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  1. Default San Francisco to Los Angeles (vice versa) via Pacific Coast Highway HELP!

    My family and I will be going to San Francisco for two weeks, Dec 19th - Jan 2nd. We have a apartment to live in there, so it is kinda like a home. We are flying in from Asia.
    We would like to drive down to Los Angeles for a couple of days and watch a NBA game. We would really like to try out the Pacific Coast Highway (California Route 1) being heard that it is one of the most scenic drives ever. We would also like to stop a long the way and see things like Hearst Castle, etc...

    I have a few important and key questions, hopefully you guys can point me in the right direction:
    1. We are planning to either do San Francisco->LA via the Pacific Coast Highway and then return to San Francisco via Interstate 5, or the other way around. Which one should be better? Should we go with the CA route 1 or return to SFO with the CA route 1?
    2. Are there any specific directions? Please help me out with the directions because if there's one thing that cannot happen is to get lost during the drive. I went on Google Maps and MapQuest but the only route they gave me is I-5.
    3. Approximately how many hours would is take via California Route 1? Minimum how many hours and maximum how many hours? Let's say if we drive at a normal speed non stop.
    4. What are some attractions to stop along the way? Like San Diego, Hearst Castle, Malibu, anything at is worth a stop, etc?
    Please help me out! I really want this work out well and be well planned before.
    Thank you so much in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    1. Take the coast road from SF to LA, because the scenic pullouts will be on your side of the road.

    2. Just go find CA-1 and take that all the way! You can zoom in with Google Maps and see all the details.

    3. A MINIMUM of 2 days is required. Plan on an overnight in San Simeon.

    4. Hearst Castle is well worth booking a tour, advance reservations highly recommended. San Diego is 2 hours south of LA, you won't be going through it. That would be a separate trip to make out of LA.

    A return via I-5, CA-152, and CA-101 is an easy single day drive from LA.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Drop and drag.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    glc has answered your questions and I am in agreement. The one thing that I will add is; when you are using Google maps and have entered point A and B, you can then drop and drag the blue route line with your cursor to where you wish to go. Most likely other mapping programs have this feature, but if not simply put in way points, for example San Francisco>Monterey>Cambria>Los Angeles.

  4. Default

    Thanks guys! It really helped. Now I have one more question. Are there any recommendations for along the way of San Francisco to LA via CA-1 should we stop to take a look? I know the Big Sur is one, and Hearst Castle too. Could you recommend a few more?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Lot's.

    There are State parks like Julia Pfeiffer Burns and many places you will just want to stop in a pull out and take in the views, here's a few idea's to ponder.

    Waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer by member; roadie.

  6. Default

    I absolutely agree with glc's advice to do Hwy 1 on the way down to LA as opposed to on the way back. Another thing is, on your way to someplace everybody's fresh and open and on the way back often you just want to get there...

    As to recommendations, there is so much beauty on the way down that I don't know where to start so I'll go off the top of my head in order as you head down the coast. I really only know the northern part of this trip, so that's what I'll talk about.

    1.Santa Cruz - funky, the 1st real beach town you'll hit, but crowded. Even so well worth a stop. If you want to try surfing, Cowell's Beach on the North end of the boardwalk is the place to start I think you can rent gear right across the street. Ask if its a good day for beginners cause it can get gnarly in the winter.

    2. Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey - beautiful! A bit expensive, but worth it, especially if you have a family.

    3. Stop at at least a few beaches on the way down, Julia Pfeiffer Beach is on a little road that goes off to the right just before (or is it after, I cant remember) Pfeiffer Burns Park in Big Sur. The Beach at Carmel is gorgeous white sand. There is a beach called Jade Beach in Southern Big Sur (south of Sand Dollar Beach) that has quite a bit of low quality jade rocks you can find.

    4. San Simeon of course is a no-brainer. awesome.

    5. There are elephant seals on the beach just south of San Simeon. Cool, but stay a respectful distance away from them - they are huge and grouchy.

    San Diego is well South of LA - You wont get there on this trip unless you overshoot your mark by quite a bit.

    Have a great trip!!

  7. Default I am also in need of help

    I am leaving LAX at about 10am on a Wednesday. I have overnight reservations Wednesday night in Cambria. We are gonna tour the Hearst Castle Thursday morning. Head out by NOON. Gotta drop the car off early to mid evening Thursday at the San Fran airport. Is this timing gonna work? What else do we wanna do?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You should be able to make it work, but you'll be a little rushed - especially if you see any delays from your ideal schedule. The good part is that if you find yourself running behind, you can always switch over to US-101 and make up some time.

    The one area that would be the biggest concern is that depending upon how early in the evening you need to arrive in SF and what time you actually get out of Hearst, you could get pretty rushed on Thursday. Between Cambria and Monterey is the very scenic Big Sur section, but this is also a very slow section and it is the one area where you can't easily get back over to US-101. You can probably make it work, but you'll have to be watching the clock, and will almost certainly need to cut back to US-101 once you get up near Monterey.

  9. Default

    Really? I thought I was giving us LOTS of time. We'll be out of Hearst by 1130, and we just have to drop our rental off at the San Fran Airport by 8-ish I suppose (to make the shuttle to our hotel).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Its about a 250 mile drive from Cambria to San Francisco, and between the slow nature of the roads, the traffic, and just factoring some stopping time and the many magnificant viewpoints, it's not uncommon at all to have an overall average speed of 30 mph or less while driving the coast highway. That makes the Cambria to SF section an 8+ hour drive if you do the entire coast.

    That's why I say if everything goes as scheduled, you'd be able to make it work, but if that's goal of being out of hearst by noon (which you've now pushed back to 11:30) gets delayed to say 1, now you're starting to push things. When you're on the road, those kinds of little delays are pretty typical because you don't live a roadtrip on paper.

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