Experience the best of the West Coast on this 4-day one-way road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Do you have a craving for the stunning natural attractions in Northern California, or maybe just a sweet tooth for its famous fruity wines? Sonoma County wines rival those from Italy, France, and its Napa Valley neighbor. A road trip up the California coast in a compact RV camper van is perfect for a solo outdoor adventure, a romantic getaway, or a weekend with the kids.
Whilst you could do this drive in a day, we recommend taking a few extra days to really take in the scenery of one of the world’s most beautiful drives. You’ll get to experience a beach with purple sand and immerse yourself in stunning nature reserves, indulge in delicious food and wine tastings, and visit a castle along the way. Be sure to reserve your campsites well in advance, it’s not uncommon to book them 6 months ahead of your trip. Better yet, check out cool apps like Harvest Hosts to find alternative campsites off the beaten path that offer more privacy and unique overnight experiences.
Day 1: L.A.- Cambria (Drive is 220 miles / 4.5 hours)
Stop in San Luis Obispo on the way and stock up on fresh produce at their famous daily farmers market.
Visit the famous Hearst’s Castle for a unique look inside William Hearst’s mansion with over 100 rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, and a private zoo.
Piedras Blancas Rookery in San Simeon is famous for the elephant seals colony that visits their beaches each year. Peak times for seeing these unique creatures are during January, April, and October.
Stroll along the gorgeous Moonstone Beach at sunset hour. Not only is there a well-maintained wooden pathway along the bluff, but down on the beach, you can try your luck searching for natural moonstones.
Campground: Make a reservation in advance for Morro Strand State Beach. If you enjoy waking up to the sound of waves crashing and fewer people, you will love this campground. Check for alternatives with the Harvest Hosts App if there are no spaces available.
Day 2: Cambria – Big Sur (Drive is 70 miles / 2 hours)
Explore the rugged cliffs, and amazing views, and go for a hike in the Redwoods or on the many trails between Highway 1 and the ocean.
Visit Pfeiffer Beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area thanks to its purple sand after rain and a large keyhole rock. Our insider tip: It can be a bit tricky to find so look for Sycamore Canyon Road, and parking fills up quickly, so come early or late in the day.
Big Sur Bakery is a must. They serve delicious, fresh, and locally sourced dishes, plus must-have baked goods to go. Not open every day, so check in advance and make reservations if you want to enjoy a sit-down meal.
Campground: There are several campgrounds in the Big Sur area, most in wooded sites or by the ocean. Kirk Creek Campgroundoffers perfect ocean views and is right by a moderate hiking trail. Be sure to make reservations in advance.
Day 3: Big Sur – Carmel & Sonoma County (Drive is 200 miles / 4 hours)
Along the way, stop at Los Lobos State Natural Reserve (just south of Carmel), a true gem with trails along its incredibly beautiful coastline. Stop and park along the famous 17-mile drive (just north of Carmel) to soak in its beauty.
Sonoma County, just 30 miles north of San Francisco, is known for its wineries, all 425 of them. Fall is harvest time and many of the wineries offer tastings and tours.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, rent a kayak or go white water rafting on the Russian River.
Day 4: Sonoma County – San Francisco (Drive is 80 miles / 2 hours)
Enjoy the scenic route back to San Francisco. Starting at Sebastopol, take Hwy 116 west to Hwy 1 and Sonoma Coast State Park. Enjoy the picturesque drive south to Bodega Bay and its deliciously fresh seafood offerings.
Continue south to Point Reyes Station, and the short hop over to the historic and beautiful Point Reyes Lighthouse (tours are available).
Return to Hwy 1 (south) which takes you through famous Stinson Beach and back to SF (via Hwy 101 and the Golden Gate Bridge).
Alternatively, if beautiful and twisty roads are your weakness, at Stinson Beach catch the Panoramic Hwy, and watch for a left turn onto Pantoll Rd. Be delighted by the scenic overlooks, hiking, and picnic opportunities.
Then return to the Panoramic Hwy and turn left to continue to its end point at Hwy 1, and with a left turn onto Hwy 1 -continue to Hwy 101 south and SF.
Finish your road trip with an iconic drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and return your roadsufer to our San Francisco drop-off location!
Plan ahead and maybe you can catch the San Francisco Giants or the Golden State Warriors playing at their legendary stadiums.
You can enjoy a road trip along the California West Coast all year round, thanks to its wonderful weather. Reap all the benefits of a one-way RV rental road trip by returning your roadsurfer to San Francisco and saving yourself time and gas money. Look for available dates today for your next roadsurfer road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco!