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So confused....

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So confused....

Please help if you can. Our honeymoon visit to California is a 4 week fly drive but not just the 2 of us - my mum & my 10 year old son are coming too. As part of the trip we are driving from San Francisco to Monterey (visiting the aquarium) on a Saturday, & then the next day we are driving Monterey to Santa Barbara. Here is the confusion... don't want to miss any of the fantastic sights but I am worried about the distance & of course the traffic on a July weekend. Can anyone help me plan my route? PLEASE!!

Newbury Park...
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1. Re: So confused....

Monterey to Santa Barbara is not a bad drive, easily doable along highway 1 and the 101 in a day, but you may want to consider stopping near Hearst Castle overnight and doing a tour there.

Forestville...
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2. Re: So confused....

If you drive non-stop (which you won't want to do) from Monterey to Santa Barbara it's a good 4 hrs. and that's if you take the "quick" route of #101. Yes, traffic can be extremely heavy on summer weekends, so if you're even toying with the thought of taking winding, slow Hwy 1--you should give that up. Depending upon how much time you spend at the very worthwhile Aquarium, you may have some time to get a taste of the beautiful coastal scenery so. of Monterey, in the Carmel and Big Sur areas. Since fog is always a factor along the coast, some of the views may be obscurred, so you can see what the weather is like once you get to Monterey. You can visit Point Lobos State Reserve which is just so. of Carmel. It has the most gorgeous scenery and some short, easy walks as well as longer ones.

It's about 25 mi. from Carmel to Big Sur, but you should allow close to an hr. You can drive over picturesque Rainbow Bridge that spans Bixby Creek, to Pt. Sur Historic Park and then if you want, to Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park. Much so. of there the road becomes very, very winding.

Since you have only a day, I really think it would be much more relaxing to visit the Aquarium and then just spend the rest of your time in Monterey. Go to Lovers Point for scenery and Fisherman's Wharf to see the sea lions, and treat yourself and your family to a nice dinner along Cannery Row.

On your drive from Monterey to Santa Barbara, you could stop at San Miguel to see the Mission there, and have lunch or refreshments in Paso Robles, which has become an award-winning "wine country" in Central Calif.

Petaluma, California
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3. Re: So confused....

It appears from your question that you have one day to do this drive. That is perfect. What not to miss? ...take Hwy1 - which is one of the most beautiful drives anywhere - and don't worry about fog, it will come and go along the beaches. Drive about 2 hours to Hearst Castle. You may want to take one of their tours to entertain all four of you. Then have lunch in Cambria - a wonderful little town. Or come on down to Morro Bay - and a great two hours could be spent kayaking in the bay - oh it is so wonderful to sit in the middle of the calm bay with all the pelicans. It is a bird sanctuary in Morro Bay and very special. You can have fish and chips in Morro Bay too!

Then drive the rest of the 90 minutes to Santa Barbara stopping anywhere that takes your fancy. I would maybe walk the pier in Pismo and have a treat in Solvang. After Solvang you are in Santa Barbara pretty quickly.

Welcome to America and have a wonderful honeymoon!

UK
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4. Re: So confused....

So, ... we will visit the aquarium on the Saturday when we arrive in Monterey. The Sunday is our driving day, we must get from Monterey to Santa Barbara. Do we take the coastal route or go for the more direct highway? Seem to be mixed opinions here! Help!!!!

Forestville...
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5. Re: So confused....

Sorry to add to the confusion! Maybe I'm opting for NOT making the long, winding, congested drive all the way down #1 become I'm not a youngster and I'd want extra time to sightsee or just relax instead of sitting in a car for many hrs. But as the other forum users testify to, there are lots of travelers who have a sense of adventure and don't mind being in the car. You mention your mum and young son and I'm assuming they'll be in the rear seat. If they're at all prone to motion sickness, then definitely don't drive #1 so. of Pfeiffer State Park as you get into serious curves and it's the bane of people who get car sick (usually the ones in the back seat). One option is to not make the decision until you're in Monterey, then based upon weather and traffic conditions, etc. you can figure out what route you want to take. Also, you might want to check with some of the locals for advice--hopefully, they won't add to the confusion! Good wishes--it's such a gorgeous area, I know you're going to enjoy the experience!

