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Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

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Tucson
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30 posts
99 reviews
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Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

We are thinking about driving from San Francisco (Ocean Park Hotel in Sunset) to San Simeon along Hwy 1. We plan to stop off in San Simeon for two nights since accommodations are cheap. Is this drive doable or will we be rushed? We fly out of Monterey so we would return drive back up Hwy 1, see the sights we missed driving down and spend the third night in Monterey. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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1. Re: Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

SF to San Simeon is about a 6 hour drive WITHOUT stops.

Whether it can be done depends on how early you leave SF and the time of year. If you plan on coming when we have shorter daylight hours, you run the risk of driving part of the Big Sur coast in the dark, which is not recommended due to the high elevation with sheer drop offs and all the sharp hairpin turns you'll encounter the last 14 miles or so of the Big Sur coast.

Since you'll be driving back up to Monterey for a night before flying out, then you can take advantage of the sights on the way back and limit your stops on the way down to make better time.

Here's one plan to help with your timing:

Day 1 SF to SS:

Santa Cruz

Bixby Bridge

Nepenthe for lunch

McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Ragged Point

Elephant seal rookery near the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

Day 2: Hearst Castle, Cambria/Moonstone Beach/Paso Robles wine tasting?

Day 3 SS to Monterey

Pfeiffer Beach

Point Lobos State Reserve

Carmel By The Sea

Carmel Beach

17 Mile Drive

Asilomar Beach

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Tucson
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2. Re: Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

Thanks Kibblesmom for the feedback. Good ideas! I will take your recommendation & plan to leave SF by 8 am and it looks like we will have about 11 hrs daylight time( early Oct). Our reason for going all the way to San Simeon is that lodging is a fraction of the cost from Big Sur area. So now it's just a toss up whether to drive the full six hours to Simeon or trying to find a place to stop (nothing fancy just inexpensive and CLEAN). I keep calling lodges and they are fours times the cost of Simeon so I'm thinking driving an extra hour or two saves us a lot and we will be right in Cambria area which looks interesting.

Avila Beach...
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3. Re: Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

Once you leave Carmel you will not find places to "stop" before San Simeon. There are limited accommodations in Big Sur. Least expensive would be Fernwood Resort. Small rooms at reasonable prices and a campground with tent cabins (you need to bring sleeping bags) or adventure tents (bedding provided).

Tucson
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4. Re: Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

I did try Fernwood and they are booked. There is availablity at Gorda Springs but the reviews do not look good. Does anyone know anything about them? SS is just another hour's drive south of Gorda I believe so I suppose we will keep driving. Thanks.

Avila Beach...
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5. Re: Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

I've stayed at Gorda. It is a strange little place. Can't quite describe it - the room I had was nice with spectacular views, but it is very isolated and just....unusual. For the price, I would continue on to San Simeon. I'm surprised Fernwood is completely booked, unless there is an event there. I often get reservations there a couple of weeks before.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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6. Re: Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

I agree with zebracruiser... continue to San Simeon. I think you'll like Cambria a few miles down the road from San Simeon. It's a quaint town with cute shops, cozy places to eat, as well as family friendly cheap eats. Moonstone Beach is a good place for a sunset walk along the wooden boardwalk or spying for otters from Leffingwell Landing on the north end of Moonstone Beach Drive.

7. Re: Drive from San Francisco to San Simeon

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