Please critique this Big Sur itinerary

May 9th, 2007, 07:06 AM
  #1  
kdd
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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Please critique this Big Sur itinerary

Day 1 - Start from San Jose around 10 am, first stop Monterey Aquarium; then onto Point Lobos for a picnic lunch; drive down Highway 1 stopping at Pfeiffer beach, and other vista points, then onto Ragged point inn for the night

Day 2 - start the day (typically 11 am when we are on a holiday) with a stop at the Elephant seals rookery in Piedra Blancas, then a visit to Hearst Castle, stop for lunch maybe at Ragged Pt restaurant, drive to Julia Pfeiffer park to the falls, stop at Cafe Kevah for drink/snacks, back to Ragged pt for the night. Is this too packed?

Next day 8 am we drive to Santa Barbara to catch a flight.

How does this sound? Is this schedule too packed? Will we be rushing from point to point?

Let me know your thoughts..
kdd is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 07:10 AM
  #2  
 
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If you spend a couple of hours at the aquarium, you will be having a late lunch. And is this on the weekend? By the time you get to Monterey (11: 20 to 30), there will be a long line at the aquarium. I personally would leave San Jose by 9 am if possible.
trippinkpj is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 07:24 AM
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It's doable, but it's a bit of a drive from Ragged Point to Big Sur proper. You'll be driving south to see the Elephant seals than back north 50 miles. It's a slow 50 miles too.
Hearst Castle takes quite a bit of time. You won't be out of there until at least 2 o'clock.
I'd try to leave San Jose a little earlier and do your stops in Big Sur on your way down the coast. Skip the beach. Stop for a bit at Nepenthe, stop at the overlook to the falls. You can't access the beach there btw.
That way you can enjoy your time in the southern half of the Big Sur coast on your 2nd day.
The Elepahant Seals are a blast to watch. Love them.
Give yourself plenty of time to get to Santa Barbara as well.
glimmer2 is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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You're going to arrive in Monterey at 11:30. You're planning to picnic after touring the aquarium? You might want to dine at the restaurant at the aquarium.
TTess is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 07:39 AM
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There is really no way you can leave SJ around 10:00, tour the aquarium and get to point Lobos for lunch. Even getting to a restaurant rightg next door on Cannery Row by lunch time would be tough.

You will not be parked and into the Aquarium until at least noon.

I would leave SJ by about 0800. 0830 at the latest.
janisj is online now  
May 9th, 2007, 08:00 AM
  #6  
 
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If you leave San Jose at 10:00 you won't be IN the Aquarium until 12:00 at the earliest. Give yourself 2 hours in the Aquarium. If you've already brought lunch with you, you won't be settled in at Pt. Lobos (which shouldn't be missed) until close to 3. If you leave Pt. Lobos at 4:00 you won't get to Big Sur until close to 5:00, than another hour and half at least to Ragged Point. Try to leave San Jose earlier.
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May 9th, 2007, 08:46 AM
  #7  
kdd
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Realistically 9 am is the earliest we can hope to leave SJ...I would skip the aquarium and go straight to Point Lobos but I think my 3 yr old will really enjoy the aquarium visit...so we will try and keep it to 1 hr and then drive to Point Lobos. This should get us to Pt Lobos by 2 pm? I also plan to buy the aquarium tkts online which should save us some time.
kdd is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 09:15 AM
  #8  
 
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Why are you backtracking on the second day back all the way up to Cafe Kevah/Nepenthe? This isn't a road to be going back and forth, you want to be going in one direction.

I'd suggest spending the first night in Monterey/Carmel.

Second night at Ragged Point.

You'll enjoy the trip a lot better than trying to zip up and down a mountain/seacoast road behind slow moving campers, etc.
easytraveler is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 09:20 AM
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Easytraveler has a good point. If you stay in Carmel you can relax and enjoy the Aquarium and Pt. Lobos. Carmel beach is beautiful too.
You can stop a bit in Big Sur on your way down, and do an afternoon tour of Hearst Castle.
Don't want to rain on your plan parade, but you're trying to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time with a 3 year old.
glimmer2 is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 09:57 AM
  #10  
kdd
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Maybe we should get as far as Big Sur state park and stay at Big Sur lodge on Day 1 and then drive the rest of the distance on Day 2 with a stay at Ragged Pt Inn.
kdd is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 10:02 AM
  #11  
 
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Generally I am the type to spend at least 2 nights in a location and do day trips rather than changing hotels each night, but in this case, I think it makes the most sense to spend 1 night in Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove and the next night at Ragged Point. Otherwise, as others have mentioned, there will be too much backtracking. Once you get there, you will understand why this is an issue. Although the mileage isn't a lot, the roads are slow. And if the driver isn't used to curvy roads, it will be very taxing. Even for those who are experienced with Big Sur, the driver basically drives while the passengers look at the scenery. It is a eyes-on-the-road type of place.

