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  1. #1

    Default LA to San Fran mid October 2012

    Have planned a 3 day roadtrip, 2 overnight stops, and this is what we are hoping to see along the journey, and I'd like to know if there are any changes that should be made. Also, anything we have missed, or should not worry about visiting this trip. All times mentioned are aprox: may be more (but not substantially) or less.

    What I am really seeking assistance with is help nominating the appropriate stops, lunch and overnight. I am just finding it difficult to work out where to stay given what we are planning on seeing and the ammount of driving in between each part of the trip. I guess there will be several options thrown up, all gratefully welcomed for consideration.

    Here goes:

    Leave LA am

    Stop @ Mailbu: Walk the pier and take a few pics of the coast

    Stop @ Oxnard: Heritage Square for 1/2 hr max.

    Stop @ Ventura: Harbor walk and Crowne Plaza Hotel for view 1 hr

    Stop @ Summerland: Lookout Park 15 min

    Stop @ Santa Barbara: County Courthouse ½ hr Santa Barbara Harbour ½ hr Mission ½ hr Paseo Nuevo ½ hr La Arcada Court ½ hr

    Head onto H154 via Lake Cachuma to Santa Ynez 246 to Solvang

    Stop @ Solvang: Town Walk & Danish & coffee 2 hrs

    Drive Solvang to Buellton (not stopping here)

    Buellton to Los Alamos (not stopping here)

    Los Alamos 101 to Santa Maria (not stopping here)

    Santa Maria 101 to Pismo Beach

    Stop @ Pismo Beach: Dinosaur Caves Park ½ hr

    Drive Pismo Beach 101 to San Louis Obisbo

    Stop @ San Luis Obispo: Apple Farm (world first motel) 15 min Madonna Inn toilets 15 min

    Hwy 1 to Morro Bay

    Stop @ Morro Bay: Walk out to rock 1 hr

    Stop @ Cayucos: photostop 10 min

    Stop @ Cambria: Moonstone Beach ½ hr Scarecrow Festival/Shops 1 hr

    Stop @ San Simeon: Hearst Castle 3hrs

    Stop @ Julia Pfeifer Burns State Park to view waterfall 1 hr

    Stop @ Nepenthe: Restaurant/Views 15 min

    Stop @ Bixby Bridge: 30 min

    Stop @ Carmel by the Sea: City Beach ½ hr 17 Mile Dve 1 hr Pebble Beach Golf Club 30 min Carmel Mission ½ hr

    Stop @ Santa Cruz: Natural Bridges State Beach 30 min

    Stop @ Half Moon Bay: Lighthouse 15 min

    Drive to San Francisco

    Many thanks for your input in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Overall view.

    Hi, and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    That is quite an impressive list. Having been to those areas several times, you mention many sites I have never heard of, and leave off lots I have enjoyed. For instance, you don't mention Monterey nor Hearst Castle. These may not be your cup of tea. But let's forget about the detail, and look at the overall trip.

    You are planning a three day trip from LA to SF, with two overnight stops. That is a nice time to spend on that stretch, as there is much to see. You will find, that as you drive along, you will see sights and signs which will intrigue you, and divert you from your set itinerary. All along this stretch there are many eating and accommodation establishment. I would suggest to leave it open, and stop at end of day, wherever you are. Unless it is over a holiday weekend, you should not have a problem finding ..... somewhere! I prefer to ask the locals as to which are their favourite places to eat.

    Questions which come to my mind are, how many in the party and is this one leg of a longer trip?

    Lifey in Melbourne

  3. #3


    How funny that I am asking info about an American road trip and the very first person to answer is from...just around the corner...thanks for taking the time to reply.

    To answer your questions....Hubby and I fly into LAX and will spend the night at Hermosa Beach (been before) just to get ourselves thru the haze of that 16 hrs flight. He loves driving in the States, and have done a few road trips before. I still have problems even getting in the right side of the car, so he does the driving and I do all the pre work and navigating...hence all my queries. We decided that instead of flying to San Fran we would take the drive up the coastal route (or most of it) as we have heard it is one of the BEST road trips in the States, if not the world as far as scenery goes!

    We will spend 4 days in San Fran (have been before also) then cruising round trip to Hawaii for 15 days. Will fly out of San Fran home, or stop in Fiji for a few days...not concrete on the return journey yet!

    We are going to Hearst Castle...I have it listed under San Simeon, that may be why it was not clear. All that I read advises that you MUST book and to do that, we have to nominate a time, so that will have a bearing on where we stop and ultimately what time we will be able to take the tour.

    Montery is also a stop...I sort of lumped that in with Carmel, Pacific Grove and the 17 mile drive.

    Don't think it is holiday time over there as we will be travelling mid week, so at least as you say we should be ok with accomodation.

    I'd love to do the "free spirit" thing and just stop when the light fades or the tummy rumbles, but I'm a "control freak" with a capital C so just like to know what lies ahead. I agree that sometimes a wrong turn or surprise along the way can give you the most unexpected pleasures, but just don't want to miss things that we are keen to see as I don't think we will take this drive again soon.

    Thanks again

    Aussie Roo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Yeah!! I was thinking, as I was typing, here's an Aussie responding to your queries. It is a small world indeed. (I leave in less than three weeks for six months of roadtripping... well, almost all of the six months. I need to be at the grandchildren's homes, to help each of them celebrate their birthday, but for the rest of the time, I will be winging it.)

