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Itinerary Suggestions needed Coastal drive from San Deigo to San Fran

Itinerary Suggestions needed Coastal drive from San Deigo to San Fran

Old Apr 28th, 2003, 09:27 AM
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Itinerary Suggestions needed Coastal drive from San Deigo to San Fran

My husband and I are attended a conference in San Diego the last week in June and would like to take the week afterward to 'explore' CA. We are thinking of renting a convertible and driving up the coast. I am curious if anyone can give us suggestions about places to see along the coast. We want to spend 1 day in LA (my husband has been there before so we'll just be stopping to let me get a quick 'taste' of LA). He also wants to do the 17 mile drive around Pebble Beach. BUT, we can't make up our minds about what else to do. I originally wanted to just fly from San Deigo to San Fran (spend a few days in San Fran) and then drive to Yosemite for a day or two...

So as you can see - we are just in the beginning of our planning. I know a little background may help - we are 27 and 29 and are looking for a 'relaxing', quiet vacation. I love beaches, he loves golf. We're not real big on museums, I think we're more interested in 'scenery' and nature.

I know this is pretty open ended -- but any suggestions anyone has to give would be greatly appreciated!
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Old Apr 28th, 2003, 09:49 AM
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A couple of random thoughts...

First re the convertible: check to see who will allow one-way rentals for ragtops - many won't. Also, late June may or may not be okay for top-down on the coast, due to the "June Gloom" phenomenon, i.e. overcast and chilly near the water. (You may want to break up your tour of the 17-mile drive for hot cocoa.)

Stop and see if you possibly can the farmers' market in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturdays. Visit the Mission while you're there, too - SB is one of the prettiest towns in America IMO.

Assuming you're interested in visiting the Hearst Castle, try for the early morning or last few tours of the evening (means spending the night nearby.) Least crowded.

Have an only-slightly overpriced lunch at Nepenthe in Big Sur. Try to look like Orson Welles (well...maybe not) and Rita Hayworth while sitting on the patio in the maybe-sun.

Try for a day on Hwy 1 NORTH of SF - dramatic landscape, cute towns, often less crowded than the southern portion. If time and appetites permit, stop for a family style Italian dinner in Occidental (in the hills between the coast and Santa Rosa. Beautiful country, plentiful food. Be careful driving back to the city (or spend the night) due to drowsiness.
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Old Apr 28th, 2003, 10:20 AM
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just a small note of info.If you don't want to sound like a total tourist,don't call San Francisco "San Fran". The locals either use its full proper name,or they may say that they are going to "The City"
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Old Apr 28th, 2003, 10:22 AM
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For scenary and nature you can't beat the great vistas along Highway 1. The most scenic part of Highway 1 is between Santa Barbara and the Monterey Bay Area. Route 1 north of Monterey is not as scenic, and given your limited time I'd focus on Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel, and do a sidetrip to Yosemite. On the way to Monterey make a stop in San Simeon for a tour at Hearst Castle. Make reservations for Hearst Castle tours. There is lodging in nearby Cambria. In the Monterey and Carmel areas 17 Mile Drive is great, as is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Point Lobos. Look at the following links for more information.

The Yosemite Falls should be great at the end of June. In Yosemite try to get a place to stay in the Valley in order to save a 45 minute drive each way from outside the park. The best place to stay in Yosemite Valley is the Ahwahnee Hotel, although the Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village are also nice.

A tentative itineray would be:

Santa Barbara: 1 night
Cambria: 1 night (Hearst Castle)
Monterey/Carmel: 2 nights
Yosemite: 3 nights

The closest major airport to Yosemite to fly out of would be San Jose.




Have a great trip.
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 06:30 PM
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San Luis Obispo. . . .great town. Half way between LA and SF. Has a great college atmosphere. Would be fun for your age. If you are there on a Thursday, Farmer's Market is not to be missed.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 03:48 AM
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We did 90% of this trip last May (LA to SF). Renting a convertible one way for week is not that difficult. We used Avis. Check all of the major rental companies.

I agree with the outlines of itineraries presented here.

LA, Santa Barbara, Cambria, Carmel/Monterrey, SF.

Cambria is currently my favorite California beach town, beating out Santa Barabra and San Diego. There are several good wineries between Santa Barabra and Monterrey if you want to tour one or two. Definitely go to the Hearst Castle. The drive along HWY 1 is beautiful and not difficult, as some will claim. Make sure to bring a camera.

Do a search of this
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Old May 1st, 2003, 04:55 AM
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My husband and I did that trip in 2000. Definitely don't fly, do the drive. It is WONDERFUL.
We were both 30 when we did this trip and were looking for the same things you are. We both travel a lot and let me tell you, this is one of our favorite vacation ever...I think because it was just the 2 of us driving along and discovering this beautiful part of our country.

-17 mile drive. lovely...with beautiful homes in the area.
-Highway 1 drive. lovely.
-Town of Santa Barbara. Drove around (small, pretty, town) and visited the mission.
-Hearst castle. not lovely but a must-see I think because of how grandiose it is. they offer several tours. just one tour will do.
-Morro Bay (small fishing town). We just stopped to see its famous landmark Morro Rock.
-Also did Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel.
-Spent a couple of days in San Francisco. Did all the touristy stuff of course.
-Went to Muir Woods too...enjoyable.

