Two roads diverge between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and both are well-traveled: California State Route 1, which winds along the dramatic California coastline, and Interstate 5, a four-lane highway right through the state’s agricultural heartland. Whether you opt for the more scenic Highway 1, as it’s often called, or try to set a new land speed record on I-5, here are some favorite stops on and off the beaten path, listed from north to south. (You can also split the difference somewhat by taking Highway 101 from San Jose to San Luis Obispo, where it merges with Route 1).
If you leave San Francisco and drive down the coast, you can start early and make a long day of it. If so, your first stop should be coffee and baked goods in the Santa Cruz area. For lunch, seafood is the obvious choice on this stretch of coast, although it is not the only option. And if you take the time, you can treat yourself to a Michelin-starred dinner outside of Los Angeles as a reward for taking the long way.