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Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

Chennai (Madras...
posts: 4
Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

We are planning our honeymoon in December 2012 and we wish to take a road trip on Route 1. However we wish to end up in San Francisco, so we are looking at starting in San Diego and traveling up North, making our final stop in San Francisco. Neither of us have been to the US before, and we have many questions about how to plan this trip, what are the best places to visit / see on this route.

Also how many days should we allow in our itinerary for this route so it is not all driving, we want to appreciate the places we are passing through as well and have a look around them.

We were looking at about 10 days for Route 1??

Then the plan is to spend Christmas in New York, before flying back out of the US home again.

Any help, feedback, assistance would be great to ensure we make the most of this road trip.

Thank you.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 36,968
reviews: 56
1. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

Hi Kelly S, and welcome to TripAdvisor forums.

While the regulars who know & love this coastal drive are getting their first cup of coffee for the morning, I suggest you read some of the information that has been collected about Hwy 1. It's in the Top Questions about California in the upper right. (Can you see that section or are you on a mobile device?)

Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Anaheim
posts: 23,686
reviews: 13
2. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

What type of things do you like to see/do? Museums, Shopping, Dining, Theme Parks, Natural Parks, etc?

Budget and style of Hotels/Motels you want to stay in?

I would plan 4 days for just driving the Coastal Highway system, so here are some places to stop.

San Diego

Los Angeles/Orange County beach area

Santa Barbara


San Francisco Bay Area.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Borrego Springs, San Francisco, Solana Beach
posts: 27,625
reviews: 26
3. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

<<Neither of us have been to the US before, and we have many questions about how to plan this trip, what are the best places to visit / see on this route.>>

Hi Kelly -- Welcome to the forums and best wishes on your upcoming wedding!

These forums work best for people when they do a bit of research first and have specific questions. Otherwise, it's very difficult to assist with itineraries or sights to see when we're not sure of your particular likes or the things you are less interested in.

The Top Questions here can help but I'd also suggest getting hold of a California guide book and doing some advance research. When you have a drafted itinerary and a list of things you think you want to see we can certainly provide lots of input!

Edited: 12:00 pm, September 22, 2012
posts: 1,102
reviews: 15
4. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

To start:

Night 1: LA area

2: Santa Barbara

3: Cambria

4: Monterey (2 nights)

5: SF

Chennai (Madras...
posts: 4
5. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

Hi Everybody,

Thank you so much for your update and suggestions, we have now done a fair bit of research and have a rough idea of what our trip is going to be like. So here it is as under with expected lengths of stays and things we would like to do within those times.

Route 1 LA to San Francisco - December 2012

Day 1 - 3: LA - spend 3 nights in LA

Griffith Park = One full day

Universal Studios = One full day

Unsure of what to do on the 3rd day, toying between

- The original Farmers Market

- Hollywood Walk of Fame

- Venice Beach board walk

- Mulholland Drive

- Grammy Museum

- "Iris" by Cirque Du Soleil

Out of the above, what do you suggest for the 3rd day.

Day 4 - Santa Barbara

Then we shall drive from LA to Santa Barbara, for one night. This is more of a relaxing day and we plan to see Stearns Wharf and some Wine tasting / dinner in the evening.

Day 5 - 6 Cambria

Continue from Santa Barbara and head to Cambria for two nights, stopping at Morro Bay on the way. Here we would like to do the Horse outback trail rides and a nice dinner in the evening.

Would you suggest we spend a full day in Morro Bay or is there not much to see, and can we manage with just a stop over?

Day 7 - Monterey

Leave Cambria for Monterey and here we would like to do Point Lobos State reserve followed by a walk and a dinner in Carmel Village.

Day 8 - End in San Francisco.

Is there anything that we have missed out or should surely do, suggestions are welcome.

We are planning a road trip so any suggestions in LA on where to pick up the best price for car hire and a drop off point in SF would be well appreciated.

Also what will the weather be like in term of clothes to carry in December.

