13 Day Itinerary from San Diego to Yosemite National Park

Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the greatest road trips we have ever taken. In 2016 my husband and I drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco with 2 of our best friends. At the end we added 2 days in Yosemite National Park.  It was amazing!! We are sharing our itinerary with you.  You can also watch the video of our road trip below!
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Day 1: 
  • Land at LAX
  • Car rental
  • In & Out Burger
  • Stay in San Diego –Priceline Hotel
  • Drive time about 2 hours
Day 2: 
Day 3: 
  • Touristy LA things (Hollywood sign, Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills) 
  • Runyon Canyon
  • Explore Abbott Kinney Blvd
  • Explore Venice Boardwalk
  • Sunset drink Hotel Erwin High Rooftop Lounge
  • Food Trucks for dinner
  • Stay in Venice Airbnb
  • Drive time about 2 hours
Day 4:
Day 5: 
  • Surf lessons at Mondo’s beach 
  • Stearn’s Wharf 
  • Stay in Santa Barbara Airbnb-this Airbnb is no longer active.  
  • Drive time about 2 hours
Day 6:
  • Santa Barbara Courthouse
  • Santa Ynez wineries: 
    • Bridlewood
    • Brander
    • Sun stone
    • Zaca Mesa
    • Kohler
  • Hike the bluff trail
  • Camp Montana de Oro State Park
  • Drive time about 2 hours 
Day 7:
Day 8: 
  • Explore San Francisco
    • Lombard Street
    • The Painted Ladies 
  • Lunch Kevin’s Noodle House
  • Giants game 
  • Stay in SOMA area Airbnb-this Airbnb is no longer active.  
  • Drive time about 2 ½ hours
Day 9: 
  • Explore San Francisco
  • Bike The Golden Gate Bridge in the morning.
  • Ferry back from Sausalito
  • Ferry Building Marketplace
  • Alcatraz 
  • King of Noodles
Day 10: 
  • Lunch: La Taqueria
  • Muir Woods
  • Drive to Yosemite National Park
  • Viewpoints in the park
  • Camp Yosemite Pines
  • Drive time about 4 hours
Day 11: 
  • Cloud’s Rest 
  • Camp at Yosemite Pines
  • The trail head was about an hour drive from our campground.  
Day 12: 
  • The Mist Trail
  • Drive back to LA
  • Priceline hotel Santa Monica
  • Drive time about 6 hours
Day 13:
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Venice 
    • Blue Star Donuts
    • Blue Bottle Coffee
  • Flight home that evening
San Diego Beach


Day 1
We landed in LA about 5 pm.  We had plans to get our rental car and be on our way to San Diego quickly.  It took about 4 hours to get a rental car at the LAX airport.  It was insane.  We also rented a 4-door Jeep Wrangler and they did not have any left when we got there so we got a Mazda hatchback thing.  This was fine but we paid for a Jeep Wrangler and did not get it or any money back.  Our dreams were definitely crushed that we would not be driving up the coast in a Jeep. In and Out Burger was our first stop after we left the airport.  We thought we would have plenty of time to drive down to spend the evening in San Diego but since we got there pretty late we just went to straight to the hotel.  Looking back if we would have known we would have skipped out on San Diego and revisited another time.  We booked a last minute Priceline hotel on Express Deals right before we left the airport at home. 

Brunch San Diego Eats
Best tacos in San Diego


Day 2
Crushed is a super cute brunch spot.  We all loved it.  We headed to La Jolla Beach and watched the morning surfers.  I feel like I could watch the surfers all day.  We rode through the beautiful La Jolla neighborhoods.  We stopped at Sunset Cliffs.  People were jumping from the cliffs into the water here.  There were no jumping signs everywhere but we were just watching.  On our way out of San Diego we stopped at Tacos el Gordo, and they were delicious.  We then headed up the coast to Laguna Beach.  We stopped at a grocery store in Laguna Beach for camping food.  We camped in a beautiful location right outside of the town, Crystal Cove State Park.  Our site had an unobstructed view of the water.  I wanted to walk to Thousand Steps Beach, but we did not have enough time.  This beach is full of tide pools and sea caves.  It is definitely a must do next time we go.  


Day 3
We drove further north into LA.  This day we drove through Hollywood Boulevard and to see the Hollywood sign.  We saw the sign at the Beachwood Canyon access but last I saw this is now closed.  None of us had ever been to LA so we had to do all of the tourist check offs.  We stayed in the cutest Airbnb 1 block away from Abbott Kinney Boulevard.  We ate at The Butcher’s Daughter, a plant based restaurant.  It was a super cute restaurant with great food.  We explored the shops on Abbott Kinney Boulevard.  We also walked to Venice Boardwalk.  I made reservations months before to watch the sunset at Hotel Erwin’s Rooftop Bar.  I highly suggest just going to the bar for the views.  There was a food cart festival going on in Venice that night.  We all just ate at random food trucks for dinner.  We wanted to walk the 3 mile Runyon Canyon Hike that offers great views of the city but it was closed while we were there.  

