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Possible Pismo Beach Visit

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Wilmington, Vermont
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Possible Pismo Beach Visit

My wife and I are considering going to the Hearst Castle following a few days in San Francisco. We are considering stopping in the Pismo Beach area. We are a in our mid-60's.

Could someone tell me (a) what is the proximity of Pismo Beach to Hearst Castle; (b) which accomodations in the area would you most recommend; (b) what things are there to do in the Pismo Beach area in mid-February; (c) which restaurants would you recommend in the area?

Your suggestions will be appreciated

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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1. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

Hearst Castle is about an hour and 15 minute drive from Pismo Beach. If Hearst Castle is the focus of your visit, you might want to consider staying in Cambria instead. Cambria is a pretty seaside community nestled in a pine forest next to the sea with lots of cute shops and cozy eateries.

Cambria lodging: Moonstone Landing, Fog Catcher Inn, Blue Dolphin Inn, Pelican Inn, Cambria Pines Lodge

Cambria dining: Robin's, Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill, Sow's Ear, Madeline's, Old Stone Station, Linn's

If you're into wine, the Paso Robles wine country is nearby. There is also an elephant seal rookery a few miles north of Hearst Castle worth a look.

Should you decide to stick with Pismo Beach, your lodging options include The Cliffs Resort, The SeaVenture, Best Western Shelter Cove Lodge, Best Western Shore Cliff Lodge, Kon Tiki Inn.

Pismo dining: Ventana Grill, Splash Cafe (Famous for clam chowder), Cracked Crab, Lido at Dolphin Bay, Marisol at The Cliffs, Old West Cinnamon Rolls

Things to do: Walk the beach and/or pier, browse the funky shops downtown, rent hot springs tub by the hour at Sycamore Mineral Springs, visit the nearby Edna Valley wine country, shop the Village of Arroyo Grande or downtown San Luis Obispo, visit Montana de Oro State Park west of SLO, rent kayaks in Morro Bay and paddle along the quiet waters of the marina over to the estuary (You can do the kayaking and Montana de Oro SP from Cambria, as well).

Grover Beach...
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2. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

In addition to the above, I would strongly encourage you to add a night to the drive and stop in Monterey/Carmel for a night before continuing down the coast, especially with our shorter daylight hours.

You do NOT want to risk driving through Big Sur after dark, which is possible if you linger in Monterey/Carmel to long.

If you were planning on driving SF to Pismo Beach via the scenic coast route, that's a 7 hour drive WITHOUT stops!!

Edited: 12:35 pm, January 30, 2014
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3. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

Pismo to San Simeon is about an hour drive. We have several places in the area we like to stay. Right in Pismo is The Sea Venture, this hotel is right on the sand and is very nice. We also like The Seacrest Oceanfront Hotel. It is very budget-friendly and offers many nice amenities. In nearby Shell Beach is The Cliffs Resort where we have enjoyed several stays.

Lots of great places to dine in Pismo! The Cracked Crab, Giusieppe's, Ventana Grill and Splash Cafe are all very, very good. In Shell Beach, we love Lido @ The Dolphin Bay Resort (just had lunch there last week) and Marisol @ The Cliffs Resort.

www.centralcoast.com is a nice website for this area. Have fun! :)

San Francisco
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4. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

While I like both Pismo and Cambria, if your plan is to go only as far as Hearst Castle, then I would pick Cambria as the overnight stopping point.

Edited: 8:25 pm, January 30, 2014
Wilmington, Vermont
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5. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

Thanks for all your help, suggestions and caveats.

Taking them all into consideration, we've decided that one of our priorities is to spend time at the Hearst Castle, so based on your suggestions Cambria will be our southermost point. We'll take the faster inland route, Rt 10 (I think) from San Francisco south, and stay in Cambria 3ish days. Our return will take in the scenery along the drive going north on the Coast Highway to Carmel where we'll spend the night and part of the following day before we drive back to San Francisco in the afternoon to catch a red eye to Naples, Florida.

Will this schedule work?

Thanks again.

Petaluma, California
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6. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

Sounds perfect. While in Cambria you can take a day to go wine tasting in Paso Robles. You can easily spend a day doing that and enjoy one of the fine restaurants in Paso for dinner. While staying in Cambria my very favorite restaurant in all of the county is called Black Cat Bistro. The chef is really very good. You can always spend another day driving south from Cambria to Morro Bay and check out those sites too. But staying in Cambria will be beautiful. I think the route you have chosen is great. Have a wonderful trip!

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7. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

Sounds perfect.. look at The Colonial Terrace or Normandy Inns in Carmel for lodging. :).

Grover Beach...
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8. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

The fastest and most scenic route from SF to Cambria is via I-280 south to Highway 85 south to Highway 101 south. It's all fast moving multi lane freeway driving and approx. a 4 hour drive tops. I-280 has been designated as one of the most beautiful freeways in the world. It is a lovely drive with woodland and reservoir views on the west side of the freeway.

Highway 101 out of SF is a congested eyesore of a drive. I just won't go that route anymore.

Once you reach Paso Robles you'll connect with Highway 46 West toward Cambria. Don't get confused with the Highway 46 East exit toward Fresno/Bakersfield or you'll end going in the wrong direction. The Highway 46 exit is approx. 4 miles south of the Highway 46 East exit.

Highway 46 West takes you directly to Highway 1, is approx. a 20-25 minute drive and the 46/1 junction is about 4 miles south of Cambria. The Highway 46 West drive is also quite pleasant, as it takes you through the rolling hills and vineyard views of Paso Robles' west side wine country.

Pismo Beach...
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9. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

It's an hour drive from Hearst Castle to Pismo Beach. You can find information on Pismo Beach dining and Lodging on our website along with specials and deals. If you are here in February, the Monarch Butterfly Grove is a must see! There are over 30,000 butterflies that cluster in the Eucalyptus trees.

San Francisco
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10. Re: Possible Pismo Beach Visit

<<The fastest and most scenic route from SF to Cambria is via I-280 south to Highway 85 south to Highway 101 south. It's all fast moving multi lane freeway driving and approx. a 4 hour drive tops.>>

I did this drive (in reverse) yesterday. And I make it a bit faster by exiting I280->I380E->101N

No traffic problems, 1 quick stop for gas and it was 4 hours ... BUT that was to the southern SF city limit. It was 40 minutes later when I arrived home. (I drove 62-65MPH) So where you're leaving from in SF will make a difference because NO ONE lives at Candlestick Park!

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