What's a good day trip from San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway?
You ask, we respond.
The Pacific Coast Highway is also know as Route 1, and you have the choice of heading north or south for a day trip. It's a hard call because both directions are beautiful.
Going south, Rte-1 leaves straight out of South San Francisco and the first decent stop is Pacifica (good snack/meal choices). There are then a series of lovely beaches and the quaint seaside town of Half Moon Bay. You could certainly aim to reach as far as Ano Nuevo State Reserve (around 50 miles from SF), where there might still be some elephant seals hanging out after mating season. Santa Cruz is not much further.
On the north side, via the Golden Gate Bridge (US-101), you can bear west and hug the Marin Headlands, then skirt through a couple of beaches to the extremely impressive Point Reyes National Seashore. Beyond that Rte-1 itself hugs the shore, passing Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock filmed The Birds), Jenner and Fort Ross en route to Mendocino—though Mendocino (165 miles from San Francisco) is a bit far for a day trip.
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