California Coast Road Trip August 2010

Oct 5th, 2009, 12:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2009
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California Coast Road Trip August 2010

My family of four (children aged 15 and 13) are travelling to the US for the first time next August. As part of our trip we plan to spend 3 or 4 days driving slowly down the coast road from San Francisco to LA.
Will we find good safe accomodation on the route available at that time of year or will we have to book in advance ?
Ideally we'd like to find somewhere every day so we are not constrained to be in a particular place on a particular day, but if there is likely to be a shortage of available places to stay we may have to book up early.
Also - any tips on what not to miss along that road ??

Thank you
HanMan is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 02:41 AM
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Maybe you might read my trip report:
traveller1959 is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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Definitely get reservations ahead of time - this is summer on the California coast. Everything books up - good and safe accomodations as well as everything else. In addition, if you are travelling through over a weekend, many places have 2 night minimums.
november_moon is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 08:04 AM
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Absolutely pre-book any weekend nights. Weekdays - it more depends on how willing you are to compromise re rates/location/etc.

One issue that may affect your "go w/ the flow" plan is, as november_moon mentions, many places along the coast will have a 2-night minimum on weekends. To make sure you get decent accommodations at reasonable rates - I'd go ahead and book each night. Also - many places (though not all by any means) will let you cancel up to the day of your stay w/o penalty. So if you book places that have generous cancellation policies, you could change plans along the way.
janisj is online now  
Oct 5th, 2009, 08:06 AM
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Get reservations. Already 13 years ago we drove from LA to SF in mid-September (just a regular weekend) and nothing was available on the coast between Morro Bay and Santa Cruz.
Michael is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 10:55 AM
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You might also look at and click "places" and route A for a brief overview of coastal California sights.
RVtraveler is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 12:21 AM
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Here is a short itenerary from SF to LA I came across. If I were from out of the area I would want something like this for a starter.

It doesn't account for the seasons though.

For instance, if you choose to go east into Paso Robles, Hiway 101 in Aug will be in the 100's F from Paso Robles to San Luis Obispo.

There are some wine tours around Paso however. It cools dramatically from SLO southwards.

You pretty much lose coastal hiway 1 south of Moro Bay if you decide to stay that route. You will need to connect to 101 into SLO from there.

You will only see 'spotty' coastal areas from the 101 freeway south of SLO on the way to Santa Barbara, but Avila and Pismo Beaches may be good for the kids.

There are some scenic drives from Moro Bay to Santa Barbara unless you just want to zip through on the 101 to Santa Barbara.

For instance look into Los Olivos, Solvang and Lake Cachuma on the 154 route which is the back way to SB as you head south.
bear900 is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 05:50 PM
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I endorse what the others have said. My family and I spent three days driving up the coast in the other direction this past August, but unfortunately left LA on a Friday and reached SF on Sunday night. If you can avoid doing this drive on a weekend, but instead do it between Monday-Thursday, I would recommend doing so. Things will be less crowded and you'll have a much broader choice of accommodations. And I would urge making your reservations in advance.
jeffergray is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 08:16 PM
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Since you seem to have plenty of time, it seems like you want to go from SF to the Monterey Bay the first day. YOur kids might enjoy the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, with all of its rides, and there's a nice beach. NOt the most interesting for parents, unless you like rides. MOnterey is lovely, and probably more interesting for the grown-ups.

The next day would be a south along the coast, probably staying in San Simeon or Cambria. You probably should look into Hearst CAstle as a stop along the way. San Simeon is right on the coast, while CAmbria is a little more inland, but it's cuter.

Then possibly down to Santa Barbara. You can stop in Morro Bay and kayak. You can stop in San Luis Obispo and visit the mission, or go to the Guadalupe Dunes outside Santa Maria, depending on whether you want history or nature.

Then you have an easy drive out from Santa Barbara to LA the next day, with a possible stop at the beach in Malibu.
cferrb is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 08:06 AM
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Although Hwy 1 turns inland at Morro Bay, there is a road along the coast that goes thru Montana de Oro state park, and connects with Hwy 1 again just north of Pismo Beach. You can actually continue on Hwy 1 from there all the way to Santa Barbara. It's a much nicer drive than the freeway Rte 101 if you have the time.

