Sustainable Travel: How to Road Trip Through California With No Car

How to sustainably travel through California using public transport.

With so much to see along the coast of California (and no shortage of Outsite locations to rest your head at along the way) why not give sustainable travel a go and take it all in on a sustainable road trip by using public transport? Here's how to road trip California using public transportation and Outsite locations. West coast, best coast.

A traditional California road trip from San Francisco to San Diego isn't exactly sustainable travel. It's about a 500 mile drive from San Francisco to San Diego – just think about how much gas you'd use on that trip, just for yourself, or maybe a couple of other people, too. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, burning one gallon of gasoline results in about 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide. It's no wonder that carbon dioxide makes up for about 82% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Using mass public transportation is a great way to take part in sustainable travel. You'll be reducing your own carbon footprint by traveling via bus or train, and not to mention, you'll also be saving a pretty penny, leaving you with more money to spend on other travel and living expenses.

Many people think that a traditional road trip is the only way to see the California coast...but we're here to prove otherwise.

Wondering how to road trip California with public transport? Read on.

First stop: Fly into San Francisco - SFO

We suggest starting in San Francisco and heading south so you'll be on the right side of the road (and therefore have better views) as you make your way down the coast, but if you’d like to go south to north instead, just reverse these instructions. It'll still be beautiful! 

Where to stay in San Francisco

In San Francisco, we have two locations: Pacific Heights and Mission. Our Pacific Heights location is a classic San Francisco build on California street, where you can enjoy panoramic views and picture perfect streets. This location is for Outsite Members only. Our Mission location is a restored Victorian home in an LGBT friendly neighborhood, and is open to non-Outsite members. You can’t go wrong with either location, both being in beautiful, walkable neighborhoods.

Next stop: Santa Cruz

How to get from San Francisco to Santa Cruz

The bus is the easiest, cheapest, and fastest public transport option for getting from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Any option with a train will make you transfer and need to take a bus anyway, and will end up taking you much longer, so in our eyes, the bus is the winner here. The Greyhound bus from San Francisco to Santa Cruz starts at around $14 for an economy seat. The journey will take about 2 hours and 40 minutes to 3 hours.The bus usually runs 2 to 3 times a day on this route. The best part is there are no transfers! 

Where to Stay in Santa Cruz 


We have 3 locations to choose from in Santa Cruz: Greenhouse, Oxford, and Pleasure Point. Greenhouse is our Outsite Members only house in Santa Cruz, which is a modern eco home perfect for the conscious traveler, just a 2 minute walk to Mitchell's Cove Beach. Oxford is a cozy, coastal beach house, also a 2 minute walk away from Mitchell’s Cove. Bonus: This house has a garage that’s been converted into a community workspace! Last is Pleasure Point, a modern and spacious house that’s a 2 Minute walk to The Hook surf spot.

Next stop: Los Angeles

How to get from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles

Bus: The Greyhound bus from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles is also very cost effective, starting at about $23 for an economy ticket. However, this is a bit of a longer drive. It’ll take about 8 and a half to 9 and a half hours. 

Train: You can take the Amtrak train from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles, but it will take a bit longer. First, you’ll take a train from Santa Cruz to San Jose, and then transfer from San Jose to LA. There is no direct route. This takes about 12.5 to 13.5 hours total. The bonus of the train is that after the transfer you’ll be on the Amtrak Coast Starlight, which offers amenities like a “sightseer lounge,” reserved seats, “roomettes” or rooms on the train, and dining cars where you can buy snacks, food and drinks.

Where to stay in Los Angeles

The city that has the most Outsite locations is Los Angeles – our Members and guests can’t get enough! We have one location in Santa Monica and five in Venice Beach. Our Santa Monica location is in the hip Wilshire Montana area of Santa Monica, close to plenty of restaurants, grocery stores, and bars. You can bike to the beach in about 15 minutes from that location, which also has its own dedicated community workspace. Two of our Venice locations (Glyndon and Lincoln) are located in quiet, residential neighborhoods. The other three Venice locations (Dell, West Dell, and Pacific) are in slightly more bustling areas, all a few minutes away from the beach. Check out our blog post with a breakdown of all the Outsite options in Venice to decide which is best for you.

Next stop: San Diego

How to get from Los Angeles to San Diego

Bus: It’s super affordable to get from LA to North County San Diego, where our two Encinitas locations are. You’ll start with a bus from Downtown LA to Oceanside through Flixbus, which can cost you as little as $4.99. From there, you’ll transfer to the BREEZE bus which is run by the North County Transit District, and costs $2.50. That will take you right to Encinitas! This should take you overall about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Train: You have two options, depending on the amenities you’d like for your journey. The first option is the Amtrak Metrolink train, which is pretty bare-bones. You take the Orange County line ($16.75) from Downtown LA’s Union Station to Oceanside, where you transfer to the COASTER to Encinitas ($5). Your other option is taking Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner train, which has Wi-Fi, cafe cars, big picture windows, from Union Station to Oceanside ($28.20), and then transferring to the COASTER to Encintas ($5). There is no direct route. Either of these options take around 2.5 hours hours. 

Where to Stay in San Diego

Both of our locations Grandview and Neptune are in the idyllic West Coast surf town of Encinitas. The Grandview house has a workspace with ocean views and is a 5 minute walk away from Grandview Beach. The Neptune house is Outsite Members only, and it has direct private beach access.

Now that you know how to road trip California by public transportation, you're on your way to become a sustainable travel pro! By traveling with these tips, you’ll be saving money and the planet.

Check out all of Outsite's locations in California and beyond here.


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