San Francisco to Monterey Bay Trips and Day Tours

San Francisco to Monterey Bay Trips and Day Tours

As the radiant California sun glistens on the Pacific Ocean, a remarkable adventure awaits along the scenic route from San Francisco to Monterey Bay.

Nestled along the iconic coastline of the Golden State, this road trip promises breathtaking vistas, charming coastal towns, and a plethora of captivating experiences. With each twist and turn of the highway, the journey unveils a tapestry of natural wonders, cultural gems, and culinary delights that will leave travelers spellbound.

Whether you are a local seeking a refreshing getaway or a wandering soul on a journey through California’s splendor, this road trip is an invitation to immerse yourself in the magic of the Pacific Coast.

So fasten your seatbelts, roll down the windows, and join us on an unforgettable expedition from San Francisco to the captivating shores of Monterey Bay.

San Francisco to Monterey Bay stats

Distance126 miles/202.8 km125 miles/201.1 km119 miles/191.5 km
Driving Time2 hrs. 20 mins. 1 hr. 59 mins.2 hrs. 5 mins. 
Recommended Trip Duration3-7 days3-7 days3-7 days


There are three routes from San Francisco to Monterey Bay. The first one via the US-101 covers 125 miles/201.1 km, the other along US-101/CA-1 is 119 miles/191.5 km, and the third along CA-1 is 126 miles/202.8 km. 


If there’s low traffic, you can complete your San Francisco to Monterey Bay in roughly 2 hours, whichever route you take. 

Recommended Drive Time

We recommend splitting your San Francisco to Monterey Bay road trip between 3-7 days to give you enough time to explore attractions without rushing too much. 


Here are some of the notable checkpoints you might encounter during your trip from San Francisco to Monterey Bay:

  • Pacifica: As you head south on Highway 1, stop in Pacifica. Enjoy the beautiful coastal views and consider visiting Pacifica State Beach or hiking at the nearby Pacifica Municipal Pier.
  • Half Moon Bay: Continuing south, you’ll reach the charming coastal town of Half Moon Bay. Explore Main Street with its shops and restaurants, and take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Half Moon Bay State Beach or the historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
  • Pescadero: Further along Highway 1, you’ll come across the town of Pescadero. Take a break and visit Pescadero State Beach, hike in Pescadero Creek County Park, or try delicious artichoke bread at the famous Duarte’s Tavern.
  • Ano Nuevo State Park: Just south of Pescadero, you’ll find Ano Nuevo State Park, known for its elephant seal colony. Take a guided tour to see these fascinating marine animals up close during the breeding season (December to March).
  • Santa Cruz: As you approach Monterey Bay, consider stopping in Santa Cruz. Enjoy the lively beach town atmosphere, stroll along the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, visit the Santa Cruz Wharf, or explore the natural beauty of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
  • Moss Landing: Located at the mouth of the Elkhorn Slough, Moss Landing is an excellent place for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. Take a boat tour or rent a kayak to explore the slough and observe otters, seals, and various bird species.

Most Scenic Route

The most scenic route for your San Francisco to Monterey Bay road trip is through CA-1, where you will follow the coast and explore the nearby towns and attractions. 

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San Francisco to Monterey Bay Map

What to See in San Francisco

Check out these attractions while you’re in San Francisco:

