San Jose to Sacramento Road Trip Guide


For a memorable day trip with friends, this road trip from San Jose to Sacramento is both easily accomplished and will provide lasting memories and plenty of stunning photographs. You are going to leave behind the quaint Spanish-style suburbs and cruise along the scenic Interstate 280 with views that will take your breath away.

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Max RV length
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Road trip length: 1 days
Recommend rig: van
audience: friends

Point of Interest


It is just 56 miles to San Francisco, but you might want to build in some extra time because you are going to want to stop and take in some of the spectacular views of the Santa Cruz Mountains on the way.

When you arrive at San Fran, head directly to Pier 33 where you should find parking nearby. From Pier 33 it is a fifteen-minute ferry ride across to the infamous Alcatraz Island. On the crossing, you will be able to benefit from some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline.

Alcatraz Island sits in the middle of San Francisco Bay and you should expect the visit to take around three hours. Originally the site of a lighthouse, the island is far more famous for its days as a notorious Federal prison. Authorities believe that no one ever escaped, although thirty-six attempts were made. On one attempt no body was found and there is still some contention as to whether or not this attempt was a success or not. It is one of those mysteries we will probably never find an answer to.

Birdman Robert Stroud spent seventeen years in solitary confinement here and other famous inmates include Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly.

Fishermans Wharf

When you get back to the mainland you can enjoy a fifteen-minute walk to Fishermans Wharf or, if your legs need a break, you can jump on a tram. This is one of the most iconic places to visit in the city and it is teeming with things to see and do. It was originally popular with Italian immigrants for catching crabs and fish. Today it is still a working fishing wharf and there are some dishes here that are iconic and must be tried.

Cioppino is a seafood stew that originally was made in a communal pot from the left over’s from the days fishing. They added wine and tomatoes and created a dish that is still sought after today and is a San Francisco specialty.

Boudin Factory is located on the wharf where it has been operating since 1849. It is here that you will be able to sample some of the famous sourdough bread with clam chowder that seems to always be synonymous with the name San Francisco.

The Ghirardelli chocolate making company first started making chocolate there in 1852. They are situated in Ghirardelli Square and this is the place to go for a mouth-watering dessert. They sell handmade chocolate fudge, truffles and ice cream along with many other temptations to boost your calorie intake.

If you want to burn some of those calories, a walk to the Golden Gate Bridge takes an hour or you could hire bikes. Pedestrians and cyclists get to cross the bridge for free.

Jelly Belly Factory

If you haven't used up all your time allocation and are looking for something completely different to do on the last leg of your journey this might be for you. Just an hour away in sunny Fairfield is the jelly belly factory which has been making jelly beans since 1869. This family-run business has been going for four generations and today makes over 150 different gourmet candies.

Free tours show you through the five-step process which takes seven to ten days. Fourteen billion jelly beans are eaten every year and this is your opportunity to contribute. You have fifty official flavors to choose from with the black licorice a steady favorite.

Just to add to the mix, Fairfield lies in the heart of a winemaking area and they also offer a wine and chocolate tasting opportunity.


The final leg of your road trip to Sacramento will take an hour. This capital of California has a wonderful old town running along the waterfront and there is plenty to see as you meander along the pedestrian walkways. It will provide a fine conclusion to what will have been a wonderful day.

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