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San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

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Canada
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San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

Hi

I will be travelling to San Francisco for 6 nights. For 3 of those nights, I'd like to tour the central coast, but not sure where to stay/stop.

The current plan is to drive down to San Luis Obispo (fastest route) on the day we arrive in SF. After that, we'd like to go north along Route 1 to San Simeon (Heart castle), through Big bur and onto Monterey. Is is double to drive from San Luis Obispo to Monterey in one day with stops? Or should we stop overnight somewhere in between? If so, where is a good place? After Monterey, we plan to spend the remaining time in SF.

Thanks in advance

Maryland
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1. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

You can do SLO to Monterey in a day. I haven't stayed down there myslef, but there are recommendations in the Cambria and San Simeon forums for places to stay near there. A stop in MOnterey/Carmel is a great idea too.

Carmel, California
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2. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

Since your plan is to leave SF for SLO, I definitely recommend an overnighter in Carmel or Monterey (when are you coming to SF?), then go to Cambria and San Simeon for the next day and night, leave early on the third day for SLO and stay there overnight. One question, why is it that you want to stay in SLO?

Canada
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3. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

Well, I don't have to stay in SLO, but as it seems to be just off 101, it would be easy to get there. We are supposed to arrive (flying) in SF around 2, so thought SLO would be the easiest to get to after we land. We only have 6 nights total in SF, and want to do the central coast for 3 of those nights. We thought we would do the coast at the first part of the trip since it will be during the week and thought it would less crowded and easier to find (cheaper) places to stay.

I would actually prefer to do South to North since I am a bit apprehensive of what I have read about the Pacific Coast Highway (curvy with hairpin turns).

Anyway, so from what I have read, I was thinking drive down to SLO for one night, get up early and visit Hearst castle the next day, and that same day, drive to Monterey and stay for the remaining 2 nights. I was thinking of visiting the acquarium and maybe doing a hike while in the Monterey area.

After that, we would head to SF (dropping off the car) to spend the next 3 nights before heading home.

I'm open to suggestions though!

San Francisco...
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4. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

So you are talking about going down and then back up in 3 days it sounds like. It's about 4 hours from SF to SLO on 101. It's quite a bit longer coming up highway 1. You choice to go during the week is a good one.

Consider staying in Morro Bay rather than SLO. It's just about 12 miles west but is a really pretty little fishing village and is a great start for your coastal drive. Then you can easily make it to Monterey the next day with lots of time to stopping. Hearst Castle is about half an hour north of Morro Bay. You could take a morning tour of the castle (get reservations) and stop to see the elephant seals on the beach nearby.

For lunch either stop at Nepenthe (so so food but fabulous views) or Rocky Point, just south of Carmel.

We took this drive last week. Give yourselves lots of time. There are some narrow places where they are still doing slide repairs.

Carmel, California
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5. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

Hi again.. I emailed one of my best friends who used to live in SLO and now regularly goes up and down between the bay area and SLO.

Here is what she had to say:

The most "scenic" route is to take 17 to 1 (DO NOT start in San Fran

since Highway 1 is closed between Montara and Half Moon Bay) and follow 1 into San Luis Obispo. I just checked and at this time it is open.

They can stop and spend some time in Monterey and Big Sur. The

lighthouse at Piedras Blancas no longer does tours, but it should

still be green and gorgeous right now. I would recommend that they stay in Cambria along Moonstone Beach or at the Cambria Pines Lodge. Then they are only an hour from San Luis Obispo. I would not necessarily stop in Morro Bay unless they don't mind tacky touristy.

If they are thinking of spending a day/night in San Luis Obispo, and

have an adventurous streak, I'd recommend the Madonna Inn on the south side of town. If they are not adventurous and want something a bit more conventional, I'd recommend the Apple Farm at the north end of town on Monterey, or the Embassy Suites Hotel. They should also go out to Montana De Oro if they have time (Los Osos Valley Rd and follow the signs).

If they eat meat, I recommend getting some good take out tri-tip from the Rib Line (closed Mondays, phone 805-543-RIBS). They are on Los Osos Valley Rd and will be glad to give directions. Pretty much any food establishment along Monterey is semi-decent. If the day is decent, though, I recommend eating along the creek at McClintock's.

Avila Beach is a nice stop this time of year as well. Sycamore

Springs Resort or the San Luis Bay Inn are very nice. I was up at

the San Luis Bay Inn last February and it was gorgeous...

We hope this helps!

Canada
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6. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

Thanks for all the advice. Still haven't finalized our itinerary but hopefully soon as I would like to book hotels. (probably nothing fancy, hopefully will try priceline).

Another question, while we were in SF, we were going to go to Muir Woods (apparently can be done by bus). But I think I was reading elsewhere on this forum that we will see redwoods along the coast? So I'm not sure if I should include this in our plans. We only have 3 days in SF so I'd like to make the most of it. The only other things I have somewhat planned is Alcatraz, plus we would want to see Fishermans Wharf, Chinatown, Lombard street and just hang out.

Food suggestions are welcome too. :) Any San Fran institutions? We'll eat all types of food and are pretty adventurous eaters. Doesn't have to be fine dining :)

Pacific Grove...
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7. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

Your plans so far sound very good. I would stay in Morro bay rather than all the way to SLO.

The quickest way there would be to get off 101 on Hwy 46, and continue south on 1 till you get to Morro Bay.

A good place to see redwoods going north on Hwy 1 is at Julia Pfeiffer Burns Park, where the water fall is, a short walk under the hwy, through a giant culvert.

Pacific Grove...
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8. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=578

Visalia, CA
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9. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

I would stay in Carmel instead of Monterrey. It's right next door and is a ritzy little town filled with galleries and surrounded by pine trees. For the other stop I would stay in either Morro Bay or the Pismo Beach/Shell Beach area. SLO is a nice town but the other locations are right on the ocean while SLO is about 8 miles inland. In Pismo you can eat dinner walk downtown and stroll over the to the pier afterwards.

Kauai, Hawaii
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10. Re: San Luis Obispo to SF in 3 days, where to stop?

A phenomenal stop along the route you describe is between San Simeon (Hearst Castle) and Pietras Blancas (the lighthouse). Hundreds of mother and baby elephant seals are stretched out over an approximate 1/2 mile expanse of sandy beach. This beach is located between San Simeon (Hearst Castle) and Pietras Blancas (lighthouse). What was particularly special at this site was my approximate 15 foot distance (behind a protective fence) from the seals but most especially the approximate 15 foot elevation above the mass of seals so that I could enjoy "family" and behaviors. I love the Ano Nuevo preserve, but this site is far superior for its vantage points and only a few steps from your parked vehicle.

I just returned from a "Big Sur" trip such as you describe. I was so taken by the above that I checked into a motel in San Simeon (15 minutes north of the site) so that I could return to the seals the next a.m. for more photos. Two very knowledgeable docents were on hand for the multitude of excited visitors who had all kinds of questions. A total thrill!

Note that the birthing mothers and pups near Monterey are shielded from public view and unapproachable this week. They are behind a very very long stretch of black plastic construction type drape over a wire mesh fence. Signs are posted "no stopping" along the roadway.