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4-5 days Road Trip from SF to LA

Barcelona, Spain
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4-5 days Road Trip from SF to LA

Hi,

We are a couple from Europe planing to do a road trip in California in august.

We'll stay 3 days in San Francisco (august 2nd-5th) and then have booked a car on August 5th. We'd like to reach LA on August 9th (hotel is already booked there for 3 nights and then we'll go with the same car to Las Vegas and leave the car there on august 12). But my questions are about our 4-5 days between SF and LA (august 5th to august 9th).

We have already read and researched a little bit about the must see places, but i'd like to have some final suggestions before booking the hotels in the places we'll be staying in. Overall we'd like to travel through the Pacific Highway 1 most of the time, and get the best sceneries. Visit the maximum amount of "must see" places and the last day or day and a half in Santa Barbara's beaches to just relax.

Our idea is to leave SF on the 5th, stay some hours in Santa Cruz and spend the night either in Monterey or Carmel. Any suggestion about which of these 2 places would be better ?

Then the next day hit the road again and stop in Big sur and Hearst Castle and stay either in Cambria or San Luis Obispo. Again, which of these 2 places would you suggest (or maybe even Morry Bay) ?

The third day we'd like to visit these areas, and then by the afternoon got to Santa Barbara and stay there. Any suggestions on what to visit between SLO and SB that day?

The fourth day (august 8th) we'd like to just relax in SB and not drive. Any suggestions for nice and not crowded beaches around SB (i know it's august, and it's going to be difficult to find that) ?

The fifth and final day we'll go from SB to LA.

That's more or less our plan, but we're open to any suggestions...

Also, i've read that Big Sur is spectacular, but it's hard to stay around the area, is is true?

Would you stay somewhere else than Santa Barbara for the "full day relax in the beach" that we want to do ?

Around which area can we get the best beaches (not foggy, not very crowded, with easy access by car, clean waters etc..) ?

Thanks in advance !!

Lewes, United...
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1. Re: 4-5 days Road Trip from SF to LA

Hi Sun

I trust you have read the relevant Top Q on this forum which spells out your options on this drive and has other helpful comments.

From my point of view, but I'm sure others will offer alternative thoughts, I'd stay in Monterey rather than Carmel, unless you wish to stay by a beach, in which case, there is the beach option too in Carmel. Monterey has more choice to meet all budgets of places to sleep and eat, Carmel is a little pricier. Also (and I know I'll get shot for this comment) but coming from Europe, you just might find Carmel itself a bit cutesy and overdone. However, it's worth exploring on a short visit. We found more to do in Monterey.

A few hours in Santa Cruz should be fine. Apart from the boardwalk and watching a few surfers, there's not a huge amount there, and the more scenic drive will still be ahead of you.

Cambria, Pismo Beach or Morro Bay are all possible options for the next night if you want to stay on the coast. If you are prepared to drive inland a little and want a more funky town, again with probably more choices, price wise, of lodging and eating, then SLO might be better. Certainly, given your dates, it may well have more availability, plus I gather some places on the coast have a 2 night minimum stay which won't suit you. The place to stay in SLO is the Madonna Inn but this is pricey. It's worth stopping to check it out just as an attraction, anyway. Also, if you have the spare time and enjoy wine, then there are wineries in Paso Robles near SLO, and nice wine stores in SLO itself.

For the best beaches and best options for August in Santa Barbara, I'd recommend you ask your questions on the SB forum itself, if you don't get enough advice here. I've never been in August. Again, for the same reason, plus we aren't beach types, I cannot help you with the best beaches along that stretch of coast at all. However, I'm glad you're aware of the possible risk of fog.

Have a great trip,

SWT

Uden, The...
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2. Re: 4-5 days Road Trip from SF to LA

SWT gave great advice. You are totally skipping Yosemite NP although it would be hard to get lodging there. It also will go at the cost of your coastal drive of course but well worth it imo. Even if it's just for 1 night.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: 4-5 days Road Trip from SF to LA

SussexWT: no shots from me regarding your comment on Carmel-by-the-Sea... The town. You can imagine similar comments from me about whether Californians should visit http://www.disneylandparis.com/

Carmel Highlands though is different and a good place to stay (tickle pink or hyatt). Or just for lunch. The lobby of the hyatt is open to the public and often has local artwork. But the full length windows in the public lounge has great ocean views overlooking Point Lobos. Worthwhile for a place to stop for drinks after exploring Point Lobos and seeing the same area from above.

Edited: 09 July 2013, 15:05
Grover Beach...
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4. Re: 4-5 days Road Trip from SF to LA

:....Also, i've read that Big Sur is spectacular, but it's hard to stay around the area, is is true? "....

There is limited lodging in Big Sur and most of them book up for the summer well in advance. Also, the lodging there runs from VERY expensive ($500.00-$2,000 a night/Ventana Inn, Post Ranch Inn) to VERY rustic and still pricey (Glen Oaks, Big Sur Lodge, Deetjens, etc).

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".... Monterey or Carmel. Any suggestion about which of these 2 places would be better ?"......

Monterey is more urban and good for familes. Lodgings come in every price point. Carmel is quaint and charming, but lodgings can be pricey. There are NO hotels on the beach in Carmel. Most are located "in" town close to the shops/restaurants.

There is another option in that area: Pacific Grove. Pacific Grove is in between Monterey and Carmel and is less touristy than Monterey or Carmel. PG has a mix of B&B's, small inns tucked into wooded areas close to the rocky PG shoreline.

____________________________________________

"...stay either in Cambria or San Luis Obispo. Again, which of these 2 places would you suggest (or maybe even Morry Bay) ?

I would go with Cambria since it's so close to Hearst Castle and you'll likely be ready to call it a day after that long, slow, twisty drive down through Big Sur.

Edited: 10 July 2013, 00:05
Barcelona, Spain
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5. Re: 4-5 days Road Trip from SF to LA

Thanks to all of you !

- SWT: As you know, i was looking forward reading your point of view. We'll probably stay in Monterey or PG the first night.

- Tet14: We thougt about it. But we don't have enough days to do it all, and this time we prioritized doing the pacific highway only for the 4 days. Next time...

- ALTippet: Thanks for the advice. We'll try to go there for lunch or at least some drinks...

- Kibblesmom: Well than we'll stay in Big Sur for some hours only, and sleep the second night in Cambria probably. About the first night we'll chose between Monterey and PG. I didn't know about PG. Thanks

Edited: 10 July 2013, 15:20
6. Re: 4-5 days Road Trip from SF to LA

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