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Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

Tennessee
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Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

We're heading your way in early October. Our flight lands about 12:30pm on a Saturday. Currently we are planning to drive to Santa Cruz for our first night, staying at the Dream Inn. Then, the next day we will drive down to Big Sur, then coming back to Monterey for the aquarium. We're booked at the Intercontinental there.

I'm beginning to wonder if we're moving too much. Would we have time to stop by Half Moon Bay, Natural Bridge state park, and then go on to Montetey on that Saturday?

Thanks!

San Jose, California
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1. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

The drive from SFO to Monterey is only a couple hours, so if you leave SFO around 1:30, you can spend a few hours sightseeing enroute to Monterey and still get to Monterey for dinner. That is a totally do-able plan.

Santa Cruz...
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2. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

Since Monterey is only 45 minutes from Santa Cruz, it doesn't take much time away from Big Sur to stay in Santa Cruz the first night, so you would have time that first day for the drive down the coast.

It is less than two hours to Santa Cruz from the airport if you go over to Half Moon Bay and down the coast highway, without stops. Take Hwy 380 from the airport up to 280, turn south, and watch for the Half Moon Bay exit.

You should be in Santa Cruz in mid to late afternoon, giving time to take in Natural Bridges State Park and browse the shops on Pacific Avenue, if you wish.

The Dream Inn is a lovely hotel. Each room has a patio or balcony facing the Bay. Joie d'vivre bought it a couple of years ago and completely renovated it. It has a very nice restaurant, Aquarius, with Bay views.

Mystic, Connecticut
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3. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

A three hour drive from Monterey to Sf took me three days! There are unbelieveable things to see, do, eat between the two. Take your time, stop, take side roads, go back roads. It was unforgetable for my first trip to califonia!

Tennessee
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4. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

Thanks for the input! I've decided to stop second guessing myself and stick to my plan. I think my uncertainty comes from my lack of familiarity with the area. I am looking forward to my can't-get-here-soon-enough visit!

Fresno, California
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5. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

lol@dp122800...from having lived in the bay area for about 20 years, I completely agree. There are many small, charming towns along the coast there that most people don't know about...if you have the time it's often worth it to explore them.

To the OP: As others have said, it's doable, but that depends on how much time you want to spend in each location. Like dp122800's implies, it's possible you may wish for more time in certain towns than you expected/planned. My own personal opinion is that I've really enjoyed visiting smaller towns like Half Moon Bay, Capitola, Aptos, etc., but of course everyone has different preferences,. I do tend to stay in Monterey for convenience and use it as a base for the area, because I'd rather use one place as a 'base' and drive, instead of checking in & out of multiple hotels.

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6. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

Sounds like a great trip! The Clement and The Dream Inn are two very good choices for lodging. Both properties have beautiful views of the ocean and nice restaurants. We have dined at both Aquarius @ The Dream Inn and "the c" @ The Clement and enjoyed our meals very much at both places.

If you stop in Half Moon Bay, there is a Ritz-Carlton there where you may want to stop by for a drink or appetizer. This property has gorgeous views of the ocean and the food at Navio and The Conservatory Lounge is awesome as is the service there. For something more casual, Sam's Chowder House is not to miss in Half Moon Bay.

Enjoy your travels and have fun with your planning, also! :)

Santa Cruz...
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7. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

Tennessee,

I forgot to tell you that if you would like to see an ancient redwood grove Henry Cowell Redwood State Park is just a 7 mile detour from Santa Cruz on Hwy 9.

In fact, here is a traveler article to familiarize you with Santa Cruz.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g33048-c133677/Santa-…

You will have a wonderful trip.

Tennessee
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8. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

We definitely want to stop at Henry Cowell park. I can hardly wait for our trip. Reading all of your comments make me even more excited. I wish we had two weeks for this trip instead of one. I have a feeling I'll want to come back again :)

San Francisco...
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9. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

If you have time, stopping for lunch or just a drive through of Capitola is recommended. Beautiful little town with clean well kept beaches. We just returned from the area this weekend.

10. Re: Stay 1 night each in Santa Cruz & Monterey or 2 in Monterey?

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