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Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

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Derby, UK
posts: 25
Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

Hi: After time in LAs Vegas & the grand canyon we will be leaving LA Sat 18th March AM & we have 5 days to get to San Fran. From what i've read i'd like to see Hearst Mansion, Monetrey Aquaraium, Point Lobos & the 17 mile drive.

Any suggestions as to which are the best locations to stay overnight & how many overnight stops to make? Anywhere worth 2 nights or more? -so we're not always on the road - or wher we can make day trips from? Not averse to going beyong San FRAn & coming back if it's worth it. We like hiking, the sea(!) & microbeer (not necessarily in that order!)

Any recommendtaions for reasonablr hotel/motel at any of teh stops?

My first time to Californa, so sorry for all the qu's!


Newport Beach
posts: 16
reviews: 5
1. Re: Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

Lots of nice places to stay and visit heading north and you've given yourself plenty of time to enjoy. The drive from Ventura to Santa Barbara is right on the sea, beautiful, stay in Santa Barbara and check out the shops, the pier, the architecture. Then head north to Pismo Beach, a kind of older Calif beach town. Several nice hotels at Shell Beach nearby right on the seacliffs and visit nearby San Luis Obispo for wineries, shops and food. Head north to Pacific Grove, Carmel, Monterey and the 17-mile drive along Big Sur. I've lived in Calif most of my life and this is my very favorite area. I'm sure others will have more suggestions but wherever you go on that route, you'll have a wonderful time. Cheers!

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 46,625
reviews: 61
2. Re: Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

You could make Santa Barbara your head quarters for 2 nights see the MIssion, the pier and visit wineries, andthe scandinavian town of Solvang. Then your next stop would be in the town of Cambria. Lots of beautiful, reasonable places on Moonstone Beach . YOu can walk there on the path along the shore and watch otters playing. there are nice restaurants overlooking the water. Cambria is the town right before San Simeon which is where you find Hearst Castle. alos inland from Cambria is Paso Robles which also has wineries. I think Pismo Beach is too close to Santa Barbara to be your next stop but that is just my opinion.

Santa Barbara...
posts: 1,772
reviews: 1
3. Re: Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

In Santa Barbara, try hiking in the front country of the Santa Ynez Mtns. Go to the Brewhouse for their microbeer selection. Check out the Eagle Inn for lodging. The Red Tile Tour will give you the taste of historic Santa Barbara.




The Pismo to Cambria area has lots of hotels and is a great base for visiting Hearst Castle. There is a nice hike to San Simeon Point at Hearst Beach. Follow the cliff on west side. The Madonna Inn would be a unique lodging experience. Or try the Apple Farm Inn, or J Patrick House B&B.

In the Big Sur area, stop for a view of McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Hike to the beach at Andrew Molera State Beach. Stop for a cocktail and dessert at the Rocky Point REstaurant. Or try lunch/dinner at The Bakery. Big Sur is a day trip away from Monterey, or you could stay overnight at Deetjens.


Give two nights to the Monterey area. The less expensive hotels are found on Munras Avenue, but they're mostly plain hotels. In Marina, I enjoyed my stay at the Marina Dunes Inn.

Derby, UK
posts: 25
4. Re: Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

Thanks for all the suggestions. I shall check out some of the recommendations for accomodation/food. It's always better to have personal recommendations than to rely on guidebooks/luck! (although sometimes you find a real gem!)


posts: 29
reviews: 10
5. Re: Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

It's a bit early in the year, but you might want to try a drive through the Lompoc valley-- north of Santa Barbara-- one of the major industries in Lompoc is growing flowers for seed-- which, of course, requires growing vast fields of flowers and harvesting the seed. the prime time for viewing is May or June. But you can see some flower fields in bloom now, I believe. A kind of offbeat place to stay would be at Lake Cachuma-- they rent something they call yurts which are framed structures with tents around them-- right next to the Lake which is a man made reservoir for the drinking water for the City of Santa Barbara.-- google Santa Barbara County Parks to get a phone number for making reservations.

San Francisco...
posts: 4,722
reviews: 104
6. Re: Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

You can do it in 2-3 days - better to spend more time in San Francisco.

Drive to Cambria (4 hours from LA) and tour Hearst Castle (2 hours)

Drive to Monterey (2.5 hours from Hearst Castle) see Point Lobos, Monterey Aquarium, and the 17 miles drive and then either stay in Monterey (boring) or dive north for 2 hours and be in San Francisco

San Mateo...
posts: 1,695
reviews: 6
7. Re: Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days


Louisville, Ky
posts: 719
reviews: 15
8. Re: Highway 1 from LA to San Fran in 5 days

Rather than spending half your time packing and unpacking by moving every night, I would probably stay the first two nights in Santa Barbara (great town, nice place to relax). I would then head up the coast, maybe stopping in Solvang and then maye sppending the night in either San Luis Obispo or Pismo Beach (one of the few California beaches where most of the hotels are right along the ocean). Then the next morning, maybe stop by and see San Simeon on your way to a couple nights stay in the Carmel/Monterey area. I think that the Big Sur area is the most beautiful part of the California coast and that Carmel and Monterey are both neat little towns to visit. You don't say if you plan to spend time in San Francisco, but if you are going to, make sure that you don't shortchange yourself there. It is a great city, my favorite of anyplace that I go to. Enjoy!!!