If time is not an issue for you you can choose the slower option and explore California by train; there are two wonderful train routes; the Amtrak Starlight Train and the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Train. We took the first one to travel from San Francisco to Santa Barbara and the secon one to go down to San Diego.
We had no intention to travel by train in America. Given the distance between the cities, the rule of cars over the whole country and cheap and frequent flights, we were so prejudiced in terms of means of transportation that we never imagined a train journey that lasts hours. As a traveler who in her youth slept in train cars and witnessed the crossing of borders at a train stop, I did not think that America was a destination where one travels by train. But we changed our minds in San Francisco: having walked in a train station just to ask, we set on, having bought train tickets that allowed for a train journey following the entire California coast. More reasonable prices, train journeys which are a different experience in themselves, and the longest sunsets we have ever seen.
The first stage of our journey is San Francisco-Santa Barbara, which is a 500 kilometre distance and takes a whole day. We left the city behind, now moving at an enjoyable pace… We are in a train car of our own, playing music on our computers. Nobody is disturbing us except for train conductors who open the door and ask for our tickets once in a while. The Pacific Ocean on one side, the music playing, our books and beverages, and a room of our own. We are at the other end of the world and our daily lives are already a distant memory. Engrossed in the horizon, we are in sync with the rhythm of the train. We are in the travelling mood, taking it easy and aimlessly moving.