In parts of the San Francisco Bay area you can go 50 years into the past by driving just 50 miles. The journey begins at the northeastern end of Silicon Valley, in Fremont, at the Tesla factory. Since 2010, this 5.3-million-square-foot facility has been where Elon Musk’s company has produced its stylish electric cars, like the Model 3 you’re driving today (see sidebar). While time travel may be your goal, you likely won’t hit 88 mph on either I-880—which crawls through downtown San Jose, just east of Apple’s and Google’s headquarters in Cupertino and Mountain View, respectively—or on Route 17, which snakes perilously through redwoods as you climb up and over the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Despite the limited speed, when you descend from the hills you’ll find you’ve ended up in the ’60s—or, at least, the hippiefied college town of Santa Cruz. A leisurely cruise through downtown takes you by the Beach Boardwalk—the West Coast’s answer to Coney Island and a hunting ground for vampires in the 1987 cult hit The Lost Boys—and then to the foggy Pacific. Follow the coastline along West Cliff Drive, stopping at Lighthouse Field State Beach to visit the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, in the old
lighthouse. Watch the surfers from the clifftop for a while—if you’re lucky, you may spot a sea otter swimming among them—and then continue on to Natural Bridges State Beach (pictured). The last of the three namesake mudstone bridges—the other two collapsed due to erosion—is more than a million years old. Back in time, indeed.
Tesla Model 3 Performance
Few automobiles are better suited to a California road trip than the Tesla Model 3 Performance. Stuck in traffic in San Jose? The autopilot feature will keep you straight in your lane and at a comfortable distance from other vehicles on all sides—all you have to do is keep your hands on the wheel. And on Route 17, the 450-horsepower dual electric motor will send you rocketing around the redwood-shaded S-turns, while the all-wheel drive keeps you glued to the road. Use the 15-inch touchscreen to queue up a driving song—say, “Long May You Run,” by local legend Neil Young, in honor of the battery’s 310-mile range. $61,900 as driven; configure your own at tesla.com/model3/design