San Diego to San Francisco

Travel Forums North America San Diego to San Francisco

1. Posted by Werper (Budding Member 2 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


My boyfriend and I are going to San Diego in September for a wedding. We will arrive on a Wednesday night and leave on Monday. We will have Thursday, Friday, and Sunday in San Diego to do whatever we choose. Any suggstions?
We want to rent a car in San Diego and drive the coast to San Fran. We'll begin that drive early Monday morning. We want to take the scenic route. Any recommendations on where to rent a car in San Diego (we are staying near Balboa)?
I am really looking for suggestions on places to plan on stopping on our way to San Fran. We fly out of San Fran on Saturday so we have 5 days total and that includes drive time to San Fran. The places we stop, should we just do a day trip or stay overnight? We like beaches, shopping, fun dining, good atmoshphere, and are laid back people.

Thanks for your help!
:) Maria

2. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi Werper,

You won't be bored in San Diego. Since you are near Balboa Park definately stroll through and enjoy the museums. The Prado is a lovely restaurant off a courtyard entrance that enjoys outdoor seating overlooking the park. I would also visit the Zoo and enjoy the skyride for wonderful views. Speaking of views, one afternoon head to the Top of the Hyatt where there is a great lounge with floor to ceiling windows where you will overlook the harbor, Coronado and the ocean beyond. I would also recommend visiting the Hotel Del Coronado which is a stately hotel with beautiful white sandy beaches. For night life check out the Gaslamp Quarter which has great restaurants including Croce's, (Owned by the late Jim Croce's wife). There are some great Irish Pubs in the area too with lots of live music. You may also want to visit the Maritime Museum which is the home to the clipper ship the Star of India along with other fine vessels. You may want to visit the Mission Bay boardwalk which has an old Woody Rollercoaster, indoor pool and shops etc.

From San Diego I would visit a bit of North County, exiting I-5 on Del Mar Heights Road and drive through the coastal cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach, (Great restaurant right on the sand is the Beach House) to Encinitas. There I'd stop at "Swami's", (actually the Self Realization Temple) that has a fabulous garden retreat on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific; totally free of charge. Continue through Carlsbad exiting off of Carlsbad Blvd back to I-5. Then speed through L.A. as quickly as possible avoiding any rush hour
(Good luck on that one).

It's faster to go inland but coastal is so much more enjoyable through Central CA. There is the Lodge in Cambria which could make a nice stop and you may want to visit Hearst Castle the following morning. Then one of the highlights will be driving up Big Sur which is incredible. If you have the chance stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium when you hit that city. From here, I'm handing it over to Calcruizer as you're now in his neck of the woods.

Calcruizer, where are you?

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Wow, first time I've been introduced prior to posting--thanks, Ladymacwil.

From Monterey north--

First, take the 17 mile drive along the shoreline of the Monterey Peninsula. The drive starts at the turn off for the Pebble Beach Golf Links (north of Carmel, but south of Monterey). You have to pay around $8.50 or so, but its well worth the cost. Then, as Ladymacwil suggested, go to the Cannery Row area of Monterey and visit the Monterey Aquarium.

If you are here in mid-September, the Carmel Tomato-Tasting festival(350 dishes by 50 chefs) will be on September 10, and the Monterey Jazz Festival (made famous by Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King and Janis Joplin) is scheduled for September 15th to 17th.

Moving on north, follow Hwy 1 north to Santa Cruz and visit the boardwalk, then head north to Big Basin Redwood Park (oldest state park in the US). Take the road on over the hill into Saratoga, Los Gatos, or Palo Alto--upper-class enclaves with fine shops and restaurants. Stanford University is also located in Palo Alto. If you have time, backtrack the 7 miles to San Jose and visit the Winchester Mystery House--ranked the second most-haunted place in the US. It has over 130 rooms, 7 chimneys, and all kinds of weird stairs, furnishings, and strange contraptions.

From here, take I-280 up to San Francisco. In San Francisco be sure to visit Chinatown, Little Italy, the Palace of Fine Arts, and Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39 (their right next door to each other). Go to the Boudoin Bakery here, Ghiradelli Square, and maybe take the tour of Alcatraz Island (see the prison in the middle of the bay), or just take a day cruise. Ride a cable car if the lines aren't too long and take a drive up some of the STEEP streets (like Lombard--the crookedest road in the world).

Take a day to explore, then head north to either Napa or Sonoma for a wine tour day. If you go to Sonoma, tour the beautiful square and the buildings around it. If you go to Napa, stop and buy some wine, cheese, bread, etc. and make a picnic of it at Rutherford, or go on up north to the spas at Calistoga. Take the tram to the top of Sterling Vineyard for a good view, or take the tour of how a winery is run at Domain Carneros just west of downtown Napa on Highway 121.

Here's a few sites with pictures of a few of the places I've recommended:

Also, check my own aerial photo of San Francisco by clicking on "view profile" and then on the picture.


4. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Here's an easier way to get that SF picture I mentioned. Put the following into your browser:

5. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

'Nuf to do yet Werper? ;)

(Digression to Calcruzer: Wow! I've been a sales manager for a stock photography agency representing great photographers from all over the world and I have to say, your shot of the wildflowers near Bakersfield is one of the best I've seen! I hope you've blown that up into a print and have it in your home somewhere.)


6. Posted by Werper (Budding Member 2 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Yes, this is all such great info. and such a huge help.
We are arriving on 9/20 in San Diego and fly out of San Fran on 9/30.
The wedding is at the Del Coronado Hotel. I work for the Hyatt so I have complimentary rooms throughout my visit which is an awesome perk.
Thanks again!

7. Posted by Hooch (First Time Poster 1 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Dear All,
I have just spent ten days on the canals of England with American friends from San Rafael. There is talk of my visiting other friends in San Diego in August '06 then driving north to see the canal friends in San Francisco/San Rafael thereafter.
This May Day I'm sitting on my boat on the Coventry Canal sheltering from poor weather, so I Googled 'drive car San Diego to San Francisco' by way of research, and got your exchange immediately.
The information you have all given is very interesting and will be most useful to this itinerant Brit in August this year if I may be allowed to take your advice also!
Best to all,
Adrian on board narrowboat FRILFORD