California Road Trip: San Diego to San Francisco on Highway 101


California road trip

Iconic California Highway 101

We coast California north to San Francisco, going low and slow.


Summer Escape On Slow, Scenic Highway 101

One of the last remaining and longest U.S. Routes still active in California (remember Route 66?), U.S. 101 is the longest highway in the state.  Established in 1926, it no longer officially starts in San Diego but in the middle of Los Angeles.

Today the jet-age Interstate 5, fast and modern, runs from Mexico north to Canada and eclipses its glory.

But driving slow, scenic Highway 101 is a trip unto itself.

Unofficially beginning in San Diego County, Highway 101’s original route ran through several classic California beach towns from Del Mar to Oceanside.

Now unglamorously named San Diego County Route S21, locals insist on designating it as  “Historic Route 101” and this from where we take off, near La Jolla Shores.


lj shores kayak

La Jolla Shores Beach in San Diego CA

We head north up Interstate 5 to hook up with the portion of Highway 101 called the Santa Ana Freeway in the L.A. area.

california road trip 2

Interstate 5

Hit the inevitable traffic jam.

This being California, all your wishes are fulfilled, including a craving for Indian food at lunchtime outside Ventura CA.

Soon, we hit the peaceful central California coast, the other California, uncrowded and rural, with rugged seascapes.

And abundant vineyards amid golden hills.

Highly recommended:  break up your trip and stop at the halfway point in quiet Pismo Beach.  Eat fish and spend the night listening to the waves.  Here’s our view from the Spyglass Inn:

At sunset on a beach walk we run into a bunch of tide poolers.

The next morning we head up closer to the San Francisco Bay Area.  Gilroy, CA announces itself with the strong smell of garlic, as the world’s garlic capital.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing to be proud of.

Here’s the Garlic Farm Truck Stop where we gassed up.  Gasoline and garlic smells waft into your nose at the same time.  Only in California.

Finally, from Gilroy we race across nearby San Jose through Silicon Valley until we hit San Francisco and come upon the star of our show:

San Francisco

It’s all about California dreamin’.


Going?  Already been?  Clue me in!




About Lenore Greiner

Travel writer/photographer Lenore Greiner started traveling at 17 when she took off for La Paz, Mexico after high school graduation. Since then, she's lived in Italy and Hawaii and her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, guidebooks and across the Internet. She shares her discoveries about travel gear and enticing trip ideas with other passionate women travelers on this blog. Follow Lenore on Twitter here, on Facebook here and on Google Plus here.


  1. Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to forward this article to him.

    Pretty sure he’s going to have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  2. Appreciating the persistence you put into your site and detailed information you offer.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same
    out of date rehashed information. Wonderful read!

    I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.


  1. […] during this particular California road trip, a certain series of billboards brighten your journey because the exit to Harris Ranch is […]

  2. […] a recent California road trip, I road tested pieces of women’s travel underwear offering new technologies in safety, […]

  3. axzz3Alnb6jLJ

    California Road Trip: San Diego to San Francisco on Highway 101

Speak Your Mind