San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in America, is a great place to take a scenic drive.
With towering hills and breathtaking views all across the bay, there’s no better way to explore and appreciate the city than to go for a drive.
Cruise through a variety of neighborhoods and get a good feel for the vibrancy that lives within each one, or find your way onto the Golden Gate bridge and take in all the glory of this West Coast icon.
No matter where you choose to visit along your route, you’re sure to have an enjoyable time on this picturesque drive in San Francisco.
Overview Of Scenic Drive In San Francisco
Though San Francisco is an urban destination known for its hip foodie culture, tech industry and premier museums, the city also offers a wealth of natural beauty.
Take a drive around the city and you’ll be presented with stunning views of blue waters, stunning mountainside and some of the most iconic bridges in California.
Whether it’s sightseeing at one of many San Francisco beaches or exploring coastal redwood trees and dramatic seaside cliffs, each turn on this route will present a unique vista that you won’t soon forget.
Popular Scenic Drive In San Francisco
San Francisco is known for its stunning views and scenery, making it a popular destination for travelers looking to experience the beauty of the city.
For your information, some of the most popular scenic drives are illustrated here. Enjoying any one of these journeys makes it easy to understand why driving through San Francisco is such a distinctive experience.
Pacific Coast Highway
San Francisco is a world-renowned travel destination, boasting some of the most beautiful sights in the United States.
But, for those who have yet to visit the iconic Golden City, a scenic drive up and down its Pacific Coast Highway is guaranteed to tantalize.
Taking this 113-mile trip promises a reminder of why San Francisco is such an exceptional location; exploring its winding coastal roads gives travelers unparalleled views of the ocean, countless chances for wildlife spotting, and the opportunity to experience the myriad whimsical beach towns that speckle the area.
Exploring Northern California’s west coast by car offers memories and photographs that will last a lifetime, it’s sure to be a remarkable journey.
San Francisco’s 17-Mile Drive is a legendary, picturesque drive located on the Monterey Peninsula.
Spanning from San Francisco to Carmel, this route offers a breathtaking journey along the Pacific coastline that visitors won’t soon forget.
Along the way, you can admire stunning ocean views, lush golf courses and gentle sea breezes for an unforgettable experience, plus, its featured attractions such as Bird Rock and Spanish Bay make it an even more reason to take this journey.
Everything from delicious dining options to exclusive shopping makes 17-Mile Drive a must-see destination that can be enjoyed again and again.
The breathtaking beauty of San Francisco is perfectly showcased along Bayshore Boulevard.
From its start near Candlestick Park, the scenic drive stretches for almost ten miles, showing off sweeping views of the bay on one side and verdant hills on the other.
As you drive along its gentle curves, it’s easy to see why locals and visitors alike take so much pleasure in admiring this dazzling landscape.
Whether you choose to drive leisurely and take in all of the vistas or quicken your pace to single mindedly reach a destination, one thing is certain, you won’t be disappointed by this stunning stretch of roads!
Those looking for a leisurely drive near San Francisco look no further than Presidio Drive. This 11 mile stretch of road overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge is unlike any other in the world.
The sweeping turns along the drive give travelers breathtaking views of the bridge, Alcatraz Island, and other gorgeous vistas of San Francisco.
Along this drive, you can find tucked away trails with perfect lookout spots, take in some local history at Fort Point National Historic Site, or just relax by Baker Beach to take in all the beauty that Presidio Drive has to offer.
Mount Tamalpais Scenic Drive
Situated in northern Marin County, the Mount Tamalpais Scenic Drive is a spectacular route filled with breathtaking sites.
Meandering through gorgeous redwood groves and rolling hills, one can take in panoramic views of the entire bay area while reaching the summit of one of California’s oldest mountains.
Stop by numerous serene lookout points or add more adventure to your journey by taking a detour down some meandering back roads leading to hidden coves and coastal trails.
From rolling hills covered in grassy bloom to miles of thick foliage enveloping everything in sight, it’s undoubtedly a memorable experience for travelers.
San Francisco’s iconic Lombard Street is often referred to as the “crookedest street in the world,” a zig-zag journey that undulates through eight tight hairpin turns and myriad colorful gardens.
Part of the much-beloved Russian Hill neighborhood, driving down this steep and curving road provides an unparalleled experience that has drawn locals and visitors alike to its beautiful streetscape for decades.
Further down Potrero Hill lies an even more spectacular sight: San Francisco Bay in all its glory plus stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
California State Route 1
California State Route 1, which runs all along the Northern California coast from San Francisco to Eureka, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the state.
This highway winds around coves and past iconic bridges that allow motorists to truly appreciate the majestic beauty of San Francisco.
