View of the Golden Gate Bridge as taken on my iPhone
[UPDATED FOR MY 2016 TRIP]
I have been to San Francisco three times [4 times after my 2016 trip]. It is one of my favorite cities on the West Coast. It is very beautiful. You will have an excellent view of San Francisco and the Bay Area no matter where you are in the city. San Francisco is also known for its steep hills. The great views encourage people to spend their time outside. The hills provide a tremendous workout. There are also a lot of great paths to go for a run or bike. For all these reasons, San Francisco is a runner’s or biker’s paradise. It is also no wonder why a lot of their residents are in great shape. In addition, there are a lot of great spots in the city to visit. There are also excellent places for food. I am used to the fast paced, intense lifestyle of New York City. I do not think I could handle the laid back atmosphere on the West Coast. As a result, I love visiting but could never live there. If I was forced to live on the West Coast, San Francisco would be my first choice. If you are visiting, remember to bring a light jacket regardless of the time of year. The city is surrounded by water on three sides. As a result, there is a cool breeze. The temperature can fluctuate significantly within the same day. A quote incorrectly credited to Mark Twain describes the climate well: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It is a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea to bring a jacket and take it off if it gets warmer. The morning fog is also a common feature of the city. It will clear by mid morning. In 2016, I visited during June. The fog will actually stick around longer at this time of year. It did not clear until after noon. In Southern California, they refer to this time of year as June Gloom. Without further adieu, below are my thoughts and recommendations for San Francisco.
1. Great Views
1. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge (in the cover photo) is synonymous with San Francisco. If you go on the website for the bridge, it will suggest that you take mass transit to the bridge because there is limited parking. Ignore that advice. While it is true that there is not much parking right by the entrance of the bridge, there is plenty of parking at Crissy Field which is right below the bridge. On the weekend, parking is free before 10 AM and very cheap after that time anyway. Since I was still on East Coast time when I visited in 2014, I was one of the first cars at the parking lot and got a spot right next to the walking path that leads you directly to the bridge. Crissy Field also provides an excellent view of Alcatraz. If the weather is good, I definitely recommend walking across the bridge. When you reach the Oakland side, you can stop at Vista Point which is great for photos. It provides an excellent view of the San Francisco skyline and Bay. The round trip walk across the bridge will take about an hour.
2. Coastal Trail
I was walking around Golden Gate Park when I exited the park’s west entrance and saw the beach (first picture on the left). As a result, I started to wander towards it. As I walked north, I stumbled upon the Coastal Trail. Whether you want to go for a run or just want to take a walk to see some amazing scenery, I highly recommend this trail. There is plenty of parking inside and surrounding the park so it is a great starting point for the trail. However, there are plenty of places to park alongside the entire trail. As you walk north from the beach, Sutro Heights Park is on your right and Sutro Baths is on the left. The park is the grounds and ruins of the former estate of Adolph Sutro, a wealthy land developer in the 19th century. The edge of the park provides a great view of the coast. The Sutro Baths were a private ocean pool aquarium. You need to walk down a set of stairs to get down to the ruins (second picture on the left). However, it is worth it since you get an excellent view of the ocean and can walk inside a small cavern where you can watch the water smash against the rocks. From the Baths, I made my way up towards China Beach (picture all the way to the right) before turning back. The trail actually goes all the way to Crissy Field by the Golden Gate Bridge. The houses surrounding China Beach are incredible. The beach is unique as it is in between two cliffs. It is a good spot if you want to relax and watch the ocean. A golf course also surrounds part of the trail so you will be watching golfers tee off and wonder if any stray golf balls have hit a pedestrian on the head. Another recommendation on the trail is the Legion of Honor, a fine arts museum. I did not pay to go in. However, the building looks great from the outside and there is a great view of the city.
In 2016, I showed my friend around and I took us on a route that starts on the Coastal Trail to the Golden Gate Bridge and loops around to Fisherman’s Wharf. We started on the Coastal Trail at the intersection on Balboa Street. We made our way up to the Sutro Baths. Then, we eventually connected to El Camino Del Mar. We made our way down to China Beach to enjoy the ocean for a few minutes. From our starting point to China Beach, it s 2.6 miles. Then, we made our way to Sea Cliff Avenue which connects to Lincoln Boulevard, which we followed all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. It is another 2.3 miles from China Beach to the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is 1.5 miles so 3 miles round trip to cross and return. We walked through Crissy Field then connected to Marina Boulevard, Bay Street, then turned left on Hyde Street to get to Fisherman’s Wharf. It took an additional 3.5+ miles. It is a route that totals almost 12 miles but it provides great views of the coastline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and gets you to Fisherman’s Wharf.