J_Correa is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 10:16 AM
  #12  
 
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When are you going? Big Sur Lodge books up early.
glimmer2 is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 10:46 AM
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You can order aquarium tickets ahead of time to save standing in what can be very long lines. I do mine by telephone, not sure if you can do it online, but that would be worth a try.

Be sure to reserve your Hearst Castle Tour ahead of time as well.
jtrandolph is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 03:35 PM
  #14  
 
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Sorry, I didn't mean to sound so abrupt. Was in a hurry and wanted to get in a message before leaving.

Anyhow, everyone has given you very good input on here. Take their advice and book ASAP for Pfeiffer Big Sur Lodge. If you can't get anything for the date you want, then Carmel/Monterey is not that bad a fall-back. Besides Carmel Beach is really quite gorgeous.

Start out from San Jose no later than 8am and you will not have that bad a line at the Aquarium. You may want to have lunch there, kids love the place and you may be spending more time than you had anticipated. Afternoon to Pt Lobos, an easy hike for kids and they love the sound of the barking seals.

Dinner in Carmel, then, if there is still light, walk along Carmel Beach.

Overnight Carmel/Monterey.

Next day go down to Pfeiffer Big Sur and just do a short hike there among the redwoods. Pfeiffer Big Sur is inland and there will generally be sunshine. Maybe lunch at Nepenthe. Then down to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and do the short hike to McWay Falls. Then down to Ragged Point for the night.

Unless you have a real need to stay at Ragged Point, I would suggest staying as close to Santa Barbara as possible. Dont' know what time is your flight home.

I'm certain the other Fodorites will have better suggestions and will chip in.

Have a safe trip!
easytraveler is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 03:51 PM
  #15  
 
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"Realistically 9 am is the earliest we can hope to leave SJ. . . . . .so we will try and keep it to 1 hr . . . "

I really think you need to re-consider this. The aquarium is fabulous and when I've been on my own, the fastest I've finished is 1.5 - 2 hours. And w/ kids along it has always taken 2+ hours.

Especially w/ all the kid-friendly exhibits - and the crowds you'll have to deal w/.

Maybe just this one day you can get moving earlier . . . .
janisj is online now  
May 9th, 2007, 03:56 PM
  #16  
 
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just marking this thread for my stay in big sur. thanks for asking the questions.
maria_so is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 04:27 PM
  #17  
 
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One hour in our aquarium is not realistic, Kdd. Given your schedule, I think you ought to decide between the aquarium and Pt. Lobos. Being a mom, I'd choose the aquarium in a heartbeat. You're going to see plenty of ocean scenery on your next day. Pt. Lobos is close to redundant taking it all into consideration.
TTess is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 06:50 PM
  #18  
 
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I'm really quick in museums and most aquariums (I bore easily!), and 1 1/2 hours in my shortest time at Monterey Aquarium. Yes, you go a little slower with kids.
trippinkpj is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 05:54 AM
  #19  
kdd
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Hi All,

I think I have found the solution...

I was lucky enough to find accommodation in Big Sur Lodge for May 20 (I guess it is not peak season as yet!)

So the itinerary now looks like this-

Day 1:
Leave SJ between 8:30-9, reach aquarium...you are right, I don't think we can spend less than 2 hrs in the aquarium...then pt lobos for a picnic lunch...stop at vista points enroute and get to Big Sur Lodge for the night.

Next day - go to Pfeiffer beach for a morning stroll...brunch in Cafe Kevah, drive down Big Sur with stops at Julia Pfeiffer and elephant seals rookery...stay the night at Ragged pt inn. I know we are going past the inn to see Elephant seals, but that is not too much of a backtrack.

How does this sound? Although I like to check in and stay in one place for 2 nights rather than check-in check-out for each night, I think overall this works better...

Hearst castle is out unfortunately...don't want to do the mistake of trying to see and do too much in one trip! We will keep the focus to gorgeous nature this trip.
kdd is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 07:53 AM
  #20  
 
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Sounds great! Can I come? LOL.
I think you will have a much more relaxed time. Big Sur Lodge has a nice pool so bring some swimsuits.
Don't totally rule out Hearst Castle, you may be able to fit it in.
Right behind the Motel 6 in San Simeon you can see some of the zebras that used to be part of the zoo. It's pretty cool to see them grazing among the cows.
You'll love the Elephant seals too. You are so much closer to them at that rookery than the one at Ano Nuevo.
In Big Sur for dinner try The River Inn. It's casual and you'll feel comfortable with a 3 year old. Also the Big Sur Lodge has a nice family restaurant. Stay way from Ripplewood. It attracts a "party" crowd that might not be the best with a little one.
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