We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

10 day trip...need advice

Montreal, Canada
8 posts
1 review
Save Topic
10 day trip...need advice

My wife and i are flying in to San Diego from Canada on Sept 8th and flying out of SF on the 19th (6am flight). We will be staying 2 nights in SD (leaving the 10th) and then driving to the LA area for 4-5 days to do all the to do all the "Hollywood" type of tourist stuff. we haven't decided whether to head out of LA on the 14th or the 15th, Which brings me to my next question. We would like to drive from LA to SF via the PCH but are unsure how many overnight stops we should make. We definitely would like to spend 1 night in Carmel/Monterey area but not sure if we should do any more stops as we would like to spend at least 1-2 days in SF.

Anyone have suggestions?

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
27,921 posts
5,891 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: 10 day trip...need advice

It would be helpful to know what the 2 of you like to do but if you want to see some of the sights along the coast, I would add a night in Cambria - possibly Moonstone Beach area where the lodging is right across from the ocean.

http://capleslakeresort.com/

This will give you opportunity to enjoy seeing Santa Barbara on the way up (the beaches are very nice as well as there is a Calfornia mission); see Pismo beach, see Morro bay, and if you enjoy wine Paso Robles area is great for wine tasting.

http://www.classiccalifornia.com/

http://www.morrobay.org/

http://www.pasowine.com/

Hearst castle is also very close to Cambria

http://www.hearstcastle.org/

Also, you will want a night's sleep, yso you can have a nice start to see all the beautiful sights between Cambria and Monterey/Carmel on the drive. The mileage between the 2 is short (90 some miles) but its more like a 3 to 4 hour drive both due to the slow drive as well as the number of scenic stops you will want to make on the drive to soak in the views.

http://www.hearstcastle.org/

Be sure to stop at Pt. Lobos just south of Carmel as well.

http://www.hearstcastle.org/

As such I would leave on the 14th.

Note: 3 to 4 days are recommended for San Francisco - but its a toss up between the coast and San Francisco. If you decide the coast drive is secondary importance to you, the fastest way to San Francisco would be to drive the interior route - highway 5).

Montreal, Canada
8 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: 10 day trip...need advice

Thanks for the info mini.

Just so i understand, you are suggesting we leave LA on the 14th with 2 overnight stops along the way before SF?

We definitely had planned one overnight stop. We are just trying to narrow down where would be the best option.

We definitely don't want to do the quick boring drive on highway 5 but i don't think we want to do the whole drive along PCH. We are probably looking at an "in-between" option that includes the 101 and PCH.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
10,518 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: 10 day trip...need advice

You take the 101 north from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, and there you can get on Highway 1 for the drive through Big Sur, which is spectacular. It looks like the photos on this page: www.pashnit.com/roads/cal/Hwy1BigSur.htm

The first night stop recommended here is usually Cambria, though the choices include Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Cambria, Cayucos, San Simeon or Big Sur. The second night stop could be in Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey or Pacific Grove.

A travelogue of the central coast showing most of the sights, and posted by another member of this forum, is at https:/…5621071823861282305

Houston, TX
Level Contributor
4,564 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: 10 day trip...need advice

Most people spend two nights along the coast doing this drive. As has been mentioned, those are usually in/near Cambria and Monterey. Do be aware that some hotels in the towns along the coast require a two night stay on weekends. The coastal road between Cambria and Monterey is the most spectacular part and you don't want to rush through that; it takes 2.5-3 hours without stops.

Make sure you stop at the elephant seal rookery on the beach near Piedras Blancas, about 4 miles north of San Simeon. Also have a look at the short walk to McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Definitely stop at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve just south of Carmel--great scenery and at least three good walks. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, about 7 miles from Santa Cruz is pretty interesting. There is an interpretive loop trail that takes about 45 minutes to walk where you can see some immense trees. You pick up a brochure at the start so you have information about what you are seeing.

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
20,678 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: 10 day trip...need advice

Take a night out of LA and add it the coast drive. LA to Monterey/Carmel is way too much to fit in in one day. Too much to see/do. IF you don't want to give up a night in LA, then the best midway stop between LA and SF would be Cambria.

IF you attempt to drive LA to Monterey in one day and make stops in Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Hearst Castle, etc., you run the risk of driving through Big Sur after dark, which is NOT recommended due to the high elevation and hairpin turns. Plus, you would miss out on some serious sightseeing if it gets dark on you.

The first half of the drive is mostly multi lane highway/freeway driving. It's the second half of the drive that is the most scenic and the slowest. Once you commit to Highway 1 north of Cambria, there is no cutting over to 101 to make better time.

Some of the sights worth a stop/look between Cambria and Carmel:

Hearst Castle

Elephant seal rookery

Ragged Point

McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Nepenthe for lunch with a fab view

Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Falls trail in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Bixby Bridge

Point Lobos State Reserve

Montreal, Canada
8 posts
1 review
Save Reply
6. Re: 10 day trip...need advice

Thanks for all the great replies. Kibblesmom thanks for the heads up on cutting over to the 101. I was thinking about doing that at some point. Good to know where the point of no return is!

We definitely have some thinking to do. How long is the drive to Big Sur from LA if we skip a couple sites along the way (ie. Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara..)?

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
20,678 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: 10 day trip...need advice

It's approx. a 4 1/2 hour drive from LA to just where the Big Sur drive begins (Big Sur refers to the 90 miles of coastline between San Simeon and Carmel) and another 2 1/2 hours to Monterey WITHOUT stops from there. In other words.... 7 hours total WITHOUT stops! This is why trying to fit LA to Monterey in in one day is a difficult one. Especially with so many great places to stop en route. Plus, if you're driving, you really have to pay attention to the road to make sure you don't veer into oncoming traffic or plunge over a cliff. You'll need to stop in order to enjoy the views and sights. You will feel beat up by the time you roll into Monterey and you'll probably regret not giving the drive the time it deserves. Please try to add a night to do the drive justice. Then you can fit in Santa Barbara, etc. and a leisurely Big Sur drive the following day.

P.S.: You don't HAVE to do Hearst Castle if it isn't a priority for you

Edited: 14 August 2013, 14:07
8. Re: 10 day trip...need advice

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 16 August 2014, 07:18