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Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

Sydney, Australia
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Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

We're planning to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco on 19th & 20th October. Other forum posts recommend an overnight in Cambria on the way, however we're not picking up the hire car until midday in Los Angeles.

What is the best place to stay en-route that will allow us to make the most of the afternoon on the 19th, but still be a reasonable distance to enjoy the rest of the drive on the 20th? We're honeymooners, so somewhere nice would be appreciated.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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1. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

Would still go with Cambria.

What you need to understand is that Cambria to SF is at least a 6 hour drive WITHOUT stops!! LA to Cambria is only 4 without stops.

Since this is your honeymoon, is there a way you could add a night to the drive? You'll be seriously shortchanging some of the most scenic parts of the California coast with only the one night.

Carmel and the Monterey area offers some of the most romantic spots in California, but you'll be pressed for time, as the drive up through Big Sur will slow you down considerably with all the great views beckoning you to pull over and soak it all in. So, even though Cambria to SF is a 6 hour drive, it really is a more realistic 10-16 hour drive depending on stops and the time spent on those stops.

Same for LA to Cambria. While it's a 4 hour drive, there's Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach and Morro Bay en route. All worth a stop. We'll also see waning daylight hours in October. It'll be dark before 8 pm, which will also impact how much you can see/do each day.

Edited: 17 June 2014, 02:59
San Francisco...
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2. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

Welcome to TA forum. when you are going from place A to place B, it is better to post in the state forum instead of the city forum as this is the LA forum and you need to look at the California forum. If you want to look at the top questions in the ca forum you will see a primer there on the highway 1 drive.

The drive from LA to Cambria is mostly on highway 101 to San Luis Obispo and then highway 1 to Cambria. The best part of the route is the Big Sur drive from Cambria to Carmel which should not be rushed. Are you planning to come all the way to SF or stay in Carmel

If you are doing this drive with one night - then it is rushed and Cambria would still be best and a very nice location. If you want to drive less, then look at Pismo beach but the next day you will have too long a drive

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

Thankyou very much for your advice.

We will be flying out of San Francisco airport at 8pm on the 22nd October. Would it be better to have more time to complete the drive, or more time in San Francisco itself? We haven't visited San Francisco before.

San Francisco
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4. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

You arrive in SF late on the 20th, leave on the 22nd and want to cut time off? Might as well forget about SF entirely.

To be completely honest, you have not budgeted enough time for either the coastal drive OR San Francisco.

The coastal drive between LA and SF requires a MINIMUM of 2 FULL days (one night) but is better with 3 days/2 nights.

San Francisco deserves a MINIMUM of 3 full days (4 nights).

I don't know what they rest of your itinerary is but if it's as hit-and-miss as this, I would seriously recommend you consolidate your number of destinations and try to properly appreciate what you're now planning on zooming through.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

We'd love to stay longer but unfortunately have minimal time available to be away.

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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6. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

How about a totally different plan to enjoy this area? Fly from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Sunday October 19th. Stay in SF on Sun, Mon, Tues nights. This gives you the afternoon & evening on Sunday, all day Monday, and all day Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, pick up a rental car near your hotel and make a romantic leisurely drive in the San Francisco area, perhaps Half Moon Bay, perhaps Santa Cruz. End at SFO.

The folks on the San Francisco forum can help you with this idea, if it appeals to you.

San Francisco: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g60713-i30-San_Fra…

(As mentioned, this is the forum about the vast city of Los Angeles.)

If you prefer to enjoy the Hwy 1 drive, then post on the California state forum. Several of the topics in the Top Questions describe this drive. Maybe .... Sun night - Santa Barbara, Mon night - Cambria, Tues night - Carmel

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

Sorry for posting in the wrong forum, I don't think I can move the topic.

I thing we'd prefer to spend more time on the drive, so we'll come back to San Francisco another time. It's much easier to get to the west coast of the USA from Sydney than the east coast, so it's not the end of the world if we don't see everything. We will plan an adequate 4 nights in San Francisco next time.

Washington State
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8. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

You can't move a thread. But now that you know you are interested in a coastal drive from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Airport, start a new thread on the state forum.

(Add Yosemite to your itinerary for your return trip to San Francisco.)

Happy Honeymooning.

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

Thanks all.

Unfortunately we're limited by time rather than itinerary on this trip. We've got a limited number of days and are just trying to work out the best way to spend the time. Thankyou for helping us work out how much we can fit in - the advice has been appreciated, the antagonistic comments slightly less so!

Thousand Oaks...
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10. Re: Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco

You keep writing that you have minimal time for this trip yet have not said how much time you have for the whole trip!!!! How much time do you have, from leaving Sydney to arriving back?

That little tidbit of info would greatly aid people in giving you some solid advice to give you a quality trip... and honeymoon!!

Dr. Z