Definitely rent a convertible. Hertz does do one-way rentals. Just remember that trunks of convertibles are small. Our luggage was too big so we had to give up on the convertible which was a bummer.

Have a great time.

Old May 1st, 2003, 05:48 AM
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point lobos st. park 2 miles south of Carmel.....
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Old May 1st, 2003, 06:28 AM
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I think the coastal route would be a great trip (if you decided to do Yosemite, I would make a different itinerary and not try to do both) for a week. From San Diego, highlights could include:

Laguna Beach: most artsy town in Orange County. Crowded, but worth going to anyway. Fun, unique seaside atmosphere.

Santa Barbara: Downtown State Street is the main event; the botanical garden, the zoo, the beach & pier.

Los Olivos: tiny, cute "Stagecoach Town" with some good art galleries and restaurants.

Pismo Beach: low key (for California) beach town. Check out pier area. Main drag for restaurants is Price Street. This is one of the widest sandiest beaches anywhere and it literally goes on for miles for walking or you can even drive on it (the only beach you can legally do that on the west coast). For driving on it, you enter at the end of Grand Ave. In Grover Beach.

San Luis Obispo: Downtown, Mission Plaza, Thursday Farmer's Market (6-9 p.m.)

Morro Bay: The Embarcadero. Hofbrau Haus for lunch (must be a meat eater). Its tiny, but locals will show you the way.

Cambria: Downtown area and surrounding countryside. Many B & B's here in town and on the water on Moonstone Drive. Many cute shops, restaurants & art galleries. Favorite restaurants are Robin's (Fave dishes: Salmon Bisque & Tacos) and the Sow's Ear.

Hearst Castle: If you want to do this definitely get tickets ahead of time or you may not get in, or you might wait a long time. Make time to explore the visitors center which is like a small museum. The Beach across the highway is a nice spot for a picnic or snack, or just to stretch your legs.

Piedras Blancas: Just north of San Simeon. I'm not sure if it will still be the season, but THOUSANDS of sea lions hang out here.

Big Sur: Definitely one of the most beautiful drives in the world! Give yourself time to enjoy it.

Carmel: Most "Polished" of the towns on the Monterey peninsula. If you like dogs, go to the main beach! They are free to roam there, and many of the shops and restaurants allow them.

Monterey: I would reserve a full day or two if you can. Explore downtown, Fisherman's Wharf. In the plaza at Fisherman's wharf is the visitors center which is very helpful and you can sign up for historical walking tours which are very interesting. You could spend 1/2 a day or more walking down "Lover's Lane," from Fisherman's wharf to Lover's Point. Its the locals favorite place to walk/jog, rollerblade, and ride their bikes. You will pass long stretches of beautiful coast (sea otters, birds and seals abound), shops, restaurants, and the aquarium. Favorite waterside dining here is the Chart House (I always reserve a table right next to the window over the water) and tavern is Mucky Duck (inland a few blocks on the main street running up from the wharf). Good dayspa is "Spa on the Plaza," and there is a good Italian cafe next door for espresso drinks, snacks and breakfast.

Listen to Gardyloo about "June Gloom," which is a very real phenomenon here. Summer can be the coldest months on the coast, but it is still worth going. Just bring lots of layers to be prepared for any weather. Bon voyage!
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Old May 1st, 2003, 06:54 AM
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Just one suggestion - don't skip or short change SF. It can be the most romantic spot in CA and may well end up being the highlight of your trip.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 09:15 AM
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We did much the same trip about 18 months ago--the LA-SF leg. I'd reserved a Nissan Altima. As I was going in to pick it up, I passed a red Camaro convertible. Changed my mind on the spot, took that, and never regretted it! As caribtraveler points out, you'll deal with luggage constraints, but it's worth the aggravation.

One high-spot that's easy to miss is McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, in Big Sur. And in Santa Barbara, go to the top of the courthouse for the spectacular view.

Got a couple of albums at http://community.webshots.com/user/bookhall . You WILL have a great time!
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Old May 1st, 2003, 09:24 AM
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Julia Phieffer State Beach!!!!!
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Old May 2nd, 2003, 12:09 PM
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Its "Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park"
see link.
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Old May 5th, 2003, 09:12 AM
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Many thanks to everyone for their helpdul responses!! These suggestions give me a great place to start with my research!

To those who said they had done a similar trip - any suggestions on great places to stay along the way? Nice B&B's or hotels? I've been reading a lot of the other posts on this board about hotels -- but would love to hear from any of you since it sounds like you all enjoyed your trips so much!!
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Old May 5th, 2003, 09:27 PM
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I'd suggest not doing SF and focusing on the beatiful coastline from Santa Barbara to Monterey. You may be able to squeeze in Yosemite also. SF is just too far out of the way and I have found it to be overrated and quite dirty as well. We did not feel too safe there, especially downtown.

We did a similar trip up route 1 to Monterey from LA and just loved the coastal scenery. Hearst Castle is a must.
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