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SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
16 posts
12 reviews
SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

Hello everyone

We are driving from SF to LA next April as part of our honeymoon.

Just looking for suggestions at the best place to spend a night? We did initially think of San Simeon but I've read that there isn't really much there?

Thanks in advance!

Hannah

7 replies to this topic
San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
21,665 posts
79 reviews
1. Re: SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

The 'best' thing to do is spend two nights: one in the Carmel/Monterey area and one in the Cambria/Pismo Beach area. This allows you time to explore on the way to Carmel/Monterey (redwood trees, Santa Cruz) and a little time to visit the art galleries of Carmel or the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Then the next day is all about Big Sur -- 90 miles of gorgeous coast with great views. It's only 90-ish miles, but you could stop to admire the views literally every hundred feet, take short walks or longer hikes, have lunch at Nepenthe. The highlight stops include Point Lobos (you could -- but don't -- spend hours here), Pfeiffer State Beach (purple sand and off-shore formations with waves crashing through holes in the rocks), Bixby Bridge (recognizable from pretty much any car advertisement ever), McWay Falls (a waterfall tumbling onto a beach) and more.

The road is narrow and twisty, so you can't go very fast. It requires enough of the driver's attention that they are generally happy to stop driving once you exit this portion (just north of San Simeon).

The third day, you can explore Santa Barbara before heading into LA.

Each destination's forum (Monterey, Carmel, Cambria, Pismo Beach) has previous posts on where to stay, eat, etc.

Edited: June 13, 2018, 5:52 pm
Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
16 posts
12 reviews
2. Re: SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

Thanks very much! Unfortunately we only have one night so will change to Carmel instead! Cheers!

Monterey Bay...
Level Contributor
1,150 posts
61 reviews
3. Re: SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

I'd still keep Cambria as my overnight. It will be 2 hours or so to Carmel and the next day would be unbearably long and exhausting. Wake-up early and get to Carmel ASPA, this will leave you with time to explore Big Sur as you head down the coast towards Cambria.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
16 posts
12 reviews
4. Re: SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

That’s great thank you!

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
22,118 posts
10 reviews
5. Re: SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

Cambria is the logical mid way stop, but be aware that it's a minimum 6 hour drive from SF without stops. You'll have a tad more daylight in April, but you'll be racing the clock to get down from the twisty, elevated Big Sur coastline before it gets dark on you.

Having only one night is seriously limitating for some of the best scenery and small coastal towns California has to offer. Hopefully you can return to do the drive justice.

San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
21,665 posts
79 reviews
6. Re: SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

Yes, with only one night, Cambria is the better spot. It makes a slightly longer day for the driver (than starting in Carmel), and you have to watch your time so you don't get caught in the Big Sur area after dark. But if you spend the night in Carmel, you have one short day and one very long day. After the driver gets through Big Sur (which can literally take all day), they then have to drive for hours to get to LA.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
16 posts
12 reviews
7. Re: SF to LA - best place to stop off?!

Thanks everyone! We live in Australia now so are used to having to drive for hours to get anywhere haha!

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