LA to San Francisco

Old Nov 24th, 2013, 04:05 AM
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LA to San Francisco

Hi. Some help please. Our first night we are staying with friends in Ventura. We then have 2 nights before staying in San Francisco. I had thought about stopping at Carmel or Monterey, should that be the 1st stop or 2nd. What is there to do and see in February between Carmel and SAN Francisco or conversely between Ventura and Carmel. Someone has suggested that we go to CARMEL then to NAPA but I think we would always be in the car.
Some help please.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 04:18 AM
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There are many posts in here you can check - under California - and I love touring Hearst Castle - with a stop in nearby Cambria - possibly Moonstone Beach if you can afford it. From there - drive up/through very scenic Big Sur - and then wind up in Carmel or Monterrey - and also take in the Aquarium while in Monterrey. Jules Preiffer State Park/beach waterfall is also a great place to stop along the way - just south of Big Sur.

And you can drive from Carmel to Napa - if you want to avoid the SF traffic. When you finally get to SF - "Bagdhad by the Bay" - as noted columnist Herb Caen used to call it - think you will love it.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 09:46 AM
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I certainly would not drive from Carmel to Napa. On a work day, I don't think there is any route that would avoid the traffic in SF or the East Bay (which could be worse than SF traffic). You may also have some North Bay/San Rafael traffic. Even if you spend zero time in slow traffic - it is a long 3 1/2 to 4 hr drive to St Helena. If you take the East Bay route, it would be a very ugly (non-scenic) drive.

I would leave Ventura early and visit Hearst Castle. Drive up Hwy #1 to Carmel. Dawdle as much as you can on this drive - one of the loveliest in the world, See Pfeiffer falls, and perhaps have a late lunch or early dinner (if your trip is in the summer) at Nepenthe in Big Sur. End the first day in Carmel and stay for two nights. Next morning backtrack a bit to Pt Lobos - one of "the most scenic meetings of land & sea". Explore Carmel, Carmel Beach, Pacific Grove, and Spanish Bay. I would not visit the Monterey (spelled with 1 "R") aquarium - visit the one in San Francisco at the Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park - if you want to visit an aquarium. Your time would be better spent in the Carmel area visiting the sites that are unique to Carmel & surrounds.

Next day - high-tail it to SF. It is a 2 1/4 hr drive to Union Square without any traffic. On a work day, leave Carmel around 9-9:30am to avoid traffic.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 10:57 AM
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I 100% agree w/ Stu. Stay both nights in/near Monterey/Carmel. The first day you will barely get to Monterey during daylight hours. The first day you can see Hearst Castle and Big Sur - and a lot of car time.

Then the 2nd day you can see Monterey/the Aquarium/Pebble Beach/Carmel.

The next day drive up to SF.

Going to Napa makes no sense at all.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 11:21 AM
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I'd stay in Cambria (you can visit wineries in nearby Paso Robles area and the tasting fees will probably be lower than Napa) and then Carmel or Monterey. Point Lobos is always nice as is the Aquarium in Monterey and Hearst Castle is nice if interested. I did not care for the paintings or furniture (too heavy) but the house and gardens and pool are beautiful.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 04:37 PM
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I would only stay in Cambria if you HAD to leave Ventura very late in the day. From Ventura to Cambria, it is about a 3 hr drive. So you would not do that much "sightseeing" - except in Ventura & Cambria (which I don't think is nearly as interesting as what you'll find in Carmel, Pacific Grove, Pt Lobos, Spanish Bay, & Monterey).

If you can get an early start from Ventura, you would get to San Simeon in 3 hrs also. Then visit Hearst castle for 2-3 hrs, then off to Big Sur (1 1/2 hr drive to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park & the "falls"). Have a late lunch or early dinner at Nepenthe, then drive for 1 3/4 hrs to Carmel. So the day would look something like this:
- Ventura to San Simeon - 8:00-11:00
- Visit Hearst Castle (If this interests you) - 11:00-1:30
- San Simeon to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park 1:30-3:30 (with stops for pictures)
- Visit Pfeiffer park - 3:30-4:30
- Pfeiffer to Nepenthe - 4:30-4:45
- Late Lunch at Nepenthe 4:45-5:45
- Nepenthe to Carmel 5:45-7:45 (with stops for pics).