LA/OC
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6. Re: So confused....

I just realized why you're confused... it's the lack of visual perspectiveness of the entire geographical layouts per se using those internet computer websites. Being from the UK... go to and check out the follwoing websites... and buy-puchase some maps from them, and have it mailed to you in the UK. BEFORE you get here, it helps Alot!

Websites: (frankosmaps.com) and (compass-maps.com) both are highly detailed and come optionally waterproof and tear-resistant.

I'll post later for additonal sights & place to see between Monterey & Santa Barbara...

Petaluma, California
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7. Re: So confused....

All I can do to help your confusion is say I live here. And I have driven Hwy 1 over and over. And many many people come here just to drive Hwy 1 down the coast to see the beauty.

The road that is hairpin turns overlooking the ocean where one poster said the backseat people may get sick is not too long and has many turnoffs to stop and view and take photos. So, I have never experienced anyone in my car getting sick. It is not forever on this road. Maybe 30 minutes or less of true hairpin turns. The rest of the time you can stop and visit Big Sur and other gorgeous places. This is also the most direct route to Hearst Castle - otherwise, if you take hwy 101 and back to the 1 you have to back track on the 1 to get to Hearst Castle.

Since you have an entire day to enjoy this drive to Santa Barbara, I would still tell you to take Hwy 1 and not hurry it. Stop wherever and whenever you wish to take in all the beautiful sites.

Many people who come to California do not expect this natural beauty of the coast. People only know of LA and SF and never realize our coastline is full of tiny fishing villages and little towns with wonderful things to see and do.

If I can be of any further help just let me know. I do believe almost everyone who lives in this area would tell you if you have the time to take Hwy 1 along the coastline. It is not to be missed.

LA/OC
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8. Re: So confused....

I would highly recommend that you choose this PCH Hwy 1 national scenic route. It does get a bit windy during the last half portion but you're not going to be drving more than 40 mph as there are lots of other cars on this scenic route too to keep you company...

Here's my previous commentaries, via cut & paste, per another poster...Straight drive time from SF to Monterey should be about 3 hours.

You'll first come across the Monterey's Pier and all of it's shops & eats too. Further down along the waterfront of Monterey Bay is John Steinbeck's Cannery Row of shops, eats and places to stay right next to the beachfront. There's the Monterey Bay Aquarium just down the street, with the sea otters playing on their shoreline grotto with occasional seals and sealions visiting. There's also an outlet shopping mall next door too. Seagulls will be everywhere.

Experience 17 Mile Drive thru Pebble Beach for it's spectacular scenery and beachfront sealife. Eats at Roy's in the Inn at the Spanish Bay Resort Hotel.

Pacific Grove, is nestled between Monterey and Pebble Beach with all of it's shops, and eats to offer. Pacific Grove is a migrating stop off for the Monarch Butterflies in the Eucalyptus trees, as well as Pismo Beach in their travels between Canada and Mexico. Eats at The Old Bath House, Passionfish or The Tinnery. Alos there's Lover's Point for an ocean view vista.

Carmel as well is a must see and do also for it's food and sealife. Stroll streets lined with shops, eats, and bed 'n breakfast inns in a small coastal town romantic setting. You can check out the sealions and otters on the beachfront at Carmel River State Beach and Point Lobos State Reserve. Eats at Clint Eastwood's-Boar's Nest resataurant, or Narci David's-Casanova or at Tutto Mondo Trattoria. Also check out Carmel River State Beach and Pt. Lobos State Reserve for more seaotters, seals and sealions hanging out on the beach or nearby water.

