in the 1960s--and they have a good pier and an amusement park right on the boardwalk
Optional side trip--to Big Basin Redwood State Park, just north of here
Winchester Mystery House--located in San Jose almost exactly where highway 17 and Interstate 280 meet--this house is unlike anything you've ever seen before--it was built to hide it's owner from the ghosts who she believed were after her--and was continuously built larger and larger over the course of 30 years
and, of course--see all the sights in San Francisco--Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, Golden Gate Bridge, Cable Cars, Little Italy, Union Square, etc.


4. Posted by cuddlekez (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

thanks for that advise. The route and places to see look amazing. Have you any suggestions about hotels/motels etc? should i book in advance or is it cheaper to just stay wherever the road takes me?
As to the drive,
(1) are the places/roads well sign posted or will i need to buy a sat nav?
(2) Is there plenty of public parking at the beaches and towns or do I need to buy a permit?

Thank you again for your time and effort.

5. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5597 posts) 8y

Quoting Calcruzer

Actually, Death Valley in June will be unbelievably hot--like around 115 to 120 degrees on average (46 to 49 Celsius), and it will be almost as hot in the Central Valley--and even fairly warm in Yosemite.

And that's exactly the reason I want to visit in June;)

6. Posted by Ham Radio (Respected Member 284 posts) 8y

Quoting Utrecht

Quoting Calcruzer

Actually, Death Valley in June will be unbelievably hot--like around 115 to 120 degrees on average (46 to 49 Celsius), and it will be almost as hot in the Central Valley--and even fairly warm in Yosemite.

becoming a statistic
And that's exactly the reason I want to visit in June;)

As a local, I have never figured out why Europeans insist on visiting Death Valley during the summer, but if you are bent on this adventure here are some survival tips to assist you in avoiding becoming a fatality statistic, or a "Darwin Award" winner:

Carry extra water and remember your cellphone won't work inside the park!

Best of luck.

7. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 2000 posts) 8y

Ultrecht, you are way too adventureous for me--but my cousin, who now teaches in Seattle, is considered the world expert on Death Valley and used to visit about 20 times a year--in all kinds of weather--including hiking during the 125 degree days to study lizards and such--so I guess everybody has their own idea of what is fun.

I would suggest you stop and spend the night in the following towns/places (although it of course depends on how many days/nights you have for your trip):

1st night--San Diego--either in a hotel on Mission Bay or get a cheap hotel on "Hotel Circle" or downtown in the "Gaslamp Quarter". Go rent a waverunner at the San Diego Hilton and play on the Mission Bay--or go see Sea World or Old Town--or go to the horse racetrack at Del Mar for the day. I'd consider a margarita and a mexican dinner either in Old Town or downtown.
2nd night--near Anaheim or Buena Park if you plan to visit Disneyland and/or Knotts Berry Farm during the day. (start the day early, because it is a two hour drive to Disneyland--and you want to get there before noon if you are going to enjoy the park--or make the drive the night before and sleep there).
3rd night--near Santa Monica, so you can visit Getty Museum or Venice Beach or Santa Monica or Beverly Hills (or Huntington Library--my favorite, which is in San Marino near Pasadena
4th night--in the small town of Buellton, near Solvang. Spend the morning in Santa Barbara, the afternoon in Solvang and/or at the wineries near Los Olivos. Eat at night at the Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Bar (be sure to make reservations ahead of time)
During day 4, stop at Pismo Beach at the start of the day--and at the wineries in Paso Robles (but go easy on the wine tasting--don't drink and drive) near Highway 46. My favorites are Opalo, Midnight Cellars, Hunt Cellars, and Dover Canyon.
5th night--spend in Cambria at a hotel on Moonstone Beach. I suggest a place like the Pelican Cove Inn or the Fog Catcher Inn
Day 6--go to Hearst Castle early in the morning (book tickets weeks ahead of time), then spend the afternoon driving up to Carmel/Monterey. Spend the night at one of these two cities--Monterey will be cheaper, Carmel slightly prettier--although my 2nd favorite view in all of California is on the beach just north of Monterey (My 1st choice is the view of San Francisco from Treasure Island).
Day 7--Drive the 17 Mile Drive near Carmel, then head north to Santa Cruz and spend some time in the city and at the beach on the pier, then go north to San Jose and tour the Winchester Mystery House. Drive from here to San Francisco and spend the night there. Spend the next day or two in San Francisco and the local area (like Sausalito).


8. Posted by cuddlekez (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

calcruzer, after looking at that route and places to stay in more depth i have decided to go ahead with it as it fits my ideas perfectly. I'm going to start looking at hotels, b&bs etc and wondered if you knew what kind of prices i would be looking at for my bed. I've looked at a few web sites and i'm getting prices of $100. Is that normal?
Thanks for your time.

9. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 2000 posts) 8y


Excuse me for not being on the site for the past week, but I've been trying to help a friend who was laid off from their job.

Anyway, yes, about $100 per night is appropriate for most of this trip. It will be slightly above that on Moonstone Beach in Cambria, and less than that in San Diego on Hotel Circle--but the average will be at $100. Enjoy your trip.