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Question about driving from Carmel to Santa Barbara

New York
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Question about driving from Carmel to Santa Barbara

My friend and I are doing a road trip from San Fran to Yosemite and then down to San Deigo. We are staying the night in Carmel, and then driving down to Santa Barbara the next day. I want to stop at highlights along the way, especially Hearst Castle. I don't want to get to Santa Barbara later than 10pm, so what time would you reccomend getting to Hearst Castle? Also, should I go on 101, instead of highway 1, after the the castle to save time?

Thanks for your help!

Los Angeles...
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1. Re: Question about driving from Carmel to Santa Barbara

Carmel to SB shouldn't take more than 4 hours of driving time. It is on Hwy 1 from Carmel to San Luis Obispo (2.5 hrs) and then US Hwy 101 from there to SB (1.5 hrs). You may hop on Hwy 154 from hwy 101 alternatively as it is a scenic 2-lane route going through the Santa Ynez valley. Or through Solvang town. Check the map of that area. After lunch you can do the the Hearst Castle tour for 2 or 3 hours. Sun sets after 8pm this time of the year.

Shell Beach...
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for Big Sur
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2. Re: Question about driving from Carmel to Santa Barbara

You'll be going directly through Big Sur (the 90 miles of coast between Carmel and Cambria), which has some of the finest scenery in the world. This goList may give you some useful ideas.


South of Big Sur, there are many great places before Santa Barbara. Frankly, I would suggest spending another day in this area if you can spare the time. Highlights include Cambria, seeing the elephant seals near Piedras Blancas, the vineyards around Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo (SLO), Avila Beach or Pismo Beach.

If you don't have any extra time, plan on 2-3 hours from Carmel to Cambria (at least 3 to stop and take in the scenery), 1 hour from Cambria to SLO, 1.5 hours from SLO to Santa Barbara.

Santa Cruz...
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for Santa Cruz
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3. Re: Question about driving from Carmel to Santa Barbara

You usually need reservations for a Hearst Castle tour, so as not to be disappointed when you arrive to find a tour full.

You can make these online.

If you can spend the night in Cambria you can make a reservation for the first tour the next morning. The buses for the park leave from San Simeon, which is just a little north of Cambria.

This would also give you time to stop at sights along the way in Big Sur, rather than rushing to make a Hearst Castle tour that day.

4. Re: Question about driving from Carmel to Santa Barbara

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