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Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

Chapel Hill, North...
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Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

I'm fine-tuning our July/August trip and am hoping y'all can help me with the most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay. We're actually staying in Laurel Canyon, but I know I want to drive up the PCH when we head north to Morro Bay. My question is Google Maps wants to route me on the 154 at Santa Barbara over to the 101 through Santa Maria. Would there be an advantage to staying on the 1/101 to Gaviota? Is it better to take the 101 up from there or would there be anything to see along the 1 to Lompoc and Vandenberg AFB? Can you even drive through Vandenberg or is it locked down? (I'm from NC and we have a lot of big military bases, so somewhat familiar with them, but there are different procedures.)

Thanks for any tips!

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Santa Monica
Santa Monica
California
Morro Bay
Morro Bay
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara
California
Santa Maria
Santa Maria
California
Lompoc
Lompoc
California
9 replies to this topic
Richmond, California
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1. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

Just stay on 101 the whole way to San Luis Obispo, then take 1 to Morro Bay. 154 is a narrow two lane road and it’s easy to get stuck behind slow moving trucks.

Similarly, the scenery through Lompoc and Vandenberg is unimpressive, and Hwy 1 is nowhere near the ocean. It’s also a much slower drive with all the stoplights in Lompoc and Santa Maria.

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San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Morro Bay
Morro Bay
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Lompoc
Lompoc
California
Santa Maria
Santa Maria
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Elk Grove...
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2. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

Google Map always route you through CA-154. It has been my pet peeve. They won't change their program logic, whatever funky algorithm it uses. Stay with the major artery coastal freeway US-101.

Nothing much to see at Lompoc or Vandenberg AFB (you only see rolling hills, you won't even pass by any facilities). The most scenic places are at Pismo Beach and Morro Bay. Spend more time there.

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Lompoc
Lompoc
California
Pismo Beach
Pismo Beach
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Morro Bay
Morro Bay
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Chapel Hill, North...
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3. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

So stay on 101 to Gaviota and follow it when it turns there? Sounds easy enough. Thanks!

Santa Monica...
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4. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

I do hope you're driving Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica through Malibu and onto Oxnard/Camarillo (where it merges you onto the 101)

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Santa Monica
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Elk Grove...
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5. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

RE: So stay on 101 to Gaviota and follow it when it turns there?

Yes. It is a right-elbow 90-degree turn. Unusual for a major highway. But you drive through the curve at 60 mph won't even need to slow down.

6. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

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Chapel Hill, North...
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7. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

ElleBe_LA, yes that's definitely my plan. I used to live in Venice and would take drives up to Oxnard for fun so it's a bit of old stomping grounds for me even if it's not the most direct route from Laurel Canyon where our AirBnB is.

Yes, that looks like a right angle turn in Gaviota. 60mph? All right, we'll see how the rental handles it!

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Venice Beach
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Oxnard
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Cambria, California
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8. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

Oxnard has become quite the office park mecca in the past few years - you'll be surprised at how it has changed from just an agricultural business town. Some of the traffic patterns and intersections have changed as well so head's up.

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Chapel Hill, North...
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9. Re: Most scenic route from Santa Monica to Morro Bay

Good to know. I didn't go into Oxnard much, but would usually turn around there or at Point Mugu.

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Oxnard
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