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sarajean Dec 10th, 2013 10:26 AM

Traveling the pacific coast highway and national parks in one week
I am planning on a road trip starting and ending in San Francisco. I was thinking staying over night in San Fransico. Leaving in the morning and drive south along the pacific coast highway. Staying somewhere, maybe Moneray overnight and then off to Santa Barbara. The next day drive to sequoia national park for two nights. Then over to Yosemit national park for two nights. Then drive back to San Fran for the last night. This is a rough iteneray. I have nine nights all together. Is this too much of an adventure to undertake? Should I simplify? Thanks for any advise

emalloy Dec 10th, 2013 10:58 AM

We did a similar trip, but started in LA, went to Sequoia and Yosemite then over to Point Reyes and back down the coast hwy. It was a lot of driving, but a great trip and doing a loop from SF makes much more sense.

Have a great time. If you plan on staying in Yosemite, get on it right now, and if they say they are full, call and keep calling as people reserve way in advance and cancel when they find they can't make the trip

StuDudley Dec 10th, 2013 11:37 AM

There is no Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Santa Barbara - it is called the Cabrillo Highway. Or CA #1.

If you google or look up any cities/sites, they are spelled:
San Francisco

I think you are trying to do too much in too short of a time. You did not state if there is a maximum time you have allocated for this trip and what time of year it is. Yosemite is probably already booked up by now for summer months, but I'll ignore that. You also did not state where you live.

- I would fly into SFO or San Jose if you live far away - San Jose if you can get a direct flight. If you live close, fly into the Monterey airport.

-Rent a car & drive down to Carmel/Monterey & spend at least 2 nights there. Leave Carmel, visit Pt Lobos, and then drive down the fabulous CA #1 to Big Sur. Have lunch or dinner at Nepenthe. Stay overnight at the Big Sur Lodge. See all the Pfeiffer stuff - Pfeiffer Beach, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Pfeiffer State Park (the Big Sur Lodge is actually located within the park). Stay 1 night. Have breakfast at the lodge/dining spot at the north end of Big Sur (I'm having a Senior moment & I've forgotten the name).

- Head south on Hwy 1 & take lots of picturess. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is actually quite south of Big Sur, so you can visit it today. Great waterfall. Continue on to San Simeon & visit Hearst Castle. Stay overnight in Cambria.

- I would not visit Santa Barbara. It's OK - and I don't know where else in the world you have visited, but I would not call it a "major destination" compared to Carmel, Big Sur Coast, Yosemite, and San Francisco.

- I would also not visit Sequoia National Park. You'll have seen lots of redwoods in the Big Sur area. The ones in Sequoia are larger - but I don't think that's such a "big deal" to go out of the way to see & do so for 2 nights. Yosemite is much more interesting, IMO. If you want to see things not on your posted itinerary - visit the Gold Country just outside of Yosemite.

- From Cambria, head to Yosemite. Try to stay in Yosemite Valley. Stay there for 3 nights.

- From Yosemite, head to San Francisco. Do not return the car yet. Stay in San Francisco for 4-5 nights.

- Explore a little bit of San Francisco by car in the AM - Golden Gate Park (not on a Sunday), Cliff House, Sutro Baths, into Lincoln Park Golf Course to the Legion of Honor then east on El Camino Del Mar with fabulous views of the GG Bridge, through Sea Cliff. Around 3PM or so, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Golden Gate National Recreation area (best views in the late afternoon). Return to SF, dump the car, and explore San Francisco on foot for 2-3 more days.

- Fly home from SFO.

For more into on the "car" portion of you stay in SF & other SF stuff - see my long Fodors post

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Dec 10th, 2013 11:50 AM

>>Have breakfast at the lodge/dining spot at the north end of Big Sur (I'm having a Senior moment & I've forgotten the name).<<

River Inn

Stu Dudley

Tomsd Dec 10th, 2013 02:21 PM

What time do you arrive in SF? As suggested - you might just leave from the airport and drive down to Carmel/Monterrey for the night and then spend part of the next day around Carmel - and aftrer an early lunch - drive on down through Big Sur - maybe staying overnight in Cambria - as mentioned - or in one of the wineries inland from there - along hiway 46 toward Paso Robles. You could spend another night in that area - but you will have seen the prettiest parts of the coast by then and could drive from the Paso Robles area up to Yosemite - spend a couple days there and then wind up seeing SF.

janisj Dec 10th, 2013 02:53 PM

When is the trip - makes a huge difference.

