San Fransisco to San Diego

Say we were planning a summer road trip (honeymoon, actually) from San Fransisco all the way down the coastal highway to San Diego----what sites, attractions, out-of-the-way places or great eating establishments should we go to along the way? Neither of us has really been to California before.

Say we were planning a summer road trip (honeymoon, actually) from San Fransisco all the way down the coastal highway to San Diego----what sites, attractions, out-of-the-way places or great eating establishments should we go to along the way? Neither of us has really been to California before.
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The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo is a must-see! Especially the men’s room in the lobby coffee shop.

Also, you might stop at San Simeon, the home of William Randolph Hearst and inspiration for the mansion in Citizen Kane.

Wow, too many things to even list. I’ll just say I really enjoyed Point Reyes, about an hour north of San Francisco. Of course, there are thousands of things to do in the city too. Save some time to stop by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium on your coastal drive.

For San Diego:

Zoo/Sea World/Wild Animal Park (now Zoo Safari Park) – pick one or two
Balboa Park (the Old Globe does a summer Shakespeare festival in its outdoor theater)
Hotel Del Coronado
Point Loma / Sunset Cliffs
Seaport Village / Harbor Cruise / Duckboat tour
La Jolla Cove / Mt. Soledad
Torrey Pines State Park
Old Town / The Presidio

What part of the summer will you be traveling? People who visit San Diego in June are often disappointed by the lack of sun.
Don’t miss seeing the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains . Afterwards, head down to the Beach Boardwalk and take a ride on the Giant Dipper. If you’re into Roadside Attraction-type stuff, check out Nitt Witt Ridge in Cambria (call in advance for a tour).

Well, you will be spending a lot of time with the San Andreas fault, so might want to read up on that. I suggest John McPhee’s Assembling California for a readable account of the geology of California (of which you will see only a small, but important part)

I think Half Moon Bay or Pacifica is where Hitchcock’s The Birds was filmed Nearby is where the Marvericks surfing contest is held, and the giant waves are are pretty much always there.

That is just the first 15 miles south of SF.

A but south of that, in La Honda, you can visit where Neil Diamond lives, and where Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests were held.

Further south is a lighthouse of some historical significance, and there is a hostel there, so, the trip being your honeymoon, perhaps it can gather some historical significance to you as well.

Soon after, you will pass through Santa Cruz, which is a world unto itself I will leave to others to describe. But nearby is Loma Prieta, the epicenter of the the 1989 earthquake.

South of there, you will be into Salinas and Watsonville, then Monterey and if you are a John Steinbeck fan, start paying attention. Also, IIRC Kerouac spent some time there.

Tons of eating in Monterey, South of that is Carmel. Anywhere in that area would be a good stopping place for a honeymooner.

South of Carmel, you are into Big Sur. The scenery keeps getting better and better. Scattered resorts and places along here. Be careful driving along the cliffs, you will be on the ocean side, and it is a long way down! Hope you aren’t there when the Big One hits :slight_smile:

South of that you will reach Paso Robles, and east of there is where James Dean met his maker, and where there are many fine wineries. Similarly for San Luis Obispo/Morro Bay.

Keep going, and you get to Santa Maria, where the film Sideways took place: Remote, rural, and more wineries and I guess bed and breakfasts. Maybe a good place for some farm tourism.

Somewhere along here, I forget the order of these towns, is Atascadero. If you ever wondered what a town where the main, maybe only industry, is working in a facility where many of not all of the residents are committed by a court to stay indefinitely beyond their sentences for crimes convicted and how people rationalize it, this might be a place for a visit and random interviews with the locals.

No right thinking Californian doesn’t have a list of historic Missions visited and checked off, you are going to pass near a lot of them on this trip. Start your trip right at Mission Delores in SF. Then, there are more on this stretch as well, right down into Santa Barbara.

