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Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

Mullica Hill, New...
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Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

We are planning our family vacation for August 2014. My wife and I with our two children who will be 19 & 16. Our current plan is to travel from Palo Alto (college visit for my son) to Carmel and then the next day travel to Santa Barbara. However, it seems like there is too much to miss by going from Carmel to Santa Barbara. Where should we stay in between, if we choose to do so? Any advice on Cambria?

Thank you,


Avila Beach...
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1. Re: Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

You can drive straight to SB from Carmel, but you're correct, there is a lot to see along the way and personally I think it's a crime to rush through this beautiful part of the world. Cambria is a lovely quiet town to stay in - most hotels are along beautiful Moonstone beach - it's a very short drive to the main part of town with local shops and restaurants (there are also two restaurants along Moonstone Beach).

From Carmel, Point Lobos is worth a few hours stop. The drive through Big Sur is IMHO one of the best drives in the world, and if you haven't been before will require many stops to soak in the views. There are many places to stop and hike for even more views. Nepenthe in Big Sur is a great place to stop for lunch. Bixby Bridge, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur state park, Pfeiffer Beach, McWay Falls are just the top common places to stop. In San Simeon, just before Cambria, is Hearst Castle if that interests you. The elephant seal rookery is also on the way to San Simeon.

Between Cambria and SB are many more options: Harmony, Cayucos, Morro Bay, Montana de Oro state park, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Solvang/Los Olivos. Pismo/Shell Beach are also often recommended for a night's stop, although it is only about 1 1/2 hours to SB from there.

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2. Re: Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

Fireside Inn in Cambria is nice! :)

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

Hello! zebracruiser, tour reply was most helpful to me as we're also driving from Carmel to LA later this year and are looking for recommendations on what to see and where to stay overnight. Our flight out of LA is close to midnight so we have 2 full days to explore.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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4. Re: Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

Hi Susan

Best to start your own topic instead of piggybacking on another OP's thread. Now RWM-JR will be getting emails telling them there are further responses to his query.

That being said, I generally don't recommend driving any further south from Monterey/Carmel than Pismo Beach. Cambria makes a lovely stop. It's a bit more on the romantic side than Pismo, which is family centric.

Irvine, California
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5. Re: Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

What are your plans after you get to santa barbara? Im just wondering how leisurely the rest of your trip is. With two teenagers in the car, I'd probably just drive through to santa barbara in one day. But that depends on the teenagers, of course.

San Jose
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6. Re: Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

Cambria is very nice and clean but boring. It shuts down early. With 16 and 19 year olds Pismo would offer much more to do IMO.

7. Re: Carmel to Santa Barbara - stop in between?

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