3. Dolores Park (19th & Dolores St)
The park is in the Mission District. There is nothing special about the park itself. It is just open space with grass and a few trees on a hill. However, it provides one of the best views of the city skyline as seen in the photo.
4. Twin Peaks(501 Twin Peaks Blvd)
As the name implies, they are twin peaks. The two hills are approximately 925 feet high in the middle of the city and south of the Mission District. There is plenty of parking so definitely drive up there. You can walk to the top of either peak. They are exactly the same. Since you are on the top of a big hill, bring a coat because it could get windy and cold up there. The Peaks provide a spectacular, breathtaking view of the city as seen in the photo.
2. Popular Spots/ Things to Do in the City
1. Golden Gate Park
This park is the Central Park of San Francisco. It is a great place to go for a run as there are a lot of different trails within the park and the outer roads are approximately 6 miles. There are plenty of things going on in the park with a Dutch Windmill (where there was a wedding occurring when I walked past it), lakes, ball fields, plenty of trees, and much more. The San Francisco Botanical Gardens and Japanese Tea Garden are also popular spots within the park. However, there are too many other things to do and great views in the city that are free of charge. As a result, I did not feel the need to wait in line and pay for either of those two attractions. If you want to see a beautiful display of flowers in the park, you can pass by the Conservatory of Flowers on John F. Kennedy Drive in the northeast corner of the park for free (as seen in the photo). I had a great time taking a loop inside the park. I highly recommend it on a beautiful day.
2. Fisherman’s Wharf
The Wharf is a tourist trap. In San Francisco, I am a tourist so I enjoy walking around it. There are plenty of shops, food stands, and restaurants. One of the touristy things to do is eat clam chowder in a bread bowl. I thought it was amazing the first time I tried it. It lost its luster the second time I visited the wharf and ate it. I did not even try to seek it out the third time. If you have never tried it, I would still recommend it since it is part of the full tourist experience. If you enjoy short boat rides, I also recommend taking one from the wharf that circles around the bay. It takes approximately 40 minutes and costs about $30. I took the Red & White Fleet Cruise line. The boat will swing to and under the Golden Gate Bridge then pass right by Alcatraz before returning to the wharf. I enjoyed getting up close to Alcatraz to see it from the outside and feeling the sea breeze during the cruise. On the other hand, it does get very windy and cold on the deck of the boat. You may need to go back inside and admire the views from inside the ship. Another fun spot in the wharf is Ghirardelli Square. Of course, they are known for their chocolate. Their ice cream is also very good here. As a warning, parking is very expensive in the wharf. If you do not mind walking, park away from it on the street and take a walk. I took a look at the map and choose a random area west of Lombard Street and walked 20 minutes to the wharf when I drove there.
3. Lombard Street (1070 Lombard Street)
Lombard Street (picture on the right) is famous for being a crooked street. There are also a lot of beautiful flowers planted along the road. People actually live on the street. I cannot imagine how much it costs to own a home on that road. You need to walk up steep hills to get to it. If you walk to Lombard Street from the west, you get a great view of Coit Tower at the top of the hills close to it (picture on the left). A lot of people also choose to drive through Lombard Street. It is a good alternative if you do not want to walk up the hills necessary to get to the street.
4. Trolley Rides
One of the more famous things in San Francisco is its cable cars. For a tourist, it is worth doing once because it is a unique experience. I recommend getting on at the beginning of the Powell-Mason line because the car may be full at the subsequent stops. The beginning of the line is at Powell and Market streets. There will be a line so be prepared to wait 30-40 minutes. The Powell-Mason line takes you to Fisherman’s Wharf.
