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  1. Default LA - San Francisco - LA

    Hey guys,

    I'm new to this forum and am an aussie coming over to cali for my honeymoon in Oct/Nov. We are hoping to do the drive from LA up to san francisco and back (heard it is a drive you have to do in your lifetime). I was thinking (roughly) of something like LA - SF through Big Sur and Monterey and then back from SF to LA through Yosemite NP?? Looking to do this in 4-6 days if possible or otherwise change things around a bit to fit within this timeframe.

    Was thinking of driving LA to San Simeon and staying there 1st night and then on to SF next day, but is this not leaving enough time through Big Sur/Carmel etc?

    Also I know this may be a stupid Q, but what are the must sees/stops along the coastal drive?

    Any thoughts/advice would be much appreciated

    Thanks guys

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have done LA to San Simeon, then to SF in 2 days, but 3 would be better. This would give you ample time to take a Hearst Castle tour and see Carmel and Monterey in some depth.

    I'd recommend Cambria instead of San Simeon for an overnight - it's a lot more romantic. San Simeon is barely a wide place in the road in comparison.

    SF back to LA via Yosemite would be more enjoyable as a 3 day trip too, but could be done in 2 if you had to.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default 3 day option on the drive up...

    If you can afford three days, I'd suggest stops at Cambria (as noted), then Monterey/Pacific Grove/Carmel.

    Pacific Grove, often overlooked, sits between Carmel and Monterey and has lots of lovely Victorian B&Bs, many overlooking Monterey Bay.

    Cambria has a motel row along Moonstone Beach drive with some lovely high-end accomodations, a bunch of shops and restaurants in downtown (actually two separate downtowns, East and West village), and other lodging options off the beach.

    As noted, San Simeon is NOT romantic... Cambria is.

    The road between Cambria and Carmel is spectacular. Stops include Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park, with a classic waterfall overlook, and Pfeiffer Big Sur, with some nice hikes in the redwoods. Check on park status before you go, as budget problems in the state may result in some park closings. Hearst Castle appears safe, as it is a money maker. Book a tour in advance so you can hit it first thing in the morning before driving up the coast.

    In Monterey/Carmel/Pacific Grove: lots of restaurant options, a world class aquarium, Cannery Row (of John Steinbeck fame) and the fabled 17 mile scenic drive ($) through Carmel. You can hit the high spots of this from the Pacific Grove gate to the Carmel gate if you choose your route carefully. Downtown Carmel is upscale shops and fine restaurants.

    Downtown Carmel: Don Casey

    Down by the beach at Carmel: Don Casey

    Ocean along 17 mile drive: Don Casey

  4. #4


    L.A. to SF is a simple drive if you are staying on the interstate, which is the fastest route.
    Taking the coast is where you would spend most of your time, as a much better alternative.

    I have made several SF trips along the coast and it usually takes about 7-8 hrs (speed limit driving folks) one way.
    Taking the 5 freeway is usually about 5 1/2 hrs (again, speed limit driving) though I have made it in much better timing.

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