For an overlooking view of Monterey Bay, for lunch or dinner eats try

Carmel Valley's Mission Inn and restaurant too. You might even see Clint there, as he frequents this place of his too. If you trail hiking to the reservoir and back country past a large plateau meadow it'll connect you the backside of Big Sur State Park's Falls on PCH Hwy 1.

Last gas before driving the famous scenic 1 lane each directional whinding coast highway is at the Safeway Shopping Center of where Carmel Valley Road intersects with PCH Hwy 1.

Heading south past Carmel, you must make reservations ahead if you want to visit the Lighhthouse at Rocky Point at Point Sur State Historical Park with it's 7 bldgs., because access to it is thru private lands. But well worth it! # (831) 625-4419. You'll then drive over the historical and scenic Rainbow Arch-concrete bridge. Most everyone stops by to take pictures here and savor a Kodak moment in time...

For eats there's Deetjen's Big Sur Inn Restaurant just north of Andrew Molera State Park. Cielo's at the Ventana Country Inn. Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn. Cafe Kevah too about 5 miles south of River Inn.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is further down Coast Highway. Stop and check out some of the largest coastal redwoods in Central Calif. (next Henry Cowell's State Park in Scott's Valley-Felton, just outside of Santa Cruz). Also go for a dip in the stream, where you'll also see picnickers and campers along the stream and redwood forest banks. There's also a short hike amongst the ferns and redwood forest there next to the visitor's center. There's eats here at the Restaurant at Big Sur Lodge along with a souvenir-tourist shop. Excellent Nepenthe Restaurant food is further down the coast from Big Sur between Ft. Hunter Liggett and San Simeon.

You'll come up on Elephany Seal Beach which is about 7 miles north/ 20 minutes of San Simeon and Hearst Castle. An absolute must see and stop, right along the Caost Highway! Newspaper and broadcasting mogul William Randolph Hearst's extraordinaire hideaway retreat & that Roman Pool! You can also have some of their tasty tri-tip BBQ for lunch being served by Hearst's near their visitor's center. Hearst's tour should be about 3 hours, with both morning & afternoon tours available.

You'll come up on Cambria next on PCH Hwy1. a nice small quaint coastal town with arts, shops and eats too.

I would prefer to spend lodging at Morro Bay, rather than elsewhere. (It's just my preference.) During low tide, you can either walk out or drive out to Morro Rock. Check out breakfast-lunch-dinner dinner at Dorn's Breaker Cafe with their clam chowder, Lolo's Mexican Restaurant also serving steaks, burgers and pasta, Great American Fish Company for seafood, or Windows on the Water, all with a view of the Harbor and Morro Rock. You can also get an early breakfast at Dorn's the next morning when heading out for sights at 7 am. San Luis Obispo is only about 30 minutes east of Morro Bay.

Just south of Morro Bay is the Montana de Oro State Park. If you're into nature this is the place too for scenery, sealife, nature and trails.

* (For San Luis Obispo... will attach another separate post as we have just recently advised another traveler for this area... Same goes for Avila State Beach before you get to Pismo.) *

Pismo Beach is more windy than Morro Bay as you can see by the sand dunes and wind-shaped trees similar to that of Monterey's. Pismo is famous for their clams in their sandy beach. It's now regulated as to the number you can personally harvest due to past negligence. Pismo also has a lot to offer for the visiting traveler. Eats at F. McClintock's Saloon & Dining House, Spyglass Inn Restaurant or Steamer's of Pismo.

Before you get to Solvang, you have to drive thru Buellton at the Hwy 246 and 101 Frwy intersects. There's lots of gas stations and fast food eats here, as well as, a Longs Drugs store and an Albertson's supermarket. Further down Hwy 246 on the right side between Buellton and Solvang is a ranch farm that houses Ostriches! You can pull over and view these kooky birds frolicking around! Or you can get a quick tour at Ostrich Land # (805) 686-9696. Two other good local BBQ places to eat here between Buellton & Solvang (on the same side of the highway as the Ostrich Land) are Ad Spurs and the Hitching Post.