5. Chinatown(1029 Grant Ave)
San Francisco has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. It feels exponentially bigger because it is on a lot of hills. The famous gate is at the intersection of Grant Ave & Bush St. When it comes to Chinatown, my thought is that you need to know locals who can tell you where the great holes in the walls are located. Yelp ratings fail me for Chinese food. Unfortunately, I did not know any locals who could give me recommendations. I did try a 4 star rated hole in the wall on Yelp, Delicious Dim Sum (752 Jackson St) in 2014. It was decent and really cheap. If you go to Chinatown, I would recommend walking into hole in the walls and bakeries where you can see the food before ordering. They are also usually cheaper than sit down restaurants. You will find a lot of them as you walk around Chinatown.
In 2016, my friend and I tried Yuet Lee Seafood Restaurant (1300 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133).
It is a good, but not amazing spot in Chinatown for authentic Chinese food. The beef chow fun is very good. My friend, who is not Chinese, ordered the Kung Pao chicken. It definitely has a kick to it. One of my favorite things in a Chinese restaurant is congee. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed by the congee at Yuet Lee. It was too watery and I could not eat much of it. The restaurant is a little more expensive than most. For example, the congee I ordered was almost double the price I normally pay for it in New York.
6. Full House
The Painted Ladies on Steiner Street between Fulton and Hayes Streets are iconic because of their place in the opening crawl on Full House. The best place to view the houses are across the street on Steiner Street from Alamo Square Park. The Painted Ladies is often confused for being the place where the Full House house is actually located. In reality, the house that was used as the façade of the house that the Tanners lived in on the show is 1709 Broderick Street, San Francisco, CA 94115 which is a mile northwest of the Painted Ladies.
3. Outer Richmond
I began using AirBnB since my 2014 visit. Accordingly, I booked a floor in a house in Outer Richmond. If i lived in San Francisco, I would probably live in this area. It is very residential. It is between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Golden Gate Park in the northwest section of the city. Compared to other parts of the city, it is relatively easy to find parking. It does not have a lot of the strict colored permit parking that is present in the other areas of the city. Moreover, there is plenty of good food in the area, which includes Little Chinatown.
1. Shanghai Dumpling King (3319 Balboa St)
I have mixed feelings about this restaurant. As its name implies, its best dish is supposedly the soup dumplings (xiao long bao). I did not like them at all. It may be because I am used to dumplings a certain way since I love the dumplings in New York City. I did not like the dumplings at this restaurant for a few reasons. First, I did not like the texture of the meat as it tasted like there was too much fat. Next, the skin of the dumpling was poor. Finally, I like my xiao long bao with a lot of soup but there was not much soup in the ones I ate. However, I have to concede that San Francisco is known for having delicious crab. As I do not like crab, I ordered the pork dumplings. The customers that love the dumplings here probably like the ones filled with crab. On the other hand, the noodles I had (beef chow fun) were great and on par with the best versions of the dish I have eaten in New York. All the other food in the restaurant looked amazing. I also like that it is a legitimate Chinese restaurant and not primarily for Americanized food that is tailored for tourists. Overall, I definitely recommend this restaurant for authentic Chinese food. However, I do not vouch for the soup dumplings.
2. Cassava (3519 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121)
It is a great place for breakfast. You order your food at the counter and then find a seat where they will bring your order to you. I had an amazing continental breakfast here. It included yogurt with fruits and granola, a croissant, and a poached egg. The yogurt was very smooth. The blueberries, cherry, and banana were very fresh. The granola and sweet honey were great complements to the yogurt and fruit. The croissant was great: crisp and fluffy. The poached egg was cooked perfectly. As much as I enjoyed the food, I hated the latte I ordered. It was an abomination. I took two sips and put it on the table next to me. It was very disappointing since the pictures on Yelp looked great. I can only assume that the barista has not been trained up to speed yet. On the other hand, I only drink specialty coffee. As a result, I will hate coffee if it is not great.
3. TJ Café (724 La Playa St, San Francisco, CA 94121)
It is an awesome hole in the wall in Outer Richmond by the coast and beach to get some cheap, good food. I came here for breakfast before a long walk up the Coastal Trail and definitely got my money’s worth. I ordered the Bountiful Breakfast which comes with 2 eggs and potatoes. There is choice between pancakes, French toast, or toast. I went with the pancakes. There is also a choice of bacon, sausage, or ham. I had the sausage, which I definitely recommend. It is a ridiculous amount of food for $5.55. You would think that the pancake would be small in this combination. Nevertheless, it was a full size, large pancake. All the food is very good.
