Best scenic Drives in San Francisco

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of the best drives for scenic views in northern California. From the majestic redwoods to the winding roads of Mount Tamalpais, there is no shortage of picturesque landscapes. One of the most breathtaking drives is along the stretch of road from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, where the Pacific Ocean meets the rugged coastline. The pristine beaches and dramatic cliffs make it the perfect place to take a trip and soak in the beauty of nature. Another must-see drive is across the Golden Gate Bridge, offering panoramic views of the city skyline and the bay. Whether you’re looking for stunning natural beauty or a glimpse of the urban charm, these 10 best scenic drives in San Francisco are sure to leave you in awe. 

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What are the best scenic drives in the Bay Area?

The San Francisco Bay Area is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and stunning views. One of the best drives in the region is the Redwood Highway, which takes you through the majestic redwood forests of northern California. As you wind your way through this amazing stretch of road, you can’t help but feel in awe of the towering trees and peaceful surroundings. Another must-see drive is the Mount Tamalpais Loop, offering breathtaking vistas of the bay and the city skyline. It’s the perfect place to stop and take in the panoramic views. For a coastal route, the drive along Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay is a delight for the senses. This 10-mile stretch of road provides stunning ocean views, rugged cliffs, and scenic beaches. And no trip to the Bay Area would be complete without driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, offering iconic views of the city and the bay. These drives are just a few of the 10 best scenic routes in the Bay Area, ensuring that visitors and locals alike can experience the natural beauty of the region. 

Skyline Boulevard (State Route 35)

Skyline Boulevard, also known as State Route 35, is a picturesque road that winds its way through the San Mateo Peninsula in California. This popular route offers stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty, making it a favorite among nature lovers and scenic drive enthusiasts. Starting in San Francisco, Skyline Boulevard runs south along the spine of the peninsula, offering panoramic vistas of San Francisco and the bay. As you drive along this route, you’ll be treated to breathtaking sights of rolling hills, lush forests, and sweeping valleys. Whether you’re cruising along the boulevard for a leisurely Sunday drive or embarking on an adventure to discover hidden hiking trails or secluded picnic spots, Skyline Boulevard promises a truly unforgettable experience. So, if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature, hop on Route 35 and embark on a scenic journey through the San Mateo Peninsula. 

Shoreline Highway To Stinson Beach

Shoreline Highway to Stinson Beach is a picturesque route that offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. This highway provides a scenic drive through San Francisco with breathtaking views of the Bay. As you travel along the coast, you will be treated to a list of the top attractions in the area. The highlight of this journey is undoubtedly Stinson Beach itself, a serene and inviting beach that stretches for miles. It’ll take your breath away with its golden sands and crystal-clear waters. The highway leading to Stinson Beach not only offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean but also provides a charming and peaceful atmosphere for travelers. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, go for a stroll along the shore, or simply take in the beauty of the coastline, Shoreline Highway to Stinson Beach is the ideal route for a scenic coastal adventure.

Muir Woods To Mt. Tam via Panoramic Highway

One of the most beautiful and favorite scenic drives in California’s North of San Francisco is the route from Muir Woods to Mount Tamalpais via Panoramic Highway. This scenic drive offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Coast and is a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Starting from Muir Woods, known for its towering redwood trees, the drive takes you along the Pacific Coast Highway, offering mesmerizing views of the coastline. As you continue on Panoramic Highway, the road gradually ascends, leading you to the peak of Mount Tamalpais. The panoramic views from the top are simply awe-inspiring, providing a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape and the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Whether you are a hiker looking for a challenging trail or simply want to enjoy the serenity of nature, this scenic drive is one experience you shouldn’t miss. 

Stage Road To Pescadero

Stage Road to Pescadero is a mesmerizing scenic driving route that will take you on an unforgettable journey. Located just south of San Francisco, this top scenic drive is a short drive away from the hustle and bustle of the city. As you embark on this adventure, you will drive along the breathtaking coastline, passing through charming coastal towns and witnessing panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean. One of the highlights of this drive is the opportunity to visit Natural Bridges State Beach, where you can marvel at majestic natural rock formations. The mile drive along Stage Road to Pescadero is truly captivating, with its winding path and stunning views. Whether you are a nature enthusiast or simply seeking an escape from San Francisco’s urban landscape, this scenic route will take you to the top and leave you in awe of the beauty that lies just outside the city.


