San Fran to LA itinerary via Pacific Coast Highway - July 2020


Earning My Ears
Nov 19, 2019
I am working to figure out our itinerary for July 2020 as my family travels from SF to LA. We have 3 days/2nights to get to LA from SF. This is our current plan:

Day 1:
  • Pick up rental car in SF
  • Drive to Roaring Camp – Redwood Steam Train, departs at 12:30 and ends at 1:45
  • Drive to and thru 17 mile Pebble Beach
  • Stay in Monterey overnight
Day 2:
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium in the morning
  • PCH to Cambria
  • Say in Cambria overnight
Day 3
  • PCH to LA
  • Hearst Castle or something else on the way to LA.
  • Plan will be to stay in Burbank or downtown LA.

My concern is around Day 1 and Day 2. Is it too much?


Apr 16, 2012
Doable but you will feel rushed at the aquarium. It's an all-day place. Also, you'll want to get out and take in the PCH however. Point Lobos is exceptionally wonderful.


DIS Veteran
Sep 19, 2011
We're doing San Fran to San Diego in a month (woah... can't believe it's that close)

December 23rd:
- Land in San Fran; Pick up car
- Dinner in Mission

December 24th:
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Lombard Street
- Painted Ladies
- Chinatown
- Dinner at one of the Piers

December 25th
- Leave San Fran, head south
- Lunch in Monterey; Maybe see some sites
- Arrive in Cambria in the evening; stay in Cambria Pines Lodge

December 26th
- Hearst Castle
- Head South to Santa Monica
- Stop in Malibu for lunch
- Arrive in Santa Monica in evening
- Dinner in Santa Monica

December 27th
- Breakfast in Santa Monica
- Head to LA
- Griffith Observatory
- Dinner at In-N-Out/Maybe see City Walk area (VooDoo donuts)

December 28th
- Venice/Santa Monica
- Rodeo Drive
- Other touristy LA things depending on time: (Farmers Market, LA Museum Lights, Walk of Fame, etc.)

December 29th
- Warner Bros Studio Tour
- Head to Anaheim...

Happy to give you feedback of our trip.


DIS Veteran
Mar 31, 2007
We didn't feel like the aquarium was an all-day place, FWIW. We spent about 4 hours on our visit in August and that was plenty; we actually ended up leaving earlier than we'd anticipated (because I did think we'd spend all day) and spent a couple of hours walking down Cannery Row and enjoying the wildlife from the beach and at the Coast Guard pier before meeting up with our dinner companions. So I'm just leaving a few afternoon hours for it this time - unless you have very young kids or a very keen interest in the subject that would make lingering over the exhibits and watching all the feedings attractive, I don't think a full day is necessary.

We're planning the same drive in reverse in January, leaving L.A. on Jan 14, stopping to do a graffiti hike in Pacific Palisades and driving as far as Morro Bay before stopping for the night. Jan 15, we're going to be out the door with the sunrise to do a bit of otter viewing at Morro Rock, walking the McWay Falls overlook trail, and making it to Monterey by early afternoon to spend a few hours at the aquarium before checking into our hotel there. Jan 16, we're kayaking Moss Landing in the morning and driving the rest of the way up to San Francisco in the afternoon with a stop at Henry Cowell to see the redwoods.

I do have a question about your third day, though. Isn't Hearst Castle north of Cambria? Is it close enough that the doubling back doesn't make much difference?


DIS Veteran
Feb 3, 2008
December 25th
- Leave San Fran, head south
- Lunch in Monterey; Maybe see some sites
- Arrive in Cambria in the evening; stay in Cambria Pines Lodge
Be sure to check the weather/road conditions 12/24 as you plan your 12/25 driving route to be sure that Hwy. 1 is clear, they just temporarily closed Hwy. 1 south of Monterey due to the rain we’ve had here the last couple of days.
Hwy. 1 should reopen as soon as the rain stops assuming there are no slides to fix, but they’ll close it again if we get another rain storm.