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Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Stafford, Virginia
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Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Greetings Forum!

I will be landing Friday afternoon in Frisco and driving over to Monterey for a week. Just wanted to see if anyone had recommendations to eat, stop/see, etc... along the way. Plan on doing wineries on Saturday in Monterey/Carmel and Sunday/Monday not planned yet. Tues-Thurs I am at a conference so will head back to San Fran after the conference to spend the weekend there. Just trying to get Monterey/Carmel planned. Definitely going to the aquarium! Would it be silly to plan Big Sur on Sunday? Haven't looked up things there to do.

Any suggestions would be gretly appreciated!

Cheers!

Laura

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1. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Biggest recommendation, my friend, is do NOT call it: "Frisco". Chuck...

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2. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Yes, Chuck is right. Don't call it Frisco. The locals hate that moniker, lol! It's San Francisco or just SF. They'll also accept "The City".

From the airport, take I-380 west to I-280 south to Highway 92 west, which takes you into Half Moon Bay and connect with Highway 1 south through Santa Cruz.

Big Sur is only an hour south of Monterey, so not silly to add it to your Sunday itinerary.

Here's how you should plan your Sunday:

Point Lobos State Reserve (Opens @ 8:00 am. Get there early for ease of parking. Stay at least 2 hours). Bixby Bridge (Worth at least 15-20 minutes for photo op), Point Sur Lighthouse (Accessible by scheduled tour only, but an awesome view just driving past), waterfall trail through the redwoods at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Pfeiffer Beach via Sycamore Canyon Road, Nepenthe/Phoenix Shop (lunch with a gorgeous view/souvenir shopping), McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (11 miles south of Nepenthe).

Monday: Save the aquarium for later in the afternoon. It gets quieter after 3:30 pm (At least in the non-summer/holiday periods). 17 Mile Drive, Carmel by the Sea, Carmel Beach, Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove (pretty at sunset time), Cannery Row after your aquarium visit.

Edited: 25 July 2011, 23:46
Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Kibblesmom has given you a nice route, and a pretty one, traffic free.

If you need a break when you get to Santa Cruz, on your way south through town on Highway 1, turn righ on River Street from Highway One (you can't miss the big sign, watch for it on the right.) Hot Spring Spas is on that corner.

Go through three traffic lights, crossing Water Street. In a block is a Wells Fargo Bank. Next to that is a covered parking garage, free for 2 hours. Park, get out of the car and walk away from the San Lorenzo River to Front Street. It is on the other side of the garage.

Cross Front Street, entering the back door of Bookshop Santa Cruz and going out the front door (I usually have a hard time going straight through this book store without stopping :~)

Then you will be on Pacific Avenue, the pretty tree-lined main street full of restaurants and coffee houses with sidewalk tables, and boutiques. If you turn right you will come in less than a block to Lulu's, with good coffee, across the street. This is very popular and they have some very nice pastries, etc.

You may want to explore the street a little. If so, turn left from the Bookshop Santa Cruz and meander for about 5 blocks. Turn around at Cathcart Street.

Besides boutiques, sidewalk cafes and coffee houses you will find places like Marini's, with excellent ice cream and candy temptations. They often have two-fers (buy one chocolate sundae, get one free). One of our favorite home-growns is the Pacific Cookie Factory.

The parking garage is less than 5 or 6 minutes from Highway 1.

I think you would enjoy this quick stop.

If you should want to spend a little more time on this stop......this is a traveler article about Santa Cruz.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g33048-c133677/Santa-…

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4. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Just a note to avoid confusion: In order to get to the 380 link that takes you to 280 South, when you leave the airport, you have to go NORTH on Hwy 101 for a short distance. Then you'll see the signs for 380.

Stafford, Virginia
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5. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

First off let me thank everyone! I love the TA forums and everyones suggestions and knowledge!

Chuck, I only type "Frisco" I dont call it Frisco when I am actually speak it..but I will keep it in mind thanks for the local lingo, LOL. Writing out the whole thing takes too long and I always seem to mess up the spelling! Wasn't sure if I called it the CITY if people would know I meant SF or LA or some other place as CA has a few larger cities and people do the drive for the scenery. Just curious why do locals hate it? :)

Kibblesmom thank you for the great ideas on Sunday. Monday I may have to do the aquarium a bit earlier than 3..I have to check in for work in the pm between 5 and 7 or 5 and 9 (better look that up at work!). Maybe I will do it later in the pm. How many hours is good to set aside for the aquarium,I cant wait to see it, I have always heard spectacular things about it! And thank you for giving me a pretty traffic free route as Puter mentioned! :)

Is the 17 mile drive REALLY worth it? I read some reviews that said unless you are a golfer eh its just ok. But Big Sur is a go now! I have always wanted to go there as well but wasnt sure on if I was trying to shove too much in the short time.

Puter your suggestions sound great for a nice break! My mom will be joining me and she is 68 and we like potching around in the shops too! How far is Santa Cruz from SF? I like the sound of the tree lined streets and the boutiques and places for lunch...its now a new add on to our adventure!

PGdenizen thanks for that side note. I will keep it with us. we will have a GPS and I am actually pretty good at map reading but knowing the ways to avoid the confusion makes it all the better especially since we are landing at 3 and by the time I get the rental car and pick her up at the other terminal we will be leaving probably about 4ish from "the CITY". And at least I wont stress out now wondering if I am taking us on the wrong route. *shwou*

In Monterey we are staying at the Hyatt. Would it be better to drive to Cannery Row or is it better to take a taxi or bus or walk?

Thanks again for every one's thoughts and opinion and heads up on local lingo :) Its greatly appreciated and I can't wait for Friday!

Cheers!

Laura

Monterey Peninsula...
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6. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Since you'll have plenty of time here you might enjoy browsing my unofficial visitors guide for some fun suggestions. I list a number of lesser-known parks and other activities that are very worthwhile but don't get a lot of attention from the more formal travel guides. The link is below.

-Mr. Toy

www.montereypeninsula.info

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7. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Hi Laura

Just a note on the 17 Mile Drive: It's one of those things worth doing once, but once you've done it, isn't a priority. Up to you if you want to do it or not. You also don't have to drive the entire thing. You could enter at, say, the gate from Pacific Grove and exit at the Carmel gate. That would give you the highlights and be a nice, slow drive between Monterey & Carmel on Monday.

** Allow at least 2-3 hours for the aquarium. If you can't do late afternoon, go at opening, but be sure to get there early in case there's a line to get in, especially in summer. **

Edited: 26 July 2011, 13:07
Santa Cruz...
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8. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Laura,

We can drive between here and the airport in less than an hour and a half, but it might be a little slower for you, taking the coastal route and going through Half Moon Bay. Not much, though.

Since you are doing Big Sur, I would not take the time for the 17-mile drive. You will see much better coast on your Big Sur drive.

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9. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

I forgot to mention that Monterey is only about 45 minutes from Santa Cruz.

Stafford, Virginia
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10. Re: Driving to Monterey from San Fran

Thanks again Kibblesmom and Puter! I love the aquariums so I figured it would take 2-3 hours wasn't sure if I would need more. So that may be a good thing for Monday, I will just check in with work a little later :)

Santa Cruz is on the list!

I grew up in Phoenix so I have been to SF but this is the first time we will have been to Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur..and now Santa Cruz so I'm pretty excited! Debating on McWay Falls as I now live in Hawaii and can you believe I am burned out on waterfalls! But I will probably make the stop and see it, otherwise I am sure I will be mad I didn't :)

MrToy I will take a look at your unofficial visitors guide! Thanks!

2 more days until I get to the beautiful coast! :)