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2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

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manchester
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2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

Hi Folks,

As part of our california hols in May we have 2 days to drive from Santa Barbara up the coast to take in Big Sur, Carmel, Monteray etc, staying somewhere en route overnight night, and need to be back in santa Barbara the following evening.

I need help with a sensible itineray and suggestions fo the best place to stop overnight please.

Apart from obviously looking forward to the views along the coastal road, we would like to get out of the car and do some walking, find a nice restaurant with views for evening meal and a fairly cheap and cheerful hotel for the night. oh and we're not interested in doing hearst castle(sorry!).

Many thanks.

Grover Beach...
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1. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

You can easily get to Monterey from Santa Barbara in one day taking the coastal route if you get an early start.

Take the 101 freeway north to San Luis Obispo where you pick up Hwy 1. The first stop I recommend is Cambria along Monnstone Beach Drive. Just a lovely area to get out and stretch your legs while enjoying the coastal views.

About 12 miles north of Cambria is the elephant seal rookery where the seals are laying out on the beach in droves. It's quite a sight. You don't have to linger here long.

Just north of the seals, the road will turn upward along the coastal mountain range and you'll be on your way to Big Sur. The road narrows out and there are some hairpin turns you have to slow down for. This part of your trip will take the longest time out of your day.

Ragged Point, Gorda & Lucia are your only rest stops along the way and they are fairly far apart from each other, so keep that in mind if you need facilities.

Once you arrive in Big Sur, I suggest a stop at Nepenthe. Nepenthe is a restaurant overlooking the Big Sur coast. It is just an awesome place to enjoy a meal while gazing at the amazing views. The Phoenix Shop off Nepenthe's parking lot is a wonderful place to browse after a nice relaxing meal.

Monterey is just an hour away from Big Sur. You can find accommodations in the price range you're looking for by going directly to the Monterey forum and clicking on the "Hotels & Accommodations" in the shaded box to the left of these posts. You can then read reviews from other travelers and make an informed decision on where to stay. I, personally, prefer a quaint B&B in this area over hotels and neighboring Pacific Grove has many with rooms in several price ranges.

To get back to Santa Barbara quickly, just head east to Salinas and pick up the 101 freeway southbound.

Arroyo Grande...
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2. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

ONE IMPORTANT MEMO:

Fill your gas tank up before you start up Hiway 1

Gas up there cost $7.29 last month.

A few other suggestions besides Moonstone Beach are Ragged Point Inn(they have a dining room, burger stand, expresso bar, General store, gift shop, and gas station) where you can make a stop for lunch, or or just a latte or ice cream while you stroll the breathtaking grounds. The Sea Lions are a must see. Julia Phfier(sp)Burns State Park is a great stop to 'freshen up', and you take a short hike to a beautiful waterfal, or a short stroll into the redwoods. A bit farther north is Henry Millers' Museum, which is a very unique and interesting stop. Then two options for lunch; Nepenthes, which is indeed wonderful, but, almost accross the street, there is also Ventana, higher up the hill, and the food is more LA California Cusinue, AKA expnsive, and small but very tasty portions. I've always thought this view from here was even more expansive.

At this point you are only a couple of miles from Big Sur State Park, I suggest a stop at the River Inn for a drink of any kind, and take it down to the river, and just watch the the river run by. This is always a must for me. When you leave here it should be getting to be around 5pm if you got an early start. I'd just stay in Carmel, there are some wonderful restaurants, and lodging should not be a problem, so long as you have made your reservations using Trip Advisors recommendations. However, I was recently looking for myself, and found that Comfort Inn in Carmel was very reasonable, and looked very charming.

If you don't make it all the way to Carmel there isn't much in Big Sur unless you are ready to spend $$$$.

However, Glen Oaks, about $135, is close to Big Sur proper, and the only complaint I've read about it is that the walls are thin, but the food across the street is great. Also close is Fernwood,about$125 pretty funky rooms, but most have private hot tubs, also good restaurant.

Both have free?WI-FI.

Enjoy Your Trip!

