The San Francisco Bay Area is without doubt one of the most beautiful destinations in Northern California. A place where vibrant urban culture meets the natural beauty of the rugged coast, Pacific beaches, towering redwood trees, mountains, lighthouses, and historic sights. When you're in town for a getaway or long weekend, rent a convertible and go explore, from Twin Peaks in San Francisco to Muir Woods and the Sonoma Coast. It's all about the journey.
Here are our top 5 favorite scenic drives in and from San Francisco – easy escape where you can lose yourself.
1.49 Mile Scenic Drive Through San Francisco
Buckle up for an urban adventure on the 49 Mile Scenic Drive in San Francisco. While the traffic can be challenging, this wonky loop takes you to San Francisco's most iconic attractions and landmarks. Drive past Coit Tower, over Twin Peaks, through Golden Gate Park, around Lake Merced, and up the Great Highway past Land's End, through the Presidio, to end back by the Bay Bridge. This is the perfect way to tour the city without getting out of your car.
2.Skyline Boulevard – California 35
Head to the hills from San Francisco to this mountain ridge between the San Mateo Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean with gorgeous scenery. Head 49 miles south on Highway 280 to Highway 92 to Skyline Boulevard (US-35) and enjoy a peaceful drive on the tree-lined ascent to the summit. The curvy, narrow roads offer a sense of freedom with dramatic mountain views and vista points where you can jump out. Stop at Alice's Restaurant, a funky roadside diner in Woodside, for a burger or BBQ.
3.Marin's Panoramic Highway - Muir Woods To Mt Tamalpais
Put your adventure into high gear and experience Northern California's most beautiful scenery on the Panoramic Highway, just north of San Francisco in Marin County. The drive starts at 2,000 feet in Mount Tamalpais State Park, with seeping views of the Marin hills, San Francisco Bay, East Bay, and Mount Diablo. Wind down the mountain to Muir Woods and take in the majestic ancient redwoods. Make your way to the coast to beautiful Stinson Beach where you can soak up the sunshine, snap a photo, or hop on your board and surf the waves.
4.Sir Francis Drake Blvd. - Marin to Point Reyes Lighthouse
Drop the top and take scenic one-hour drive from Marin to the Point Reyes Lighthouse on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. From the US 101, take the Sir Francisco Drake Blvd and follow it all the way out to the coast. This beautiful route cuts through Samuel P. Taylor State Park, with shady redwoods that line the road and the 2,700 acres of redwood and grasslands. Once you reach your destination at the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse and Headlands, breathe in fresh air and amazing ocean views.
5.Highway 1 South – Pacifica to Santa Cruz
The stretch of Highway 1 between Pacifica and Santa Cruz is one of my favorite scenic drives with clear views of the ocean. Drive down the rugged coast from Pacifica, 15.5 miles south of San Francisco, and stop at the oceanside bluffs of Mori Point. Drive 9 minutes south to the secluded Gray Whale State Cove Beach and soak up some sun. Then head 45 minutes down Highway 1 to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero, which is worth a stop for the amazing ocean views. Stay on Hwy. 1 for 30 more minutes until you reach the incredible Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. Make a few stops along the way and take it all in.
Plan Your San Francisco Road Trip
Feeling adventurous? Explore the best scenic drives in San Francisco in a luxury sports car or SUV with the Black & White Rental Car Package at Hotel Nikko San Francisco. Hop in a Porsche Boxter or Cayenne or a Range Rover Sport and discover the most beautiful sights on the 49 Mile Scenic Drive through San Francisco, or cruise over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin and the Sonoma coast. Hotel Nikko offers luxury, Japanese inspired rooms and suites, incredible cuisine at ANZU, and a perfect location near Union Square and short drive to the Golden Gate Bridge. Put the convertible in drive and take to the highways of the Bay Area from Hotel Nikko.