12 Best Places to Visit from La to San Francisco

California is known for its iconic beaches, landmarks and parks. In fact, California has more than 2,800 miles of coastline, which makes it the longest coastline in the country. However, there are many places throughout California that are worth visiting and will give you an opportunity to explore some of our state’s most beautiful coastal areas.

The 12 Best Places to Visit from La to San Francisco

Close up view of the cambria restored thames sailing barge in faversham kent
Close up view of the Cambria restored thames sailing barge in faversham kent


Cambria is a small town in San Luis Obispo County, California, United States. It is located east of San Simeon on Highway 1 and the Pacific Coast Highway. The population was 4,966 at the 2010 census.

Cambria has a mild climate year round with average temperatures between 50–60 degrees Fahrenheit (10–16°C) during summer months to mid 70’s during winter months.

The town was founded in 1869 by John Wilson, a Scottish immigrant who purchased Rancho San Simeon from the Sanchez family. He established a successful cattle business and became one of the first landowners to plant vineyards in the area. The town was named after his wife, Mary Cambria.  Cambria is surrounded by an ocean view of rolling hills and valleys on a land mass approximately two miles wide by six miles long. The town has many beaches and picnic areas for families and individuals to enjoy.

See also: 9 Best Places to Visit From New York

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark and a World Heritage Site located in San Simeon, California. It was built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst as part of an estate he called “La Cuesta Encantada” (“The Enchanted Hill”), on land that his father had purchased in 1919.

The castle has been featured in several films, including The Godfather, The Great Gatsby and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

It is open to the public at certain times throughout the year. If you are interested in dining while you’re there, they have a restaurant called La Casa del Camino which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner along with some amazing views!

Read more guide on: 7 Best Places to Visit in England by Train

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is a town that has a lot of things to do, like hiking, biking and wine tasting. There are many attractions and landmarks to see in San Luis Obispo. One landmark is Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. This mission was founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1772. It welcomes visitors during the summer months with tours and other activities such as weddings or baptisms at the church where it was built (Mission Basilica San Louis Obispo de Tolosa). The mission’s visitor center also houses information about what they offer as far as tours go as well as how you can get tickets for them if needed before arriving at this location.

More guide on: 10 Best Places to Visit in Mexico from Los Angeles

Big Sur

Big Sur, which stretches from Monterey to San Luis Obispo, is a region of the Central Coast of California that’s famous for its rugged coastline and breathtaking mountain ranges. The area has long been a popular destination for travelers along the Pacific Coast Highway.

The Big Sur Road winds down the steep cliffs of this coastal mountain range to the Pacific Ocean and provides access to several state parks, including Point Lobos and Pfeiffer Beach. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers more than 11 miles (18 km) of hiking trails through redwoods and along the coast with views of rocky coves and sandy beaches. At McWay Falls in near Carmel-by-the-Sea, you’ll find one of California’s most photographed waterfalls cascading over granite cliffs into turquoise pools surrounded by lush vegetation.

If you’re looking for something different from your typical beach day trip or hike through nature’s wonders, consider visiting Big Sur!


The small town of Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It has a perfect location at the edge of San Francisco Bay, with natural beauty in all directions. The beach here is amazing, with cool water and dramatic cliffs to climb over. The nearby forest offers great hiking trails and views of nearby Mount Diablo.

Carmel-by-the-Sea also has an excellent art scene that’s worth seeing if you’re interested in art history or just want something different from your typical beach experience. Stores like Carmel Gallery feature local artists who sell their work for reasonable prices so that anyone can enjoy it! And if you’re hungry after browsing through all these galleries, there are several excellent restaurants near by including Fandango Bistro which serves up delicious international cuisine!

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a great place to visit with children. The aquarium has several exhibits including a kelp forest, jellyfish exhibit and the Pacific white-sided dolphins. It’s open year round except for Christmas day.

It’s best to go early on in your trip as there are lots of things to see and do there such as eating at their restaurant or getting some souvenirs before you go home!

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Pebble Beach Golf Links is a world-famous golf course located in Pebble Beach, California. The golf course is on the Monterey Peninsula and was designed by Jack Neville in 1919. Other notable players include Tiger Woods, who has won this tournament four times since 1998.

