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Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

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Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 121
reviews: 19
Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

Is this proposal to ambitious? Leave Carmel at 8am for a 1pm tour at Hearst Castle, and return to Carmel by 7pm? If not too ambitious, where would we stop for a picnic lunch en route to Hearst? Would there be time for a glass of wine at Nepenthe on the return? Or to see the falls at McWay?

Thanks!

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
posts: 8,736
reviews: 74
1. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

It will make for a long day of driving, but it can be done. I think Carmel to Hearst is about 3 hours without stops, so that gives about 1.5 hours for stops and then 30 min at Hearst before your tour. You might want to go with a 1:30 or 2 pm tour to give yourselves more time.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 21,603
reviews: 114
2. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

3 hours to drive is about right one way plus whatever brief stops you want to do enroute. Sounds like it will be a long long day and the focus is on driving which I guess is ok.

We've spent a whole day on the leg from Carmel to McWay falls and back that included some beach time, as well as hikes and a nice lunch. It did not include the time at Point Lobos but I guess one has to make the best of the time they have so do enjoy your day and please be careful about the wine or the glasses of wine -- long day, long drive, winding 2 lane road and plenty of other people on the road.

Edited: 4:43 pm, August 15, 2012
Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 14,270
reviews: 3
3. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

Not too ambitious at all, although I have spoken to folks who have done this and they felt it was too much. Mostly because that 90 mile drive between Carmel and Cambria is so winding. Since the driver has to be focused on their driving, it can be very tiring, especially if driving it down and back up on the same day.

It is about a 3 hour drive without stops, so you would have more than enough time for a few stops en route both ways.

On the drive down I suggest brief stops at Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls and the elephant seal rookery. 15-20 minutes for each stop should suffice. You can stop anywhere along the route where there's a Vista Point turn out to enjoy your picnic lunch or wait until you reach Ragged Point near the end of the Big Sur drive and near Hearst Castle. Ragged Point has outdoor seating and the property offers great views from the back of the property.

Since Hearst Castle tours only last 45 minutes now, your 1pm tour would be over before 2pm, leaving you 5 hours to get back to Carmel by 7pm. You could spend a little time exploring the outdoor areas after your tour ends, then begin the drive back, stopping at some of the places that piqued your interest on the drive down and include a stop at Nepenthe for that glass of wine.

Edited: 4:51 pm, August 15, 2012
Dallas, Oregon
posts: 4,968
reviews: 266
4. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

We've done it several times. We like to stop for late lunch or early dinner at Hoppe's Garden Bistro in Cayucos. Then take Hwy 46 to Paso Robles (depending on time of day, stop at Linne Calodo, Turley or some other winery). Instead of going back on 1, we hop on Hwy 101 then back over to 1 (on 152?). We're always back well before dark.

Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 121
reviews: 19
5. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

Great replies to my post -- thank you all so much for your comments and suggestions.

Huntingdon. UK
posts: 16
reviews: 33
6. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

A totally insane idea. You must not rush a drive like this or you could kill yourself or someone else. Take awake the time pressures. This road is dangerous, and there are road works north of Kirk Creek now that could delay you an hour each way. Don't do it. Stay a night at Cambria and come back the next day.

Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 121
reviews: 19
7. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

We left Carmel last Friday just before 9 am and arrived at Hearst Castle about 11:15. No traffic problems at all although there were two locations where traffic was halted briefly for construction. At Hearst we were able to join the 11:20am tour instead of the 1pm tour for which we had reservations. After Hearst Castle, we took our time heading back to Carmel, again on CA1 because it is so spectacular. We stopped at McWay Falls and decided against Nepenthe, which we thought we might go back to the next day. But we enjoyed Pt. Lobos so much and spent so much time there we blew off Nepenthe altogether. Maybe on the next trip west!

Again, thank you all for such thoughtful replies.

Rocklin, California
posts: 638
reviews: 20
8. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

Chesterb - glad you posted your driving time and current construction #s.. Am doing a day trip from SanMateo to Hearst in a couple of weeks with 3 others and I was curious how long it actually was - the driver I'll be going with said he thought it took about 2 hours on his motorcycle from San Mateo when he'd gone, and I was figuring closer to 3 from SM in a car (at least the way I drive when I head that way), so sounds like a reasonable day trip if it's the only time we all have, but I will probably suggest we do OregonJohn's suggestion to do 46 to 101 going back, since I'm hoping we'll get some stops in on way down like some of the state parks, at least for a break. Nice to have options. We'll have just spent 3 days in Ft Bragg/Mendocino, so will have seen a lot of ocean and trees by then.

You've got a great reason to come back to California.

Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 121
reviews: 19
9. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

We had first driven to Carmel on a weekday from Healdsburg, and we hit lots of traffic and construction work after Santa Cruz on CA1 before we got to Carmel. But that was the day before we left Carmel for Hearst. So if you are starting in San Mateo, you may need more than three hours to get to Hearst!

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 14,270
reviews: 3
10. Re: Carmel to Hearst Castle and back in one day?

lucysmom

San Mateo to Hearst Castle via Highway 1? Plan on the drive being close to 5 hours without stops. It's about 2 hours to Carmel from San Mateo and another 2 1/2 - 3 hours to Hearst Castle.