4. Joe’s Ice Cream (5420 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121)
Joe’s is an awesome ice cream shop. The Caffererio (coffee and oreo) is amazing and definitely my favorite flavor. The toasted almond and mint oreo were excellent too.
5. Fog Baby Café (3516 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121)
It is another good option in Outer Richmond for quick breakfast. I had an English muffin with eggs, bacon, and potatoes. Everything was solid. While I was standing in line, I also stared at the jar of chocolate chunk cookies. Eventually, I succumbed and ordered one. It was also solid.
6. Purple Kow (3620 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121)
Purple Kow is very good spot for bubble tea. The milk green tea I had was very sweet. They also had lychee jelly, which I love. Purple Kow also features different types of cups than I am accustomed to at bubble tea shops. They are shorter and wider. I liked the novelty of it at first but then I was not used to drinking out of it and it gave me some problems. It is a popular spot so I had to wait on a long line in the middle of the afternoon.
4. Other Food
There is a lot of great food throughout the rest of San Francisco. Below are some of my recommendations.
1. The Codmother Fish and Chips (2824 Jones St)
This food stand is in the middle of Fisherman’s Wharf. It probably serves the best fish and chips I have ever eaten (Second picture on the left). The fish is very smooth and the fried batter is very crisp. The French fries are also excellent. There is always a line. A lot of people give up on line and go to the other food stands instead. However, it is worth the wait. I waited 30 minutes to order. It took me another 10 minutes to get my food. Your order is made fresh. It is the reason why the food is so good and why you need to wait so long. You trade time for quality.
2. Marla’s Bakery (613 York Street) [Now just goes by A Spoonful of Sugar]
This bakery is in the Mission District (2 pictures on the right). I got really confused when I got to the address because it goes by multiple names. Marla’s Bakery and A Spoonful of Sugar are two of the four names. I went here to try the donuts. My favorite doughnut shop is Doughnut Plant in New York City. In my opinion, there are donuts from Doughnut Plant and donuts from everywhere else. I must admit that the donuts from Marla’s Bakery are on par with Doughnut Plant. They are different but taste just as amazing. I recommend the brioche and lemon donuts. I got there a half an hour before it opened at 9 AM. The servers saw me waiting and gave me a free donut to complement the two I ordered. Two was more than enough as I could not eat the third one.
Apparently, this place has split into Marla’s Barkery and a Spoonful of Sugar separately since my last visit. Marla’s Bakery (3619 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121) is now in Outer Richmond. A Spoonful of Sugar is no longer has a physical location. You need to contact [email protected] to place a special order of the donuts that I loved back in 2014.
3. El Farolito (2779 Mission St)
There are multiple spots in the Mission District for this chain. It is a great hole in the wall for Mexican food. The portions are very large and reasonably priced. I ordered a chicken super burrito. A key to the super burrito is that it includes avocado. I usually finish all my food but I could not finish this burrito.
4. The Buena Vista Café (2765 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109)
It is a good café in Fisherman’s Wharf for brunch. The food is very good. I ordered the corn beef hash served with poached eggs. It also came with a side of house potatoes. I liked everything and the presentation was solid. On the other hand, I was disappointed by the clam chowder. It was too thick and chunky. The Buena Vista is most known for its Irish Coffee, which is Irish whiskey, peerless coffee, C & H sugar, and heavy cream. I do not drink but I tried it a bit. Obviously, the Whiskey was too strong for me. The cream was excellent. I drank some and gave the rest to my friend. If you are a fan of whiskey and coffee, I definitely recommend it. The food is moderately priced. The Irish coffee is $10 each.
5. Tartine (600 Guerrero St)
I tried this bakery during my second trip to San Francisco. My friends and I drove up from Los Angeles. We heard great things about this bakery from a coffee shop in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, the only thing not exaggerated about this bakery is its line as there is always a line out the door and you will need to wait at least 40 minutes. It is not bad but not spectacular either. It is definitely not worth the wait.
There are a lot great coffee shops in San Francisco. During my second trip to San Francisco, my friends and I went on a coffee tour. Below are the top two coffee shops we tried. Blue Bottle is also an excellent choice but I found a couple locations in New York City after my trip to San Francisco so I do not need to seek them out when I am in San Francisco anymore.
