San Diego to San Francisco in 2 1/2 days

Oct 8th, 2011, 08:56 PM
  #1  
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San Diego to San Francisco in 2 1/2 days

Hi,

I'm brazillian and my wife and I want to travel from San Diego to San Francisco on early November.
We are planning to make it in 2 1/2 days. We know it would be better to spend more time, but that's the time we have, unfortunately.
I've read many posts on this site about this route, but since most of them consider a longer trip, we're not so sure about what would be best for such a short stay.

Our plan is:

Day 1: Leave San Diego early in the morning, about 7:30am. I guess we would arrive in LA around 10:00am (is it possible?). Then, we would leave LA at about 3pm to Santa Barbara, and arrive there around 5pm (is it possible?). Considering we would only have 5 hours in LA, what would be the best things to do within this period??

Day 2: Leave Santa Barbara early in the morning, around 8:30am and get to Hearst Castle about 11:30am. After visiting the Hearst Castle, I intend to leave there about 2pm (are 2 1/2 hours enough to visit it??) and get to Monterey at about 5pm. Stop to visit the famous Aquarium then go to Carmel in the evening and sleep there.

Day 3: Leave Carmel at about 9am and arrive at SFO about 11:30am.

Is it possible? How can I make the best in this short period?
What can't I miss in LA within the 5 hours we'll have?
Is it possible to stay the whole time in the Highway 1 for this journey or should I get 101 on some path?

Thanks a lot, Guilherme
guilherme_maranhao is offline  
Oct 8th, 2011, 10:54 PM
  #2  
 
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Hi, Looking at your time frame I think you will probably have time to do about 1/3rd of what you have planned. California is one large long state any you are driving quite a bit of it. The Distance to LA from San Diego is probably correct if you dont hit too much traffic...and the traffic in the LA area can be a big problem during the rush hours morning and evening. If you only have a few hours in LA I might suggest Hollywood Blvd for the flavor and then out to Santa Monica and take the HWY 1 north out of the Urban area. You can reconnect with the 101 freeway in Ventura county and get a great view of the Pacific Coast. fighting traffic you might be able to get to Santa Barbara about 7pm. Driving North you should certainly take the Hwy 1 again and enjoy the drive the view along the coast is amazing...especially Big Sur. If I were you I would skip Hearst Castle which is just a worn out copy of European Castles and just enjoy the drive north. If you want to see something truly lovely stop at Pt Lobos State park just before you get to Carmel. The Aquarium in Monterey is very good perhaps still one of the best in the world. I am not certain it is open much later than 5pm and it is worth looking at for at least two hours. Carmel is charming and you can stop by and meet me as i work there most days. It will take you 2.5 hours to drive to San Francisco assuming you dont hit traffic...probably ok if you are leaving Carmel around 9am. I hope you have some time in San Francisco as there are many things to do and see there. I like it much better than LA....and it is easier to do because everything is closer. Hope this helps have a great trip!
Lisa_Foley is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 03:38 AM
  #3  
 
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Have done this journey kind of crammed

You need to spend the night in www.lasightseeing.net

rather than do a driveby... when there last I paid

$69 bidding priceline.com for the Westin Bonaventure

Drive up to nepenthebigsur.com www.treebonesresort.com

super their or ventanainn.com my top 2 carmelcalifornia.com

cute town then on to SF great deals again for me Marriott.com

betterbidding.com free upgrades for signing in guest program.

Happy travels more time would be moh bettah...
qwovadis is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 03:41 AM
  #4  
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Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your tips! They will be very helpfull, certainly! I agree with you when you say I can do just 1/3rd of all these things we are planning on 2 1/2 days.

Do you think Santa Barbara and Carmel are the best breakpoints?

We have some relatives waiting for us at SFO. We will stay there until Nov 12th. During these 8 days there, we are planning to pass 2 days with them in Yosemite and 6 days in SFO.

Do you think it's a good idea to spend 1/2 day in Monterey and visit the Aquarium and take away 1 day for SFO? I imagine there is lot of things to do in SFO and maybe 5 days wouldn't be sufficient.

Thanks again!
guilherme_maranhao is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 04:24 AM
  #5  
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Hi qwovadis,

Thanks for the tips.
We will consider Big Sur on our plans.
guilherme_maranhao is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 09:10 AM
  #6  
 