Pismo-Grover Beach-Arroyo Grande is a good stop, there are accomodations of all types and price ranges, but definitely book ahead. I try to avoid the weekend days on the coast if possible. If you can plan your itinerary to have the weekends in the cities (LA SF) and the midweek days (Sun-Thurs) on the coast, you will do a lot better with availability and prices in August.
mlgb is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 08:15 AM
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If at all possible try to be in San Luis Obispo (SLO) on a Thursday---wonderful " street Market"--food, crafts, entertanment, produce--
I always stay at the Peach Tree Motel -- 'reasonable "price-north end of town--free trolly provides transport downtown. Motel has a wonderful beakfast --which helps the budget a lot..
IMO Hearst Castle is a must--in summer reservations are advised.
Happy trails.
traveler24 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 02:04 AM
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For all visitors wishing to drive Hiway 1 south from Moro Bay to LA. I will start at Morro Bay as a new reference point after driving the Big Sur Hiway.

These are detailed directions but important ones as you drive Hiway 1 south to Los Angeles. First, let me say that ‘Staying on Hiway 1’ isn’t as straight-forward as you may think.

There is also an option of not thinking about it at all and you will still end up in LA one way or another.

I will start at Morro Bay driving South and give you some options.

There is a back road south of Morro Bay to Montana de Oro State Park. It is a side trip that would take more time, but in my opinion is a great place to visit. There are nice long trails on bluffs overlooking the ocean. We go there often. Unfortunately Hiway 1 doesn’t.

However, if you do wish to get there from Moro Bay you would head towards the ‘back bay’ on South Bay Blvd into Los Osos. You would then turn right on Los Osos Valley Road to the State park. You must exit the park the same way you enter it, back towards Los Osos.

You would then drive on Los Osos Valley Road, a nice short drive surrounded by beautiful small hills into San Luis Obispo (we call it SLO).

Or, you can take Hiway 1 out of Moro Bay directly into SLO. It turns into Santa Rosa Street in SLO and runs somewhat parallel to Los Osos Valley Rd. Those are the only two ways into SLO which is where you need to go. But you do have the two choices.

Both are nice drives. These two routes are excluding driving east on Hiway 41 from Moro Bay to Atascadero and then driving south on Hiway 101. That is another option but I will not include it here.

You may not really feel you have left Hiway 1 from SLO southward but you have, and you will be on 101 which is where you want to be.

You can leave 101 at Pismo Beach, and connect back to Hiway 1 through Oceano, the Nipomo Mesa, Guadalupe, Casmalia, Vandenberg, and Lompoc and then reconnect back to 101 at Gaviota State Beach. Half of this drive consists of back roads and not at all a real freeway. It’s a lumbering drive and takes time.

This sounds trivial in print but in reality is quite a drastic diversion, though a pretty drive. We take it often. It can turn tedious however and may not be what you expected.

Most people don’t realize the above route is a portion of Hiway 1, and that may serve a useful purpose as it’s hard to find and is really off the beaten path.

If however, you would like to get off the 101 further South for a nice diversion, and that won’t take much ‘driving time’ (I guarantee you will want to stop along the way), I recommend exiting 101 past Los Alamos onto 154, and go into Los Olivos. Make sure you enter into the small town.

From within Los Olivos, take Grand Ave (it turns into Alamo Pintado Rd) and drive this back way into Solvang. This is really a beautiful yet short drive and keeps you headed in the right direction. There are things to see along this short drive so take it slowly.

Alamo Pintado will dead end at Hiway 246 and you can turn right to visit Solvang. To leave, take Mission Drive into Santa Ynez (Hiway 246) back to Hiway 154. Sounds confusing but really isn’t if you follow this step-by-step. It is worthwhile if you have the time.

Hiway 154 will take you to Cachuma Lake and into Santa Barbara. You will see some high vistas heading into SB that you would otherwise miss by staying on 101.

If you don’t have the time, stay on 101 into Santa Barbara.

Past Santa Barbara, you will be on the 101 until Oxnard. You will need to decide at that point to exit 101 onto Hiway 1, Pacific Coast Hiway.

I should warn you that the freeway drive through Santa Barbara is more congested then you may expect. I say that because you may need extra time. Ventura and Oxnard can be the same.

Please understand that Hiway 1 and 101 merge, divide, merge and divide.

If you find yourself short on time, stay on 101 into Westlake Village (really a town) then turn right on Kanan Rd which will take you into Malibu Beach.

You can then drive the Pacific Coast Hiway, Hiway 1, all the way to Santa Monica and beyond.

Plan on spending some time, it is worthwhile, and you will see a lot along the way.

Happy driving and sightseeing!
bear900 is offline  

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