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  1. #1

    Default Three nights along Pacific Coast Highway - where to stay?

    Hi people!

    My friend and I, males in our late 20's and early 30's, are doing a southwestern US roadtrip this April. We're starting in San Francisco and heading down the Pacific Coast Highway to Irvine, before heading east towards Nevada and Arizona.

    We will be spending the 4th night on the roadtrip in the Irvine area. That is kind of written in stone, since my friend has some business to attend to there that day. Our biggest question now is: where should we spend our first three nights on this roadtrip? What are the best best little towns or areas to stay along the PCH?

    The only things we have on our "to do" list so far, for this part of the roadtrip, is Hearst Castle and Griffith Park to have a look at the Hollywood sign.

    We're looking for some nice, small towns to stay in. Certainly don't mind staying near the ocean. Not looking for any crazy party towns, but we want at least a couple of restaurants to choose from in the evening.

    One alternative we've been looking at is:
    Day 1. Santa Cruz area
    Day 2. Pismo Beach area
    Day 3. Santa Barbara area
    (Day 4. Irvine area)

    Would this be a good alternative? Or are there any places along this route that we MUST spend a night in? Any place that we should totally avoid? Maybe a bit further north of Pismo Beach area so we have less driving to do that day? Monterey area instead of Santa Cruz area? This instead of that?

    Any and all suggestions as to where we should stay would be much appreciated! =)

    Thanks! Be safe!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome back to the RTA Forum! Is this the same trip that you started planning a couple years ago?

    I think I would try to get down to Monterey that first night if it were me. The second night, Pismo could work, as could places like Morro Bay or Cambria. They are close enough together where I'd see where you can find a nice place to stay for a good price, and go by that.

  3. #3

    Default I like Cambria

    On my sole trip down the PCH, we got on at Monterey at around 9:30am, had a late lunch at Cambria, and took US 101 on down to Ventura, where our son's Navy base was during 2007. Earlier in the trip, we'd driven the PCH from just below Santa Cruz up to the Golden Gate.

    We thought the towns of Santa Cruz and Capitola had great overnight potential, with motels right on the lagoon/beach and everything within a short walking distance. We were very much struck by Cambria, with a string of motels, restaurants, and bars along what must be an older section of the PCH (the PCH now being re-routed a couple of hundred yards inland). The stretch of motels, restaurants, etc are on the landward side of the road, with a "new moon" shaped beach immediately on the opposite side. A point break on the southern end of the beach means surfers in the water pretty much any time there are waves.

    While visiting our son, we stayed in a motel beside a marina in either Port Hueneme (pronounced "why-nee-mee") or Ventura. Don't recall the name, but it was a national chain and was very nice. Accessed from the north side of the Navy Base. A collection of small shops, restaurants, and bars surrounded the marina office just a few blocks from the motel, and more were a few blocks south, near the jetty on the north side of the shipping channel serving the civilian and US Navy docks.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The first night, I would look at staying in the Pacific Grove section of the Monterey area.

    Note that you need to make reservations for Hearst Castle tours. With this in mind, the closest lodging to the castle would be in San Simeon. It's a relatively remote little town, it has a few motels but not much else to speak of. The next closest would be Cambria, which is a great (but relatively expensive) place to stay. Next would be Cayucos, which is also great and not quite as expensive.

  5. #5

    Default Hampton Inn-Channel Islands

    I spent some time during lunch at my desk looking for the motel we stayed at near the Navy Base at Port Hueneme inasmuch as we'll likely stay there in the July-August time frame when we again go to visit our son, who will be on base training for a deployment. It's the Hampton Inn-Channel Islands.

    I didn't mention there are some nice looking places at Ventura, CA also, immediately north of the Navy Base at Port Hueneme and just south of very pricey Santa Barbara.


  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Welcome back to the RTA Forum! Is this the same trip that you started planning a couple years ago?
    Thank you for the welcome back! It's nice to be back. =)

    This year's trip will differ a bit from that last one, two years ago. In 2011, for starters, we ended up mostly driving down the 101 since PCH was closed because of mudslides. Huge bummer. Then we did a lot of stuff north of the Grand Canyon. Zion, Bryce, Four Corners and then up to Durango, CO. This time around we will give PCH another try, and then focus on exploring the parts south of the Grand Canyon, before heading up to Las Vegas for some rest.

    And thank you for your input Michael. We will definitely look in to Monterey instead of Santa Cruz!

    Same goes to Foy and glc! Thank you for your input. Very much valued and appreciated! Ventura and the surrounding areas looks like a good option. =)

    If anyone has more suggestions, please let me know.

    Again, thank you! =)

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