In SB, there is tons to do, eat, see, and stay for the honeymooner. Say hi to Oprah while you are there. Maybe a trip to Catalina Island would be romantic.

South of that, you will be heading to Ventura and the famed Pacific Coast Highway. If the weather is really wet, you will be at risks of mudslides there. Beyond Ventura, you get Malibu and then you are into LA and its sphere of influence and I will let others pick of the trail.

I will say that at Ventura somewhere is the place where the water flowed (raged?) out of control where a dam above Santa Clarita burst some decades back. I pass the rebuilt dam regularly on I5, on the other side of the mountains, and having found this out recently, am no particularly interested in finding the path the water took. So seeing where the water made it to the ocean might be a curious thing to see and note if you are into that sort of thing.

Have lunch at “Pea Soup” Andersen’s in Beullton. Do the wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley (that was our honeymoon trip). Eat Mexican in Old Town San Diego. Catch a Padres game at Petco.

When you go through Santa Barbara, there’s the Cold Spring Tavern up in the hills, and downtown is La Super Rica.Both are very very good.

Many travel expert types consider Highway One (where you’re going) to be the most beautiful highway in the country. The question is how long will this trip actually last, what are your interests, and how are you going to travel? Once you’ve answered that, you can start to prioritize, because the suggestions here will be overwhelming in number.

I would definitely recommend taking Highway 1 through Santa Cruz, Monterrey, and San Luis Obispo, rather than 101 or 5. It takes alot longer, but it is really spectacular.

Hearst Castle is also worth seeing (and this is from an English guy who is used to stately homes/castles).

The Birds was filmed in Bodega Bay, a couple hours north of San Francisco, past Point Reyes. Warning: there is some beautiful county north of the city on Highway 1…if you start heading up the coast, you might never make it down to San Diego!

Near Hearst Castle (San Simeon that Tim talks about) there is a beach where elephant seals hang out. There are a bunch of seals there all the time. They have a nice board walk to allow good viewing without conflict between man and beast.

The Monterey bay aquarium is really nice. Make reservations ahead of time for tours and you won’t have as much waiting around.

Hwy 1 the whole way? That’s a looooong trip. You might just take the freeway from Venice Beach down to San Diego, unless you really want to see the hookers in Long Beach on PCH and Cherry.

We made a trip up Highway 1 from LA to San Jose, and it was wonderful! I recommend:

San Simeon
Morro Bay/Morro Rock
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk - Giant Dipper is a must!
Big Sur

And we bookended our trip with Magic Mountain outside of LA and Great America in San Jose.

We like coasters :slight_smile:

So it was.

And yes, heading north from SF will be just as eventful as heading south.

Ano Nuevo for the elephant seals. The winter breeding season is one of the premier animal extravaganzas in the lower 48, but some age cohort is there virtually year round.

Point Lobos for the gorgeousness - one of ( if not THE ) prettiest coastal parks in CA. Another animal breeding center at different points - sea otters, harbor seals, pelagic and brandt’s cormorants among others.

This is kind of o/t, but you can take a virtual tour of the entire coastline on the California Coastal Records Project website. You can click on any part of the coast and it will bring up an aerial photo of that section.

How much time are you taking for the trip? Keep in mind that it’s an 8 or 9 hour trip if you take I5 (the shortest, non-scenic route) and don’t stop. Are you planning to spend any time in SF or San Diego? There’s lots of stuff in both places, too.

A night or two in Santa Cruz is a must. Besides the kitschy amusement park there are beautiful misty redwoods studded with caves and filled with legends (like the famous “tree 9” on the US Santa Cruz campus), a few truly amazing restaurants (Cafe do Brazil was my favorite breakfast spot) and an aggressively quirky and truly Californian community where it seems like anything goes. It’s a gorgeous, almost obnoxiously different, and vaguely creepy place. There is nothing else quite like it.

Lots of wine country along the way, if you’re interested. Even if you’re not, should still be some nice sight-seeing.