Solvang is 3 miles east of the Hwy 246 and Hwy 101 intersect. It's the Danish capital of California. A small quaint town like being in Denmark all over again! Lunch at the Bit O' Denmark restaurant's all you can eat smorgasborg for $ 7-10. If you're not into Danish food, you can find 24/7 food available at the Chumash Indian Casino & Resort, down the street on Hwy 246 in Santa Ynez (3 miles east of Solvang). Their Creekside Buffet all you can eat Vegas style is from 11am -3 or 3:30pm for about $12. Same goes for dinner from 4-10 or 10:30pm for about $17. Depending on which day of the week. Sunday brunch is $ 12.99 from 10 am to 3 pm.. Theme food days with Asian Mondays, Mexican Tuesdays, seafood Wednesdays, western Thursdays. There's also the El Rancho Marketplace Deli for lunch just across the Santa Ynez High School.

There's also their Chumash Indian Painted Cave State Historic Park in Santa Ynez. It's about 12 miles northwest of Santa Barbara and can be easily missed by it's small yellwo & brown painted sign along Hwy154. Look for the parked cars on both sides of the highway. It's cave apintings are protected by a metal screen, so do please take a flashlight with you for better viewing. Call the Historical Museum #(805) 688-7889 for more info./directions.

When in Solvang, stop by either Mortensen's Danish Bakery or Olsen's Danish Bakery, and best selection is when they open at 7 am. Lots of free parking and rest rms. available in their 4 city lots to choose from. (That's how many folks visit this small gem-ed town!) The other two danish bakeries on the east side of Solvang town near Alisal Road are not that great. You're also now in the Santa Ynez Valley wine country # (805) 688-0881. Fess Parker's Resort is nearby (from American old western Davy Crockett-Daniel Boone tv-movies). At the end of Solvang towards Santa Ynez at 320 Alisal Road is the Vintage Motorcycle Museum. It'll take you about 30 minutes to view all 75 of them. # (805) 686-9522. During the summertime months the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts of Allan Hancock College presents Theaterfest, a sequential production of 5 plays ranging from Shakespeare to Broadway in an outdoor atmosphere during the evenings. # (805) 922-8313.

Stop by and check out Gaviota State Park. It still might be under rennovation construction, but don't let that discourage you to still park outside and walk in. Walk under the railroad trellis tracks to the beach and see the dolphins swim just 50 feet from the waters edge-sand on their way south to the Four Seasons Resort-Hotel beach front in Santa Barbara. (But you can see them for free here!)

(Santa Barbara, to follow on the next poster.)

LA/OC
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9. Re: So confused....

Forgot to complete the previous following... "For an overlooking view of Monterey Bay, for eats of lunch and dinner" there's California Market and Pacific's Edge, both located at the Highlands Inn-A Park Hyatt Hotel, at 120 Highlands Drive in CArmel Highlands.

For eats in Monterey...

Ann Kelly's By The Lake, The Fish Hopper, Rosine's, Margie's Diner, and Tarpy's Roadhouse (which is east outside of Monterey on Hwy 68 at the Hwy 218 intersect-spilt (to Seaside) and near the 7-11, a 24-hr. convenience store.)

For San Luis Obispo...

The Farmer's Market happens every Thursday evening from 6-9 pm. between the 600 and 900 blocks of Higuera Street. Lots of fresh produce, BBQ and free entertainment.

Also checkout the Apple Farm at 2015 Monterey Street for food and tours, of this working replica 19th century millhouse on San Luis Creek. # (805) 544-2040. (Just across from the Chevron gas station.) Lunch/Dinner at Apple Farm Restaurant.