  • Mission District: Mission District offers a distinct cultural experience. Don’t miss the murals at Balmy Alley or the bustling food market. The cultural and artistic landmarks collection will enrich any history buff on a San Francisco to Monterey Bay road trip.
  • Musee Mecanique: A unique museum at Fisherman’s Wharf with a vast collection of mechanical musical instruments and old-school arcade machines. It’s the best way for a  nostalgic and entertaining stop for kids and kids at heart.
  • Lands End Trail: Hike along the picturesque Lands End Trail winding along the coastline, offering stunning overlooks of the Pacific Ocean. You will also spot the Golden Gate Bridge. You will also spot the historical remains at Sutro Baths.
  • Wave Organ: Sitting in Marina District, this acoustic sculpture uses natural wave movements to create musical sounds. It’s an enchanting spot just to sit back and absorb melodies generated by mother nature herself.
  • Tiled Steps Project: Admire the stunning mosaic artwork in this local project. Located at 16th Avenue, the  Tiled Steps is a community-led effort transforming a set of ordinary stairs into a colorful masterpiece inspired by nature.
  • Exploratorium: Offering a hands-on exploration of various scientific phenomena through engaging displays and experiments, it’s an entertaining and educational activity for people of all ages.
  • Sign up for a food tour: San Francisco’s culinary scene is one of the best in the state. Join a food tour, pamper your taste buds with local delicacies from hidden gems, and discover the city’s rich culinary traditions. Chinatown and the Mission District are particularly rich in options to treat you with different flavor pallets.
  • Hop aboard a cable car: See San Francisco and enjoy its tradition by hopping on a historic cable car. Take in the picturesque views as the ride ascends and descends during the journey.
  • Presidio: This military base turned national park is a serene escape within city borders. Stroll through the forested trails, drop by Walt Disney Family Museum, or unroll a mat for a picnic overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

What to see in Monterey Bay

Here are some of the best things to do in Monterey Bay:

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium: Explore a world-renowned aquarium with engaging exhibits on marine conservation. It offers interactive experiences, including feeding shows and touch pools where you can get really close to marine wildlife.
  • Join a Whale Tour: Monterey Bay is a whaling town. Join a guided whale-watching experience with knowledgeable docents and witness the majestic creatures during their migration season.
  • Kayak in Elkhorn Slough: Rent a kayak and explore the treasures of a protected estuary with numerous bird species and marine mammals. It’s a rewarding way to wander around the place and experience what it has to offer at your own pace.
  • Explore Cannery Row: Stroll along Cannery Row, now transformed into a vibrant waterfront district from what was once filled with sardine canneries. Discover unique art galleries, seafood restaurants, and shops, and savor the coastal views.
  • Cruise along 17-Mile Drive: The iconic 17-Mile Drive winds 17 stops along the road between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. Admire jaw-dropping overlooks, famous beaches, and picturesque landmarks like the Lone Cypress.
  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: Go hiking adventure in Point Lobos, often hailed as the “crown jewel” of the California State Park system. Take advantage of the scenic trails, hidden coves, wildlife, and breathtaking coastal vistas.
  • Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History: Travel back in time and witness the Monterey Bay area and its rich history at this charming museum. Discover its exciting geology, native flora and fauna, and the influence of diverse ecosystems on the area’s development.
  • Carmel Valley: Take a detour and indulge in wine tasting around Carmel Valley. Enjoy the majestic vineyards, sample a few wines, and perhaps even bring a bottle or two of your favorite vintage back home.
  • Snorkeling and diving: Discover the magical underwater diversity of Monterey Bay via snorkeling or renting diving gear. The rich collection of marine ecosystems is like seeing another world away from the casual eyes.
  • Monterey Jazz Festival: If you’re around during September, don’t miss the renowned Monterey Jazz Festival. Enjoy a weekend filled with exceptional musical performances and a vibrant atmosphere at one of the first jazz festivals known on the planet.

How much time to spend in Monterey Bay

It will depend on your availability. We recommend at least three days so you can have the time to indulge a bit at every stop. Extend your journey to a week to make the most of your San Francisco to Monterey Bay road trip. 

Which route to take

We recommend taking the scenic route along CA-1 since it traverses through vibrant towns while tracing the scenic coast. 

What to See on the Drive

We’ve listed 18 places we believe are worthy of a stop on your drive.


Just 16 minutes from San Francisco, the town of Pacifica will welcome you. Overflowing with activities to try, you can easily spend a day if you want to or just experience it for a few hours of exploration. 