I agree w/ stu, that is a LOT of driving and not much time actually AT any place.

half a day in SF, half a day in Monterey, a few hours in Santa Barbara, one full day in Sequoia, one full day in Yosemite.

Streamline and/or eliminate something.

happytrailstoyou Dec 10th, 2013 02:59 PM

<i>There is no Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Santa Barbara - it is called the Cabrillo Highway. Or CA #1.</i>

Tell it to the National Geographic:


PS If I were in Monterey and asked a native directions to the Cabrillo Highway, I would expect "Duh."

MichelleY Dec 10th, 2013 03:31 PM

Agree. Cut out Santa Barbara and possibly Sequoia.

StuDudley Dec 10th, 2013 03:56 PM

All the roadsigns, street addresses, etc say "Cabrillo Highway". I'll go out tomorrow and take a picture of a road sign for you. Go to Google Maps and put in "Pt Lobos State reserve". You'll see that the road that passes by it is labeled "Cabrillo Highway".

The native in Monterey probably works for National Geographic.

Stu Dudley

november_moon Dec 10th, 2013 03:58 PM

I never knew it was called Cabrillo Highway until I came to this's just Hwy 1. Then after I knew this name, I noticed a sign by the side of the highway that said it was indeed Cabrillo Highway. I guess the sign has always been there, just never noticed it. I've lived within 30 miles of Hwy 1 since I was 6 years old.

janisj Dec 10th, 2013 03:59 PM

It is usually just Hwy 1 -- PCH is a SoCal thing . . .

StuDudley Dec 10th, 2013 04:36 PM

I've lived within 15 miles of Hwy #1 since I was born - in 1947. We lived ON PCH/Hwy #1 in Laguna Beach for 5 years.

Stu Dudley

happytrailstoyou Dec 11th, 2013 02:02 PM

There is much to see on Highway 1 between San Francisco and Malibu: Monterey, Carmel, Hearst Castle, the Paso Robles wine district, Santa Barbara, several missions--to name a few.

Historic Highway 49, which traces the California Gold Rush, is an interesting route on the way from Yosemite NP and San Francisco.

Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon are beautiful places, but they are too far off the beaten path to me reasonably included in the few days you have.


november_moon Dec 11th, 2013 02:24 PM

The fact remains that most people do not call Hwy 1 "Cabrillo Highway" and it is not usually labeled that way on maps. Someone not from this area trying to navigate to "Cabrillo Highway" may have a bit of trouble finding it.

MichelleY Dec 11th, 2013 02:32 PM

As I recall, about the only place I remember seeing this is around Santa Cruz.

StuDudley Dec 11th, 2013 03:20 PM

Seeing what? Roadsigns for Cabrillo Highway are all around Half Moon Bay. I also believe there is one as you exit Carmel going south. I agree that almost all people call it Hwy 1 - I do. Never Cabrillo Highway. But the Op called it Pacific Coast Highway which is totally an incorrect name for the portion up here.

Stu Dudley

spirobulldog Dec 11th, 2013 03:21 PM

"The native in Monterey probably works for National Geographic."

I love that reply!!!

I think you are trying to do way way to much. Does your 9 days include your stay in San Francisco? As Janis indicates, when is the trip?

I totally disagree with Stu about the Sequoia and Big Sur Redwoods. Love the Big Sur Redwoods, but the Sequoia National Park is far far far better,IMOP.

I don't think I had a clue about the PCH. I guess I thought the entire RT 1 was PCH. Here is wikipedia def and it agrees with Stu.

StuDudley Dec 11th, 2013 03:40 PM

>> Love the Big Sur Redwoods, but the Sequoia National Park is far far far better,IMOP. <<

If course the Sequoia ones are better. But the Op needs to cut something out of their itinerary. 1 day in Yosemite, 1 day in Sequoia, 1/2 day in Monterey is a joke. What do you suggest they cut????

