My road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

My road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles
17/06/2017 pilotpatrick
roadtrip from san francisco to Los Angeles

Last time in California was during my exchange year as a high school student in 2004. My parents visited me from Germany and we made a big road trip from Las Vegas via San Francisco to Los Angeles. With the age of sixteen, it was a great adventure. After finishing my flight school in Germany I always wanted to go back to do that road trip again. Now thirteen years later I finally managed to drive down from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Highway 1. Read about my exciting drive along on of the most beautiful routes in the US and learn from my recommendations.

my road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Pacific coastline of Malibu

Planning of my road trip

Before booking my flight connections I wanted to make sure that I do not have to drive back and forth. So I booked a flight into San Francisco (read about my flight here) and a connection out of Los Angeles. I am using Sixt rental cars a lot in Germany so I got one in California as.

I can really recommend booking with them. Especially their premium convertibles are fantastic for a road trip. In case you spend some days in San Francisco you can pick it up at Fishermans wharf and start your road trip from there. I drove a BMW 6 series convertible of Sixt and the trunk fitted easily to big suitcases even with the top down.If you drive highway one I recommend to drive it southbound this way you have the ocean always to your right. UUnfortunatelyI received some bad news bevor starting my drive down to Los Angeles.

If you take highway one I recommend to drive it southbound this way you have the ocean always to your right. UnfortunatelyI received some bad news bevor starting my drive down to Los Angeles.

Road trip with sixt

BMW 6 Series rental car of Sixt


The idea was to drive along highway one all the way to Los Angeles. This is one of the most scenic roads in the United States. Unfortunately, I had to find out that a road closure around to Big Sur forced me to drive a big detour away from the coastline. Due to heavy rain at the beginning of the year, a bridge was flooded and destroyed. I heard about this before but I figured it will be fixed when arriving in May. I was really disappointed when I found out that the bridge is still blocked. The road between Monterey and Cambria is the most beautiful part.

road trip california

Road trip route from San Francisco to Los Angeles

road trip highway one

Fantastic views from Point Dume in Malibu


Along the way, I did several stops for a break and to overnight. Best is to drive without pressure and to stop whenever you see a beautiful spot. In my opinion, I forced myself a little bit to get to LA fast. At the end, I only did two overnights along the route.

Day 1

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz was my first stop after San Francisco. I had a healthy lunch at Cafe Gratitude. To find vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafés near me I use the app called “Happy Cow“. After a delicious meal, my happy mood was ruined by a parking ticket of 38 USD because I the meter was expired by five minutes. After a short walk on Santa Cruz pier, which gives you have a nice view of the shoreline I hit the road again.


The city of Monterey is situated in a beautiful bay area. My plan was to overnight there, but since I booked my rooms spontaneously the rates were really high that night. That is why I already continued my drive in the evening. Make sure you stop at the Lover’s point park. The best and cheapest food during my whole trip I had in Julia’s Vegetarian Restaurant close to Monterey.

road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Lovers point park in Monterey


This time I did not stop in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is a small beach city. But I remember from my road trip thirteen years ago that is worth visiting. It is known for its fairytale cottages and village-like center. Do the seventeen-mile drive from Monterey Peninsula to Pebble Beach. It is a stunning stretch of roadway along the Pacific coastline.


From Monterey, I had to take the US101 to drive further south due to the blockage of Highway 1. Online I found a really nice boutique hotel in Cambria called El Colibri. It was the hotel with the best quality price ratio during my entire vacation. My cozy room featured a hot tub and a fireplace.

road trip high way one

Hotel El Colibri in Cambria

my road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Seals at the beach close to Cambria

Day 2

Next day it was a little bit chilly and cloudy. So I did an excursion to Hearst Castle. This private property situated on top of a hill. The property is spectacular and is a must see once the Neptune Pool is fully repaired again. Not far from Hearse Castle you can watch seals from a parking spot.

hearst castle

Main building of the Hearst Castle

road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Hearst Castle indoor pool / Outfit by Michalsky

Santa Barbara

My second overnight I spend in Santa Barabara the “American Riviera”. It is an easy going city and the atmosphere is quite relaxed. Hotel prices are over the top. I booked a room last minute via the app “hotel tonight” so I saved a little. The beach is with hundreds of palm trees is really beautiful. After a quick breakfast, I started off for my last part of my drive to Los Angeles.

road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

Beach of Santa Barbara

Day 3


Only 30 Minutes from Santa Monica (LA) lies the famous city of Malibu. You definitely need to know where to go otherwise you drive through and realize later that you have missed Malibu. The prices for food and drinks are insane. I had a healthy green smoothie and I paid 14€ for it. The best view you get from Point Dumes State Park.

travel blogger pilot patrick

Point Dume State Beach

Driving along the famous beach houses I found a spot where I could access the beach and have a stroll. While searching for Charly Sheen’s house, I noticed that most houses look abandoned. But as I found out later people usually come here only for the weekend.

roadtrip california

Searching for Charlie Harper’s house in Malibu 😉

roadtrip claifornia

Taking a stroll along the famous houses in Malibu


It was definitely the right decision to drive down to Los Angeles instead of flying. Of course, I was disappointed that I had to drive a big detour and I hope they will fix the road soon since hotels and other touristic attractions struggle. In My opinion, I rushed a little bit to get to Los Angeles. I suggest you spend three nights on the road and get a convertible to enjoy the beautiful landscape, even more, when driving.

Where would you like to do a road trip?

Your Pilot Patrick


  1. Natasha 3 years ago

    Another good blog. Thanks for the descriptions because it made me feel like I was on the road trip.

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello Natasha,
      thanks for your nice comment and sorry for my late reply!
      Happy landings

  2. Arthur 3 years ago

    I was so glad to attend the meet and greet in Griffith observatory. Your American aviators wish you all the best pilot.

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Thanks for joining. I just published my blog post about Los Angeles!
      All the nest and happy landings!

  3. UMI NADHIRA 3 years ago

    Thanks for your information. Hopefully, I can go there soon (in my dream). Mr. Pilot Patrick, when you are traveling, which one do you like more? Enjoy the atmosphere or take some pictures or collect some souvenirs for memento?

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello Umi,
      thanks for your comment and sorry for my late reply. I do both. I collect souvenirs but usually clothing which remembers me always on the place where I bought it. 😉
      Happy landings

  4. Mack 3 years ago

    Greetings from Ireland, Patrick. I want to say that I find your blog really inspiring and aspirational, and even if I can’t experience such a lifestyle yet, I’m certainly enjoying reading of all your adventures!
    As for your next road trip, you would be extremely welcome to come and explore Ireland…..just bring an umbrella:)

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello Mack,
      thanks for you nice comment and sorry for my late reply. Ok I will and I will not rent a convertible 😉 haha. I hope you can go on adventures soon as well.
      Happy landings

  5. Jody 3 years ago

    Thank you for your enjoyable post. I felt like I was right there with you. And your food looked great too! Balconies are my fave too. I hope to see you in the sky someday. Happy travels!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello Jody!
      Thanks for your comment and visiting my blog. That would be great! Please subscribe to my newsletter as well. Happy landings. Patrick

  6. Adrian 3 years ago

    Hi Patric!

    Thanks for your blog, because I also want to become a pilot. Your blog very motivated me to hard working. I hope i will can do the same trip then you ::::)


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