I Wish You Sunny Clouldless Skies, and no RV's.

manchester
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3. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

Thanks to you both for these detailed replies - really helpful.

So if I plan to book our overnight stop in the Carmel region, does this then give us enough time the following day to see Carmel, 17 mile drive and Monteray area before driving back to Santa Barbara?

And how long roughly will it take to drive back the quick way from Monteray via 101 to Santa Barbara (it will be a monday evening if that makes any difference)

Thanks.

Santa Cruz...
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4. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

The driving times on my AAA map indicate that it would take 4-1/2 hours from Monterey to Santa Barbara via Salinas and Hwy 101.

Arroyo Grande...
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5. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

The 41/2 hours is about right, but if you want to to the 17 mile drive add in at least another 2 hours total driving time. I think the speed limit through 17 mile drive is average 30mph. Plus you will probably want to stop at Pebble Beach, I always do, and you have to go from 17 mile back to hiway 68 to get to 101. Just joined Trip Advisor, not sure if they have maps on here or not. But you can do a MapQuest, as I am going on memory, but I have done this trip many, many times.

You will enjoy the 17 Mile Drive, it is stunning, lots of Photo Opps.

Santa Cruz...
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6. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

But if you don't have time for the 17-mile drive, which is between Pacific Grove and Carmel, don't feel you have missed too much. After all, you will have passed through some of the most beautiful coastal scenery there is on your trip up there through Big Sur.

Shell Beach...
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7. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

For a trip of your duration, the 17 Mile Drive may not be worth the time; I think it's vastly overrated. It's just a nice road on the ocean with expensive houses, many of which you can't even see because of the landscaping.

I agree with others that you'll have already witnessed far more interesting and beautiful scenery in Big Sur, and for free (the 17 Mile Drive charges about £5 admission).

Here's a goList that may give you some additional ideas during your time in Big Sur.

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i14592-Big_Sur_…

manchester
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8. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

Thanks for all this information, and your various opinions, really helpful.

Still not sure whether to book a night in the Big Sur area or go on up to Carmel. It will be a Sunday in May and there are three of us, what's your opinion of leaving it open and finding a room wherever we happen to be by the evening? Would this be tricky and/or pricey?

I have all the rest of our itinerary and hotels booked for the 2 weeks, just this one decision left!

Thanks again.

Santa Barbara...
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9. Re: 2 day trip: Santa Barbara to Monteray and back

The drive from Santa Barbara to San Luis will take about 1.5 hours. A drive straight through on Hwy 1 to Monterey will take about 3.5 hours.

While it is all grand, IMO, the best scenery is on the northern section of the the Big Sur.

Just south of Big Sur, you will want to stop for the short hike to view McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Big Sur has a nice beach hike at Andrew Molera State Park. You will need water shoes as you have to ford the creek to get to the beach. Otherwise, you can bypass the beach to get to an overlook of the beach. You can avoid paying the park entrance fee, by parking on the street, but since you're not from around here you might miss the parking area.

The Post Ranch Inn's Sierra Mar Restaurant is a very romantic but pricey location for dinner or lunch. Glen Oaks is a nice hotel, which I would consider to be in the community of Big Sur proper. Across the street is the Roadhouse Restaurant.

Big Sur is very quiet at night. If that's what you want, then that's fine, but there is some very nice scenery between Big Sur and Monterey. There will be more to do in Monterey and Carmel and they are also very charming locations on their own. Monterey is part of California's culture with its historic fishery at Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf. I'd recommend that you continue on to stay overnight in Monterey or Carmel and make reservations.

The next day you could visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf, Pt Lobos State Reserve, and drive the 101 back to Santa Barbara at night. Start back to SB at 5pm and you should be there by 10 or 11pm. If you have to choose, I would choose Pt Lobos State Reserve over the Aquarium - both can get crowded, but at the Reserve the crowds are spread out. May would be a good time for smaller crowds.

Pt Lobos State Reserve, just south of Carmel, is very nice natural area. I suggest that as an alternative to the 17 mile drive.

Good web sites for Big Sur are

http://jrabold.net/bigsur/index.htm

http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/

http://www.hikinginbigsur.com/