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Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

Ft. Lauderdale
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Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

My family and I (kids ages 12 and 15) will be in San Francisco and we wanted to take a couple of days to visit Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur. The scenery seems amazing and we'd like to experience these things in person. Carmel Village seems really cute and fun as well. I am sort of at a loss for about how much time I should spend visiting these three places and if there are particular days of the week that are best or worst. My first thought was to spend two days/one night possibly leaving San Fran Sunday morning and coming back Monday night. If anyone has any advice or input please let me know what you think. First hand advice beats anything I can read in a travel book. Thanks in advance!!

Richard

Fremont, California
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1. Re: Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

Without knowing how much time you have, I would try for 2 nights......if you want to see Big Sur area. The drive from San Francisco to Monterey/Carmel will be 3 hours or so....

best days of the week would be mid week - Sunday travel will be slower as the ocean is popular to go to especially during the summer. If you can time it to go Monday instead, traffic in the ocean area will be lighter.

You want to see Big Sur, Point Lobos (this is a must), Pacific Grove, ...and if budget allows Monterey aquarium.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=571

To explore the cities, spend 2 hours or so in Carmel; another hour or so in Monterey. (that is before you have time to eat, etc.).

For Big Sur, you will want to drive as far as Pfeiffer State Park - there is a small cafe there....also an ice cream place.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=570

and you will also have to decide if you want to stop by santa cruz boardwalk on your way to/from San Francisco to Monterey/Carmel/big Sur.

http://www.beachboardwalk.com/

and there is also the popular Elkhorn Slough tour

http://www.elkhornslough.org/

In short, 2 nights would be best

but not knowing how much time you have 1 night is better than nothing.

Have a fun trip.

Ft. Lauderdale
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2. Re: Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

Thanks Mini, because of other plans we have in San Fran (base ball tix, seeing friends) we are looking at Saturday, Sunday and Monday for our trip south. You mentioned traffic could be an issue on Sunday and I would imagine certain areas might shut down on Sunday late afternoon, evening. Assuming this is the case, which of the three destinations would you think is best to do on Sunday?

Thanks so much

Richard

Jackson, Wisconsin
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3. Re: Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

We were just there 2 weeks ago with 15 and 17 year old kids. There is plenty to do and we did not have enough time .

We loved doing a bike rental in Monterey. With just a one hour rental we were able to ride alon gthepath from cannery row past the beach with all the harbor seals and up to pt Pinos lighthouse. It was not open when we were there it it would make a nice short stop-probably only about 30 minutes.. Then we rode back stopping to take photos. .

Point Lobos preserve is another must. It is about 15 minutes from Monterey, spend at least 3 hours. Hiking and tide pooling are great here. With binoculars you can see sea otters and sea lions.

If you have never seen redwood trees another great stop is Pfieffer Big Sur state Park , mentioned by the previous poster. They have a nice cafeteria there for lunch. I think you. Should go a little further south , though to Julia Pfieffer State park and see the famous overlook of McWay Falls as it tumbles onto the beach below.

Houston, TX
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4. Re: Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

Have a look at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz. There is an interpretive loop trial that takes about 45 minutes to walk. You can pick up an informative brochure at the start so you can appreciate what you will be seeing.

Think about going a bit further south. There is an elephant seal rookery on the beach near Piedras Blancas, about 4 miles north of San Simeon. Fascinating to see the hundreds of seals that are there. Good informational displays so you can understand the behaviors you are seeing.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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5. Re: Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

2 nights would be best, if possible.

Leave SF Saturday morning via Highway 1 with a stop in Santa Cruz for a few hours. Continue to Monterey for the aquarium and Cannery Row.

Sunday: Big Sur drive: Point Lobos State Reserve, Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Beach, Nepenthe for lunch, McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park waterfall hike on the way back to Monterey, Asilomar Beach/ Pacific Grove shoreline drive

Monday: Visit Carmel Beach in the morning, Carmel shops late morning, return to SF after noon.

What are you worried about shutting down on a Sunday afternoon? Most places (if you're thinking shops) should be open at least until 6 pm.

__________________________________________

TxOffWeGo mentioned the elephant seal rookery north of San Simeon, but that's a 3 hour drive from Monterey WITHOUT stops and you really don't have the time, especially if you only opt for a one night stay.

Ft. Lauderdale
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6. Re: Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

Thanks everyone for the help!! We are all pretty excited for our trip.

7. Re: Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur itinerary?

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