    I'm with your husband, I love driving in the States. That country is made for the automobile. Interesting how you go back to the same place for your first night, after that long haul flight. That is precisely what I tend to do.

    I understand that some people like the security of knowing where they are going to be, and when. And that you don't want to miss your 'must-sees'. But within that, I would leave a little time for flexibility to enjoy that
    ... wrong turn or surprise along the way ...
    I take it you have a good paper map of CA.

    What I would do, in your case, is divide the drive into three, and maybe spend the first night around Pismo Beach / San Luis Obispo and the second night in the Carmel / Monterey region. Both of these areas have a good selection of accommodation. It is about 200 miles from Hermosa Beach to SLO; about 50 miles from there to Hearst Castle and another 100 or so miles to Carmel / Monterey. The coastal road is slow going, think Great Ocean Road! In fact, even though it is distinctly different, it is every bit as grand as The Great Ocean Road.

    Enjoy the planning.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by AussieRoo View Post
    I'd love to do the "free spirit" thing and just stop when the light fades or the tummy rumbles, but I'm a "control freak" with a capital C so just like to know what lies ahead.
    I've got to give you kind of a standard warning that its good to plan, its good to have a nice list of places you want to see, but you can go overboard.

    Your plan kind of goes overboard to the extreme! You've actually scheduled your bathroom breaks down to the minute!

    When you start trying to plan so exactly that you are scheduling things down to the minute, you really are setting yourself up for trouble. The same sort of thinking that had you come up with that detailed of a plan will have you constantly focused on trying to stay on schedule instead of enjoying what you are actually seeing. You will stop at places where things will take longer than you expect, and you'll see places that you'll enjoy and want to spend more time than you've planned. Also know that no matter how perfectly you plan your trip, you will still not see everything. I would strongly encourage you to relax at least a little bit and remember this is a vacation!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    There are PLENTY of hotels and restaurants all along that route. You won't have ANY issues just winging it.

  7. #7


    Gosh thanks all for your valued input.

    Lifey...Safe travels, where will your journey take you?

    Your overnight suggestions are great thanks! Firstly, we will stay overnight somewhere between Pismo Beach and Cambria...dependding on mood etc.

    For the second night we will stay around Carmel, Monterey region, depending on the "vibe"!

    We won't even book!!....Eekk...did I say that ??

    Michael...Not sure if you are having me on about scheduling toilet stops...just in case you thought I was actually trying to schedule my waterworks....well this is what I meant! Apparently the Madonna Inn has the most bizzare men's toilets...there is a waterfall running down the middle inside, and it is really quirky, so thought that would be a fun place just to take a peek...hubby of course! LOL!!

    A decision has been throw caution to the wind and travel free...well not quite, after all, I do need to maintain some comfort level on this trip if we are to enjoy ourselves.

    But....we have decided a few things:

    While Heritage Square looks as if it would be interesting to see the different architecture, I can "live" with passing this by so it will go onto a "maybe" list.

    Solvang may be kitsch to some of you, we have nothing like that place downunder, and after all our own Aussie Mary is the Danish Princess, so Solvang is still pretty high up there on the "must see" list. Passing it by would certainly give us more time for other unexpected pleasures so we will make a decision on the trip whether to detour or not.

    The Dinosaur Caves Park at Pismo Beach will only stay on the list if we stop there overnight.

    Similarly, we will only stop at Moonstone Beach if we stay in Cambria overnight.

    So a few places we have culled, or will pass by unless we are ahead of schedule, and have seen nothing else that whets our appetite, not literally.

    Can you believe I'm the original poster??? Well thanks to you, I may have reformed forever! At least the next part of our journey will be pretty chilled (15 day cruise to Hawaii) with not much to plan except which bar to choose, and then, which cocktail of the day is most quenching!

    I'm always ready to hear any more suggestions about the trip!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Congratulations!

    It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone. I know! I have had to do the same.... in the last couple of weeks.

    Quote Originally Posted by AussieRoo View Post
    Lifey...Safe travels, where will your journey take you?
    Because I have a son in MA, a daughter in FL, and best friend in MN, (as well as other friends all over the country), my trip will take me all over the place. But this time, things have changed a lot. Normally, I do not schedule anything. However, this time I have purchased a vehicle which is based in PA. Believe me, I was way, way out of my comfort zone, planning how to get to PA.

    QF93 to LAX; six hours later flight to PHL, with two hour layover in ATL, arrive PHL at quarter past midnight. Train to Doylestown leaves at 6.40am. Arrive in Doylestown 42 hours after leaving home. Couchsurfing host will be there to pick me up from the train. It's been a nightmare getting all this together. Even typing this here, I can't believe... I really did all that?

    So good on you for having taken the step. Make sure you leave all the things on your list. And add many more, as you do your research. It is good to know what is where, so that when you find yourself there, you know what there is to see. You may end up spending a lot of time at your most important must-sees. On the other hand, you may spend less time at many more attractions.

    Just make sure you keep a log, have your camera handy at all times, and make sure you post a RoadTrip Field Report either at the end of your trip, or while on the road. We just love to read how it all came out in the wash, and see your pictures.

    Quote Originally Posted by AussieRoo View Post
    Apparently the Madonna Inn has the most bizzare men's toilets...there is a waterfall running down the middle inside, and it is really quirky, so thought that would be a fun place just to take a peek...hubby of course! LOL!!
    I should also add, that whenever I take tourists around Melbourne, I always visit the toilets on the 35th Floor of the Soffitel. An absolute must!


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