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Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

Washington DC...
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Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1


I could use some itinerary help. We arrive in San Francisco the evening of September 9th. We have reservations at the Comfort Inn by the Bay for the 9th and the 10th. We are using Choice Points.

We fly out of LAX on September 18th at 1:00 pm.

We pick up our rental car on September 11th at 4:00pm at SFO airport. We have seven nights to get to LAX for our return flight on the 18th.

We would like to see the following:

Redwoods -- maybe Muir Woods or Henry Crowell

Monterrey Bay Aquarium

17 mile drive

Big Sur coast -- plenty of time to look and explore.

Julia Pfieffer Burns Park -- McWay Falls

Point Lobos


Hearst Castle

We enjoy wine -- maybe Paso Robles region

some missions -- which are most beautiful/interesting

Santa Barbara

Santa Monica

a beach where we could swim or at least wade.

We also enjoy walks along the beach and easy/scenic bike rides. I wouldn't mind a kayak tour, but my husband is leery. This is probably our last trip before kids.

This is my proposed itinerary. Dates and cities are where we would stay the night.

Sept 9th and 10th -- San Francisco

September 11th Santa Cruz

September 12th and 13th Monterrey or Pacific grove

September 14th -- Cambria

September 15th -- Cambria

September 16th -- Santa Barbara

September 17th -- Santa Monica

September 18th depart from LAX at 1:00pm

I think this might be too much for one trip, but I'm afraid I'll never get another chance. Seeing the Pacific has been a long term dream of mine. We live on the East Coast. Plane tickets are purchased and car reservations are made. Our budget is moderate with maybe one or two splurges.

San Diego...
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1. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

I think you have it pretty well planned, and you can do all the things you mentioned. There is a mission in Carmel, near Monterey, another one in San Luis Obispo and one in Santa Barbara. The one in San Juan Bautista is nice too, but it would be a detour off your main route.

I would give priority to Point Lobos over the 17-mile Drive. In fact I would try to set aside 6 hours for Point Lobos. It closes 30 minutes after sunset, and the sunset time is about 7:20 pm on the days you will be there.

Your day use parking fee at one California state park is good for day use parking at any other California state park unit on the same day, as long as the fee is equal to or less than what you already paid for that day. So save your receipt and you may be able to re-use it later that same day.

A guide to the general Monterey area is at www.montereypeninsula.info/guide/mryintro.htm

A guide to the Big Sur region is at http://jrabold.net/bigsur/

Washington State
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2. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

Kayaking in the Elkhorn Slough between Santa Cruz & Monterey could satisfy both you & your husband. Check with Monterey Bay Kayaks.

Often rental cars are more expensive when rented from an airport location. Check prices for other locations to see if you can get a better price. (But don't cancel the reservation you have made until you find something better.)

I'd add one more night to San Francisco, but I'm not sure which night to "steal" to allow for this. So many great options for September!

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

I would scratch the 17 Mile Drive. It is just coast with golf courses and expensive houses and you are going to get fabulous coast at Big Sur. Do Point Lobos, south of Carmel, instead.


Redwoods at Henry Cowell in Santa Cruz would be better than Muir Woods out of San Francisco because Henry Cowell is on your way, and the fact that Muir is full of buses and crowds. where you may find yourselves alone in the redwoods at Henry Cowell.

I will give you my version of the best way to get there.

Take Hwy 280 out of San Francisco. If you are downtown, take 6th Street and follow the signs. It crosses the city and then goes south on an 8 lane freeway through beautiful scenery. Around Cupertino, watch for Hwy 85, marked Gilroy and take that to the Hwy 17 Santa Cruz exit. This goes over the foothills and is a little winding for a few miles, but ends up as another freeway just before Santa Cruz.

As you come into Santa Cruz, take the Hwy 1/Half Moon Bay exit and be in the right lane. At the traffic light, turn right onto Hwy 9. 7 miles later you come to an entrance for Henry Cowell.


After your visit, just go back to Hwy 1 and go south to Monterey, about 45 minutes.

If you need a break at his point we have a very lovely downtown. Instead of turning left to continue south on Hwy 1, cross it. You will be on River Street. at the second traffic light, turn right on North Pacific Avenue and go two blocks to the town clock. Then cross water street taking the left fork past the post office and in the next block will be a rree (2 hr) parking structure.

Then cross Front Street and go in the back door of the Bookshop Santa Cruz, and out the front (if you don't get distracted...I can never walk straight through this book store). You will now be on Pacific Avenue, with coffee places, lots of sidewalk cafes, boutiques.

Elkhorn Slough for kayaking is a great idea, but it will take time from something else. We had house guests last weekend who brought their own kayak and came back raving about all of the sea life they had seen. As mentioned, this is between Santa Cruz and Monterey. Besides doing your own paddling they have a kind of 'safari' you can go on.


