8 Best Stops from L.A. to San Francisco Road Trip

women watching the mountain view of California pacific coast

Driving along the Pacific Coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco has been one of my favorite drives. The quickest way to get from L.A. to San Fran is via the Interstate 5 freeway. But there's not much to see this route. For a more memorable West Coast road trip, I recommend driving the legendary Pacific Coast Highway 1. Although highway 1 is longer and more difficult, the Pacific Coast Highway road trip will always stay in your memory as this route offers one of the most scenic drives in the country.

On the road, there are very few restaurants. Make sure to pack some food as the beauty of this road trip consists of picnics with gorgeous panoramic views.

Pacific coast highway map

This post features my favorite places to see along the Pacific Coast from South to North. I will be sharing some things to see and do in these places.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier is located at the westernmost point in Santa Monica. You will know you arrived at the Pier the moment you see the iconic Ferris Wheel. Since the Pier is set in a picturesque seaside community, the place has many family-friendly activities and places to eat. On top of that, the Pier offers stunning views and over a century worth of history.

To this day, fishing is still one of the most popular activities in this area. If you are looking for the perfect place to take a selfie, there's an iconic Santa Monica Yacht Harbor neon sign, which was unveiled in the 1940s.

If you would like to explore more places in Santa Monica, here are some popular things to do:

1 - Tours & Sightseeing in Santa Monica

  • Full-Day Iconic Sights of L.A., Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Beaches

  • Perfect 5 1/2 Hour L.A. & Holywood Tour from Santa Monica

  • The Best of L.A. Tour from Anaheim or L.A.: Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Beaches

  • Small-Group Day Tour of Hollywood, L.A. and Beaches from Anaheim

  • Santa Monica and Venice Beach Segway Tour

  • Small-Group Los Angeles Sightseeing Day tour from Anaheim

  • Private Tour - Day Hollywood Tour of Los Angeles - 6 Hours

  • Private Full-Day Hollywood and Santa Monica Tour with Pickup

  • Los Angeles Private Tour

  • Private limo 5-Hour Tour of Los Angeles and Beach Cities

2 - Nature & Parks in Santa Monica

  • Palisades Park

  • Tongva Park

  • Ocean View Park

  • International Chess Park

  • Dorothy Green Park

  • Mary Hotchkiss Park

  • Virginia Avenue Park

  • Christine Emerson Reed Park

  • Memorial Park

  • Barnard Way Linear Park

  • Airport Park

  • Santa Monica State Beach

  • 26-Mile Bike Path

  • Santa Monica Bay

  • Santa Monica Mountains

  • South Bay Bicycle Trail

  • Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

  • South Beach Park

3 - Museums in Santa Monica

  • Annenberg Community Beach House

  • Museum of Flying

  • Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

  • Santa Monica History Museum

  • Camera Obscura

  • California Heritage Museum

  • Adamm's Stained Glass and Art Glass Gallery

  • Paint: Lab

  • Angel's Attic

  • Revolver Gallery

  • Rosamund Felsen Gallery

  • Craig Krull Gallery

  • Ten Women Gallery

  • bG Gallery

  • Children's Nature Gallery

  • Peter Fetterman Gallery

  • Leslie Sacks Gallery

  • Frank Lloyd Gallery

  • Angles Gallery

  • Patricia Correia Gallery

  • Bronson Fine Arts

  • Frumkin/ Duval Gallery

  • Fidelity Arts

  • Christopher Grimes Gallery

  • Bruce Kapson Gallery

4 - Shopping in Santa Monica

  • Third Street Promenade

  • Santa Monica Place

  • Santa Monica Farmers Market

  • Santa Monica Outdoor Antique & Collectible Market

  • Revolver Gallery - Your Andy Warhol Specialists

5 - Points of Interest & Landmarks in Santa Monica

  • Santa Monica Pier

  • Santa Monica Yacht Harbor Sign

  • Montana Avenue

  • Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome

  • City Hall

  • L.A.'s Iconic Lifeguard Towers

  • Route 66 End of the Trail Sign

  • Metro Calvary Chapel

  • Public Art The Dinosaurs of Santa Monica