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hotels half way between Pismo Beach and Monterey

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Los Angeles, CA
Level Contributor
131 posts
40 reviews
hotels half way between Pismo Beach and Monterey

I am re tweaking my road trip based on some of your very helpful posts. I was going to travel from Pismo Beach to Monterey in one day including several stops but I think it would be better to stop somewhere 1/2 way.

Any suggestions for a place to rest our heads? There will be four of us, ages between 5 and 75...

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
16,646 posts
9 reviews
11. Re: hotels half way between Pismo Beach and Monterey

That's a much better idea, Maggie. Santa Cruz would be fine for your overnight stop. I suggest taking I-280 from the city to Highway 92 west to Half Moon Bay and just follow the coast down. SF to SC is approx. a 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive depending on traffic, etc.

You'll still need to budget your time wisely even with an 8am departure the next morning. Santa Cruz to Hearst Castle is approx. a 4 hour drive. You MUST be on the road from Carmel before 1 pm to ensure time for a few well placed stops along the Big Sur coast AND be able to see Hearst Castle.

I would skip Monterey altogether and focus on Carmel, which is much more charming compared to Monterey. You should get there a little after 9 am with an 8 am departure from Santa Cruz. Spend an hour walking beautiful Carmel beach then head into town and explore some of the shops after they open. Try to finish in Carmel by 11:15 and head to Point Lobos State Reserve for an hour and walk on of the trails and enjoy the stunning views. The Cypress Grove Trail is one of the most recommended. You might want to grab some sandwiches, drinks, etc. from Bruno's Deli or a grocery store before heading for Point Lobos and enjoy lunch at one of the designated areas in the park.

From Point Lobos, continue south on Highway 1 through the Carmel Highlands to Bixby Bridge. If you'll be taking photos along your journey, this is a good place to shoot a few shots of the famous arch bridge. 15 minutes should suffice.

Continue through Big Sur with, perhaps a SHORT stop at Nepenthe and do a quick browse through of the Phoenix Shop. This is a great place to pick up Big Sur souvenirs and/or other interesting gifts. If you opt not to picnic along the way, then Nepenthe is a good place for lunch with a fabulous view. Keep in mind that the longer you linger here, the less time you have for stopping and enjoying the sights along the route.

8 miles south of Nepenthe is McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This is the famous waterfall that drops on to an inaccessible beach. The contrast between the water in the cove next to the falls and the open sea make this a must see place, especially if it's a sunny day.

From McWay Falls, you'll have to just continue driving to make it to Hearst Castle in time for a tour. Since your travel is mid December, you shouldn't have trouble getting tickets when you arrive. But... IF your dates are anywhere close to Christmas, rezzies are a MUST.

IF you roll into flatter territory before 4 pm, you might have a few minutes to spare to stop at the elephant seal rookery just past the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and before visiting Hearst Castle. Be sure to check the Hearst Castle website to confirm the time of the last tour. ( www.hearstcastle.org/ )

Edinburgh, Scotland
Level Contributor
192 posts
55 reviews
12. Re: hotels half way between Pismo Beach and Monterey

thank you very much

Edited: 6:04 pm, November 22, 2012
13. Re: hotels half way between Pismo Beach and Monterey

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