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  1. Default Pacific Coast Highway - Another Q

    We are driving down from San Jose area to San Diego on 12/23/2006
    and have 2-3 days. We also have a 5 year old with us, so we'd like
    to take frequent breaks ... every 2-3 hours.

    Could you all please suggest great unlisted places to take breaks along
    the way? We are aware of the Pebble Beach Drive, Hearst Castle,
    Santa Barbara and Solvang. We're really looking for those spots where one can watch awesome coastal views, or (as we had found on our last kidless trip) a place that has seal families on the beach, or experience local oddities and culture.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default I have a bunch of those places!

    Quote Originally Posted by Raj Mehta View Post
    We are driving down from San Jose area to San Diego on 12/23/2006 and have 2-3 days. We also have a 5 year old with us, so we'd like to take frequent breaks ... every 2-3 hours.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum -- I probably have enough suggestions that if you stopped at each one it would take 5-6 days to travel....
    Could you all please suggest great unlisted places to take breaks along the way?
    Before you reach Pebble Beach -- the Monterey Bay Aquarium is pretty great. Actually, you can see lots of seals hanging out at the pier on the side of the Aquarium.

    Here are a few of my favorite spots: Natural Bridges State Park (Santa Cruz) has a walkway right off the parking lot that is home to a few million migrating Monarch butterflies -- it is a little late, but there still might be a few there. About 1/4 mile south is the Lighthouse Point Surf Museum where you can stand on the rocks and see the famed Steamer Lane -- where expert surfers strut their stuff. Just north of Rio Del Mar is Seacliff State Beach, where the remains of a concrete ship is moored and a great place to see otters and seal lions.

    One of the most amazing sights is to take the road over to Moss Landing Wildlife area -- every time I have been there I have seen 25-75 otters in a giant "otter raft". Also a fantastic place for lunch -- (is right next to the Ocean Research facility) Here is a post about some of the seal lion places.

    As a reminder, be sure to look at the bottom of this page and any other page you look at for other ideas..

    Nepenthe is worth checking out, but be sure to stop at the overlook parking lot about 1/4 mile north of Burns Creek Bridge. From there it is only about 1/4 of mile walk to see the waterfall. This is the only place where a waterfall plunges directly into the surf in North America (west coast).

    Another place to consider staying would be Cayucos -- nice, beach community with a fun pier.

    Hope this gets you started.

    Happy Planning!


  3. Default Lots of places...

    There's a whole host of places to stop on the way down... and I'm sure everyone will chime in with their favorites...

    Let me add a couple...

    - Pedros Blanca Elephant Seal Colony. This is about 10 miles north of Hearst Castle, and just south of the Pedros Blanca lighthouse on Coast 1. There's a parking area and a sign (small sign) right along Coast 1 -- no other facilities. But you can walk along a bluff about 20' above the beach, that may be just teeming with hundreds of *large* (think Volkswagon bug sized) seals. In mating season then the males are competing on the beach for the females its pretty wild to see. [1]

    - Guadalupe Dunes (south of Pismo Beach). I have to confess I'm not a real fan of Pismo Beach as the few times I've been there its been crowded and very busy. Guadalupe Dunes a few miles south on the coast usually has a lot less people. If you look around you may find one of Cecil B. DeMille's old movie sets coming back to sight from under the dunes (they filmed several dessert epic movies here in the 20's, but then the dunes covered over the sets).

    - Jalama Beach. This is one of the more isolated beaches south of SF, and was a secret surf spot for many years. You reach it by about a 14 mile windy two lane road from Coast 1. Nowadays there's a county campground there and a small snack shop for burgers and the like. But in either direction on the beach there isn't anything else -- just beach and bluffs. You can collect shells, wander the beach and look at the wave-smoothed rocks scattered over the wide sandy beach. Warning though -- the surf here can get pretty big.

    - Santa Barbara Musuem of Natural History. This is hidden back a mile or two beyond the Mission, and is a very good small natural history museum focusing on the local area. I try to stop at it every couple of years.

    - Solvang pastries. With a 5 year old, you might consider stopping in Solvang for coffee and pastries (coffee for you, a pastry for him). A warning for this though -- last time I did this, the waitress came to our table with a huge tray of pastries and just sat it on the table saying "Eat which ones you like, we'll add it up when you're done". Needless to say, one led to another for everyone at the table.... Remarkably good marketing in retrospect.

    - Anderson's Split Pea Soup in Buelton. This is right on 101 in Buelton, and I recall stopping with my parents when I was 10 or less. Now, I don't know many kids who really like split pea soup at that age, but it was always an occasion when we stopped there.

    [ 1] Some years ago I stopped at the Elephant Seal Colony in mating season. I was standing on the bluff next to a couple of distingushed looking English tourist ladies. Right below us a huge male seal humped out of the water and bellowing made for one of his mates, resulting in a lot of movement and bellowing on the beach. A minute later one of the English ladies turned to the other and in a very upper crust accent said "Well, I guess she's not getting dinner and the theatre before that..." I just about fell off the bluff trying not to laugh...
    Last edited by W. Larrison; 12-22-2006 at 02:40 PM. Reason: Dang I forgot the footnote

  4. #4

    Default I agree

    - Pedros Blanca Elephant Seal Colony is great.

    To be honest there are many many turnouts (some tiny, some larger with restrooms) and almost all of them offer fantastic views...some with the opportunity to walk down onto the beaches themselves which is often well worth it.

  5. Default Thank You !

    Thank you Mark, Larrison and Viv. Excellent suggestions.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


    (BTW, I am from Austin, Texas ... new home of the American music
    scene. If you folks come down there sometime, please write me and
    I'd be able to return the favor of your suggestions here, and possibly
    treat ya'all ;-) to ethnic lunch or dinner. p r a j m e h t a . a t.
    g m a i l . c o m )
    Last edited by Raj Mehta; 12-22-2006 at 09:56 AM.

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