You can hit the waters and go kayaking or enjoy the waves surfing. There’s also the San Pedro Valley Park and Frontier Park if you want to take leisurely walks in nature. You can also hike Sweeney Ridge or Montara Mountain. 

Art aficionado? Visit the Art Guild of Pacifica, watch the performances at the Mildred Owen Concert Hall, or catch a play at Pacifica Spindrift Players. History buffs can drop by at Pacifica Coastside Museum, Sam’s Castle, and Ocean Shore Railroad. A stop at Pacifica alone during your San Francisco to Monterey Bay will enrich your wanderlust. 

Half Moon Bay

Driving another 15.2 miles along CA-1, you’ll reach Half Moon Bay. Just 22 minutes away from Pacifica, this charming town is famous for the Mavericks, a surfing spot loved by surfers around the globe for its roaring waves. But there’s more to Half Moon Bay beyond its beautiful shores and exciting waves. 

There’s Lemos Farm, where families can enjoy engaging activities like Goat Yoga or exploring the 1980s  Haunted House. Kids will love the Dig Zone, a massive slide, or meeting the rabbits and other animals at the petting zoo. 

Nature lovers can follow the California Coastal Trail or wander around Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. Pay a visit to Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park or experience the local vibes at Main Street. 


Another 24 minutes cruising through CA-1, Pescadero and its treasure trove of activities will add fun to your San Francisco to Monterey Bay trip. And with roughly 500 residents, this small town is surprisingly full of worthwhile activities. 

Sip some wine at Arcangeli Winery, or try the cheese and petting animals at Harley Farms. Take a dip at Bean Hollow State Park or Pescadero State Beach, where you can hike nature trails. Downtown Pescadero also has a diverse collection of artisan shops and restaurants. 

Pie Ranch

Just 15 minutes away, the delicious selection at the roadside shop Pie Ranch is a must-try. Open Wednesday through Monday from 10 AM (Saturday and Sunday)/12 NN (weekdays) until 5 PM. 

The ingredients they use for their pies are from their own farm (which looks like slices of pie aerial), and there’s more to the story beyond satisfying your taste buds. As a non-profit organization, they offer the community educational and business opportunities, and you can support the cause by enjoying their menu and exploring the processes before the pie even gets to your table. You can go on a self-guided tour within their farm spanning 27 acres or participate in square dancing. 

Now, the pies themselves are heavenly and all-organic. We love the strawberry rhubarb one. All the flavors are well-balanced. You can also grab jams and veggies you can consume while on the road from San Francisco to Monterey Bay. 

Ano Nuevo State Park

Drive another mile along CA-1, and you’ll be at the 4,209-acre Ano Nuevo State Park. Roam around the area and explore the shores, where you will spot a big elephant seal migration if you time your visit between December and March by joining a tour. 

If you want to wander around Ano Nuevo State Park alone, you can get a free permit from the Visitor Center. Some of the most notable sights to see are the restored historic buildings, the diverse ecosystems such as marshlands and wetlands, and spotting the migratory birds that call it their home. 

You can also drop by the Marine Education Center for informative exhibits or just head to Cove Beach for a swim. 

Greyhound Rock County Park

Just 6 minutes from Ano Nuevo State Park, you’ll find Greyhound Rock County Park on the left side of CA-1. The main highlight is the rock formation by the shore called Greyhound Rock. The waters can be harsh, but if you’re around during low tide, the tidepools are full of tiny marine animals. 

If you trace the 3.7 km out-and-back shoreline, it will take roughly an hour to complete. It’s a good spot for picture taking by the overlook or a long beach walk. 

Swanton Berry Farm

This rustic spot is a statement of classic farming. Sitting around 6 minutes from your last stop, you can pick berries and try out their freshly baked pies. The setting alone is unique, with an eclectic touch of the past. Enjoy a couple of slices and pair them with apple cider by the picnic tables with coast views. 

It’s also a shop that trusts in your honesty. No cashier registers. Just you, putting your money in the payment box and getting the item you paid for. The Swanton Berry Farm is a nice little detour to enjoy delicious pies halfway through your San Francisco to Monterey Bay road trip. 