From rolling hills and lush valleys dotted with farms and vineyards near Vallejo to fish-filled bays and mesmerizing sights along Point Reyes, this drive has a little something for everyone.
Golden Gate Bridge Drive
One of the most iconic drives in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge Drive, a journey that takes visitors along San Francisco’s waterfront and across its legendary bridge.
While driving across this majestic span, one can take in breathtaking views of the city skyline and Alcatraz Island.
This drive is especially special at night when the bridge lights up, creating an unforgettable atmosphere. The 14-mile stretch has been recognized as one of America’s Most Scenic Byways and is a must-see for any guest to the city.
One of the beauties of San Francisco is its spectacular views from Skyline Boulevard.
Driving five majestic miles along the crest of the Sierra Morena Ridge, this breathtaking highway offers a stunning array of both city and nature vistas.
Viewpoints overlook vast expanses of sparkling bay waters as well as breathtaking glimpses of rolling hills and graceful redwood forests cloaked with vibrant wildflowers during select times of the year.
From each vantage point, awe-inspiring sights seem to stretch on forever, embraced by glimmering sunrises and sunsets to create truly memorable experiences.
El Camino Real
San Francisco’s El Camino Real is one of the most beautiful drives a person can take.
From rolling hills dotted with vibrant shrubbery, to glistening lakes reflecting the setting sun, El Camino Real will have you captivated from start to finish.
To top it off, this scenic route also covers an impressive amount of historic San Francisco sites, such as the Mission Dolores, located in the heart of the city.
With plenty of interesting sights and activities available along your journey, you’re sure to make unforgettable memories during your drive down El Camino Real.
Hummingbirds flutter past you as you hang by a rustic creek in one quiet moment and later on, be mesmerized as hundreds of stars light up above your head in another secluded area further down the road.
Whatever kind of adventure you are searching for, El Camino Real is sure to provide it.
Tips For Enjoying The Drive
Whether you live in San Francisco or are a tourist looking to explore, you should definitely get out and enjoy a scenic drive. But before you head out the door, be sure to read up on some helpful tips for enjoying your outing.
Knowing the best places to go, when to make stops, and what you can do when you arrive are all important points to consider when planning your drive.
With some patience and observation, you will experience breathtaking views that will leave no doubt as to why San Francisco is one of the most popular destinations in the world.
Best Time To Visit
For an adventure filled with beautiful sights, taking a scenic drive through San Francisco at the right time of year is an absolute must.
Spring and autumn are great times of year to visit this city with its stunning rolling hills, golden bridge, and gorgeous coastal views.
During the spring season, the wildflowers are in bloom in various parts of town while brilliant oranges and vibrant reds beautify the city as autumn rolls around. Both seasons offer stunning views and temperate weather perfect for driving around this grand city.
Preparing For The Drive
A drive in San Francisco is one of the most well known scenic drives in the world.
Taking a stroll through its winding hills, you’ll feel as if you can almost touch the famous Golden Gate Bridge and feel an unforgettable view of the majestic Pacific Ocean.
Before you take this exciting and picturesque journey, it’s best to prepare ahead so that the drive can be thoroughly enjoyed without any worries.
It’s essential to have gasoline, a full tank of oil, up-to-date car insurance coverage and a destination planned out.
Additionally, bring plenty of food and water for a picnic along your expedition as there are many wonderful spots to enjoy it.
With these basic preparations in place, you will be able to fully appreciate San Francisco from behind the wheel of your car.
Before heading out on a drive in San Francisco, it’s important to make sure you have the right supplies. A full tank of gas, emergency kit with flashlights, blankets, and first aid supplies, as well as a spare tire are all essential for drivers.
Additionally, having a detailed map or GPS device can help ensure an easier navigation through the San Francisco streets.
When looking for the perfect scenic drive in San Francisco, one must take into account the road conditions.
While there are some roads that have been designed or upgraded to provide a smooth and comfortable ride with stunning views, some routes still contain many potholes and other areas with poor road condition which can ruin the experience.
While some of these more dangerous routes may provide thrilling opportunities, they also come with an obvious risk of damage due to weathering or construction work.
So while choosing your scenic drive in San Francisco, make sure you choose a route that is well-maintained and won’t affect your fantastic journey up the hills and through winding city streets.
San Francisco’s scenic drive is a must-see for any nature lover. With awe-inspiring views around every corner, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to snap some breathtaking photos or sit and admire the beauty of your surroundings.
From the towering redwoods of Muir Woods on one side and the picturesque lands of Golden Gate Park on the other, this drive has something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking to get away from it all or just want to see some truly beautiful sights, San Francisco’s scenic drive is an unforgettable experience.