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California central coast

Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 07:00 PM
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California central coast

Need a little help with plans for central CA coast. Family of 5 (3 teenagers) will be spending 3 days in San Francisco and than will be heading down the coast to LA. Between SF and LA we have 3 days to spare and wondering how to best spend them. Was orginally thinking 1 night in Monterey area, 1 night near Hearst Castle (Madonna Inn) and 1 night in Santa Barbara. After reflection, I was wondering whether 2 nights in Monterey would be best to fully appreciate the area and therefore simply skip Santa Barbara. We really wish to see Hearst Castle.
Need advice.
Any suggestion as to cool things to do along the coast with teens (16 16 &15)


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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 07:19 PM
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Your itinerary sounds fine to me. You should be able to see Monterey, the Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara in the time you allotted. I think Santa Barbara is worth a visit, so my suggestion is stick to your original plan.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 07:21 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Regarding cool things to do with teens...if they like aquariums, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is definitely worth a visit. The beach at Santa Barbara is nice too. Santa Barbara has a very walkable downtown area that is fun to stroll.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 07:51 PM
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I would be concerned about the time spent packing up and heading out to new hotels.Of course, my teens were girls and mornings were never early which would also make me think about passing through so quickly. Have you considered Carmel with Monterey and skipping Santa Barbara? The white sand of Carmel is heavenly. The Pebble Beach area is beautiful, the 17 mile drive is gorgeous.. too much to see. Don't get me wrong, Santa Barbara is a great town; however I enjoy it as an adult visiting the wineries and shopping/walking along State Street. Good luck and if you do all 3 - early revelrie!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 02:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2010
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I would do 2 days in Monterey & skip Santa Barbara, or even drive through there on the way for lunch.

Definitely go to the Carmel shopping area, Monterey Canary Row & Aquarium, and Pebble Beach's 17 mile drive- in Pebble Beach have breakfast at the Lodge Gallery (it's delicious), and go to Roy's for dinner (try the chocolate raspberry souffle).
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 07:49 AM
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I would also skip Santa Barbara, two nights in Monterey or Pacific Grove, then one night closer to Hearst, eg Cambria, San Simeon or Cayucos.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 10:52 AM
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Two nights in Monterey/Carmel........then Hearst Castle next afternoon with the night spent down at Avila Beach, Shell Beach or Pismo Beach. Next morning breakfast in Solvang/Santa Ynez valley and a drive down into Santa Barbara (via the back road 154 over Lake Cachuma) then spend the afternoon in SB with dinner on the Wharf. What is your final destination? LAX?

IMO, Hearst Castle is a great place to visit but for the afternoon and evening your kids will find it quite sleepy in the vicinity, so move on and get some more of your drive out of the way.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 12:34 PM
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I'm partial to Santa Barbara and would not skip it. The Mission, walking State Street, Stearn's Wharf, the food and the architecture make it worth a visit in my book. Oh yes, wineries near Santa Maria and Solvang are nice stops if the adults like wine. Some have nice picnic areas and sell a limited selection of snack items.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 05:49 PM
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Thanks for the good advice, we will skip Santa barbara and stay 2 nights in monterey area. Can anyone give me an estimation (time wise) when driving from SF to Monterey on the first day, from Monterey to SLO passing through big Sur on the second day and SLO to San Clemente on the third day. Consider we want to take in the sights. I know the distances in terms of miles, but time is another issue.Is it feasible to spend the third afternoon in Santa Barbara before driving to San Clemente? Will the traffic in LA slow us down on a sunday night? And last inquiry, is it best to stay at an airport hotel in LA the night prior to taking the plane home or can we stay in Santa Monica the night before and make it to the airport for 9am on a Wednesday in August

Thanks again

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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 02:16 PM
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Traffic in LA shouldn't be bad on a Sunday, but you definitely don't want to do it on Monday. SLO to Santa Barbara is about 2 hours, then Santa Barbara to San Clemente is about 3 hours.
Santa Monica is pretty easy to LAX. Since you'll have to be at LAX around 7am to drop off your rental car, you shouldn't have any traffic problems that early.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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Coming back into town on a Sunday evening can be bad.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 03:30 PM
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SF to Monterey is about 2 hours if you go the quick route, no stops. However - I definitely think you should stop in Santa Cruz and spend some time at the Boardwalk and the beach. So plan on an extra half hour or so for the drive itself.

From SF, take Hwy 280/85/17 to Santa Cruz, and then from SC just take Hwy 1 down to Monterey.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 05:53 PM
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Monterey to SLO is slow going on Hwy 1. I think it's about 4 hours, longer if you stop for longer.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 10:04 AM
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A warning about the afternoon traffic down from Santa Barbara to LA on a Sunday, like mlgb says, Bad. Very slow passing through Santa Barbara, if you were able to get on the freeway near the eastern edge of town you'd miss most of it, but then southbound traffic on the 405 freeway from LA to San Clemente can be horrible. They have finished a carpool lane which helps a bit, but still, beware. If you were to leave SLO very early in the morning, much better.

If you want to see a funny little dump of a college town, take a loop through Isla Vista, the little town that is attached to UC Santa Barbara. UCSB is a huge party school, and the Sunday morning remnants of the Sat. night revels in Isla Vista might be a little lesson to your kids. Or, make them want to go there. Like my daughter did. She survived and is now a well adjusted adult .
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