Davenport Landing Beach is also just a couple of minutes away. There’s a swing on top of the bluffs where you can savor your takeaways while the breeze from the coast blows. 

Shark Fin Cove

Follow CA-1 for another couple of miles, and you’ll be at Shark Fin Cove. No crowd. No facilities. Just the cove’s waters, rock formations, and the shores. The main attraction is the rock formation that looks like a shark fin (hence the name) which looks better from the highway since once you go down to the shore, it’s harder to see its shape. 

If you take the left side of the beach, you will see a cave. It will call out your name to take a peek inside. However, the waves here can be dangerous. Wait for a low tide, and even then, we suggest you take extra caution since the waters can sometimes be unpredictable. 

Take pictures or read a book while the beautiful sound of waves crashing plays. You can just unroll a beach mat/blanket and enjoy the view while appreciating life before proceeding with your San Francisco to Monterey Bay. 

Rodoni Farm Fresh Produce

Seasonally open from May to November, between 10 AM to 6 PM daily, Rodoni Farm Fresh Produce and its selections of fruits and veggies offer organic options. Concessions also have delicious pies and drinks to replenish your energy for the rest of your San Francisco to Monterey Bay. The main star is pumpkins, and they offer a wide variety. 

Even if you don’t purchase products, you can get in their 5-acre corn maze for only $5 between September and Halloween. If you’re traveling with children, they will have fun figuring out the challenge taking at least 20 minutes to complete, and sometimes, some get lost inside for an hour before finding the exit. 

Panther Beach

Drive for another minute, and you’ll reach the clothing-optional Panther Beach. Access can be tricky, but once you’re at the beach, you’ll be rewarded with the stone arches and bluffs in contrast to the waters. It’s also one of Santa Cruz’s surfing paradise when the surfs up. So if you’re not an excellent swimmer, the waves and rip currents might swallow you. 

A little secret kept by the tides, the Hole-in-the-Wall Beach. You will reach it by crossing the hole in one of the stone arches during low tide. If you want to try skinny dipping during your San Francisco to Monterey Bay trip, it’s better here since it’s more discreet than Panther Beach. Take note that the area lacks any facilities. 

Four Mile Beach

This serene gem is only 3 minutes away from Panther Beach. Four Mile Beach is another surfing spot ideal for experienced riders. But even if you’re not a  surfer, staying for seal and whale spotting is worth the effort. Besides, the beauty of the view is enough reward for your visit. 

The trail to the beach from the parking can be demanding and will need roughly half an hour. So if you want a 2-in-1 treat, include Four Mile Beach to your San Francisco to Monterey Bay itinerary. 

There’s also another trail from the beach that will lead you to the clothing-optional Three Mile Beach and Strawberry Beach. If you want to make the most of this stop, we recommend you check out the spots. 

Natural Bridges State Beach

Just 8 minutes away are the rock arches at the 65-acre Natural Bridges State Beach. You might have already spotted this picturesque shore on your Instagram feed. Its golden sands, in contrast to the sunset, are one of the best views you’ll see during your trip from San Francisco to Monterey Bay. 

A great complementary detour waits at the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve, where roughly 150,000 monarch butterflies migrate between October and February. If you visit the Natural Bridges State Beach during low tide, you’ll spot hermit crabs, sea urchins, and other tiny critters in the tide pools. 

You can admire the view from the shores or paddle near the arch rock. Remember, you can’t climb up. It’s illegal. Shorebirds have already made it their haven, so birdwatching is also a fun activity to do here. 

Santa Cruz

Now, roughly 10 minutes from Natural Bridges State Beach is the vibrant town of Santa Cruz. With more than 29 miles of coastline, plenty of vitamin sea awaits you to be absorbed. And if you’re a surfer, this stop in your San Francisco to Monterey Bay trip is a paradise. 

