San Jose to Santa Maria Road Trip Guide


San Jose is a city very much on the rise. As a hub for the tech industry, this is a city with a booming economy and a young, vibrant population. Blessed with great Californian weather and set on the glittering Pacific coast, San Jose has something to offer just about any traveler. Whether you want to visit unique museums and art galleries, sample the local food scene, or spend a day lounging on the beach, you can do it all here.
But California has so much to offer that it would be a shame to spend too long in a single place. When you want to get out of town for a while, why not pack up the RV and hit the road to Santa Maria?
The drive from San Jose to Santa Maria is arguably one of the most beautiful day trips in the country. It will take you along a dramatic coastline and through fabulous redwood forests. Top that off with some sumptuous food and interesting places to visit and it all adds up to a day you will remember for a long time.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 1 days
Recommend rig: any
audience: friends

Point of Interest

Big Sur

To make the most out of this day trip, you really want to stick close to the coast. The roads are a little windier but the views are so stunning that it will more than make up for it. Leaving San Jose, head for Scotts Valley and from there towards Big Sur via Monterey and Carmel by Sea.

Your GPS will tell you that this journey is going to take around two hours. You can safely ignore this because the views are so breathtaking that it will take what it will take. Fortunately, there are many places to pull over for you to take those all-important photos.

By the time you reach Big Sur, you are bound to be ready for a light snack or even a hearty breakfast. You will have many options as to where to do this but the Big Sur Bakery offers bread baked in their own wood-fired oven. The restaurant itself is situated beneath towering conifers that even the best man-made architecture can’t outdo, and you can eat inside or outside.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is just another 16 minutes away, and even if you are pressed for time it is recommended that you stop for a few minutes. If you are wondering where the roll-off the tongue name came from, it is named after an early pioneer to Big Sur. She clearly had an eye for beauty.

The half-mile Waterfall Overlook Trail is a flat circuit that is well worth the effort. The coastal views in themselves are stunning, but when you throw in the additional views of the 80-foot McWay Falls, this becomes a walk you don’t want to miss out on. For the energetic, there are other longer hikes in the vicinity.

Hearst Castle

Less than an hour and a half down Route 1 will bring you to San Simeon and from there you are just minutes away from the architectural masterpiece known as Hearst Castle. The idea was conceived by the wealthy mogul William Randolph Hearst but the architectural genius was supplied by Julia Morgan who was the first woman to study architecture at the School of Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Described as one of the most ambitious architectural endeavors in America this massive property also displays more than 25 000 artifacts collected by Hearst over his lifetime. You are advised to book a tour in advance but this visit will not disappoint.


It will take another 15 minutes to reach the seaside town of Cambria. One favorite occupation in this town is to take a stroll along Moonstone Beach. This picturesque beach gets its name from the gems that glisten in the sun when wet and you are bound to encounter people collecting them. There is also a boardwalk if getting sand in your shoes doesn’t appeal.

The town has a rich abundance of restaurants and coffee shops so this might be a good place to grab refreshments before completing the final leg of your road trip.


If you chose to stop in Cambria then it will take an hour and ten minutes to complete your journey to Santa Maria. You will still be running along the coast for much of the last part of this trip and Santa Maria offers plenty to see and many places to eat.

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