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Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

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Winchester, United...
posts: 2
reviews: 1
Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

Hi,

We are planning a trip in September, and have hired a car at the end of the San Francisco part.

We are planning to drive to pismo beach for an overnight stop, then continue down to Santa Barbara for one night then on to la.

How long would the drive from SF to Pismo beach likely to take.

Many thanks

menlo park, ca
posts: 3,932
reviews: 70
1. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

I guess you have a map and realize how close Pismo is to Santa Barbara. Figure 4 hours Sf to PB via inland highway 101, and an extra hour to take Highway 1. Since it is not all that far you will want to spend time on the coastal route, one of the prettiest drives in the world. I hope you can manage to get some experience at driving on the right side of the road before you tackle the outside of highway 1. I would plan to skip Pismo and just go to SB.

Santa Barbara...
posts: 1,777
reviews: 1
2. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

The Monterey/Big Sur area is well worth an overnight. It is California's prettiest coastline. Starting your tour of Big Sur here makes more sense considering your itinerary. It is a bit of a long drive from Monterey to Santa Barbara, but very doable. Favorite towns for lodging after Monterey and before Los Angeles are Cambria, Avila Beach, Shell Beach, even Pismo, and of course Santa Barbara.

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 15,813
reviews: 8
3. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

I did that drive a year and a half ago. It took 8 hours with a one hour stop for lunch.

With so much to see/do in the Monterey/Carmel area, Big Sur, etc..... this will be one REALLY long day's drive. IF you plan on stopping for the sights, you could be looking at a 12-15 hour day.

Most of recommend Monterey for the first night and Pismo Beach for the second with a long, leisurely stop in Santa Barbara before finishing in LA.

Edited: 8:28 pm, February 12, 2013
San Francisco, Ca
posts: 7,406
reviews: 54
4. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

Assuming Santa Barbara is a given, I'd stop in Monterey/Carmel for the night instead of Pismo (you really want to drive Big Sur during the day). In a perfect world, I'd stop in Monterey/Carmel, then Cambria, then Santa Barbara.

Winchester, United...
posts: 2
reviews: 1
5. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

Thanks for the replies, this is all getting a bit confusing!

Basically we only have time for one night stay in two places to get from san to la

So based on your thoughts, would the better option be

Leave san fran drive to monteray, one night stop, drive to santa barbara, one night stop, then onto la?

So based on stopping for quick picture taking, bite to eat, and toilet breaks, what would be considered the driving time between all the places.

Many thanks

Rob

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 42,628
reviews: 75
6. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

>> quick picture taking <<

How many times will you be stopping to take pictures? There are lots & lots of options. This article lists some of the best bits: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182762

-> Most of us recommend Monterey for the first night and Pismo Beach for the second with a long, leisurely stop in Santa Barbara before finishing in LA.

This excellent itinerary doesn't appeal to you because .... you want to spend the night in Santa Barbara? You want to arrive in L.A. early? You don't intend to stop for more than 2 minutes at a time on the drive south from Monterey?

It's your trip, so you get to do it your way. No one will talk you out of your preferred itinerary, but be aware that this will make for a very long Day 2. It might be perfect for your travel style, or it might be too much. You choose.

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 15,813
reviews: 8
7. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

Based on MY experience, I would recommend Monterey for one night and either Cambria or Pismo Beach for the second.

Drive times: Monterey to Santa Barbara is close to a 5 1/2 hour drive WITHOUT stops. Since this stretch is the MOST scenic part of the coastline, you will want to take your time to enjoy the sights along the Big Sur coast. I would say the actual average drive time to include just a few well placed stops en route could be close to 10 hours, especially if you plan to include Hearst Castle into your itinerary.

I also tend to recommend NOT driving any further south than Pismo Beach because that drive along the Big Sur coast is quite tiring. You'll be on roadway that sits hundreds of feet above the Pacific Ocean with sheer drop offs in several places and LOTS of deep, tight hairpin turns. Your average speed will be 35-40 MPH along that 90 miles of coastline. By the time you roll by Pismo Beach, you'll feel beat up. I drive that route several times a year and I still feel beat up by the time I reach Pismo Beach.

Once off the elevated section of Highway, you would still have 3 more hours of non-stop driving ahead of you before rolling into Santa Barbara. And there's still a lot to see/do between there and San Luis Obispo: Elephant seal rookery, Hearst Castle, Cambria, Morro Bay/Rock.

But, as mentioned. it is your trip. You can proceed with it any way you want. If you want to limit your time on the scenic beauty of the coast for a more urban Santa Barbara, that's up to you.

Edited: 5:21 pm, February 13, 2013
Australia
posts: 30
reviews: 2
8. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

Hi All,

I have really enjoyed reading your travel advice. What do you think of this itinerary as we have never driven from San Francisco to LA.

3 nights - San Francisco - leave early and head to Napa

1 night - Napa Valley - the day we check out head to Carmel but stop at Santa Cruz on the way

1 night - Carmel

1 night - Cambria or Pismo Beach - which would be the preferred??

1 night - Santa Barbara - we dont fly out of LA until midnight so we have a full day on the day we check out.

We are really interested in driving thorugh the Big Sur. My husband surfs and would prefer to keep to the coast rather than visit Hearst Castle. I am not so sure? What is the consensus? Is mid May a nice time to travel?

Thank you, Jodi

Australia
posts: 30
reviews: 2
9. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

Hi All,

I have really enjoyed reading your travel advice. What do you think of this itinerary as we have never driven from San Francisco to LA.

3 nights - San Francisco - leave early and head to Napa

1 night - Napa Valley - the day we check out head to Carmel but stop at Santa Cruz on the way

1 night - Carmel

1 night - Cambria or Pismo Beach - which would be the preferred??

1 night - Santa Barbara - we dont fly out of LA until midnight so we have a full day on the day we check out.

We are really interested in driving thorugh the Big Sur. My husband surfs and would prefer to keep to the coast rather than visit Hearst Castle. I am not so sure? What is the consensus? Is mid May a nice time to travel?

Thank you, Jodi

Australia
posts: 30
reviews: 2
10. Re: Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pismo beach

Hi,

If you had to choose between Cambria and Pismo Beach which one? We will have driven from Carmel through the Big Sur etc. Our last overnight will be Santa Barbara.

Thank you