1. Four Barrel (375 Valencia St)
Four Barrel is my favorite coffee spot in San Francisco. The mocha at Sight Glass is comparable but the mocha at Four Barrel is slightly better (picture on the right). There is also outside seating at the entrance that gives you a charming feel of trellises at a vineyard. It looks great at night. If you get there at the wrong time when everyone else is trying to get their coffee to start their morning, there is a long line out the door. The line is a testament to the quality of the coffee.
2. Sight Glass (270 7th St)
Sight Glass is an excellent coffee shop in SoMa. There is decent street parking around the area. There are two floors and the windows are very big. The atmosphere inside is very good. It is a good spot to read a book or do some work while enjoying your coffee. I ordered the mocha (picture on the left) and it is on par with the best mochas I have tried in other cities.
6. Muir Woods National Monument (1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941)
Muir Woods is home to redwoods and a 40 minute drive northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge. The redwoods are absolutely stunning and beautiful. The road leading up to the woods is very curvy. One of the reasons that the woods exist is because it was very difficult to get to when San Francisco first boomed. While most of the redwoods were logged because the wood is very strong and fire resistant, Muir Woods remained intact because it was impossible to ship the wood back into the city. President Theodore Roosevelt was also critical in saving Muir Woods. From the National Park Service site, “Congressman William Kent and his wife, Elizabeth Thacher Kent, bought 611 acres here for $45,000 in 1905. To protect the redwoods the Kents donated 295 of the land to the Federal Government and, in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a national monument. Roosevelt suggested naming the area after Kent, but Kent wanted it named for conservationist John Muir.” Ironically, these gigantic trees are spawned by very tiny pine combs. All of this information and more is discussed by a Park Ranger [in my case an intern] at one of the large redwoods when you enter the paths. You could definitely spend an entire day hiking through the various trails in Muir Woods. If you want to do only one, I recommend the Ocean View Trail. It takes you up to the top of Redwood Canyon. A view of the ocean is blocked by the tall trees. You can follow signs to the road where you can see the ocean. However, you can get ocean views on the drive in or out of the woods anyway. In order to get back down, take the Lost Trail and Fern Creek Trail back to the beginning. It is a 3 mile hike.
The parking lots fill up quickly so I recommend getting there as soon as possible. We got there a little after 11 AM and had to park on the side of the road and walking 15-20 minutes to the beginning of the woods. The current entrance fee is $10.
7. Wine Country
The Wine Country north of San Francisco is a very popular spot. While Nappa Valley is better known, I went to Sonoma with my friends in 2012. If you want to take a day to try wine, either is fine. I do not drink wine so I was mainly just along for the ride with my friends. Even if you do not drink, it is worth the trip because the landscape is amazingly beautiful.
In 2016, I finally went to visit Napa Valley with a friend. I tried to be ambitious and stop by Muir Woods on the way to Napa. In retrospect, we should have went straight to Wine Country on the day we drove up there to take our time enjoying it. We finally arrived around 3:30. As such, we did not have enough time to visit Sattui Winery (1111 White Ln, St Helena, CA 94574), which was recommended by one of our friends as a winery that also has great food for lunch. Nevertheless, we still had enough time to visit two of the big wineries that are close to each other.
1. Sterling Vineyards (1111 Dunaweal Ln, Calistoga, CA 94515)
Sterling Vineyards is my favorite experience in wine country. The winery sits on top of a volcanic hill. From the parking lot at the base, there is a tram that brings you up with great views of Napa Valley. Unfortunately, we got to the Vineyards late in the afternoon after the tram had closed. As such, we took a shuttle bus to the top. Nevertheless, we had a great time. The building is modern and beautiful. There is a booth as you begin the wine tasting tour where you try your first wine and get a souvenir wine glass to take with you for the rest of the tour. There are stations throughout the complex, inside and outside, from patios to distillery rooms where you try the various wines on the tour. At the end, there is a gorgeous patio where you can enjoy wine and grand views of the entire valley from the top of Sterling Vineyards. The tour is $29 per person.