One of the most scenic drives in the San Francisco Bay Area is the drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz on Highway 1. As you head south from the southwest corner of San Francisco, you will pass through Pacifica, a charming coastal town. Along the way, you can make a stop at Mori Point, which offers stunning coastal views and hiking trails that lead down to the pebble beach. The drive will take you along the picturesque coastline, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and lush green hills on the other. Eventually, you will arrive in Santa Cruz, a vibrant beach town famous for its beach boardwalk and beautiful sandy beaches. Whether you prefer hiking, sunbathing, or simply enjoying the coastal scenery, the drive from Pacifica to Santa Cruz on Highway 1 will not disappoint.

49 Mile Scenic Drive

The 49-mile scenic drive through San Francisco is truly a breathtaking experience. It takes you through some of the most picturesque spots in the city and showcases its natural beauty. Starting at City Hall, this drive will lead you to iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf. Along the route, you’ll also find hidden gems like Land’s End and the Presidio, both of which offer stunning views of the coastline. The drive takes you through various parks, including the experienced state park, regional park, and even passes through Route 84. As you continue on the journey, you’ll pass through towns like Sir Francis Drake, San Mateo, San Jose, and San Pablo, each with their unique charm and attractions. The drive also offers an opportunity to admire the San Pablo Reservoir and the breathtaking Inspiration Point along the way. Whether you are a local or a tourist, the 49-mile scenic drive promises an unforgettable journey filled with scenic vistas and memorable moments. 

Marin To Point Reyes Lighthouse

 The drive from Marin County to Point Reyes Lighthouse along Sir Francis Drake Blvd is a scenic journey through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in California. As you leave Marin, the road takes you through charming towns and rolling hills that showcase the beauty of Marin County. As you approach the coast, the road winds through the stunning Marin Headlands and offers glimpses of the majestic Golden Gate Park. As you continue your drive towards Point Reyes, the landscape becomes even more captivating with panoramic views of the ocean and the rugged coastline. Finally, after reaching the top of Mt. Tamalpais, you descend towards Point Reyes and the famous Point Reyes Lighthouse comes into sight. The iconic lighthouse, perched on a rocky outcrop, is a striking sight against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. The drive towards Point Reyes Lighthouse is a must-do for nature and history enthusiasts, offering both stunning views and a glimpse into California’s maritime past.

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge, located in San Francisco, California, is one of my favorite scenic wonders. Spanning across the Golden Gate Strait, the bridge offers breathtaking views of the city skyline, the San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. I love driving along Ridgecrest Boulevard, which provides a stunning overlook of the bridge from a higher vantage point. Another great spot to enjoy the bridge’s beauty is Battery Spencer, where you can capture incredible photographs with the iconic structure as the backdrop. On clear days, you can even see as far as Monterey and the Pigeon Point Lighthouse along the rugged coastline. For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the Golden Gate Bridge is surrounded by numerous trails and parks like Wildcat Canyon, which offer memorable hiking adventures with panoramic views of the city and the bridge. With its grandeur and captivating scenery, the Golden Gate Bridge truly represents a remarkable landmark connecting San Francisco to the East Bay.


 In conclusion, all the places mentioned on this list are truly great for taking a scenic drive in San Francisco. Each location offers its own unique charm and breathtaking beauty that is sure to leave any traveler in awe. Whether it be the iconic Golden Gate Bridge with its towering red-orange structure and stunning views of the city skyline, or the winding and scenic roads of Lombard Street with its world-famous hairpin turns and vibrant flower beds, there is something for everyone on this list. Other notable destinations include the picturesque coastal drive along the Great Highway with its oceanfront views and crashing waves, and the stunning views from Twin Peaks, where visitors can witness the entire city spread out before them on a clear day. No matter which place you choose, taking a scenic drive in San Francisco is sure to be an unforgettable experience filled with natural beauty and stunning vistas.