Thank you and look forward to the posts.

Edited: 4:47 am, September 23, 2012
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 36,968
reviews: 56
6. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

Hi again

The L.A. forum has their own Top Questions, so I suggest you read those. The L.A. forum folks love helping folks create an itinerary that suits their travel style. Since you have some ideas of what you'd like to see & do, they can help you finalize your plans and pick an appropriate neighborhood.

Check to see that the horseback rides you're considering are still open in December.

Foreign visitors usually don't pay a one way drop fee for car rental, if they plan in advance. I'd suggest CarHire3000, the UK versions of regular agencies (tick the box that indicates you're from India), perhaps a reputable travel agent, or even the airline that you're using. You just want to be sure that the offer includes the insurance you need and the one way drop fee. There are many places in SF where you can drop the car, so don't worry about that. You will probably go to the hotel & drop your luggage, then drive the car to the drop-spot and walk back to the hotel.

December is likely to be cool and possibly rainy.

posts: 1,102
reviews: 15
7. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

Best answer in Cali along coast is almost always "layers". Temps in 50-70 range with rain probable in December.

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 13,943
reviews: 3
8. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

I suggest modifying your plans to 1 night Cambria and 2 in Monterey.

Santa Barbara to Cambria is about a 2 1/2 hour drive without stops, so you can easily visit Morro Bay in 2-3 hours on the the drive up and still have time for seeing Cambria, including a late afternoon horse ride.

However, the drive between Cambria and Monterey is worth a whole day for the drive. There is a lot to see/do en route and only 1 night in the area won't allow much time for seeing the local sights.

Here's a list of things to see/do between Cambria and Monterey:

Hearst Castle

Elephant seal rookery (4 miles north of Hearst Castle)

Ragged Point

McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Nepenthe/Phoenix Shop

Pfeiffer Beach

Bixby Bridge

Point Lobos

An extra night in Monterey allows for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, driving along the Pacific Grove.Asilomar Beach coastline, the 17 Mile Drive, Carmel Beach, etc.

Unless you're going to be wine tasting in Paso Robles during your CAmbria stay, 2 nights is too much.

pasadena, ca
posts: 4,697
reviews: 22
9. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

Agree with Kibble'sMom regarding allocation of nights.

Regarding LA, Griffith Park will certainly not take all day. Universal may not either.

Griffith Park is sprawling, but the big draw for visitors is the Observatory, which is not terribly far from Hollywood. "Iris" is on the Walk of Fame. Walk of Fame is worth a short stroll before the show-- maybe an hour at most. NOt much to see, really. Farmers Market, and the adjacent shopping center The Grove, are not far from Hollywood, and make a great lunch stop (look for Gumbo Pot or Loteria Grill at Farmers Market). All of these could easily be done in one day. Farmers Market-Observatory-Hollywood Blvd at night. (In the morning, you could take a drive around Beverly Hills if you are energetic and so inclined. While LA is sprawling, this area is relatively dense and all these places close together-- by LA standards, anyway.

Perhaps one day: Santa Moncia Beach/Pier: rent bikes, ride by Venice BEach. A visit to the Getty Villa (reservations required) or the Getty Center could easily be included in a Santa Monica-based day.

Do you know yet where you will be staying in LA? It will be easier to help organize your days once we know your starting/ending point.

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
posts: 8,383
reviews: 75
10. Re: Route 1 San diego to San Francisco

Definitely be prepared for inclement weather. December is generally cool temps and rain off and on - sometimes we can get some significant storms though. See if you can build some flexibility into your plan so that if a storm comes in, you can delay your drive through Big Sur (between Cambria and Monterey). This is an absolutely gorgeous drive, but not one to be done during a storm. Light rain is fine, but because the road is narrow, curvey, and hugs the cliff for a good portion of the drive, you don't want to do the drive in a heavy rain. Plus, you will want to see the views, and you can't really do that well in a storm.