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Driving LA to San Francisco

Old May 4th, 2011, 04:37 PM
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Driving LA to San Francisco

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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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:21 PM
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Be aware that as of today Highway 1 is still closed near Big Sur and you cant't drive to Monterey from Cambia on Route 1. Detour to 101.
there is a "big trees" grove near Santa Cruz that is easily accessible.
Santa Barbara and Cambria are good overnight spots that don't require a lot of driving leaving more time to see the sights.
We have stayed at San Simeon Pines at the north end of Cambria many times and liked it. However, rumor has it that the place has gone downhill. Drove by a month ago and looked the same as every, but haven't stayed there in a couple of years.
If you happen to want a spot right on the water, checkout a B&B in Caycauos between Morro Bay and Cambia. It will be more pricey than San Simeon Pines.
Even if Route 1 is closed up north, consider taking some time and making the drive to Hearst Castle for a tour, well worth the time although you have to backtrack to Cambria and Highway 46 to connect with 101. Lots of wineries and tasting rooms on 46 between 1 and 101.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:23 PM
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The only thing you've mentioned that probably doesn't make sense is Santa Barbara -- it's really nice, but it's probably too close to LA to stop for the night there. Stop on the way, but make your way to Cambria for the night. Next night in the Carmel-Monterey-Pacific Grove area (they're all within a few miles of each other)...Stay a night or two. Next few nights San Francisco.

What constitutes "cheap"??
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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:34 PM
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You can see big trees at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the southern most point for coastal sequoias. They can also be seen in Big Basin State Park and Henry Cowell State Park, both inland from Santa Cruz.

For highway 1 conditions, go to http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi and enter 1 when prompted for the number of the highway.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:56 PM
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If you are adventurous, you can drive up highway 1 even if closed farther north, and just south of Lucia take the road to Fort Hunter Liggett and San Antonion de Padua. It is very steep, twisty and narrow, but it offers breathtaking views. Google map Lucia, CA, and it is the yellow road just south of it.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:58 PM
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Both of your threads mention cheap accommodations. So what is your actual budget per night?

Also -- just to let you know >>". . . much less exciting breakfasts and suchlike.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 08:50 PM
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If you do go the route Michael suggested, you might want to stop at San Antonio de Padua. It's a good mission to visit (my son did his 4th grade "mission report" on it).
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Old May 4th, 2011, 08:59 PM
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I honestly think michael's route isn't such a good idea in this case. From your other thread it sounds like you aren't really into mountainous/steep/narrow/'strenuous' roads. But if I'm mistaken -- yes -- that is a great road.

But don't worry - there is another way to get around the road closure.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 02:45 AM
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Thanks All that's some really useful info and much appreciated

Today I will plan the itinerary and post it for you guys to check it looks sensible!

1st night in Cambria
2nd and possibly a 3rd further up - Monterey / Carmel area
Then San Francisco for 2 or 3 nights.

I actually do quite like the idea of the twisty & windy but scenic route (how many hours of that is there?) so will try to take that one. I'm a sucker for a view and since I won't be seeing YNP any more, I think that'd be cope-able. Do I need a 4wd car for it??

Will take the route Michael suggested - "drive up highway 1 even if closed farther north, and just south of Lucia take the road to Fort Hunter Liggett and San Antonion de Padua." - and stopping at the Mission sounds great too. Do hire cars in the US come with Sat Navs? Hope so! How long should I allow for that drive?

Budget is about £60 a night, which is about $95. Less if at all possible..

Anyway thanks again and I'll re-post with my itinerary later on. I checked the accomodation you suggested boom_boom, the SS Pines, and they have vacancy for the night I'm there so that's good. I might check to see if there's anything cheaper around before I book but it looks lovely if not, so thanks.

Lastly JanisJ - what is the "another way to get around the road closure" you mentioned - is it the San Antonion de Padua route that Michael talks about? Oh and thanks for the tip about breakfasts - I think I've watched too much American TV and decided everyone has pancakes for breakfast!
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Old May 5th, 2011, 03:10 AM
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Is it better to take 4 days and 3 nights to travel the route (LA to San Francisco) or 3 days and just 2 nights? (one in Cambria, one further up; around Monterey)

I found a very affordable place to stay in SF: $49 per night which altho pretty cheap doesn't look too bad.

