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Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

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Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

Hi, me and my girlfriend will be driving to LA from San Francisco on the 10th of July.

We will be taking the Pacific Coast Highway but are unsure which is the best way to the Pacific Coast Highway around Santa Cruz/Monterey. There is nothing we want to see in Santa Cruz so there is no reason for us to go that way, just when I look up directions thats one way ive been shown to get there.

Also, we will be setting off around 8am, so im guessing traffic might have to be taken into account for the quickest route?

Thanks for your help!

Park City, Utah
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1. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

Santa Cruz and Monterey are both on the coast and therefore on the PCH. No need to stop but also no reason to re-route to miss them. In my opinion, the section from San Fran to Half Moon to Santa Cruz is one of the most beautiful stretches of the PCH, which is easily accessible from the west side of San Fran. Locals can give you more info but I don't know that you would face a lot of traffic going south once you get out of the city and onto the PCH itself.

If you do want to bypass that section entirely you can take the 101 south and join the PCH at Monterey. You'll likely have more traffic there and a pretty uninteresting route compared to the PCH.

Have fun.

Grover Beach...
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2. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

Please tell me you're not doing this drive in one day!

Okay.... the route.

Since you're not interested in Santa Cruz (Or apparently the coast along that route), the quickest way to Monterey is via i-280 south to Highway 85 south to Highway 101 south to Highway 156 west toward the Monterey Peninsula, which merges with Highway 1 above Monterey.

Even with this "quicker" route, plan on the drive taking 10 hours WITHOUT stops

Edited: 28 June 2013, 15:22
San Francisco...
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3. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

i have never seen anyone post saying they want to avoid Santa Cruz Is your issue the drive over Highway 17 or the drive on Highway 1 along the coast to Monterey ?

By the way Pacific Coast highway is the name of the coastal road SOUTH of Santa Barbara. The NoCal and Central coast road is called Highway 1.

Have you looked at the Top Questions on the right side which cover that area from SF to LA.

Edited: 28 June 2013, 15:34
Santa Clara...
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4. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

KM - you mean 10 hrs to Cambria right? Sounds like OP wants to go from SF to Monterey. If so, that is more like 3 hrs going inland on 101.

It's ok if someone is limited in time to skip Santa Cruz. : ) I love spending time there don't get me wrong, but the scenery is just unbeatable south of there.

Edited: 28 June 2013, 15:56
Grover Beach...
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5. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

Hi chinita415

I meant 10 hours for the SF to LA drive. The OP made no mention of spending a night en route, so want them to be aware of what they're in for if they plan on doing the drive in one day.

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

I am not suggesting they have to see Santa Cruz, One can go on Hwy 1 and just continue driving without seeing SC.

I was questioning what their main issue was. I think if they give us their overall itinerary we can help them better just as KibblesM was suggesting. Plenty of visitors ask here what the fastest route to Monterey is and take the 280 route.

Corona del Mar, CA
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7. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

Sara, I think you are confusing people with the words "Pacific Coast Highway". To a Californian Pacific Coast Highway is a segment name of a highway that was at different times many different names and numbers (SR1 & US 101), but not many Californians think of PCH as being in Nor Cal and that causes confusion.

The best route for sightseeing is taking Highway 1 (State Route 1, SR1, CA1, whatever name you want to call it). You don't have to stop in Santa Cruz, but the route does go through it.

http://goo.gl/maps/Olt5V

And if you intend to take Highway 1 down along the coast you almost have to go through Monterey, there is no way around it.

Yes you can get to Monterey quicker, maybe shave an hour off by using a freeway to get to Monterey to start down the coast, but if you miss Moss Beach, Half Moon Bay, Soquel, Monterey Bay and the rest, you are really missing a lot.

Napa, CA
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8. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

One of the problems with the term PCH is that Tripadvisor itself describes it as "running along the northern California coast".

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28926-d14…

Corona del Mar, CA
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9. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

Supercilious, all the DEs in the State should submit name changes to that for State Route 1.

Wikipedia isn't much better, they conflate the name all over the place.

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10. Re: Joining the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco

I think there are maybe some misunderstandings and some things that aren't clear, but from the things you have written, here is my advice:

"Hi, me and my girlfriend will be driving to LA from San Francisco on the 10th of July."

If you are planning to drive this in one day, you will have a very long day of driving. I hope you plan to stop for at least one night enroute. If not, then you won't really have much time to stop along the way - just quick meals and pit stops.

"We will be taking the Pacific Coast Highway but are unsure which is the best way to the Pacific Coast Highway around Santa Cruz/Monterey. There is nothing we want to see in Santa Cruz so there is no reason for us to go that way"

If this is a one day drive, you don't really have any time to stop in SC even if you wanted to, so that is a moot point. You should get to Monterey as quickly as possible, which from SF would be the following route: 280/85/101/156/1. This is freeway most of the way and between the hours of 6am and 9am, you can take advantage of the carpool lanes when available. If you DO have more than 1 day for this drive, then I would consider connecting up with Hwy 1 at Pacifica and just taking it all the way down.

"Also, we will be setting off around 8am, so im guessing traffic might have to be taken into account for the quickest route?"

Yes, you will hit traffic at this time, but use the carpool lanes as you can. If at all possible, I would leave at 6am rather than 8am if you plan to do this drive in one day. This will minimize traffic and give you more time for the drive.