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LA to Big Sur

London
Level Contributor
20 posts
10 reviews
LA to Big Sur

I've got 7 days in California - flying into LA & back home from San Francisco. I've hired a car and will be driving up the pacific highway.

I'm trying to work out what is realistically achievable in one day - ideally I want to leave LA in the morning, have lunch at Santa Barbara and then get to Big Sur to spend the night - is this a crazy idea? How long roughly is the drive from LA to Big Sur?

If it is too much driving for one day, then maybe I should stop at Pismo Beach for the night and finish the drive up to Big Sur the following morning... in which case can anyone give me an idea how long LA to Pismo is to drive and also Pismo to Big Sur...

Thanks for your help.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
59,761 posts
149 reviews
1. Re: LA to Big Sur

Big Sur is the stretch between Cambria and Carmel. I think what you mean is the Big Sur village. Most of the acomodation is in the Monterey and Carmel tand Pacific Grove areas about 30 mlles (takes 1 hour without stops) though there are some great places in the Big Sur Village area.

The DE for the Central Coast Scott H. has a great blog that has a lot of info

http://thecentralcoasttraveler.com/faqs

The coastal drive is an amazing drive and one needs to give it time and not rush through it -- most of Highway 1 is a two lane highway so one cannot rush through it so perhaps staying in Pismo Beach area or Cambria would be the way to go. Pismo Beach to the Big Sur village area would be about 2 1/2 to 3 hours without stops.

The Blog above has maps and driving times without stops

Edited: 10 April 2012, 12:15
santa rosa, ca
Level Contributor
668 posts
1 review
2. Re: LA to Big Sur

Don't try to rush this part of your trip. Have lunch in Santa Barbara and spend the night in Cambria or San Simeon, just south of Big Sur. You want to be refreshed to enjoy a leisurely drive up the scenic coastline. You can easily make it to San Francisco before sunset but I suggest another overnight stay at Monterey/Carmel, or Pacific Grove instead. A trip to this area should be savored, like fine wine! Enjoy!

Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
14,383 posts
120 reviews
3. Re: LA to Big Sur

Santa Barbara is such an enjoyable town, please allow several hours for your lunch. You might want to walk the beach or, if you get there with time to spare, enjoy part of the urban wine trail, then eat lunch, then walk the beach and head on out.

Pismo is one good choice of place to stay, we prefer Cambria (another lovely little town with great little gardens and architecture, and some good to great restaurants). Moonstone Beach area has a number of great properties right on the beach.

Then, you'd be all ready to spend a day on the Big Sur Coastline, and have time to stop at several of the wonderful places to view and hike (Point Lobos State Preserve is not to be missed; we like Garrapata State Park as well, there are many many other sights to be seen). Then stay Big Sur itself, or Carmel, or Monterey.

You might want a half day or more to explore the Monterey Peninsula, with its wonderful Aquarium. You could still make it to SF later that evening (and perhaps avoid rush hour traffic by hitting the Bay Area after 6 pm - we take the 17 to the 280, which is scenic and relatively uncrowded).

So 2 nights on the road (at least) still leaves you a nice space in The City.

London
Level Contributor
20 posts
10 reviews
4. Re: LA to Big Sur

Wow thanks for your fast reply!

I'm thinking about staying at Ripplewood, Riverside Campground & Cabins or Big Sur Campground & Cabins when I reach Big Sur - are they all in Big Sur village?

The blog is really useful thanks for the link - I feel I can finally start making some informed decisions about my trip! I think a Pismo stop is a good idea.

Thanks for your help

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
22,172 posts
10 reviews
5. Re: LA to Big Sur

LA to Pismo Beach is about a 3 hour drive WITHOUT stops, so that leaves you plenty of time for Santa Barbara sightseeing.

Pismo Beach to the area of Big Sur you want to overnight in is another 3 hours WITHOUT stops, but needs at least 6-10 to do it justice. And, yes, Ripplewood, Riverside and Big Sur Campground are all within the "village" area of Big Sur.

Some of the sights between Pismo and Big Sur include:

Morro Bay/Rock

Cambria/Moonstone Beach

Hearst Castle

Elephant seal rookery

Ragged Point

Salmon Creek Trail

McWay Falls @ Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Enjoy your visit

Avila Beach...
Level Contributor
1,306 posts
9 reviews
6. Re: LA to Big Sur

If you are planning to stay in a cabin in Big Sur, I would pick Ripplewood Resort. One of my favorite places anywhere, and I do a lot of travelling. Get a cabin on the river (some are on the opposite side of Highway 1). Beautiful setting underneath the redwoods.

London
Level Contributor
20 posts
10 reviews
7. Re: LA to Big Sur

Thank you all for your suggestions and advice I really do appreciate it.

Unfortunately zebracruiser I would be looking to stay at Ripplewood on the Saturday night which of course is their busiest night and they only have one cabin available which is not by the river (and also a little bit more expensive than I would like!)

Kibblesmom, thanks for listing the highlights between Pismo and Big Sur - that saves me some research!

CookieDartmouth thanks for the sharing your experience - I will definitely check out Cambria and Moonstone Beach rather than Pismo on your recommendation.

gingerale52 Thanks for your advice too - I will definitely add the extra day into my trip up the coast - as you say, I really want to savour it rather than rush through.

Once again - many thanks to all of you for taking the time to advise me it is much appreciated.

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
22,172 posts
10 reviews
8. Re: LA to Big Sur

If you're having trouble finding lodging in Big Sur, you might want to just continue on to Monterey for that night and visit Big Sur on the way up the coast. You'll find more affordable options in Monterey than what Big Sur has to offer. If you can't find what meets your budget in Big Sur, tell us what you're willing to spend per night and we'll give you some recs for Monterey.

9. Re: LA to Big Sur

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