California is one of the only places in the Western Hemisphere where a person can have breakfast in a cozy mountain cabin surrounded by huge pine trees and soft white snow and be on a warm and sandy Pacific Ocean beach by lunchtime.

While history shows that the gold rush prompted hundreds of thousands of people to head westward in the middle of the 19th century, it was the pleasing climate and the incredible diversity of the land that kept them there. Thanks to some modern innovations such as asphalt and automobiles, the trip form the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the coast can be made in less than four hours on a clear day.

While there area a few places where a traveler can go from a beach to a mountain in one day in the state of California, the best journey is unquestionably South Lake Tahoe to San Francisco. As is the case when driving anywhere in the Golden State, you should be sure to get your hands on some cheap auto insurance in California before you embark on any road trips.

South Lake Tahoe is a small city with a big reputation, having been made popular in the 1950s and 60s as a retreat for the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra when they grew tired of the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. The drive from the lake’s southern edge is nothing short of stunning and captivating for about 20 miles, at which point you’ll be weaved along a pass near Echo Lake. Drivers should be focused intently on the road, but passengers can soak up the steep elevations and the glistening lake below.

You’ll steadily descend several thousand feet as you pass through the old mining town of Placerville and into the Sacramento Valley, where you’ll see a bevy of lavish homes sprinkled with vineyards and large orchards. The city of Sacramento is essentially the halfway mark between the mountains and the coast, and a quick stop along the Sacramento River will present you with a bevy of food and drink options.

As you make your way toward San Francisco, you will again make a small climb and descent around the cities of Vallejo and Oakland. You’ll see the skyscrapers and smell the fresh saltwater of the Pacific Ocean before you are ushered into the heart of San Francisco by way of the Bay Bridge, which combines with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to shuttle several thousand residents and tourists in and out of the innovative and unique metropolis every day. Once you’ve finished the 188-mile trip, reward yourself with a bowl of clam chowder and make you’re car insurance doesn’t expire in the meantime!