Learn about the county’s history at Santa Cruz Museum Natural History or its surfing culture at Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Take a walk at the wharf, sip brews at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, and spend some time at Wilder Ranch State Park. You can also simply stroll at the boardwalk or unroll a mat and spot some gray whales by the shores. 

You can spend a few hours at Santa Cruz or, even better, allocate a whole day to see and experience everything the place offers. Santa Cruz has it all: the beaches, trails, history, arts, shops, and restaurants. 


Another 10 minutes along CA-1, you’ll reach one of the oldest resort villages in the region, Capitola. Famous for the colorful accommodations lining up Capitola City Beach, plenty of activities waiting here. Check out the waters and live events by the shores, or visit the neighboring New Brighton Beach. Learn for free at Capitola Historical Museum or bring the kids to The Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery. 

Try out the yummy menu at Paradise Beach Grille and Shadowbrook Restaurant. Santa Cruz Boardwalk is also a must-follow, and it will lead you to an amusement park with the legendary wooden roller coaster Giant Dipper and the historic Looff Carousel. 

End your visit at Armida Winery Tasting Room and check out the Poizin. It’s unique with an eccentric bottle warning of a skull and crossbones (tastes awesome tho!). 

Monterey Bay

Follow CA-1 for another 45 minutes, and you’ll end up in Monterey Bay. There are unlimited options you can experience while you’re here. Whether it’s nature, history, or local town vibes, Monterey Bay’s many activities will keep you busy during your stay. 

You can rent a kayak and paddle the waters at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, visit the Monterey State Historic Park, and drop by at Monterey Bay Aquarium. There’s also the serenity at Monterey Coastal Trail and explore Cannery Row. 

Restaurants with diverse menu selections are also everywhere. Some of our favorite spots include Cafe Guarani, Vivolo’s Chowder House, and Compagno’s Market & Deli. 

17 Mile Drive

The picturesque 17 Mile Drive is roughly 15 minutes after you enter Monterey. It’s not a road where you just cruise at normal speed along a highway. Make sure that your camera’s memory card has plenty of space. This drive has numerous Instagrammable spots you can add to your feed. It’s also one of the most famous sections of any San Francisco to Monterey Bay tour. 

To make it simple and easy to remember, 17 Mile Drive offers 17 scenic stops:

  • Shepherd’s Knoll
  • Huckleberry Hill
  • Spanish Bay Beach
  • The Restless Sea
  • Point Joe
  • China Rock
  • Bird Rock
  • Seal Rock
  • Fanshell Beach Overlook
  • Cypress Point Lookout
  • Crocker Grove
  • The Lone Cypress
  • Ghost Trees At Pescadero Point
  • Pebble Beach Visitor Center
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
  • Ford Meadow

This section of your San Francisco to Monterey Bay trip is very enriching and full of beauty. Tracing the Pacific coast, each stop has an allure of its own. They’re easy to spot since there are information markers along the way. We recommend that you take the time to observe and absorb each spot. They’re all worth the time, effort, and space in your camera’s memory card. 


You’ll reach Carmel-by-the-Sea at the end of your cruise through 17 Mile Drive. Although it’s beyond the border of Monterey Bay, it’s only around 20 minutes away if you drive nonstop, and your trip will be generously rewarded with incredible experiences. 

Before anything else, just be noted that prices here might be higher than in Monterey Bay. But other than that, its natural beauty, rich history, and colorful local scenes will keep you entertained. 

Surf the waves at Carmel Beach, drop by Carmel Mission, take in the view at Carmel River State Beach, or make your binoculars useful at the Carmel River Bird Sanctuary. Take a walk along Ocean Avenue, see the straight-outta-fairytale cottages in the area, or pick up souvenirs from the boutiques. 

There’s also no shortage of historical landmarks at Carmel-by-the-Sea, such as the La Tiendas Building, El Paseo Courtyard, and the Church of Wayfarers. Sunsets at Mission Ranch are stunning, and if you love architecture, you’ll enjoy a visit to Tor House. 