The course itself has an intriguing history: it sits along the Pacific Ocean, with some holes featuring views of nothing but ocean and sky as far as the eye can see. The land itself was once home to Native Americans, but eventually became part of Rancho Del Mar—a large farm owned by Charles Crocker (an investor in Central Pacific Railroad). In 1917, William Randolph Hearst bought most of Rancho Del Mar from Crocker’s widow; he then sold off portions of his purchase until he was left with only what would become Pebble Beach Golf Links—which he also sold off for $1 million dollars!

Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach is a beautiful place to visit. Located in Big Sur, this beach offers scenic views of the surrounding area and ocean. There are many great hiking trails nearby, including McWay Falls and Bixby Bridge. The Pacific Coast Highway runs right by the beach, so it’s easy to get there from anywhere in the Bay Area. Pfeiffer Beach is also close to many great restaurants and shops if you want some food after all that hiking!

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a great place to go camping, kayaking, hiking and wildlife watching. The reserve has the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see in your life. You can go hiking and get a good view of the coastline while walking along Point Lobos Ridge Trail or Ocean View Trail. There are also many places here where you can see wildlife such as deer, sea lions and seals which makes it a great place for wildlife photographers to visit at any time of year.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk & Beach Area

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a family-friendly amusement park located on the beach in Santa Cruz, California. The beach and Boardwalk are popular destinations for tourists and locals alike. The Boardwalk dates back to 1907, when it was built as an attraction that would draw people from San Francisco to Santa Cruz during the summer months. It has since grown into a major tourist attraction with multiple attractions including roller coasters, arcade games and water slides.

Steamers Lane & Pleasure Point Surfing Spots

Steamers Lane and Pleasure Point are some of the best surfing spots in Santa Cruz, CA. The area is dotted with surf shops where you can rent equipment for lessons or buy your own board and hit the waves at any time you choose. These beaches are perfect for beginners as there are many easy-to-access waves and lots of helpful people around to give you tips! These beaches also have great spots for longboarders and bodyboarders, so it’s great whether you want to learn how to surf or just want a relaxing day on the beach.

The summer months provide optimal conditions for surfing at these two popular beaches because there is less wind (which means fewer obstacles) and warmer water temperatures (which make it easier to stay afloat). If you’re looking for something different than summertime surfing, try winter surfing—this might sound crazy but it’s actually really fun! Winter winds create excellent waves in this part of California as well as colder water temperatures that make it possible to go out on big boards without feeling too warm while still enjoying yourself immensely

17 Mile Drive

17 Mile Drive is a 17-mile (27 km) loop road that runs along the coast of Monterey Bay in Pebble Beach, California. It is a popular tourist attraction in the area and passes by many of the most famous golf courses in the world.

17 Mile Drive was built in 1918 as an all-weather dirt road, to provide access to Pebble Beach from Carmel-by-the-Sea and other small towns that were being developed at that time. It was later paved with concrete and became increasingly popular with tourists for its spectacular views of Pacific Ocean beaches and coastal hillsides on one side, as well as its beautiful estates on the other side (including some belonging to celebrities such as Michael Douglas).

California’s best beaches, parks and landmarks

There are plenty of places to visit in California for a short road trip or weekend getaway. You can visit the beaches, parks and landmarks that make up this beautiful state. The best part? You don’t have to drive far from LA to see these sights!

  • San Francisco, CA – 2 hours north of LA
  • Santa Barbara, CA – 3 hours north of LA via I-5 North
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium – 2 hours south of San Francisco via HWY 1 South

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – 2 hours south of San Francisco via HWY 1 South Monterey, CA – 2.5 hours south of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk via HWY 1.

South Sonoma County Wine Country – 3 hours north of San Francisco via I-80 East Napa Valley – 2.5 hours north of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk via HWY 1 South Big Sur Coastline – 4 hours south of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.


We hope you’re looking forward to planning your next road trip, and that this list has given you some ideas for where to go. If you have any other suggestions or if you have been on any of these trips yourself, please share them with us in the comment section below!

OutdoorLines.com is supported by its readers. When you buy through our links, we may receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Check disclaimer and about us.