2. Castillo di Amorosa Winery (4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515)
Want to drink wine in a castle? Castillo di Amorosa built one just so you could. It is definitely a bit of a tourist trap. I was a tourist so I enjoyed it. It is a beautiful property. The wine tasting is in the cellar of the castle. General admission is $25 and you select five wines to drink. I do not drink so I enjoyed the fruitier ones more. I loved the Fantasia. General admission for minors are $15 which includes juices.
3. Busters Original Southern BBQ (1207 Foothill Blvd, Calistoga, CA 94515)
It is an excellent barbecue spot by the wineries. We stopped by here after wine tasting. The pulled pork is among the best I have eaten. The ribs were decent but nothing special. My would recommend getting a pulled pork sandwich if you are visiting.
1. Courtyard San Francisco Downtown (299 2nd St)
The most attractive feature of this hotel is location, which is in downtown San Francisco. The hotel is good but not spectacular. The rooms are clean and comfortable. Obviously, there is a premium for the location. Luckily, I was able to pay for all three nights with my Marriott points. Parking is not easy but not impossible. You need to read the signs and you may have to park a couple of extra blocks away from the hotel at certain times. Nevertheless, I spent less than 15 minutes circling around the area to find parking. If you leave the hotel early and return late, you should be fine. The hotel has valet parking but it is pricey and I avoided it. You can walk to a few things in the city from this location but you will still need to drive to most places.
2. Courtyard San Francisco Airport/ Oyster Point Waterfront (1300 Veterans Blvd)
I stayed at this hotel for one reason: its proximity to the airport. I stayed the night before my flight to Seattle on my third trip to San Francisco. It was a quick 15-20 minute drive to the airport. I also filled up on gas the night before at a nearby gas station. There are also plenty of food options that are a 10 minute drive away from the hotel. I did not get a chance to try any of them. The hotel rooms are renovated. Accordingly, they are comfortable and clean. The halls have not been renovated and you can tell they are old by appearance. If you have time and enjoy running, Oyster Point is great place to run. There is a path that runs 5 miles one way towards the airport if you go to the right as soon as you exit the hotel. The path is beautiful and you also have a great view of the bay. You will pass by a lot of biotechnology companies located at Oyster Point. If I worked at one of those companies, I would definitely eat lunch outside every day with the serene views of the bay.
3. Renaissance Walnut Creek (2805 Jones Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94597)
If you are in the Bay Area and want to stay outside of the city, I highly recommend the Renaissance at Walnut Creek. It is a good midway point between San Francisco and Wine Country. It is also right next to Berkeley. The Renaissance is arguably the best hotel I have ever stayed at. The entire hotel looks great. My room was very clean and comfortable. It also has a full gym connected to the hotel that includes two full court basketball courts, racquetball courts, aerobics, spin classes, etc.
9. San Francisco Airport
The San Francisco Airport is very modern and clean. I can definitely tell the difference between it and the older terminals at LaGuardia and JFK in New York. The tram system is also very convenient as you can take it directly to different terminals and to the rental car locations. I flew JetBlue and it was even quicker when I went from the Rental Car Return to the terminal since it is one of the first stops. The airport is also very close to the town of Millbrae (approximiately 5-10 minute drive). If you are hungry when you land, I would recommend going to the In N’ Out in Millbrae then buying some supplies (e.g. water) or snacks at the nearby Trader Joe’s.
10. Pacific Coast Highway
If you are driving from Southern California to San Francisco, I highly recommend taking the time to head west to the Pacific Coast highway. The views on this highway are spectacular and breathtaking. On certain parts of the highway, you are on a cliff right next to the ocean. In other words, it is basically mountain next to ocean with nothing in between. The highway strategically places lookout points for you to park and take in the view so you do not drive off the road admiring the beauty. When you see the spectacular views from the highways, you will understand the brilliance of those lookout points. There are also a lot of great cities and towns along the Pacific Coast Highway. The places my friends and I enjoyed stopping at are Santa Barbara (beach town), San Luis Obispo (college town), and Santa Cruz. San Luis Obispo (SLO) is the midway point. It is a great place to stop for lunch. I highly recommend Firestone Grill (1001 Higuera St, Ste A, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401) which features one of the best tri-tip sandwiches I have ever tasted. For my detailed recommendations for the PCH, please see /2016/07/07/hitchhikers-guide-pacific-coast-highway-california/