The air route between San Francisco and Los Angeles is one of the busiest in the United States. Millions of passengers fly between two of California’s largest cities each year. But it seems there is much more to see on the US west coast when travelling between the two cities by road.

As part of a recent trip to the USA, our member coriander thoroughly enjoyed the drive between San Francisco and LA. They’ve described the route as “one of the great drives of the world”!

Our member began their trip flying into Los Angeles with Qantas. The Qantas “upgrade fairy” ensured that the journey got off to a great start, with an upgrade to Business class. A fantastic crew, smooth flying conditions (and some Pol Roger vintage champagne from First class!) ensured a very, very comfortable flight.

Push back finally at 1150h, take off to the north for what was to be the smoothest flight I have ever experienced. Lunch and more champagne ensued. The CSM was excellent – made me feel like I was the only person on the plane.

Following a quick pit stop in the LAX Admirals Club, our member flew straight on to San Francisco where a hire car was acquired.

A conference in Monterey on the US west coast was the real reason for the trip. Monterey has its own “Fisherman’s Wharf”, with great views and food on offer. But there is plenty more to see and do in the surrounding areas. One nearby attraction enjoyed by our member was the Roaring Camp Steam Train in Felton.

As our member drove south along the US west coast, some spectacular scenery awaited.

Quickly pulling over, I watched a family of sea otters put on a show just for me, diving into some culverts and retrieving food and old cans etc.

I continued my journey southwards on Highway #1, motoring on straight through Monterey and Carmel and onwards to arguably one of the great drives of the world – the Cabrillo Highway to Big Sur. I’ve driven this stretch of road several times “in the olden days” when QF only flew to SFO (aaah, the days of QF3 and QF4) and I had to get to LA, but have always done this stretch of road in the morning or midday.

For anyone considering a road trip on the US west coast, our member recommends travelling from north to south. The reason for this, according to our member, is that you won’t need to cross the road every time you pull over to take a picture. With amazing views and frequent lookout points, it seems that there are many photo opportunities to be had.

See the full trip report, including many fantastic photos HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]