A One-Day Road Trip from Monterey to San Francisco

One of my favorite trips is when we took a Sunday, started early and left Monterey to drive up the coast to San Francisco. Now this was a very full day and we probably spent at least 5 hours in the car driving but there was something very relaxing about the whole thing.

I for one enjoy taking road trips with someone else since you often have a chance to talk a little deeper and lets to conversation head somewhere it might not otherwise. Plus the slow travel and many stops allow you to dig into an area a little better.

17 Mile Drive

Pebble Beach 17 Mile Drive Ocean Northern California CoastWe woke up in Monterey, grabbed our fall back breakfast at Starbuck and made our way to 17 Mile Drive. If you haven’t heard of this road, it is best known for the Lone Cypress and the Pebble Beach Golf Club. The entire drive is beautiful, with woods, beaches, and the golf courses. Oh and some pretty outstanding homes. I know I wouldn’t mind living here.

We had both done the drive before and decided to get out and stop at just a few places. We took a nice long walk down along Spanish Bay (#5 on the map) where there is a great wooden boardwalk to travel along and breathtaking views. You feel like you are far away from the rest of the world and even on a warm Sunday morning we rarely passed anyone else. It was beautiful, romantic and a great place to just sit and be.

17 Mile Drive Lone Cypress Pebble Beach CaliforniaWe of course took a moment to walk out and see the Lone Cypress (#16 on the map). This spot is beautiful but it is often packed with tourists. Worth a quick visit but some of the less known stops are just as beautiful.

Then as two golfers we had to take a quick stop in the Lodge at Pebble Beach (#19 on the map). What I can say is that a photo, or TV coverage, do not do this place justice. You can walk down just by the Eighteenth green and quietly watch golfers finish a round. They also have a variety of locations where you can grab a drink/coffee and enjoy the view

A Lunch Stop in Santa Cruz 

We weren’t ready for lunch quiet yet so we thought we would start making out way up to Santa Cruz. You take the 68 out of Monterey and hop on the 1. Now just enjoy the ride.

While not every moment is on the coast it is full of beautiful beaches, cliffs, and even some local farms. We enjoyed the hour ride up and then found ourselves a place to park and wandered around the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

As we were craving a quick unhealthy lunch right on the water and we found Ideal Bar & Grill. Now if you’re looking for something elegant this might not be the spot for you, but if you want a quality tuna melt, french fries and onion rings this is the perfect spot. We had a great greasy meal and enjoyed the view. The stereo was also playing some of our favorite nineties hits as we ate. We couldn’t have found a better fit for our afternoon.

A quick stop in the Santa Cruz Mountains

We took a quick turn off the one and headed into hills of Bonny Doon to try and track down a winery. It turned out that the one we were looking for had changed hands but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the wine.

We popped into Beuregard Vineyards on a little wooded property only a couple miles off the freeway. Inside is a nice wood bar where the well-informed staff pour the tastings, nothing worse than wineries when those pouring don’t know much about the wine. Out back there is a picnic area with tables and chairs.

I still have one of their bottles in our wine fridge since they got me to buy a Chardonnay, which I typically hate. They have a great steal barrel Chardonnay that could please any pallet, and that says a lot coming from me!

Sunset in Half Moon Bay

As we were heading up to San Francisco the sun was starting to set and we figured might as well find a spot to enjoy it before heading up to dinner. We weren’t too far from Half Moon Bay and figured there would be a variety of options from there. We ended up driving into the marina and stopped at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. for a drink on the patio.

It was a great little find with tasty beer, live music and a nice few to watch the sun come down.

Dinner in San Francisco 

Bay Bridge Night San FranciscoWe hopped back on the 1 and made our way up into the City. It was great to enjoy a nice sit down dinner before heading back home and I never waste a chance to hang out in the City.

You could top of your road trip in any of the great restaurants in any of the neighborhoods (looking for options, click here). We had been on a big Indian food kick at the time and the boyfriend took me along to one of his favorites in San Fran.

Now I wouldn’t have predicted an Irish Bar – Indian Food combination would work but at Kennedy’s Curry you have both great food and a great pub. Everything from the chia tea to the palak paneer was full of flavor. Unlike many of the restaurants in the City we were happy to see a pretty small bill at the end of the evening and lots of leftovers to take home.

A long but oddly relaxing trip

We took this trip on a Sunday and afterwards still had about 90 miles to get home to Sacramento but somehow still felt energized by it and ready to start the workweek. It is still probably one of the best days I’ve ever spent. Hope you take a trip up the 1 and let me know where you stopped since I defiantly plan on trying it again.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.