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Pacific Coast Hwy - Driving time and what to do

Ohio
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Pacific Coast Hwy - Driving time and what to do

OK. We are coming next July for a first trip. We are staying in Ventura California most of the time but would like to drive up the Pacific Coast Hwy with stops. How long would it take to drive from Ventura to San Francisco taking the 1 all the way up. What stops would you make and how many days do you suggest? My husband and I are 37 and have a 13 year old daughter. We are very adventurous and love hiking etc. We are very outdoorsy. We plan on visiting the Channel Islands while in Ventura but want to know what are must do's going up the coast. Thanks for any info. Rhonda

San Francisco, Ca
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1. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy - Driving time and what to do

The question you need to answer is: how fast a pace do you like to set -- sit in the car all day and keep going? drive for an hour or two then wander around? spend one night in several places or a couple of nights in fewer places?

Answering those questions and checking a map will tell you whether the following are sightseeing stops or overnights:

Santa Barbara and the surrounding area

Pismo Beach or San Luis Obispo or Morro Bay

Cambria or San Simeon for Hearst Castle (and do the night tour if it's being offered, as well as the daytime tour)

Big Sur (this could easily be a couple of days' stop)

(and while in Big Sur, stop at Nepenthe for hamburgers -- it's not the best food, but the views are astounding)

Carmel, Monterey or Carmel Highlands

Santa Cruz

La Quinta...
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2. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy - Driving time and what to do

There is a lot to do along the way and plenty of hiking spots depending on how long you have. The town of Cambria is half way between LA and San Francisco, right on the Pacific Coast Highway. Hearst Castle is 10 minutes north of Cambria and is well worth a visit. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time as it is very busy in the summer. Tour 1 (The Experience Tour) is your best option. Four miles north of the Castle is a viewing spot for the Elephant Seals. A must see. There are also some hiking trails along the bluffs in that area. Salmon Falls is also a nice short hike off the highway. Pick up a guide map of the Big Sur area to locate some of the trails. Stop at the Inn in Lucia for great fish and chips and an awesome view. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park has some nice hiking trails and beautiful scenery. The road between Cambria and Carmel is steep and with lots of curves, so plan accordingly, and drive carefully. Also get gas before heading to Big Sur. Have fun!!!

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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3. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy - Driving time and what to do

Hi Rhonda

You could spend a whole month along the California coast and still not see it all.

Here's a short list of great outdoor spaces for hikes, etc.:

Nojoqui Falls Park (Solvang: 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara)

Rancho Guadalupe Dunes (Highway 166 West from Santa Maria)

Montana de Oro State Park (West of San Luis Obispo via Los Osos Valley Road)

San Simeon Point

Salmon Creek Trail

McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Andrew Molera State Park

Point Lobos State Reserve

If you can devote 3 nights for the drive, you could do something like this:

Pismo Beach or Morro Bay: 1 night (Nojoqui Park, Rancho Guadalupe Dunes, Montana de Oro)

Monterey/Carmel/Pacific Grove: 2 nights (All the stuff along the Big Sur coast)

4. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy - Driving time and what to do

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