There's Mission San Luis Obispo. Go back into time when traveling Catholic monks built Missions along their routes during the Spainards controlled-ruled California over the Chumash Indians & Mexico. # (805) 543-6850.

For eats in SLO there's Cafe Roma and Linn's.

Just 30 minutes to the south of SLO is Avila State Beach & Park. You'll find more seals and sealions basking on the beaches there too. Good for swimming and tanning too. Also taking in some mineral and hot springs baths at the local resort. (Just off of Hwy 101 and beyond the golf course within that valley's road-Avila Beach Drive.) Lunch/Dinner at the Gardens of Avila in Sycamore Mineral Springs.

LA/OC
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10. Re: So confused....

Contnuing onward, driving southward on Hwy 101, there will be a small downhill grade before you see Gaviota State Park off to your right side. You can go into the park, pass under the railroad trellis tracks to the beach, or take the Right Fork in the road to avoid the Park Ranger's entrance gate... ALSO Drive that road uphill and get some free spectacular views of the Pacific ocean. Hwy 101 south will veer to the right after Gaviota State Park and your entire right side will sightsee the vast Pacific ocean with waves and breezes.

Driving into Santa Barbara, you might want to experience the "loop sightseeing drive". Exit State Street from Hwy 101 south, make a right turn on La Cumbre Lane. You'll see the upscale La CUmbre Shopping Palza across the street. Lots of gas stations and convience eats here too. Drive La Cumbre Lane back over the freeway, which turns into Las Palmas Drive. Drive Las Palmas all the way to the coast, as it'll turn into Roble Drive and then Marina Drive veering to the left parallel to the coastline. Marina Drive will inot Cliff Drive at Douglas Family Preserve and Elings Park. The take a right turn on Shoreline Drive and continue driving along the coast. Passing by Shoreline Park, Leadbetter Beach & Park, Point Castillo and SB Yacht Club, into SB Harbor and Stearn's Wharf.

Park it and stroll along the Wharf and beachfront. State Street is directly across the Wharf at Cabrillo Blvd. Drive State Street heading back inland from this intersection. You'll approach the upscale shops and eats of State Street. Follow State Street as it veers to the left, and drive it all the way back to La Cumbre Shopping Plaza. Take State Street to get back on the Hwy 101 southbound for Ventura.

Also visit in Santa Barbara, the El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, located at te 100 & 200 blocks of East Canon Perdido Street. It's about 6 blocks up-inland from the State Street & Cabrillo Blvd, make a right turn on East Canon Perdido Street. it's just past City Hall and the Post Office. The SB Historical Museum is nearby too.

Further up State Street and making a right turn onto Mission Street, you'll drive 4 blocks and then take a left turn at the local school. Two blocks up this Laguna Street will be the Mission Santa Barbara. # (805) 682-4713. Nearby will be Museum of Natural History. (2559 Puesta del Sol Road. # (805) 682-4711. There's a 72 foot blue whale skeleton at the entrance! A planetarium, a space lab and the live reptile Lizard Lounge. Butterfly Pavillion will be open during the Summer months with with thousands to be view. (Part of their migrating path from Canada to Mexico, which includes stop-offs in Pacific Grove and Pismo Beach too.)

Further up the street will be the SB Botanic Garden (78 acres) at 1212 Mission Canyon Road. # (805) 682-4726. For eats in Santa Barbara there's Chuck's, Eladio's, Cold Spring Tavern (up near the Chumash Indian Painted Cave), The Palace Grill, Rose's Cafe, and Bouchon.

You'll spend at least an entire day in Santa Barbara with the scenery and tours thing. Solvang to Santa Barbara is about 30 minutes away of drive time bewteen these two points. Drive time from San Luis Obispo to Solvang is about an hour. Drive time from Carmel to Morro Bay is about 4 hours. Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo is only about 30 minutes.

Hope this helps you out better... And please Do get the Maps!

For more intricate specifics than myself, please contact my traveling buddy, Gourmand, for more....