Round trip Itinerary for San Jose to Big Sur

Old Mar 19th, 2018, 06:34 AM
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Round trip Itinerary for San Jose to Big Sur

We are flying into San Jose in mid April arriving around 6 pm. We have four nights to do a side trip before returning to San Jose where we will stay for three nights. Could someone suggest a round trip itinerary that includes Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel. I know the distances are not great and the driving times look reasonable but I am not sure how these times translate with stops and sightseeing. We enjoy not too strenuous hiking, birdwatching and nature photography. Is it possible to do a return trip that doesn't completely retrace our route? Thanks.
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Old Mar 19th, 2018, 07:05 AM
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Pick a motel somewhere south of San Jose along US 101 for your first night. From there go all the way to Big Sur spending night 2. Slowly make your way north on CA Rt. 1 to see Carmel by the Sea and Monterey.See Cannery Row and the Aquarium at a minimum. Leaving Monterey, continue north on 1 through Santa Cruz. See Henry Cowell State park for some huge Coast Redwoods.
Continue up CA 1 and see the Pigeon Point lighthouse on the way to half Moon Bay. Whether you continue up 1 into SF is up to you on the way back to San Jose.
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Old Mar 19th, 2018, 07:24 AM
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With a 6PM arrival there is no reason to break a journey to the Monterey area. In mid April sunset is nearly 8PM. By the time you get on the road about 6:30 it will be less than a 90 minute drive.

What is your budget? If you have 4 nights I'd stay 3 nights in the Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove area and the last night in Santa Cruz/Capitola or, depending on your flight time, in the San Jose Area. Use the days in Carmel as a base for Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey etc.

If you only have 3 nights - that is not 4 days. So spend as much time as you can in Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove area, and then drive back to the airport.
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Old Mar 19th, 2018, 07:50 AM
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I would also drive to Monterey/Carmel/Pacific Grove the first night. Have dinner, take a walk, go to bed. Next day, drive down to Big Sur - take a hike, have lunch and enjoy the view at Nepenthe, visit Pt. Lobos, return to Monterey/Carmel/PG. Next two days, visit the Aquarium, kayak, bike, walk, enjoy downtown Carmel, wine bars, the beach. Last day, Santa Cruz, especially if you have kids with you - the beach and the boardwalk. Then back to San Jose that night.
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Old Mar 19th, 2018, 10:58 AM
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I agree - drive to Monterey/Carmel on the evening you arrive. It's a 75-90 min drive from SJC. Arriving at 6, by the time you get the car and leave the airport, it will likely be closer to 7, which means traffic should be fine.
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Old Mar 19th, 2018, 12:20 PM
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Sunset Inn in Pacific Grove is a nice place to stay. Small, off the grid but easy walk to beach. Enjoyed our stay there.
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Old Mar 19th, 2018, 05:09 PM
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Highway 1 detours near Big Sur

I understand there are detours due to wildfires and mudslides on Highway 1 near Big Sur. Traveling North, could someone please tell me where the detours are and how to get to Big Sur with the detours? Thank you!
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Old Mar 19th, 2018, 06:42 PM
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Thanks for all these suggestions. This really helps.
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Old Mar 19th, 2018, 07:00 PM
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Imob: the road through Big Sur is closed but you can drive quite a long distance down Hwy 1 and back north. Or from the south up from Cambria and back south. So where will you be and where are you trying to detour?

Hint - I is usually best to start a thread of your own with your specific questions.
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Old Mar 20th, 2018, 02:29 PM
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Thanks for the hint- I'm new here.
Will be driving from the south along Hwy 1, and I don't know where we will be forced to detour (that's what I'm trying to find out), but we definitely want to visit Big Sur and Pfeiffer park. Any ideas are appreciated.
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Old Mar 20th, 2018, 03:31 PM
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You need to base yourself in the Monterey/Carmel area (2 nights preferable) and drive south to see the sights. Then you need to detour back to Monterey because of the road closure. Some of the main things to see include:

Point Lobos
Pfeiffer Beach
McWay Falls / Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Lunch at Nepenthe

Big Sur is a tiny town along the way, but the whole area is generally referred to as Big Sur.

Where do you go after that?

Last edited by AustinTraveler; Mar 20th, 2018 at 03:35 PM.
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Old Mar 20th, 2018, 06:38 PM
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Current Conditions
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Old Mar 20th, 2018, 06:56 PM
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Before you firm up unchangeable plans -- or at least have a plan B. The 'Pineapple Express' atmospheric river has just opened up. Multi inches of rain are forecast all along the coast this week. Sure - your trip isn't until next month and all could/should be fine. BUT last time we got hit this way there were rock slides, and mud slides and closed roads.

Maybe wait til next week to make final decisions and see how things are.
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Old Mar 20th, 2018, 07:08 PM
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If you click on my user name you will see my trip report from last year--an April visit to Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel. We kayaked, hiked, walked on the beach, saw the Aquarium, visited the Carmel mission. It was a great trip.
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