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This is my Northern Calif bias (I was raised in Southern Calif but have lived up north for the past 36 years), but for such a short trip I would try to spend as little time in LA as possible - unless you love freeways & lots of congestion. Scenic & interesting spots exist (La Jolla, Laguna Beach, etc) but in only a couple of hours - you'll have to go out of your way to find them and the "reward/time spent" will be small. IMO, you'll get much better "value" on the Big Sur coast between Hearst Castle and Carmel. If you are from Brazil, then you probably have not visited a lot of European castles (we've visited over 200 of them) so if you skip LA entirely, I think Hearst Castle would be fantastic. I would even stay in San Simeon your first night. IMO the coast north of San Simeon to Carmmel is much prettier than the coast south of San Simeon. Then stay at Big Sur Lodge in Big Sur. we'll be there this week. Have dinner at Nepenthe. Next day, explore Pt Lobos in the am and then on to Carmel. I'm not a big fan of Monterey (except for the aquarium), so I would either stay overnight in Pacific Grove or Carmel. Explore both Carmel & PG. Next day, leave for San Francisco (by SFO do you mean the airport or The City?). It is 1 3/4 hrs to SFO and 2 1/4 hrs to Union Square in The City if don't hit much traffic.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 12:57 PM
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I think Stu's come up with a great plan, and I personally think Hearst Castle is great -- neither worn out, nor a copy of anything -- and while I haven't been to 200 of them, I've been to enough castles in Europe to know that I like both them AND Hearst Castle.
sf7307 is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 02:23 PM
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There are many problems w/ your original plan. Leaving San Diego at 0730 will put you in very VERY bad traffic all the way to LA, and then you will again be in bad traffic leaving LA in the afternoon.

And your day 2 is nearly impossible. You can't just 'visit' Hearst Castle. You must go on a tour- you park at the visitor center and then have to take a bus up the hill and back. Starting in SB in the AM, touring San Simeon, driving through Big Sur -- you will not get to Monterey in time to see the aquarium.

I would skip LA since you will have no time to see anything. Instead, I'd consider leaving San Diego after dinner the night before and drive at least as far as LA -or all the way to Santa Barbara if possible.

In the evening SD to SB will take 3.5 to 4 hours, but w/ morning and afternoon traffic the next day the driving could take almost twice as long.

So I'd skip LA, and get up the coast on night '0'. Then day 1 you'll start up from Santa Barbara.

This will give you enough time for San Simeon, Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey in your 2+ days.

(Just a hint in future . . . "SFO" is just used for the name of airport, not the city of San Francisco. You can just say "SF" if you mean the city -- but "SFO" sounds like you are staying at/near the airport)
janisj is online now  
Oct 9th, 2011, 05:21 PM
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I agree with the plan to leave San Diego the evening before you'd planned. Otherwise, you will likely spend hours and hours in bumper to bumper freeway traffic.

There are some great things to see in L.A. -- but they're not located in one central area. If you said you've always dreamed of seeing (for instance) the stars' footprints on Hollywood Boulevard; or Venice Beach; or some other specific sight, then I could see stopping in L.A. But it's not the kind of place you can experience in a few hours. I'm afraid that what you'd experience would mostly be more freeway traffic.

So ... I'd skip L.A. and have the time to enjoy your trip up the coast -- with lots of stops for photos and short strolls along the way. I loved Hearst Castle -- also loved a short stop in Harmony; Cambria; Moonstone Beach; Nepenthe ...

When you get to SF, I hope you'll get to go to Muir Woods AND continue on to Muir Beach. So many people miss the beach -- and it's one of my "magic" spots.
Songdoc is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 06:50 PM
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I live in LA, and I agree with everyone who is saying "skip it." About the best that you could do is follow JanisJ's advice. Leave San Diego after dinner and find a hotel here in LA that is close to the freeway. There are many hotels in the area around LAX that have easy freeway access, however you will just get stuck in traffic going north the next morning.

You could stay in Santa Monica and then pick up Highway 1, which would be a pretty drive up as far as Oxnard, where you could meet up with Highway 101, which will take you to Santa Barbara.

Or you could find a hotel in the San Fernando Valley along Highway 101 that will get you out of LA easily in the a.m.

But don't try to spend 5 hours here. It just is not worth the hassle and the traffic when there are so many wonderful things to be seen between here and San Francisco.
cferrb is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 09:15 PM
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If you leave San Diego around 10 am you will miss much of the morning rush traffic and you have the chance to get to San Luis Obispo or Cambria in about 5-6 hrs both are great places to break your trip. Then you can take your time driving up the coast on hwy 1 the next day. I might be wrong about Hearst Castle, I just prefer the natural beauty of the coastline...and it is beautiful. Leaving San Diego at night might get you out of traffic but it is still a long drive to the Central Coast.
I dont want to scare you about the length of the drive it can just be difficult to negotiate the freeways of LA in traffic...but you do have to get through it.
The "must sees" are the drive north on HWY 1 past S.Luis Obispo(Big Sur), The sights on the Monterey Bay and the further drive north along the coast to San Francisco. Have Fun...enjoy the route. and welcome to California ;o))
Lisa_Foley is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 10:44 PM
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"If you leave San Diego around 10 am you will miss much of the morning rush traffic and you have the chance to get to San Luis Obispo or Cambria in about 5-6 hrs"

Not during the day time - or at least VERY unlikely. 5 hrs to SLO or 6 hrs to Cambria would only happen w/o any traffic at all.
janisj is online now  
Oct 10th, 2011, 06:35 AM
  #13  
 
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***I'm brazillian and my wife and I want to travel from San Diego to San Francisco on early November.***

And you deserve to see what you want to see on this trip! Your day 2 is really crammed but people do this ALL the time.