If you’re hungry for some delicious treat to fuel your body for the rest of your trip from San Francisco to Monterey Bay while in Carmel-by-the-Sea, try the menu at Carmel Bakery, the yummy pizzas at Rise + Roam or the tasty sandwiches at Bruno’s Market and Deli. 

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Heading back to CA-1 and driving for another 10 minutes, you’ll be at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Hailed as “The crown jewel of the California State Park System,” it’s a must-visit for any nature lover taking a San Francisco to Monterey Bay road trip. 

Get lost in the picturesque views at China Cove or its neighbor Gibson Beach. Learn about the area’s past at Whalers Cabin Museum, hike up the trails, or join a guided tour. If you have the gear, snorkeling and diving is also an excellent option to see what’s underwater. 

Plenty of wildlife, both on water and land, are also everywhere: deers, bobcats, seals, and whales are usual sights. And if you come around springtime, the blooming wildflowers take Point Lobos State Natural Reserve’s beauty to another level. 

Where to Stay in Monterey Bay

If you still don’t have a place to stay once you reach Monterey Bay, here are some of our recommendations:

San Francisco to Monterey Bay Day Tours

Visit Monterey and Carmel from San Francisco

This tour from San Francisco to Monterey/Carmel will cruise through the beautiful California Pacific Coast Highway. It lasts roughly 11 hours, departing SF at 8 AM from Leavenworth Street, Fisherman’s Wharf. It costs $95 for kids while adults pay $125, and it only happens every Wednesday and Saturday. 

The stops include:

  • Pacific Ocean
  • Cannery Row in Monterey
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium (additional cost for entry)
  • 17-Mile Drive
  • Pebble Beach Golf Course
  • Lone Cypress
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea

Remember, this fee doesn’t include snacks/drinks, entrance fee/s, and your tip. So remember to pack some food and extra cash. 

BEST 17-Mile Drive, Carmel and Monterey Day Trip from San Francisco

This tour runs between 8 to 10 hours and costs $150/person, departing from 291 Geary St. at 7:30 AM, with tours every Friday. The fee already covers any entrance fees. Friendly and reliable guides and well-planned stops, this one will take you to:

  • 17-Mile Drive
  • Pebble Beach
  • Lone Cypress
  • Old Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Cannery Row & Wave Streets 

Again, pack your food or enjoy the restaurants at Monterey Bay. If you’re with kids under 6, they require a car seat during the trip. 

Monterey, Carmel, and 17-Mile Drive – Full Day Tour from San Francisco

For $120, you can join an 11.5-hour day from San Francisco to Monterey Bay. It is your best option if you’re short on budget but want to see as much as possible. You can choose your pickup/dropoff point between 478 Post St. and 2805 Leavenworth St. The tour typically departs around 7:40 AM, and be sure to be at the rendezvous point at least 20 minutes in advance. Joining this San Francisco to Monterey Bay tour will take you through the following:

  • Pacific Coast Highway
  • Pigeon Point Light Station
  • Davenport
  • Monterey Bay
  • Cannery Row
  • Monterey Bay
  • 17-Mile Drive
  • Bird Rock Vista Point
  • Lone Cypress
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • Carmel by the sea
  • Carmel Plaza

The tour is weather-dependent and may be canceled if there are not enough participants. You can reschedule it or take a full refund. Any ticket fees at some spots are also included in the payment. And since you can wander around downtown, you can experience local vibes even on a limited time and budget. 

