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Pacific Coast Highway

Auckland Central...
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Pacific Coast Highway

Hi

My girlfriend and I will arrive LAX on Friday evening and depart LAX the following Friday evening to our home country New Zealand. We have 7 days therefore to drive north along the PCH and return.

So excited as we plan to hire a car at LAX then just cruise. I was wondering if anyone knows of a good clockwise loop that is feasible within our time period? - I don't mind clocking up some miles but wouldn't want to drive more than about 300miles per day i.e. how far north along the PCH before turning inland to see some interesting sites and then returning to the coast just north of LA and back to LAX - want to avoid central LA or skirting around the base if at all possible.

Would appreciate any feedback on a good loop as we've never been to California before

San Clemente...
Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires, Argentina
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1. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

Have a look at www.mapquest.com(or google) then plan your trip North utilizing these destinations:

Santa Barbara

Cambria/San Luis Obispo/Paso Robles

Carmel/Monterey

This will give you an idea of distance and time.

The road after Cambria is the famous coastal highway #1 and is quite beautiful and includes Big Sur.

The areas around Santa Barbara and Paso Robles are excellent wine areas. The area around Cambria has beautiful ocean vistas, and Heasrst Castle.

If you do not want to drive back to LA on this road then you can go inland at Montery then return to LA on #101 highway which connects back to San Luis Obisipo;spend the night in this area then back to LA after that. When you reach Oxnard then traverse to the Highway #1 again then return to LA via Malibu which takes you close to Santa Monica and the LA airport(use mapquest again from Oxnard).

Enjoy!!

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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2. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

Santa Barbara 2 nights (1+ hour north of LAX Hwy 1/101)

Cambria 1 night (2+ hours north of Santa Barbara 101/Hwy 1)

Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove 2 nights (2 1/2 - 3 hours north of Cambria Hwy 1)

Santa Barbara or Santa Monica 1 night (Hwy 156 to Salinas 30 minutes, 101 southbound 4+ hours from Salinas)

Auckland Central...
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3. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

Thanks to you both!

I'll check mapquest but the drive times and distances sound good - i've noted the HWY numbers place names etc. Spot of wine tasting on the way up or down sounds like the one..i can see this trip falling into place sweetly. Looking forward to seeing a slice of America for myself - having grown up on all my life with American TV - i need to form a real impression.

cheers

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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4. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

Here are a few tips for your California vacation based on reality, not American TV:

Baywatch gave the illusion that our beaches and water are warm all year. Not true! While southern Cal tends to be warmer in the summer, the water is still on the chilly side. You'll see our local surfers wearing wetsuits to keep from developing hypothermia.

It never rains here is another false belief about California. Just ask the bicyclists who finished (or didn't) the Tour of California yesterday. They suffered in freezing wind and rain the last half of the race. The look on Levi Leipheimer's face said it all when they finished their race day in San Luis Obispo on Thursday.

Everyone in California has money. Nope!

Streets paved in gold. Watch out for the potholes!

Those are just some of the weird ideas out there about our state.

Here's some tips about the areas suggested to you:

Santa Barbara: Visit the California mission. It's historical value to the landscape of California is impressive. Also around Santa Barbara is the Santa Ynez/Los Olivos wine country as seen in the movie "Sideways". The small Danish village of Solvang is also a nice little place on the map. There's a great little park just west of town on Alisal Road with an easy hike leading up to a waterfall. It's called Nojoqui Park/Falls. Very sweet area.

Cambria: The world famous Hearst Castle is just a few miles north of this charming artist community. The town, itself has many unique shops and wonderful restaurants. The hotels/inns on Moonstone Beach Drive offer wonderful ocean front ambiance. There's a nifty boardwalk to walk along the ocean bluff and take in the lovely views. The locals call Cambria "Pines by the Sea" since much of it is nestled in a forested setting.

from Cambria northward you'll, of course, pass Hearst Castle. A few miles north of the castle is an elephant seal rookery where huge seals lay on the beach soaking up some rays and give birth to their young. It's quite a sight. There is designated parking and fencing to protect visitors and seals alike.

Just ahead of the seals is the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Sadly, no tours, but what a pretty addition to the coastal landscape. You'll begin to see changes in the ocean around here. The colors become more pronounced shades of blue, green and purple and the waves are more dramatic as they crash against the rocky shore.

About 14 miles from the lighthouse the road begins to narrow and steepens as you rise well above sea level to begin the journey along California's most famed part of Hwy 1 with hairpin turns and sheer drops below and cliffs hugging the northbound lane. The first rest area you'll come to is Ragged Point. This is such a pretty area that you must stop! There is a restaurant, mini mart, gift shop, restrooms and some very spectacular scenery to be seen walking out to the western edge of the property. The north western most edge offers a view of a waterfall looking back toward the highway.

Other sights along this awesome route include Salmon Creek, Treebones Resort (yurt camping), Mcway Falls at Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park, Nepenthe/Phoenix Shop as you arrive in Big Sur, Pfieffer State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Bixby Bridge, Point Lobos, Carmel Highlands. This is just a few places along Hwy 1 you can enjoy while driving up to Monterey.

Monterey has the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach, nearby Carmel and the wonderful town of Pacific Grove with it's wonderful recreational trail and Victorian B&B's dotting the coastline. A drive along Ocean View Blvd to Asilomar Beach is a must!

Have a wonderful trip!

Topanga, California
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5. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

Here's a Real California tip:

Take CA SR 1 between Oceano and Goleta. Lots of cool, interesting little towns along the way.

Topanga, California
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6. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

Here's another Real California experience:

In one of the directions, take CA SR 33 between Ventura and Yarmouth. It will be nothing like New Zealand, I assure you.

Also, with GoogleMaps and GoogleEarth at your disposal, there's no need to use any other (inferior) mapping service.

San Francisco...
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7. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

saltwater has «7 days … to drive north along the PCH and return.»

That won't take more than a couple of hours as it ends in Oxnard.

I recommend you go that far, though, and stay on lovely Highway 101 all the way to San Francisco stopping to visit the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and, in San Luís Obispo. the Madonna Inn thence continuing on to San Francisco whence you'll turn around to take the Cabrillo Highway, visiting Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, and the Hearst Castle back to San Luís Obispo and Highway 101 back to Westminster.

There's a great deal to see and do. A good start in that regard is a visit to the DRIVING DIRECTIONS page geocities.com/touringsfo/…DriveDir.html It's augmented by the linked reports "A Trip to Las Vegas…" and "A Trip to Anaheim…"

Auckland Central...
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8. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

phew! very good info - where do you guys find the time to write!?

yep, if both of us feel good then we might just keep driving north on the 101 all the way to SF and burn it back down on the Cabrillo. Think alot depends on the car we hire also - i'm keen to spend up and get a decent US ride (300c or something) or a Mustang 2 door - might as well as all we have in NZ are Japanese or Euro's.

We'll definitely check out the wine districts around SB and then continue north to Big Sur etc - and then at this stage check our time to see if we want to push on north and accept a long drive back or alternatively take it easy in the coastal towns and not go onto SF..hmmmm (save SF for aother time) in any case i'll print off your advice for sure.

Maybe I should check out the New Zealand forum and pass on some useful info to any US visitors..return the favor..

cheers again..

9. Re: Pacific Coast Highway

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