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San Francisco to Pismo Beach Road Trip, California Christmas 2021


San Francisco


Our morning started with a plan to check a few last boxes for San Francisco. We started with the Painted Sisters (the iconic Victorian homes situated with a view of the city behind them).

Painted Ladies, San Francisco CA, 2021

The next stop was Baker Beach for the obligatory photo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Redwoods Forest


We left and continued to hug the coast until going inland through the redwoods forest. Our primary purpose for taking this route was a stop at Alice’s Restaurant, named after the famous Arlo Guthrie song/story. The restaurant was packed with both locals and road trippers, making it feel far from a tourist trap. The food and service were amazing; seating is available both inside and on outdoor picnic tables.

Methuselah, Redwood City CA ,2021

Just a few miles past Alice’s we found Methuselah, a well-known Coastal Redwood. With warmer weather we would have taken advantage of the many opportunities to hike in around Santa Clara before continuing south to Pismo Beach.


Highway One


The most challenging part of the drive from San Francisco to Pismo Beach was knowing whether or not Route 1 was open due to recent mudslides. It turns out the answer to that question was very hard to find. As we approached Monterey, signage said the road was closed 40 miles ahead, but all of our Map Apps were saying it was all clear and searches pulled up no relevant info. We decided to chance it and started south down the winding coast.

Bixby Bridge, CA 2021

Along the road there are many options to hop off for coastline viewing. We chose to picnic at Garrapata Beach. From there, we continued south for nearly an hour before another road sign warned us again that Route 1 was closed in 20 miles.


With sunset approaching and the road becoming even more twisty and narrow, we decided to continue a little further and found a bit of reprieve from the white-knuckle cliff-hugging drive in Andrew Molera State Park. Deciding after that to head back north also meant that we would be no longer driving on the coastal side, so for anyone considering the drive with a bit of apprehension about heights, making Monterey your destination from the south is a lot less terrifying. Backtracking added a little over two hours to our drive, and although we were disappointed not to see the more southern coast, the view returning in the opposite direction almost felt like a different road.

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