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  1. Default Tucson, AZ to Monterey, Ca

    Hi All,
    I am planning a summer trip in August from Tucson, AZ to Monterey, Ca. We will have about one and a half weeks. I want to do this on the cheap, staying in hostels the whole time with the possibility of camping in Big Sur if I can get a spot in the state park. We are really focused on hiking, surfing and beach walking. My questions are:
    1. What is the best starting off point in CA, I was told to hit Santa Barbara then head up from there.
    2. Any advice on which towns have the best hostels? Also cheap inns/motels/ect if we want to "splurge".
    3. Favorite state parks along the way that I shouldn't miss.
    4. Awesome food stops
    Any other advice is welcome, thank you :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Getting There and On the Cheap

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I'm not that familiar with hostels so I will leave any details regarding them to others who are, but I can address your other questions. First, as to "the best starting off point in CA", I assume you mean where to get to on your first day's drive from Tucson. That actually has more to do. I think, with how comfortable you'd be driving either in Los Angeles rush hour traffic or through that city after dark. Tucson to L.A. is a full eight to ten hour drive, meaning that if you get an early morning start out of the Old Pueblo, you'd hit L.A. at evening rush hour. Considering that you'd do better to bed down on the north/west side of town so that you don't also have to face morning rush hour the next day, you might want to consider making a stop or two on the way through Arizona and California and/or pull up on the east side of the Inland Empire for a late supper while all the commuters are fighting their way home. Only then continue on to Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Ventura or Santa Barbara for the night. Any of those towns will put you in good position to be leaving town the next morning and being on your way up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, CA-1) the next morning.

    Almost all the state parks along the coast are worth visiting if you have the time, perhaps the most spectacular is Julia Pfeiffer Burns Sate Park. Just as rewarding as the designated parks, however, are the numerous elephant seal and sea lion rookeries spotted along the coast. Another state park of significant historic and architectural interest is San Simeon State Historic Monument, "Hearst's Castle", although it must be noted that tours of the 'castle' cost between $25 and $36. One more state park that should be on your list is Point Lobos State Reserve. Besides state parks, you should also check out camping in Los Padres National Forest which is just inland of Big Sur.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I see a "we" in your post - how many of you will be making this trip? Reason I ask - hostels charge per person, but hotels/motels charge per room. A hostel may wind up not being as economical as you may think.

    Hostel Database

    Recommend you do not make reservations through the site, contact each property directly.

    Hotel/motel rates can be researched through this site, look on the right side of the page.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not all hostels are the same.

    The link above is the most comprehensive hostel site. It also includes other budget accommodation, especially where hostels are few and far between. Find a contact for the hostel to book. You will often get it cheaper than through the booking sites, and often quite a lot cheaper. And you can be sure you get the correct information. But there are hostels, and then there are Hostels.

    It is correct that hostels charge per person, but do not overlook the other benefits available at good hostels. Besides the opportunity to meet other travellers and have kitchen facilities to prepare your own meals. Most hostels have the staples, condiments, herbs and spices, etc. available for free. You can also check out the 'free food' pantry These are the non perishables which people leave behind at the end of their trip.

    Most hostels have discount tickets for local attractions. This is especially true in the south west. (I have stayed at an excellent place in Tucson.) Many also organise trips and excursions, community meals, film nights and other activities to get to know the area. For that reason it is important to book, as the good ones are usually booked out well in advance.

    When staying in LA and SF I would highly recommend you look into the USA hostels. These are excellent places, have great security and organise an unbelievable number of activities. They are not the cheapest, but from my experience, by far the best in those areas. Make sure you carry a medium sized padlock for your locker.


  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Hostel Database

    Recommend you do not make reservations through the site, contact each property directly.

    Hotel/motel rates can be researched through this site, look on the right side of the page.
    Thanks for the link, it's gone into my notebook.

  6. Default Great advice :)

    Awesome, thanks for all the replies! There will be three of us, maybe four. We will mix it up with motels I'm sure but I do enjoy the community aspect of hostels.

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