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Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

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Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

We're planning to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles over a couple of days, I know this has been done many many times and I have had a read through several posts, about people asking pretty much just this question, however I thought I'd ask my specific questions about this trip.

So far my itinerary goes something like this -

Pick up hire car and leave San Francisco (after having spent a few nights there) and head to San Jose to see Winchester House, spend most of the day here before heading down CA-17 S and CA-1 S to Monterey where we would spend the night.

Spend some of the day whale/wildlife watching before driving through Big Sur stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery. Continue driving to San Simeon and spend the night.

Spend most of the day around San Simeon/San Luis Obispo/Santa Maria before driving into Los Angeles.

So my questions are:

Essentially we only want to drive into LA to go straight to LAX, however we'll want dinner before going to the airport. Can you recommend somewhere that is EASY to get to (and get to the airport from, but with great food?

Will we have enough time to spend in Monterey and sight see along Big Sur in just one day? I'm not sure what time we'll get to Monterey on the first day, but it will probably be mid to late afternoon, so most sight seeing would be on the second day. Should I add a second night in Monterey?

Do you recommend we stay in San Simeon? Or where else?

Considering we would have spent time around Winchester House on the first day, I don't think my husband would be interested in seeing Hearst Castle (but I could be wrong) what else do you recommend to do in this area?

There will be my husband, my 2 year old daughter and I on this trip.

Thanks for all your help!

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1. Re: Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

ehh, I should have reread the title before posting...

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2. Re: Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

Winchester Mystery House and San Simeon are not at all in the same category, and cannot be compared.

Winchester Mystery House is a bona fide tourist trap, hardly worth most of the day. Hearst Castle is a very stunning example of a very powerful and rich man's vision.

For Hearst Castle, stay in Cambria, not San Simeon.

Manhattan Beach...
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3. Re: Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

I would make the stop at the Winchester house quickly if the timing works out, but put the emphasis on Monterey Bay, San Simeon, and the other coastal stops. One night in Monterey is OK if you do 1 night in San Simeon/Cambria. The reaction on the Winchester House typically seems to be that it was an OK place to visit or kill some time in San Jose, but they wouldn't go back. The sights along the coast drive are memorable and typically repeated.

For your 1 evening in LA, consider Manhattan Beach. We have good restaurants, a nice park for kids, a nice beach front walkway, and we are close to LAX.

San Diego
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4. Re: Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

Just to explain more, San Simeon is not really a town. It is a strip of motels and a post office and that's about it. Cambria is the town that is nearby with stores/restaurants more motels etc.

I agree that your focus should be more of Monterey and less of San Jose.

Edited: 10:29 am, July 09, 2014
San Jose, California
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5. Re: Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

I agree - if the Mystery house is a must see, then stop en route to Monterey, but don't plan most of the day there. Get to Monterey as early as you can to maximize time there. You don't have enough time in Monterey as it is, so unless the Mystery house is a bucket list item, I'd skip it entirely in favor of more time in the coast.

The next day - whale watching and the drive to San Simeon will be a long day. I think it's doable, but remember that the drive to San Simeon will take about 3 hours and you have a 2 year old. You'll have to hang onto the kiddo during the whale watching and then later you'll be in the car - will your 2 year old put up with being constrained that much of the day?

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

This sounds like an adult trip with the 2 year old just being there -- putting aside the discussion on which place is better the tourist trap called winchester my house or the lovely hearst castle, Not sure it would be in my list of top things to do with a child = The kid will be happy in Monterey in the Aquarium or going to the beach in Carmel (weather permitting) or the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. -- all this over the two houses you planned to look at. There is elkhorn slough which is a great place to go and perhaps better for the 2 year old than a whale watching trip.

7. Re: Where to stay a night and spend most of the day?

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