Have a wonderful trip.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

Thank you everyone. Puter thanks for the specific directions to Henry Crowell, much appreciated. PacificNWFamily thanks for the Kayaking recommendation. BW91126 thanks for the links, I do wish we had another night in San Francisco, probably should have added one more night to our trip but to late to change the plane tickets now. Thank you for the rental car advice, I will look some more, issue is Husband wants a convertible, big bucks and not everyone has them available for a one way trip.

Should we make reservations for most of these towns, we have San Francisco Reservations already. Some friends winged a similar trip without hotel reservations three years ago in July, but I'm not sure that's a good idea.

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

I just read your original message again and you have September 11 marked for an overnight in Santa Cruz.

I think you would enjoy a night here after visiting Henry Cowell. Here is a description of your options while here.....


And, if you did this, you could take the Elkhorn Slough 'safari' the next day on your way to Monterey without losing much time in Monterey since it is so close. I don't know the Elkhorn Slough schedule, but here is the website. Friends of ours recently took this trip while visiting us for a weekend and absolutely raved at the wildlife they saw.


Lodgings. In a tourist town it is always dangerous not to make reservations. Summer here is usually booked up and expensive, but since you are coming in September, prices will be down a little.

I will give you some suggestions and then you can google their websites.

My favorite is the Dream Inn, right on the Bay, next to the Municipal Wharf. Every room has either a patio or balcony facing the Bay. Pricey. A newly remodeled joie d'vivre hotel.

Next door is the Sea and Sand Inn. Same views as the Dream Inn. We spent our wedding night here....but that was long, long ago.

Across the street, but on a hill, which gives some views from its balcony, is the Seaway Inn, more reasonable.

Next to that a lovely Victorian B and B...West Cliff Inn.

These are the only lodgings I recommend in the Boardwalk area because they are away from the noise of the Boardwalk and its crowds, and, frankly, most of the motels nearer there are subpar.

In town. Two blocks from the main Street, Pacific Avenue, we have a Best Western All Suites, I think it is now called a "Best Western Plus". Friends of ours stayed there a couple of years ago and liked it. Breakfast.

On Ocean Street on the way into town there is a brand new Holiday Inn Express, where I put up overflow family members at holidays. They love it.

Also in the area is a regular Best Western, and a Comfort Inn, where we have stayed in years past when the electricity in our mountain home went out and we lost our well and our heat.

Be careful if you google these....don't take the ones at the Boardwalk locations.

I think you have planned your trip well, and please give us a report when you get home.

Have a great trip.

Edited: 16 August 2011, 01:04
Solvang, California
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6. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

Santa Barbara is a wonderful spot for the bike riding, wading and beach walks, you can also rent kayaks, and the water is a little bit warmer too. Bikes and water craft can be rented at Sterns Wharf, which is connected to the bike path. You can go wine tasting in Cambria, Paso, and Santa Barbara, which will all showcase Central Coast wines. There are several nice tasting rooms on State street. Sterns Wharf is located at the end of State Street.

San Francisco
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7. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

I'm a bit late to this party but you did ask about Missions. I've been to all 21 and my favorite *by far* is San Antonio de Padua. However, if you take Hiway 1 through Big Sur you'll miss it. San Antonio is 25 miles off Hiway 101 on Fort Hunter Legget army base. One of the upsides to being on an army base is that no town or urban area has encroached and the surrounding hills are deserted, giving the visitor a feeling for the grandeur of the land which the padres had to deal with.

After that, I'd say Mission La Purisima Concepcion has the most "true" feeling. It's not far from Solvang on the west side of Hiway 101.

Santa Barbara is called "The Queen of the Missions" ... it has a lovely spot and has been lovingly restored but doesn't have that evocative feeling of desolance. Carmel (Mission San Carlos de Borremo del Rio de Carmelo) is a basilica and where Father Serra is buried. Interesting architecture but otherwise not special IMO.

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Solidad (Solidad, CA) is also on Hiway 101 and needs a lot of work (circa 2003) but still has a bit of that desolation ... not to mention a Steinbeck background.

San Juan Bautista near Hollister has a restored historic disrict around it. It's also the only verified spot of the original "El Camino Real" and activity on the nearby San Andres Fault has created quite a dropoff right behind the mission.

Washington DC...
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8. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

Thank you everyone. Puter thanks for the Santa Cruz hotel recommendations. Solvang Social thank you for the Santa Barbara suggestions. RamblinSal thanks for the excellent information on the missions.

9. Re: Intinerary Help -- San Francisco to LA via Hwy 1

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