Venice Beach, Rooftop Bar

Day 4
Blue Star Donuts were delicious.  Abbott Kinney is one of my favorite streets ever.  All the shops and restaurants along the boulevard are so cute.  We then headed up the coast to Malibu.  We stopped at Malibu Farm.  This is an amazing pier with beautiful views.  The restaurant was delicious.  There are so many beaches along the drive to stop and explore.  We stopped at Million Dollar Beach.  We loved looking at the homes along the beach and wondering who loves in them.  We set up camp at Malibu Creek State Park.  We went to Malibu Wines that evening for live music.  It was a great spot to end the day.  

Malibu Cafe, California

Day 5
We headed up the coast to Mondo’s Beach for surf lessons.  I 1000% suggest taking surfing lessons.  It was one of the best parts of our trip.  It will be one of the toughest, best 2 hours of your life.  It hurt so bad but was so fun at the same time.  It was experience I know all of us will remember forever.  We headed to Santa Barbara for the night.  We stayed in an Airbnb.  State Street is full of shops and restaurants.  McConnell’s Ice Cream was amazing.  Stearn’s Wharf has more restaurants that are more of chain restaurants.  We just enjoyed walking up and down the wharf.  

Surf Lessons, California Road Trip


Day 6
We stopped at the Santa Barbara Courthouse that morning.  You can walk to the top to see the entire beautiful city.  Next we headed up the coast to the next destination.   We stopped at Montana de Oro State Park.  There is a Whole Foods on the exit to the state park if you need any camping food.  When we arrived we hiked the bluff trail.  There were about 2 other people there in the whole park.  It was so nice.  I did have a wine tour day planned for this day that I included in the itinerary at the top.  We did not go because I was pregnant and no one else was really needed to go so we just bypassed these.  

Santa Barbara, California Road Trip
Montana de Oro State Park

Day 7
We headed further up the coast to Big Sur.  We stopped at Morro Bay to see Morro Rock.  We stopped at many viewpoints and piers on our way up the coast.  We camped in Pfeiffer Big Sur campground.  It is crazy crowded but it is close to everything in Big Sur.  We hiked to McWay falls.  This is a very short and easy walk to see the falls.  We need to go back because it had just rained but the waterfall was still gorgeous.  We did another hike down to the water.  It was called Partington Cove.  This is a moderate 2.2 mile round trip hike to the water.   We had no service throughout our entire drive through Big Sur.  

McWay Falls, Big Sur, California Road Trip


Day 8
We drove to San Francisco.  Kevin’s Noodle House on Irving St. was delicious.  We drove by all the touristy San Francisco things like the Painted Ladies and Lombard Street.  We stayed in an Airbnb in SOMA.  We chose to be in this area to be able to walk to the Giants game.  AT&T Park was awesome!  Since this game it is our tradition to go to a major league baseball game on our road trip every summer.  

At&T Park, San Francisco, California

Day 9
Alcatraz tickets sell out really early.  I could only find Alcatraz tickets for the day we were there if we did a combo package.  The package included riding bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and a ferry ride back to San Francisco with Alcatraz later that evening.  We actually really enjoyed the bike ride.  It took us about 3 hours to cross the bridge.  We ate lunch in beautiful Sausalito and rode the ferry back.  Alcatraz is amazing and everyone should go.  We stopped at the Ferry Building Marketplace and then walked through Fisherman’s Wharf since we were so close after Alcatraz.  We ate King of Noodles on Irving St. that night.  

San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, California Road Trip


Day 10
We started the day with early lunch at La Taqueria on Mission St.  The line was long but it was worth it.  I highly recommend it.  We walked through many of the art mural streets in  the Mission District.  We stopped at Muir Woods on the way our of the city to see the beautiful redwood trees.  We then headed to Yosemite National Park.  Be sure to stop at a grocery store in the city or right outside of the city to get camping supplies.  We set up camp at Yosemite Pines Campground.  This campground had small sites but the bathrooms were clean and that’s all we really needed.  We went to bed early because we were waking up at 5 am for a hike.  

Muir Woods, California Road Trip


Day 11
Cloud’s Rest is a great hike with amazing views.   It is rated hard and about 14 miles total.  It was definitely worth the hike.  The summit was amazing.  We camped at Yosemite Pines again that night.

Yosemite National Park Hiking, Cloud's Rest, California


Day 12
We hiked the mist trail to the first waterfall that morning.  We left Yosemite and headed back to LA.  We didn’t book a hotel ahead of time because did not know where we would want to stay.  We wanted to see what part of LA was our favorite and book a hotel there.  We found a last minute deal on a Santa Monica hotel on Priceline Express Deals.  

Yosemite National Park, California Road Trip


Day 13
We explored the Santa Monica Pier and Venice again in the morning before evening flight home.  

Malibu, Beautiful Beach, California Roadtrip



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