We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

LA to San Francisco

Level Contributor
83 posts
162 reviews
Save Topic
LA to San Francisco

Hi again,

Thought I'd start a new thread for this one.

We've got the following itinerary decided for our LA to San Francisco part of the trip.

November 12 Friday: Drive out of LA about 3 or 4pm arrive San Luis Obispo or Cambria at about 7 or 8pm.

November 13 Saturday: Drive to Monterey via Big Sur stop at vantage points along the way. Lunch at Monterey. Drive through Henry Cowell Redwood state park via hwy 9 and then through to Big Basin Redwood state forest via hwy 236. Stay San Jose or drive further if not tired. If possible try to get to Merced or Fresno.

November 14 Sunday: Yosemite national park via Maripose Grove. 2 or 3 hrs in park. Stay Modesto or if not tired drive to San Francisco.

November 15 Monday: Drive to San Francisco if didn't make it on 14th. Stay 3 nights.

November 18 Thursday: Catch 10pm flight to DC.

Now some questions about the itinerary.

- If we don't book accomodation for any of those nights will we find it hard to find accomodation? We'd rather not book in case we don't make it to a destination in time. Will arriving at SLO or Cambria at 8/9pm be too late to find accomodation?

- We'd prefer to get to San Francisco by sunday night so that we can have 4 full days in San Francisco from monday. But I'm concerned with the drive time on 13th and 14th. If we cut back on the 13th then we'll need to drive more on the 14th and vice versa. Any suggestions for alternative route if its too tight of a schedule. Or do I have to resolve to arrive in San Francisco on monday afternoon?

- We're not planning to stop and walk in the State forests and parks, just drive through them.

- I would prefer to do the drive along Big Sur in the morning hence why the need to get to SLO/Cambria on first night.

Edited: 31 August 2010, 16:19
St. Louis
Destination Expert
for Saint Louis
Level Contributor
2,902 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: LA to San Francisco

Looks like a pretty good plan.

I would book a room at Cambria and in San Francisco. Otherwise you can play it by ear. Use Priceline in SF to save some big $$.

We drove the Big Sur Coast, stopping at Piedras Blancas (right on the road), McWay Falls, also just off the road and an absolute must-see. Pfeiffer Beach - a couple of miles west of the highway - look at TA reviews for directions - there are NO signs to help you until after you get off the highway. Point Lobos - absolutely amazing - allow 3 hours for this stop.

Have a great trip.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: LA to San Francisco

Imo you are underestimating travel time and the time you need for the scenery on your way. Departing LA that late you can get stuck in traffic (as we experienced) and you'll be on your way to Cambria a lot longer and I also don't think you can dirve in 4 hours to Cambria via 101. If you want to stay in Cambria I'd start earlier than 3-4 pm. And make a reservation arriving that late.

Your november 13 day also need some adjustment imo. The drive along hw1 is very scenic and Point Lobos is a must as TTT already has said. I just would want to make as many stops as possible along hw1 and visit Point LObos. See how late (days are short in november) it gets and make your way in the Yosemite direction without visiting the mentioned SP's. The more time for Yosemite the better. Driving the SP's b yways always takes a lot more time than you may think.

I also would not stay in Modesto but make it as far as Groveland that day or maybe Sonora. Much nicer for a stay imo.

We have been on drives like that without reservations but on a tight schedules I would not want to take chances.

If you ask me, I would take more time for the scenic drives and spend 3 full days in SF instead 4 but that's just me.


Level Contributor
652 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: LA to San Francisco


Just a quick note - don't miss the Aquarium in Monterey - absolutely the best - could not get the kids out of it and I am still amazed at the photo's we got of all those great jellyfish - absoulutely amazing.



Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
4,965 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: LA to San Francisco

Sounds great -- we never booked a motel along Hwy 1 .. there are lots to choose from.

Stretch the legs and have a lunch stop at Santa Barbara -- its lovely there... and continue up into the mountains to rejoin Hwy 1 via Solvang ... its a small Danish town which I'm sure you'll enjoy... even if you just drive through it.

And you've got Hearst Castle too at San Simeon ... not forgetting the 17-mile drive around Carmel .. and I do prefer Carmel to Monterey.

All about choices ... and you will love it.

Another tip, hire a bike at Fisherman's Wharf, and ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito -- then you and the bike can get the ferry back.

Here's a website for you ...


Have fun ... its a wonderful drive.

Level Contributor
83 posts
162 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: LA to San Francisco

Thanks all for your suggestions. They all sound lovely!

tet14, so if we skip the SP's on the 2nd day where should we stay for the night? I was originally thinking Merced or Fresno. Which place would be easier to find accomodation if we didn't book in advance?

Level Contributor
546 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: LA to San Francisco

2-3 hrs in Yosemite??? Mariposa grove will take two hours minimum. You still have a 1hr drive to the Yosemite valley and that is with no snow. As Tet14 said "The more time for Yosemite the better." I would at least give it an overnight. Yosemite November sunsets and sunrises are what made Ansel Adams an icon. Don't miss a great opportunity.

Level Contributor
83 posts
162 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: LA to San Francisco

Was reading another post about driving a mustang convertible in winter. Realised this is something i forgot to ask about because we were thinking of doing the same for the driv up to San Francisco. But now Im having doubts as the post was mentioning that it would not be ideal.

Given my planned itinerary would we be okay for the drive? Would we only experience extreme conditions in and around Yosemite NP? On 'average' whats weather like along the coast in november? Is there only snow along Tioga pass?

8. Re: LA to San Francisco

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 06 March 2011, 07:24