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Dec 11th, 2013 03:54 PM

>> it is not usually labeled that way on maps.<<

I live in San Mateo, and the AAA map for San Mateo also includes Half Moon Bay. Hwy 1 in Half Moon Bay is "Cabrillo Highway" on the map. Street signs say "Cabrillo Highway". If you drive west on San Mateo Rd (primary access road) looking for a street corner sign - you won't see Pacific Coast Highway or Hwy 1 on the street sign - although Hwy 1 is probably designated somewhere. If you want to have lunch at Sam's Chowder House and look up the address, it will say "Cabrillo Highway" - so you had better know that Cabrillo Highway is also Hwy 1. Nothing up here says PCH.

Stu Dudley

MichelleY Dec 11th, 2013 03:57 PM

Can't compare the coastal redwoods to the Sierra redwoods.. Two different species. OP should try to see both. Some way, some how.

Stu - I have never been to HMB, so cannot comment on any signs in that area.

november_moon Dec 11th, 2013 04:03 PM

Stu - No one is saying (except National Geographic, apparently) that Hwy 1 is called PCH up here. All we are saying is that while Hwy 1 may be called Cabrillo Highway, no one really calls it that, so if the OP (or anyone else) is looking for directions, asking for Cabrillo Highway will probably result in some confused looks. That's all.

I know you are the resident expert and the rest of us are just poor substitutes for your vast knowledge, but come on, throw us a bone.

spirobulldog Dec 11th, 2013 04:17 PM

Whatever you call the HWY, hopefully the sarajane will check back in and share additional thoughts.

If she does intend on staying at Yosemite she should get reservations ASAP.

StuDudley Dec 11th, 2013 05:43 PM

>>I know you are the resident expert and the rest of us are just poor substitutes for your vast knowledge, but come on, throw us a bone.<<

That's not a nice thing to say...

Goldens Dec 12th, 2013 07:20 AM

The term "Cabrillo Highway" in Half Moon Bay and surrounds is only used when quoting a mailing address. I live on it. Locals here called it Hwy 1 or just 1.
The road sign at my corner says my cross street and Hwy 1. It does not say Cabrillo.

Also, nobody here calls our access road San Mateo Road. It's 92.
San Mateo road is used for mailing/location addresses.
If we're talking to another local we say "over the hill". That refers to locations east on 92.
Locations west on 92 after HMB we say"in the ocean".

If you ask directions to Sam's nobody will say Cabrillo. Cabrillo is our school district.

StuDudley Dec 12th, 2013 07:59 AM

I didn't even know 92 was called San Mateo Rd until yesterday when I looked it up on the map. It has always been 92 to me, & Cabrillo Highway has been Hwy 1.

I'm only bringing up the Cabrillo thing because the OP called it PCH and National Geographic thinks it is the PCH also. If sarajean is still around and looks up Sams in the Zagat guide, it will say it is on Cabrillo Highway. It would be beneficial to know that's AKA Hwy #1.

As a side, nobody I know calls it Hwy 1 in San Francisco - it's 19th Ave (I was born on 22nd ave). US 101 is not known as 101 - it's Van Ness.

Stu Dudley

Goldens Dec 12th, 2013 08:30 AM

This thread reads like the old "Point/"Counterpoint" skit on SNL!
Well, I'm off to work. I will turn on 1 and head over the hill.
Everyone have a good day.

P.S. I may have lunch at Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto.

Tomsd Dec 13th, 2013 04:52 AM

Always thought of 92 as 92 when living in the Bay Area - and down here in San Diego now - it's definitely PCH - certainly at least to north of Malibu. :)

And if Stu's recommendations/descriptions are not perfect - they are still the best overall for the Bay Area, even if he does prefer the Castro area/restaurants - over the Marina. :)

StuDudley Dec 25th, 2013 03:12 PM

We just returned from a drive along Ca #1 from Half Moon Bay to Pacifica. There seems to be four different names for this stretch of road.

In Half Moon Bay the street signs say either Route 1 or Hwy 1 - as Goldens stated.

In in Mirimar, El Granada, Moss Beach, and Montara, the many street signs say Cabrillo Highway.

Once we got to Pacifica, it was called Coast Highway.

That's the trivia for today!

Stu Dudley

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