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  1. Default Road trip from San Diego to San Jose in April

    I am planning a California road trip for four people, from San Diego to San Jose. I have 1 day to see San Diego and 3-4 more days for the road trip to San Jose. If you feel I should adjust the timeline, let me know. I have some flexibility. I need info about where to stay and eat in San Diego (as well as what to visit/do). For the road trip I am most interested in scenic views of the coastline, cliffs, etc. I would also need information about places to stay along the way and good local restaurants to eat; all budget friendly.

    Thank you very much for your advice,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    San Diego has a lot of things to see and do. You'll have to choose, though, as many of them are activities that could take a whole day (and some, take a lot of $). Check out this thread .

    As for where to stay down here, perhaps the most central place, with a lot of choices, is in Mission Valley along "Hotel Circle". That's a bunch of hotels and motels in one place along both sides of I-8 freeway. Others like to stay in downtown San Diego, but those places are more expensive.

    Places to stay along the way to San Jose depends on which highway you're taking. Taking the scenic way -- the Pacific Coast Highway -- could have you staying in Santa Barbara, a little further up in Arroyo Grande, then Monterey. Things to see are the many fine views of the ocean and the cliffs, the Hearst Castle, the Aquarium, and many museums, if those interest you.

    As for local restaurants...what we do works very well: get to an area, then ask around. If you're in a local hotel looking for a good dinner, ask at the desk. Pull into a town for lunch? Ask at the gas station, or just choose something that "looks good". What we discovered many times last summer is that a restaurant will get low reviews in online reviews, but if you ask locally, ten-to-one you'll get sent there. That's because people will often comment if they got poor service or bad food, but won't review good/great service or good/great food. (When asking locally, be sure to state that you're not looking for a ritzy meal.)


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A Favorite for Seafood in Moss Landing

    These tips tend to be in the reverse order of what you are seeking, but...

    Phil's Fish Market is one of the must-stops as you make your way north.

    And here are some tips for enjoying the Big Sur coastline

    Central Coast highlights

    This one starts in San Jose and go south -- so you can look at some of the first options (in reverse order)

    And finally, since you specified that beaches and coastline are a priority, here is one that details some of our favorite beaches from Laguna to San Francisco.


  4. Default Road trip from San Diego to San Jose in April

    Thanks Donna,

    I would definatedly like to take the "scenic highway" to enjoy the views of the cliffs. Do you know what is the name it goes by in a road map (the number of the highway)?

    Another important thing that I would like to decide is whether to give ourselves 2 days to stay in San Diego and take only 3 days instead of 4 to do the road trip to San Jose. We were thinking on stopping for beutiful views of the cliffs along the coast, 1 dinner each evening (we would have a sandwich for lunch when we stop to see the views), a visit to Hearst Castle and maybe the aquarium (no museums). Do you think that following that plan we could do it in 3 days? How many hours does it take to drive from San Diego to San Jose without stops?

    Finally, one last question. You recommended us to stop in Santa Barbara, Arroyo Grande and Monterey. Near which of this places are the Castle and Aquarium located? Could you estimate how long does it take (stops aside) to get from San Diego to Santa Barbara, from Santa Barbara to Arroyo Grande, from Arroyo Grande to Monterey and from Monterey to San Jose? I would like to pencil in a "daily itinerary" if I can figure out the number ofhours on the road and the stops for each day.

    Thanks a lot,

  5. Default

    Wow! Great and detailed information. Thank you so much! I looove the idea to stop by Moss Landing and see otters. Where is Moss Landing along my route? If I start in San Diego, stop in Santa Barbara, Arroyo Grande and Monterey before arriving at San Jose, in between which of those stops would I find Moss Landing and how far off would I have to divert?

    Thanks again,

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    In order to get to Santa Barbara from San Diego, you have to go through LA, which can have some of the worst traffic you will ever see. You need to allow at least 4 hours unless you are doing it on a Sunday morning, and it could take considerably longer. I would dedicate a whole day to this stretch just in case. This is NOT taking the coast road, it's taking the most direct freeways. Taking the coast road all the way would probably take you 10 hours.

    From Santa Barbara, you will take US-101 (you will go by Arroyo Grande on this stretch) to San Luis Obispo, than you take CA-1 (Pacific Coast Highway - "PCH") the rest of the way north to Monterey (passing Hearst Castle in San Simeon) and (passing Moss Landing) to Santa Cruz, then CA-17 to San Jose. The aquarium is in Monterey.

    Times with NO stops:

    Santa Barbara - Arroyo Grande = 1.5 hours
    Arroyo Grande - Hearst Castle = 1.5 hours, reservations essential.
    Hearst Castle - Monterey = 3 hours
    Monterey - Moss Landing = 30 minutes
    Moss Landing - San Jose = 1.5 hours

  7. Default Road trip from San Diego to San Jose in April

    Thanks glc!

    This help me a lot when trying to figure out the timing and daily itinerary.


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