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Driving time LA-Hearst Castle-Cambria-Carmel

falls church, va
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Driving time LA-Hearst Castle-Cambria-Carmel

I'm traveling up the coast from LA to SF with my son this weekend, spending Saturday night in Cambria and Sunday night in Carmel. I'd like to tour Hearst Castle on Saturday but am unclear on how long it will take us to drive there from Marina del Rey, so I don't know which tour to pre-book. I'm planning to drive Rts 1-101-1 and ideally would like to stop briefly at Santa Barbara and Morro Bay along the way, tour Hearst Castle, and get to Cambria in time to enjoy the sunset (we're staying at Castle Inn). Is this feasible? Also, how long does it take to drive from Cambria to Carmel on Rte. 1? Naturally, we plan to make stops along the way, but I'd like to know how to budget our time.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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1. Re: Driving time LA-Hearst Castle-Cambria-Carmel

I estimate Marina del Rey to Cambria is approx. a 4 hour drive without stops.

Your best route is Highway 1 to Oxnard and the 101 freeway up to San Luis Obispo and exiting at the Highway 1/Morro Bay/Hearst Castle off-ramp.

I would book Hearst Castle as late in the day as possible so you can visit Santa Barbara and Morro Bay. You might even want to book your tour early the next morning so you won't feel rushed to get up the coast. Tours last approx. 2 hours.

Cambria to Carmel is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours without stops.

Richmond, California
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2. Re: Driving time LA-Hearst Castle-Cambria-Carmel

I think you'll be hard pressed to fit everything in one day from Marina del Ray to Cambria if you want a Hearst Castle tour too.

Hearst Castle will take at least two hours: picking up the tickets, waiting for the bus, taking the bus up the hill, the tour, and then back down. I wouldn't recommend trying it on the same day you're driving from LA - it would be exhausting.

I've driven from LA to SF five times over the past few years. In my experience, these are the average driving times, without stops:

LAX to Santa Barbara: 2 hours.

Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo: 1.5 hours

San Luis Obispo to Cambria: 1 hour

Cambria to Big Sur "village" (around Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park): 2 hours

Big Sur village to Monterey: 1 hour

Monterey to San Francisco: 2 hours

While driving through Big Sur (the 90 miles of coast of between Carmel and Cambria) this goList might give you some ideas:


Cambria, California
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3. Re: Driving time LA-Hearst Castle-Cambria-Carmel

I'd say Scooterboss is pretty accurate with the driving times from Marina del Rey - I used to do the trip from Santa Monica to Cambria and with a short stop for something to eat it usually took about 4 hours. If you plan to stop and look around along the way, good idea to wait and do the Hearst Castle tour Sunday. I work there, and the temperatures have been in the 90's, and are predicted to continue around that over the coming weekend, so after driving I'm not sure you'd enjoy it as much as if you were refreshed. You'll want to allow about 20 minutes to get to the Visitor's Center from Cambria and probably can get tickets without advance reservations coming up in the morning. Give 2 hours for the tour. Then you'd have all day to continue north at leisure to Carmel and make stops along the way.

Los Angeles
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4. Re: Driving time LA-Hearst Castle-Cambria-Carmel

Just a tip - take 1 to Rice Avenue to 101 in Oxnard - skip the part that goes through Oxnard. Road construction, very slow traffic lights, tons of traffic, stops for trains, etc. make that decidedly non-scenic stretch really length (as in adding 20-30 minutes on many days).

Either that, or google maps and figure out how to take beach roads through Oxnard - equal time and actually scenic. Personally, I'd save the 20 minutes for Hearst Castle.

If you're planning to drive through Malibu to Oxnard on the One, it can take quite a bit of time. Google maps says 1 hour 13 minutes, but I think that's really optimistic. A friend of mine who commutes that route allows just under 2 hours for it.

When you ask how long between Cambria and Carmel - are you a fast driver or a slow driver? Many, many tourists travel quite slowly on that road - it's scenic and it's curvy (you'll be on the inside though - goes faster than being on the outside, where people really do slow down a lot). Locals drive it in around 2 and a half hours, so if you don't stop and keep pace with the local drivers, that's about how long it would be.

Surely you will stop, though, and look around? You can't see much while driving (unless the car in front of you is slow).

5. Re: Driving time LA-Hearst Castle-Cambria-Carmel

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