You'll be fine if you left San Diego around 7:30. You'll be going against most of the traffic if you're coming from downtown. By the time you reach South OC at 8:30 the traffic will be dying down- if it isn't you can take the 73 toll road.
You have to go by LA anyway so you'll be in traffic regardless if you stop or not. I would definitely get out of town by 3 though.

There's another travel forum called Trip Advisor if you're not familiar with it. Their forum LOVES solving problems and helping people make the BEST of their trips without a bias.
Here you'll find most NoCal residents who have that inferior childish rivalry towards SoCal so they need to cut it down! I'd seriously suggest getting advice from other resources for the FULL CA. experience.



BTW, six days in San Francisco would be over kill for me! I'd definitely take at LEAST one day from there and apply it towards the drive up the coast.
SOCALOC is offline  
Oct 10th, 2011, 06:43 AM
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"Here you'll find most NoCal residents who have that inferior childish rivalry towards SoCal so they need to cut it down! I'd seriously suggest getting advice from other resources for the FULL CA. experience. "

Wrong side of the bed SOCALOC?? That is one load of C^%P
janisj is online now  
Oct 10th, 2011, 07:13 AM
  #15  
 
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Unfortunately janisj it isn't. Over and over posters say they would like to see SoCA and they're misdirected from doing so.
I've noticed a lot of so Cal posters left. I wonder why......

I fully expect to be assaulted for voicing my opinion from the superior.

Enjoy!
SOCALOC is offline  
Oct 10th, 2011, 07:30 AM
  #16  
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Hi guys!! Thanks so much for all tips!! We´ll try to get the best of each.

Actually our trip begins in Orlando on OCT 12!! We´ll spend 6 days there, then we´ll fly to Saint Louis to visit a couple of friends (we´ll spend 5 days there). Then we fly to Denver to visit another relative (2 1/2 days there). We know it's too short for Colorado, but that's the time we have, unfortunately. After Denver, we´ll fly to Flagstaff. We´ll pass 1 1/2 day there, in Grand Canyon, and get a car to Las Vegas. We´ll just spend the night in Las Vegas and travel to San Diego, by car, to visit another couple of friends.
The point is that we won't have much time in any route. It´ll be too cramed...but we wish to do the best in each route.
Thanks so much. I can imagine how beautiful is Big Sur or Carmel, but these coast landscapes we already have in our brazillian coast. That's why we leave 2 1/2 days to make this trip.

Thanks agains
guilherme_maranhao is offline  
Oct 10th, 2011, 08:16 AM
  #17  
 
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Our coastline is very different from Brazil's. More rugged and high cliffs dropping into the ocean. But if you are not that interested in the coastal drive, perhaps you should spend more time in LA and skip the Big Sur Drive. With 5/6 days in SF, you could do a day trip down to Monterey Bay.

There is a reason our part of the state is called Superior California
MichelleY is offline  
Oct 10th, 2011, 08:31 AM
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Sounds like you'll be travelling the 405 freeway from San Diego to LA. If you have any interest in architecture/art, my favorite place to take out-of-town visitors to SoCal, the Getty Museum, is located in LA just off the 405.
bon_voyage is online now  
Oct 10th, 2011, 09:08 AM
  #19  
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hi MichelleY,

I agree the coasts are different, and yours is very very beautiful and we want to travel along it!
But I think 5 1/2 days in SF and 2 1/2 days on the coast will be better for us.
Many of you have suggested to skip SF. And if I just spend 1 or 2 hours there? Just to take a look at the famous Hollywood Hill and go to Santa Barbara.

Do you think 5 1/2 days in SF is good? We´ll have some relatives to guide us there. After SF, we still have 2 full days in Yosemite.

Thanks a again. You Americans are being very helpful tour guides! if any of you intend to come to Brazil someday, I hope you have so good guides as I am having! congratulations...
guilherme_maranhao is offline  
Oct 10th, 2011, 10:16 AM
  #20  
 
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>>Many of you have suggested to skip SF. And if I just spend 1 or 2 hours there? Just to take a look at the famous Hollywood Hill and go to Santa Barbara.<<

I think you mean skip LA - not SF.

You will spend 4-5 hours in the OC/LA/Ventura county areas - driving from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Once you get past Camp Pendelton - the scenery will pretty much all look the same from the freeway until you get to close to Santa Barbara (I hated this drive when I lived in LA & OC for 28 years). "Taking in" other stuff in LA will eat into your 4-5 hours.

IMO, once you get to the Sierra Nevada mountains & Yosemite (or enen the Pacific Coast range behind Big Sur) - you are going to regret spending any time getting off the freeways in LA & loosing time - just to see the Hollywood Hills.

5 1/2 days in SF is not enough time - even with a guide. But that's all the time you have.

Here is my list of things to do & see in the SF region:
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...mendations.cfm

Take several of the SF City Guides tours mentioned in this thread.

Stu Dudley
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