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best route

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best route

I will be travelling from Oxnard to San Luis Obispo at the beginning of September. What are the must see sites along the 101 I have all day and want to make it a relaxing drive with plenty of stops. Any reccommendations with places to eat or picnic would be much appreciated.

Manhattan Beach...
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1. Re: best route

Santa Barbara is where you will want to stop and spend a good part of the day. Everything you want to know is covered here:


Be sure to spend some time at Stern's Wharf, maybe have lunch in one of the seafood restaurants.

Grover Beach...
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2. Re: best route

There aren't a whole lot of options for stops, but Santa Barbara is the obvious "must see" sight of this trip.

BTW- Most of this route is inland away from the coast. You could opt for Highway 1 near Lompoc, but it will not take you along the coast. This route is a two lane highway through farms and ranches and not really worth the extra time it will take you, so just keep to the 101.

Pismo Beach/Avila Beach would be your next best "sites to see" on the way to SLO. Pismo Beach to SLO is about a 15 minute drive.

Pasadena, California
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3. Re: best route

I agree that Santa Barbara is your main, best stop on this route. It is just a beautiful town, and its well worth spending several hours (or several days) there.

At the very least, stop at Stearns Wharf and enjoy the views of the water and the city behind you.

You might want to leave the 101 for an hour or so by taking the #154 over San Marcos Pass, past Lake Cachuma, and then re-joining the 101 just north of Los Olivos. You could stop for a meal at the Los Olivos Cafe, a very charming and casual cafe with a nice patio and very good food. The #154 doesn't take any more time, really, because the #101 at that point makes a 90 degree turn-- and the 154 is the diagonal (hypoteneuse of the triangle? I haven't taken geometry for a LONG time). The #154 is a very scenic road. I'm sure there must be places for wine-tasting along that road too. By the way, the exit for the #154 from the 101 is in Santa Barbara, past the main part of town.

Los Angeles
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4. Re: best route

Are you staying at the Mandalay in Oxnard? If so, Harbor Blvd in the morning, toward the 101 (as opposed to any other route to the 101) takes you along the beach. If you're at the Mandalay or nearby, you'll have plenty of opportunity to stroll on the beach or visit the nearby Oxnard Harbor area - which has several nicer restaurants.

Get off on the State Beach Road just north of Ventura (Old Highway One) and go 9-10 miles along the Rincon - stopping perhaps at Emma Wood State beach to watch surfers (or to swim). If you snorkel, that's the place to do it (with a buddy system). The drive is nicer than being on the highway and doesn't cost anything in terms of time.

If you get off in Santa Barbara on Cabrillo (a left exit off the 101, a rarity), you will go past the bird refuge (worth a short stop), the very nice SB Zoo, the beach and a host of dining options. The Biltmore area, nearby, is nice - the Biltmore is architecturally interesting.

The drive along the coast in Santa Barbara (going past State Street by the harbor and onward towards Shoreline Park and Arroyo Burro Park is very relaxing.

The beach at Carpinteria (below Santa Barbara) is safe and pretty.

Mrs Olsen's Coffee Hut in Oxnard and the Golden Egg in Ventura are great breakfast places. DePalo's (Spyglass Drive, aka Spyglass Deli) is a great place to get picnic supplies or good sandwiches in Pismo.

Santa Barbara has lots to see and do - but is it relaxing? Sometimes - if you stick to the beach parks. THe downtown area is very busy. The Natural History Museum and Art Gallery are worth a visit, though, if museums are what you like.

The detour off 101 to Nojoqui Park is a little adventure. This former Chumash watering hole has impressed a number of our out of town guests and is beautiful even when the falls isn't pouring - here's a pic without the falls, just in case it's not wet when you're there:


Pismo and its surrounding beaches are wonderful.

A stop at the Madonna Inn to gape at the pink interior (and check out both downstairs restrooms - everyone does it) is fun if you're in the mood for cookies and coffee (and kitsch).

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5. Re: best route

Thanks for the comprehensive replies. We are staying at the hilton channel islands harbour but dont know where this is in relation to the Mandalay.

6. Re: best route

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