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Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

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Bethpage, New York
posts: 322
reviews: 27
Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

I’ve never been to the central coast and it’s been on my list! Love knocking things off the travel list. We’re planning on the end of August.

We’re going to go from LA to Santa Cruz and have 8 nights total. My hub has never been to LA so he wants to see it (and has a friend there) and we have friends in Santa Cruz we’ll stay with for two nights at the end of the trip. We’d arrive late on a Friday night (arriving LAX after midnight) to the following Saturday night (leaving on a red eye at 10pm)

I’m torn on some things. Do we skip staying in Santa Barbara altogether and hit Pismo beach instead?? Do we want to go to the Channel Islands for a half day trip and spend two nights in SB? I’m torn on that! I think it may be too much. In Pismo, I found the Dolphin resort that looks great, but I hate to just spend one day there. I want to both explore and relax and have the nicest beaches/view and hotels possible. For Santa Barbra, I was thinking of the Harborview Inn, but its looking very expensive.

Need help on a hotel in Big Sur. Something nice with hot tubs/springs, etc (does that exist?) or do we stay in Monterey? I definitely am wanting a bunch of relaxing beach/pool time but it’s hard when there is so much to see. Definitely hitting the Monterey aquarium one day on the way to Santa Cruz.

Here’s what I have so far…any help/recommendations on where to stay is greatly appreciated! Am I doing too much?

Fri 8/18 Arrive really late on a Friday night—get to Santa Monica at about 1am. Staying at Shangri La.

Sat 8/19 – Stay in Santa Monica/Venice—pool and beach time

Sun 8/20 – Pool/beach, Drive around Hollywood—see tourist stuff and then Topanga if there is time. Stay in Santa Monica one more night or drive to S. Barbara in the evening.

Mon 8/21 – Go to Santa Barbara. Stay at the Harborview inn. Hang at hotel/pool/beach town.

Tues 8/22 - Channel Islands cruise? Half day. Stay in Santa B. OR drive directly to Pismo beach or Big Sur

Wed 8/23 – Pismo Beach or Big Sur—national parks/beaches

Thursday 8/24 – Pebble beach/Monterey aquarium, drive to santa cruz by evening, stay with friends in santa cruz Thursday night

Friday 8/25 – stay in SC w/friends

Sat 8/25 – stay in SC for day---go home on 10pm red eye

Sun 8/26 – arrive early AM

Los Angeles...
posts: 2
21. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

If you're going to the central coast, 17-mile drive in Pacific Grove/Monterey is a must.

Los Angeles...
posts: 2
22. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

If you're going to the central coast, 17-mile drive in Pacific Grove/Monterey is a must.

Pismo Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach
posts: 1,149
reviews: 88
23. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

Everyone is giving you GREAT advice. I love TA for this.

After rereading everything, I think you should do Santa Barbara for a night and enjoy the beach and great food. Shop on State Street.

The next morning come up the coast, perhaps take off near Morro Bay, see MB and if you have time Montana de Oro - which is the most magnificent state park. Fabulous nature side trip. It is almost secretive and everyone I send there says this is their favorite part of their trip.

Then on up another hour to Cambria. I would advise you to actually stay the night in Cambria. It's this little perfect beach town, with almost every room facing the ocean. A lovely board walk to walk right over the ocean. The little downtown has superb dining like Black Cat Bistro.

Then, if they have them yet, do a unique NIGHT tour of Hearst Castle. If not, do an early first thing tour in AM and on your way up Hwy 1 to Monterey stopping for all the wonderful places for pics like Big Sur, etc.

That would be my itinerary.

Los Angeles
posts: 1
24. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

Santa Barbara is so much prettier than Pismo, if you ask me. The architecture, the mountains, and the beach are spectacular. We have a harbor with places to kayak or paddle board or surf. The mission here is the Queen of Missions, a must-see. We have Lotusland, State Street, UCSB the university, Casa de Huerrera, the historical museum, the carriage museum, a botanical garden, La Arcada shopping area, Casa De Maria retreat Center, the wharf, all within 10 minutes of each other. There's no comparison.

Big sur rocks. Go there too. Skip your other choice.

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 14,554
reviews: 3
25. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

@ mgenis: This thread is several months old and the OP's vacation is now over (Aug 18-26th). Just a friendly FYI.

We discourage responding to old threads because the OP will now have email alerts for a vacation that has since past.

Edited: 4:20 pm, September 03, 2012
Avila Beach...
posts: 928
reviews: 6
26. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

I know you're right KM, but just had to respond. Santa Barbara and Pismo are very different, so in that way, no comparison. But many prefer the more down home local small town feel of Pismo and the surrounding area. And we have all of the above in the area as well: kayaking, surfing, whale watching, fishing, shopping, wineries, Mission, Farmer's Markets, fantastic restaurants with ocean views for days, hiking, etc. It is paradise here. They are both wonderful places to visit, for different reasons.

Southampton, New...
posts: 13
27. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

We are traveling by train from Seattle to Santa Barbara, and arriving in SB at 6pm, we are planning to leave the next morning to Pismo Beach and stay one or 2 nights, as we wanted to stay in a coastal town with beautiful ocean beach and views, not too touristy andnot interested in shopping;

should we stay an extra night in SB?

is it worth to go to Pismo Beach? is beach and water clean?

or should we go to Carmel?

we can only choose one town to stay an extra night or 2: Santa Barbara? or Carmel? or Pismo Beach?

Appreciate suggestions/ recommendations.

Southern California
posts: 5,955
reviews: 1
28. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

You need to start a new thread of your own purecool, this is an old thread.

29. Re: Road trip help...Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach?

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