But I could stretch to an extra night along the coast - especially as I can probably find a small town along the way with a motel or something similarly inexpensive to stay the extra night and enjoy more time on the road - if it would be fun and worth it? After all I'm probably never going to do this route again (well not in this lifetime)
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Old May 5th, 2011, 05:44 AM
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About 50 miles south of SF. There is another lighthouse hostel at Montera Point as well.
I like Pigeon Point a little better.
http://www.norcalhostels.org/pigeon/
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Old May 5th, 2011, 05:58 AM
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You seem very bummed to not see YNP. Given you are from England, unless you think you will get to CA another time, I would make the trek out there. My husband and I did it in one day. Obviously it was a ridiculously long day, but we too had no options and so we just did it. We were coming from Lake Tahoe, but we got up early, early, drove through the park, stopping at the major sites, ate lunch at the lodge and made our way to SF. It may not be what you had hoped for, but if it is a must, then just do it.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 06:56 AM
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For missions, I like La Purissima State Historical Park near Lompoc.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 08:54 AM
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>>


Please please please tell us what and where. There are areas of San Francisco you simply do not want to be staying in, and at $49, it sounds like this might in one of them.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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"Please please please tell us what and where. There are areas of San Francisco you simply do not want to be staying in, and at $49, it sounds like this might in one of them."

yes -- definitely don't book anything in SF w/o checking here first.

"what is the "another way to get around the road closure" you mentioned - is it the San Antonion de Padua route that Michael talks about? Oh and thanks for the tip about breakfasts - I think I've watched too much American TV and decided everyone has pancakes for breakfast!"

If hwy 1 is still closed -- take michael's suggestion. My comment was re if you wanted to avoid a semi-difficult drive. There is a detour that goes over to 101 at Cambria/Paso Robles but you don't need to take that.

You can get that sort of breakfast all over -- but not provided by the motels. There are inexpensive chain restaurants that specialize in breakfast -- IHOP (for 'International House of Pancakes'), denny's (not terrific food but they do a large/cheap breakfast), HoJo (for Howard Johnson) -- and every town will have local places that are known for large cheap & cheerful breakfasts. The motel owners can direct you to the best one nearby.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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Janis, have you been to IHOP recently? We went a couple of years ago, and it was darned expensive!! Stick to local diners and coffee shops.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 09:53 AM
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Place in SF is called Casa Loma and is $52 per night for a room with a (not guaranteed) view. I spoke to them and they seemed nice. And the reviews were mostly good!

Here it is:

http://www.casalomahotelsf.com/

Eek, I made a reservation (fully refundable if I cancel) - what do you make of it??

Rosie
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Old May 5th, 2011, 09:56 AM
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maybe it's the 'shared bathroom' which accounts for the price..?
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Old May 5th, 2011, 12:40 PM
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The hotel is at Fillmore and Fell in the Western Addition--not a traditional visitor's location. In SF a couple of blocks can make a difference in the neighborhood and this is still a marginal location. The Western Addition was an extremely poor neighborhood with public housing projects, it has been gradually "gentrified" from all directions, but in parts it still remains somewhat dangerous gang territory, especially around the projects. Lots of young people have moved in and created "hip" enclaves, so if you are under 30 and used to urban living, this might appeal.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 01:49 PM
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SAB, you'll appreciate this anecdote (and OP, this is not meant to scare you off of the neighborhood any more than SAB has already done, since this occurred many years ago). Anyway, friends of ours were looking at a house to buy in the Western Addition. The house had no garage, and the female in the couple had a job that would have her walking from her car to the house after dark. They were concerned, but the house was fabulous, and of course, a much better house than they could afford elsewhere in the city. So I suggested she call the police department and ask them about the neighborhood. She did -- and the officer on the other end of the phone replied, "Well, if it were me, I wouldn't walk around at night without a loaded gun"
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