What to bring – Checklist

If you’re planning a day trip from San Francisco to Monterey Bay, here’s a checklist to make your journey as comfortable as possible:

  • Comfortable Clothing: Dress in layers, as the weather can vary throughout the day. Bring a light jacket or sweater, as it can get cooler near the coast.
  • Sunscreen and Hat: Protect yourself from the sun, especially if you plan to spend time outdoors. A wide-brimmed hat can provide extra shade.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the sun’s glare, particularly if you’ll be near the water.
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: There are many attractions and scenic areas to explore, so comfortable shoes are necessary.
  • Water Bottle: Stay hydrated throughout the day. Carry a reusable water bottle to minimize waste.
  • Snacks: Pack snacks or a light lunch to enjoy during your trip. There are plenty of picnic spots along the coast.
  • Camera or Smartphone: Capture the beautiful landscapes and wildlife sightings along the way.
  • Binoculars: If you enjoy birdwatching or want a better view of marine life, binoculars can enhance your experience.
  • Maps or Navigation: Have a map or a navigation app to ensure you stay on the right track and find your destinations easily.
  • Cash or Card: Bring some money or a credit/debit card for parking fees, admission fees, or any unplanned expenses.
  • Beach Essentials: If you plan to visit the beach, bring a beach towel, swimwear, and a change of clothes.
  • Umbrella or Rain Jacket: Check the weather forecast and be prepared for unexpected rain showers, especially during certain seasons.
  • Travel Documents: Carry your identification, driver’s license, and any necessary permits or tickets.
  • Portable Phone Charger: Keep your phone charged in case you need to make calls or use it for navigation throughout the day.
  • First Aid Kit: Carry a basic kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.

If you’re planning for a multi-day trip, you must add some items, including:

  • Swimwear (if you plan to swim)
  • Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
  • Socks and underwear
  • Sleepwear
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc.)
  • Sufficient cash for tolls, parking, and emergencies
  • Credit/debit cards
  • Binoculars (for wildlife watching)
  • Umbrella
  • Travel pillow
  • Extra plastic bags (for wet or dirty clothes)
  • Flashlight or headlamp

You can alter this checklist depending on the activities you plan to do during your San Francisco to Monterey Bay trip. 

San Francisco to Monterey Bay Drive Itinerary

Day 1

  • Pacifica
  • Half Moon Bay
  • Pescadero

Day 2 

  • Pie Ranch
  • Ano Nuevo State Park
  • Greyhound Rock County Park
  • Swanton Berry Farm
  • Shark Fin Cove

Day 3

  • Rodoni Farm Fresh Produce
  • Panther Beach
  • Four Mile Beach
  • Natural Bridges State Beach

Day 4

  • Santa Cruz
  • Capitola

Day 5

  • Monterey Bay

Day 6

  • 17 Mile Drive
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Day 7

  • Drive back home

As the sun sets over the tranquil waters of Monterey Bay, bidding farewell to our road trip, memories forged along this captivating journey will linger in our hearts.

From the colorful scenes in San Francisco to the rugged cliffs of Big Sur, this coastal escapade has offered us a glimpse into the diverse wonders of California’s central coast. We have reveled in the ethereal essence of seaside landscapes, savored the flavors of local cuisine, and dived into the rich tapestry of history and culture that dots this magnificent stretch of the Pacific.

So, as we return home, we carry with us not only the snapshots and souvenirs but also a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for the world around us.

Until we embark on our next adventure, let the memories of this extraordinary road trip inspire our wanderlust and beckon us to explore the endless possibilities beyond the horizon.


How long is the drive from San Francisco to Monterey Bay?

It will depend on which route you take.

CA-1 covers 126 miles/202.8 km,
US-101 spans 125 miles/201.1 km long,
while US-101/CA-1 is 119 miles/191.5 km.

Learn all about driving from San Fran to Monterey Bay.

How long does the drive take from San Francisco to Monterey Bay? 

Whichever route you choose, it will need at least a couple of hours to complete a one-way trip from San Francisco to Monterey Bay. You can also click here to learn more about San Francisco to Monterey Bay Trips and Day Tours.

Learn all about driving from San Fran to Monterey Bay.

What to see on a drive from San Francisco to Monterey Bay?

Here are some of the best stops you can take during your San Francisco to Monterey Bay road trip:

– Pacifica
– Half Moon Bay
– Pescadero
– Pie Ranch
– Ano Nuevo State Park

Learn all about driving from San Fran to Monterey Bay.

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