Robert_Charlton - 9:03 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)
Hi bluntforce - I'm not sure from your post where in your trip you are right now. I live in the SF Bay Area, and have lived on various parts of the coast north of here from the Bay Area to Washington.
Evidently Google people think the world ends somewhat below the Bay area and an equal distance above the Bay area.
California is a big state, and most people can't imagine how rugged and rural the coast is until they've driven Highway 1. It is very sparsely populated, and it's in a large part isolated from the inland highways. I know that even in the inland hill areas, Google street view just stops because of low population density... and I've seen high res satellite photos vanish as well. The Oregon coast, as I remember, is more settled than much of the California coast.
So, that's why Google isn't showing much in the way of geo-based results (thought to be honest, I haven't checked recently). Living in or near a place is different from visiting. In many of the places where I've spent the most time, there aren't any restaurants or hotels that I know of.
Best I can do with limited time I have is give you some quick notes for some basic tourist spots. I don't know whether you've come to hike or drive, etc. I'd recommend taking the coast road as much as possible, but I sure wouldn't drive Highway 1 after dark in the fog.
Heading north... must-see or highlight areas south of SF (in very broad strokes) include San Simeon, Big Sur, Point Lobos, Carmel (kinda touristy, but there's a "there" there), Monterey, Monterey Bay Aquarium, etc.
Skipping over San Jose and the Bay Area, immediately north of SF are the Marin Headlands, then... if you stay on the coast... Mt Tamalpais (State Park that I think is still open and some great hikes in the redwoods), and Pt Reyes National Seashore. Pt Reyes and the area around it is worth a day if you have it. All of the beaches on Pt Reyes are beautiful to walk on. Limantour beach on Pt Reyes is a magnificent beach with modest cliffs that stretch on for miles, with grassy salt water marshes that are nesting places for wild birds. Good meals available in nearby towns of Olema and in Pt Reyes Station, and possibly also in Inverness.
Inland not too far north of the Bay Area, you've got Napa Valley, with lots of eating places and wineries. Again, kinda touristy. Chances are Google will have these.
Am about to run out of steam... but to jump way north, and back to the coast, to just south of the Oregon border, don't miss Prairie Creek State Park/Redwood National Park. Fern Canyon, entered via Gold Bluffs Beach road, is one of the wonders of the world. Along the way, a huge number of places on the coast worth seeing, though often with no population to speak of. I've always carried my own food and water. Don't blame Google... there's no one there.
Then there are various inland mountain ranges as well, with places like Yosemite along the way.