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Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Glasgow, United...
7 posts
1 review
Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Hi, we are driving from SF to LA and after reading plenty of the forums have planned overnights in Monterey and Cambria. We leave SF on the morning of 12/23 and plan to drive straight to Monterey so that we can make most of the day in that area and we thought about visiting Point Lobos that day in order to give us more time for the drive along Big Sur to Cambria, as we definitely want to be there before it's dark.

When we leave our hotel on the 24th, this is what we have picked as our possible stops, if we have visited Point Lobos on the 23rd:

1. Bixby Creek Bridge

2. Point Sur Lighthouse

3. Pfeiffer Beach (is this difficult to access with car?)

4. Nepenthe

5. McWay Falls

6. Ragged Point

7. Elephant Seal Rockery

This is where I'm look for some advice, is this making the most of the drive, are there better stops or is what we have picked about the right amount for one day's travel in December, weather permitting of course!

We leave Cambria on Christmas day to then drive to LA.

Many thanks for any information advice you can give.

10 replies to this topic
San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
21,962 posts
79 reviews
1. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

That itinerary should be fine. During the summer you must use a shuttle to access Pfeiffer Beach, but that won't be the case in December. But, if it's rained heavily, the road will be a challenge. I did it after a storm in a regular car, but drove very slowly and carefully to avoid water-filled holes, fallen branches, ruts made by other cars, etc.

If you're at the Rookery before dusk, you'll be fine, as the road is pretty normal from there south.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
59,773 posts
149 reviews
2. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

As Susan says it looks fine everything does not have to be planned and documented. Highway 1 is a 2 lane highway so you will see everything as you drive. You should decide when to stop based on your interest I would do point Lobos on day 2. There is a lot to explore in Monterey PAcific grove and Carmel on day 1

Glasgow, United...
7 posts
1 review
3. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Thank you so much for your reply. I may rethink the beach stop at Pfeiffer, I was a bit unsure about it after reading some other post and I'm sure we will see lots of lovely areas on the drive. Thanks again.

Glasgow, United...
7 posts
1 review
4. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Many thanks for your reply. I might rethink Point Lobos as you say and start day 2 there as long as we can get Cambria before dark, don't mind taking Pfeiffer beach off along with something else if we need to. It would be nice to free up the 23rd to concentrate on Monterey/Carmel area. Thanks again!

Oakland, California
Destination Expert
for Big Sur
Level Contributor
3,948 posts
13 reviews
5. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Point Sur Lighthouse is just a five minute stop where you’ll get a distant view from the side of the road. The only way to access the lighthouse is by a scheduled 3 hour tour, which is infrequent and you don’t have time for.

Nepenthe is wonderful, but it’s only an hour south of Monterey, and it’s not open for lunch until 11:30, which means that you’ll probably miss it. There is another smaller restaurant on site called Cafe Kevah that serves breakfast and baked goods starting from 9am.

Glasgow, United...
7 posts
1 review
6. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Many thanks for your reply, some of the stops being short and just for photo opp I suppose will balance out some of the longer stops. Definitely want to stop at Nepenthe for the view so that's handy that there is the cafe also! Thanks again!

San Jose, California
Destination Expert
for California
Level Contributor
18,298 posts
122 reviews
7. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Because of your timing, you'll probably be south of civilization by the time you want to have lunch - I would pack a picnic so that you can have lunch wherever you are when you get hungry.

For beach stops, if Pfeiffer Beach doesn't work out, I like Garrapata state beach and the beach at Andrew Molera (that one requires an easy 1 mile walk - so it takes some time). On the south end of Big Sur, Sand Dollar beach is nice.

Paso Robles Wine...
Level Contributor
1,359 posts
1 review
8. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

If you do Point Lobos on the second day, it will be perfect timing for lunch at Nepenthe. Sand Dollar is a great stopping point to stretch your legs. If you're running short on time, skip Ragged Point in order not to miss the elephant seals. Also, be on the lookout for zebras on the east side of the road just after you pass the entrance to Hearst Castle.

Glasgow, United...
7 posts
1 review
9. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Thank you very much for your info. We would like to stop at a beach at some point if possible and will have a look at these other suggestions.

Glasgow, United...
7 posts
1 review
10. Re: Driving from SF to LA, help with itinerary please!

Thanks for the info, think we will probably go for Point Lobos on second day and take the rest of the stops accordingly as the day goes but lunch at Nepenthe sounds good and we will definitely look out for the zebras. Many thanks!

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