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SF to Monterey, which route?

Eastbourne
Level Contributor
61 posts
8 reviews
1 helpful vote
SF to Monterey, which route?

We're due to leave San Francisco around 2ish on a Wednesday in mid September, headed to Monterey.

Is it worth driving down Route 1 or just bombing down Highway 101 to get there asap?

We'd like to get to Monterey quite promptly, but not at the expense of missing any beautiful views etc on the way down between the two.

Naturally, we shall go down Route 1 on the next leg of our journey.

Thank you in advance :)

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
30,457 posts
9 reviews
11 helpful votes
1. Re: SF to Monterey, which route?

The quickest, most scenic route to Monterey from SF is via I-280, a fast moving multi lane freeway with lovely views of wooded hills and a lake/reservoir. Continue to Highway 85 south toward Gilroy (Also a fast moving multi lane freeway) to Highway 101 south to Highway 156 West toward the Monterey Peninsula (The turn off is at the top of a mountainous pass) to Highway 1 south. By the time you get to Highway 1 you will be a short distance from Monterey.

Going straight down Highway 101 is NOT the best option. It's a congested urban mess of a drive until you get past San Jose. Highway 85 deposits you on 101 just south of the urban sprawl.

Edited: 11 years ago
Ontario
Level Contributor
10 posts
2 reviews
5 helpful votes
2. Re: SF to Monterey, which route?

We just recently drove from SF to Monterey via Route 1 and it was a beautiful route. One thing to keep in mind though is fog. It was foggy in San Francisco when we left, and the fog lingered on and off all the way to Monterey. It did not impede our driving as it didn't come right onto the land, but it hovered around the shorelines and so about half of the time the views were foggy. It was still a little foggy in Monterey but we were reassured by our hotel staff that the fog would dissipate by the team we reached Big Sur (we drove Route 1 the entire way from SF to LA) and they were right. Net, it is still a beautiful dirve from SF from Monterey, but fog may limit your views. The driving time on Route 1 from SF to Monterey was about 3 1/2 hrs.

Eastbourne
Level Contributor
61 posts
8 reviews
1 helpful vote
3. Re: SF to Monterey, which route?

Thank you both so much!

So, the drive down route 1 will take approx 3.5 hours - good to know!

How long would the I-280, Highway 85 take in comparison, please Kibblesmom?

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
30,457 posts
9 reviews
11 helpful votes
4. Re: SF to Monterey, which route?

The Highway 1 route is about 3 hours without stops, the I-280, etc. route is about 2 1/2.

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
34,685 posts
4 reviews
26 helpful votes
5. Re: SF to Monterey, which route?

Both descriptions above are spot on.

DO avoid Hwy 101 at all costs until you get below San Jose, which is why to take the 280/85 route.

If you go Hwy 1 all the way there will be some traffic through the town of Santa Cruz and then after for about 10 miles because of some road construction. And the road goes inland from there and does not skirt the Bay again until near Monterey.

Actually, since you will be driving the most beautiful part of Hwy 1 south of Monterey through Big Sur I would not necessarily take Hwy 1 between San Francisco and Monterey if you want to get there soon.

Orinda, California
Level Contributor
3,378 posts
16 reviews
13 helpful votes
6. Re: SF to Monterey, which route?

In mid September you may have beautiful sunshine instead of fog.

The summer months of July and August are famous for fog on the Northern California coast, but come September and October we have fabulous weather.

Lucky you!

7. Re: SF to Monterey, which route?

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