If you need/want to get to Carmel earlier in the day, I would cut out either Pfeiffer or lunch/dinner at Nepenthe. Of course, if you have no interest in Hearst castle - that would be the big time-saver.

There are two good reasons to stay in Carmel for 2 nights instead of 1 night in Cambria & 1 nights in Carmel
1. Many/most hotels require a two night minimum near weekends (I don't know about mid-week).
2. 1 night (1/2 day) in Carmel is not nearly enough time to visit the Carmel area - including Pt Lobos,IMO.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 10:29 PM
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Agree with skipping Napa. You will have plenty of other opportunities to see or visit wineries and vineyards on the way north if you wish.
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 04:13 AM
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Thanks for all the info really useful. I agree now that we would always be in a car. I have booked the 2nd night at Monterey Someone has suggested staying in Solvang 1st night after Ventura. Comments please on that.

Thanks
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 07:53 AM
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If you have ever visited "cute little villages" in Europe, I think Solvang will be a disappointment. Also, Solvang is barely over 1 hr from Venture - so unless you have to leave Ventura VERY late in the day - you've kinda wasted a full day. I don't think Solvang is worth a full day's visit. I visited Solvang about 45 years ago (I'm 1/4 Danish), but in the dozens & dozens of times I've driven by Solvang, I never had the urge to stop for another visit. I've stopped in Carmel maybe 30-40 times - twice this year.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 08:09 AM
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IMO Solvang is worth a lunch stop and maybe a little shopping but its not a 'destination' - especially on such a short trip.
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 12:14 PM
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Thanks for all the ideas. I think either 2 nights in Carmel or a night in Cambria on the way.
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 12:32 PM
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Agree Solvang is not worth a lot of trouble to see. It's kind of cheesey, I thought.

There are so many awesome places on the coast, that's where I'd stay.

Stu gives you a really smart itinerary.

Definitely don't go to Napa on this trip. There is wine country to see without going that far north. (And, yes, Solvang is in wine country, but it sounds like it's out of your way.)

Stu, are there some vineyards and wineries inland from Carmel? Or is that mostly other types of farms?
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 12:34 PM
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I had to Google:

http://www.carmelcalifornia.org/Wineries-Tasting-Rooms

Maybe Stu is familiar with some of these?
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 01:29 PM
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Yep - there are several good wineries in Carmel Valley. However, I stopped visiting wineries about 20 years ago - so I don't have any first-hand recommendations. Talbot makes good Chardonnay (and nice neckties also).

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 02:54 PM
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I stayed in Cambria couple nights a few years ago, doing a trip from LA to SF. I stayed in this place, which I loved http://www.moonstonelanding.com/

There isn't tons of sightseeing per se, it's a good place if you want to relax, take beach walks, etc. I kept busy for a couple days, did a driving tour, as I recall of some winery areas and also visited San Simeon, of course. It was a lot better than Solvang. It's just a good place to stop in-between if you are on a long drive.
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 03:14 PM
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Monterey County wineries include those in the the Carmel Valley and some nice ones inland along the River Road. Paraiso is very well known and located outside of Soledad. Not handy for the OP, but maybe for someone else.

Here is a link to the area:

http://montereywines.org/monterey-ex...e-tasting-map/

SLO county has Paso Robles, but also Edna Valley and south county ares:

http://www.slocountywineries.com/
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Old Nov 26th, 2013, 04:35 PM
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The last time we split our drive from LA to Marin County, we spent the night in San Simeon at Cavalier Best Western Inn. It's a cute place oceanfront with chairs and fires on the beach.
3 miles north to Hearst Castle
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Old Nov 27th, 2013, 06:08 AM
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Solvang is a cute place (albeit busy) to visit - and have Danish pastry or maybe meatballs for lunch - whatever - and maybe do some wine tasting there - or nearby - but also recommend you continue on to sty overnight in Cambria. Just south of Cambria - you could also head inland a bit (30? minutes) and stay at one of the good wineries along hiwy 46 - going toward Paso Robles. Justin is a very good winery with some upscale cottages - and other wineries have B & B type rooms.
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Old Nov 29th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Thanks I appreciate all the messages. I have now booked all our accommodation.
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Old Nov 29th, 2013, 02:20 PM
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What is your final itinerary? Do you mind telling us?
And we will expect a trip report, ya know!
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