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Driving LA to San Francisco

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Hello All

I am researching a forthcoming drive from LA to SF. I've not done anything like it before and am very excited. In England we don't have the sort of coastal scenery I'm expecting, not to mention much less exciting breakfasts and suchlike. So I'm trying to make the most of the week or so that I have in which to combine seeing a friend in LA (3nts), driving to SF via some beautiful places (and staying in some cheap ones!) and seeing San Francisco itself.

My plan so far after a day of researching.. isn't very complete. I got very side-tracked trying to plan a trip to Yosemite which turns out to be impossible, very sadly. So it's back to making th best of this drive and of San Fran.

Day 1: Start the drive from LA to somewhere to stay overnight - Santa Barbara?
Day 2: onwards to next overnight place - Cambria? See NP on the way?
Day 3: onwards to see Monterey and Carmel. Stay overnight somewhere (not too pricey - any ideas?! I'm not fussed about being in the centre of things as I'll have the car)
Day 4: finally to San Francisco itself to return the car then some accommodation.

Lots of ways you could help input really...!

Where to stay along the route?

Compensating for lack of Yosemite NP: Can you go into the Los Pedros Park? I'm looking to compensate myself for not being able to go to Yosemite and wondered if I might at least see some nice trees etc here or somewhere else near San Francisco? I see another Park on the map by SF...is it any good?

Where to stay in San Francisco that's cheap and cheerful?

Thank you in advance for any help,

Rosie :)

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