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Route 1 - Pacific Highway

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Route 1 - Pacific Highway

We are driving from SF to Santa Barbara over two days. What is the most scenic part of Route 1 and should we stay around Morro Bay or near Carmel for the night

Fremont, California
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for San Francisco
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1. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

The most scenic part is Big Sur between Carmel and San Simeon. This is a 90 mile stretch, but in general is so scenic and its also a bit curvy slower road will take you 3 to 4 hours. As such, you want to be sure to do it daylight hours. If you want an early start in the morning, you could drive to Morro Bay on day 1. However if you get a noon or later start, then I would stay in Carmel instead. You don't want to miss this part of the scenic beauty due to its getting dark, etc.

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2. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

Thanks for this. We are planning on leaving our hotel in Fishermans Wharf first thing in the morning. Will that leave me enough time to enjoy the sights and get to Morro Bay for sun set?

Regards

Nick

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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3. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

"....Will that leave me enough time to enjoy the sights and get to Morro Bay for sun set?"...

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Depends on how many stops you make and how much time you spend at them. Let's say you stop in Carmel and fall in love with its storybook architecture, wind swept cypress tree lined beach, all the cutesy shops and can't bring yourself to rush back to Highway 1 to continue the slow drive down through Big Sur. Sure, it's only a 3 hour drive to Morro Bay from Carmel, but that's WITHOUT stops! And this is arguably one of California's most scenic drives with several points of interest worth stopping for. Time of year matters, too. You definitely do NOT want to drive the Big Sur coast AFTER dark. The highway sits hundreds of feet above the ocean with sheer drop offs and lots of really tight hairpin turns. It can NOT be rushed.

As a guide.... SF to Morro Bay is a 6 1/2 hour drive WITHOUT stops via Highway 1. Budget your time wisely and you'll be fine, but I imagine you're going to be kicking yourself for not giving this drive more time.

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4. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

Thanks for this. So it sounds like it would be better to stay further north so as to enjoy the Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur element of Route 1 then drive via route 1 or route 101 down to Santa Barbara the next day. If so where would you recommend to stay that first night?

Regards

Nick

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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5. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

Hi Nick

With 2 nights, we generally recommend Monterey/Carmel for the first night and either Cambria or Pismo Beach for the second night. Morro Bay would work, too.

I personally think attempting to drive to Santa Barbara from Monterey is too much for one day since that drive includes Big Sur. Keep in mind that Big Sur is south of Monterey/Carmel and would be on Day 2's agenda, although I would try to fit Point Lobos State Reserve in on Day 1.

Big Sur is the most scenic part of Highway 1 and saving it for the second day ensures a generous amount of time for enjoying the sights.

Don't take Highway 101 to get to Santa Barbara! You'll miss Big Sur if you do.

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6. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

Hi. Thanks this is really useful information. How about breaking the journey around San Simeon? I can not see anywhere closer to Big Sur that is nice and I can afford! The route planner is saying it is 4 hours from SF. Do you think that is reasonable?

Regards

Nick

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

Four hours is not reasonable from San Francisco to San Simeon. I would double it to eight hours minimum, to allow time for the views and the sage.

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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21,107 posts
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8. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

"....The route planner is saying it is 4 hours from SF. Do you think that is reasonable?"...

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That's via the fastest inland route and NOT via Highway 1 through Big Sur. SF to San Simeon via Highway 1 is a minimum 6 hour drive WITHOUT stops. Is that reasonable to you?

9. Re: Route 1 - Pacific Highway

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