3 days for Monterey Bay, Carmel, Big Sur

Old Aug 30th, 2009, 06:31 PM
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3 days for Monterey Bay, Carmel, Big Sur

We've driven/seen the coast from Bandon, Oregon to Santa Rosa, CA, and also from Monterey down Big Sur, and past Santa Barbara on 2 previous trips, so we have NOT seen the coast just north of San Francisco or south of SF to Monterey.

-We're checking out of our hotel in San Bruno on Sunday morning (9-13). How long should it take to drive the coast to Monterey, making brief (or long??) sightseeing stops?

-Any MUST views/stops along the way?

-Anyone vote we take highway 101 instead?

Once in Pacific Grove (where we're staying), we have 3 full days (spending Sunday getting there, then we have Mon, Tues, Wed, checking out Thurs morning). We plan to take one day to visit the area... Pacific Grove, Monterey Bay, 17 mile drive. Another day to visit Point Lobos and Carmel. And the third day (not necessarily in this order) to drive down Big Sur.

-Do you think we're using our 3 days wisely?

About Big Sur... we've driven it twice with our kids, making brief stops along the way. This time it's just my husband and I, and we have more time to spend. We plan on finding Pfeiffer Beach, and definitely want to see McWay Falls again (this may be as far as we drive before turning around).

-Are there any good spots to visit at length? Any neat caves to go into? Any special places?

Thanks for your input!
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Old Aug 30th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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Yes, I think you have good plans for your 3 days in the Monterey Bay Area. I don't vote for Hwy 101 unless you are in a hurry.
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Old Aug 30th, 2009, 08:42 PM
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Google maps shows the trip from San Bruno to Monterey via Hwy 1 takes 2 hr 36 min, but via 101 takes 1 hr 48 min. But, of course, as you probably know Hwy 1 is much more scenic. It's fun to watch the surfers in Santa Cruz from the cliffs along W. Cliff Drive north of the wharf and to walk around the downtown area which is on Pacific Ave.
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Old Aug 30th, 2009, 10:50 PM
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17 Mile Drive is much less interesting than the drive along Big Sur. You can skip it and use the money toward two coffees at Nepenthe. Point Lobos is on the way to Big Sur and depending on how early you start your drive, the two could be combined.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 07:28 AM
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So, 2 hr 36 minutes, plus stops, we could probably easily do it in 5 hours and check in by 3:00. Surfers... fun! Hopefully good photo op. Will look for them in Santa Cruz.

Does the 17 mile drive go through fancy neighborhoods and other things worth seeing? Because I agree, you can see the spectacular coast along Big Sur. Another vote for Nepenthe, eh?
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 07:58 AM
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17 mile drive is a private road through Pebble Beach that you pay about $8 to drive through. It goes, in various parts, along oceanside golf courses, rocky coastline, deep forests scattered with mansions, and the quaint little shops at Pebble Beach Lodge. If you had to save time, I agree that you could skip 17 Mile Drive but never the Big Sur coast drive. If you'd like to see how mega-wealthy people live in one of the most beautiful parts of the US, 17 MD fills that bill and it is very beautiful as well. At the end of the drive you will arrive in Carmel-by-the-Sea which you don't want to miss and 17 MD is a fun way to get there.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 08:00 AM
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One brief stop that I love north of SF on Highway 1 is Muir Beach Overlook (NOT to be confused with Muir Beach). You walk to the end of the walk (which goes west) and you're practically over the ocean. The view north and south is so ruggedly beautiful.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 08:13 AM
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Sounds like a great time, if you want a casual place to dine in PG, check out The Red House Cafe. Spend some time at Lover's Point, also. There is a nice little beach there where you can watch the surfers. Have fun! ***kim***
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 01:14 PM
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Bob, 17 mile drive sounds like a nice change for us. We're usually so rushed on big trips and don't have time for the "extras" like this, but this time we're taking it easy and staying in one spot (for the most part!). Thanks for the extra descriptions of it! makes me want to drive it all the more.

Centralparkgirl, not sure if we'll get north of SF or not on this trip (will have to see how our time goes) but thanks for the tip! Sounds so beautiful!

Kimamom, Lover's Point... just what we're looking for! Will look into Red House Cafe. Thanks!
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 06:14 PM
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Any chance of seeing any whales in mid-September??
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 06:41 PM
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I never tire of the 17 Mile Drive,we just did it this past May when we were in the area for my birthday, we stayed at La Playa. We like to stop at Roy's for appetizers, your gate fee will be re-imbursed with a $25 purchase, take the walk down the boarded path to the ocean, it's so beautiful! ***kim***
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 08:37 PM
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good to know! Thanks!
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