LA to San Francisco in 2 Days

Description of highway 1 drive from LA to SF with stops along the way.

LA to San Francisco in 2 Days

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by modernist on June 25, 2006

To attend a wedding in Berkeley, California, my wife and I decided to drive the famed Coastal Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco. Along the way we took in the sights and at Pismo Beach, Carmel, Monterey, Pebble Beach, and San Francisco with two hotel stops along the way in Monterey and downtown San Francisco. We also found some gems to eat and shop. On our return trip we made a stop in Bakersfield to visit a friend and used the much quicker but less scenic Interstate 5.
${QuickSuggestions} If you are starting out from LA, stay on Highway 101 until you pass Santa Barbara. After Santa Barbara Highway 1 becomes much more interesting. You have a better view of the ocean if you are traveling to South from North. But this is also much scarier as you are literally right by the ocean cliffs. I used and got an amazing price of $77.69 from Ace car rental. However, my experience with Ace car rental was horrific. One of the worst car rental experiences I have ever experienced in over 20 years of traveling. If I can help it I will never use Ace car rental again. They require proof of insurance in writing. I had to have my insurance company fax a letter before they would honor the price from Without proof of insurance, an extra $12 for insurance is mandatory. Also I had to produce my AAA card to prevent another surcharge of $2 per day for road service. So be sure to have AAA if you want to use Ace rental car. All of this caused an hour and a half before I was on my way. But they "upgraded" me to a PT cruiser. If they ask if you would like to pay for an upgrade just say NO, and you will be upgraded anyway. I really wanted a compact or an economy to save money on gas so actually I was not too happy about the "upgrade" to a gas guzzling PT Cruiser. It is a horrible car anyway. Very uncomfortable to drive. After I got home and got my credit card bill Ace charged me something extra as the final price was $90.45. An extra $13 for which I do not know what the charge is for.

Casa Munras, a Larkspur Hotel

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by modernist on June 25, 2006

I got this hotel from Hotwire for $86.88. According to Hotwire this was categorized as a 3 and half star hotel. Although my stay was pleasant and the hotel was clean I would not give it more than 2 and half stars. The hotel is supposed to have wireless in your room for free, but the Wi-Fi in my room did not work at all. I had to use the Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby. The breakfast however was quite good. It is included in the hotel price and is complementary and there were even hot items. The location was within working distance of the waterfront. Monterey as a city was a bit disappointing. Parking was free.
Casa Munras Garden Hotel
700 Munras Avenue
Monterey, California, 93940
(831) 375-2411

Hilton San Francisco

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by modernist on June 25, 2006

I booked this hotel room through

It was a very nice hotel but I ended up paying a bit more for things I did not calculate. The priceline got a rate of $99.37 including taxes and fees, but I did not calculate the parking fee. I self parked at a nearby parking structure. For 24 hour parking, with in and out privileges, it was $28 (California Parking on 400 Taylor Street).

Upon checking in, I found a brown stain on the bed, so I asked for a different room which the front desk exchanged right away for us. But it still left us with a queasy feeling to find a brown stain in a four-star hotel. The room was tiny, about half the size of our hotel in Monterey. Also the walls were very thin. I could hear everything clearly on the TV next door.

Location could not be beat, but it ended up being a bit more expensive than we anticipated.

The hotel had a pool on the 16th floor which was very nice.

Hilton San Francisco Union Square
333 O'Farrell Street
San Francisco, California, 94102
(415) 771-1400

Tree Bones Resort

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by modernist on June 26, 2006

Between San Simeon (25 miles to the south) and Monterey (65 miles to the north), I found a very unique place for lodging. With Hindsight, I would have much preferred to stay at this unusal place rather than a hum drum lodging in Monterey.

"Tree Bones was created by owners John and Corinne Handy and their family whose long time dream has been to provide a unique and "close to nature" stay for those visiting the southern part of California's dramatic and breathtaking Big Sur Coast," is how the brochure describes th collection of modern Yurt's that comprises the Tree Bones resort. Yurt is a circular domed tent, originally used by the Mongol nomads of Siberia. However these Yurts have all the modern conveniences of polished wood floors, hot and cold running water in each Yurt, wood burning stove, and also in the middle of the Yurt is plexi glass dome so you can see the moon at night. There is also electricity in the Yurts, plus a heating system when the nights get too cold. There is a impressively clean, four-star hotel quality, bathroom and shower facility that is shared by the entire complex. There is also a dining area in which waffles are served for breakfast. There is also a small pool which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. This place can be a great base for exploring Big Sur area. Make sure you have reservations.
Tree Bones Resort
71895 Hwy 1
Big Sur, California, 93920
(877) 424-4787

Cafe Fina

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by modernist on June 25, 2006

On Fisherman's Wharf, many of the seafood restaurants have people hustling patrons into their restaurants. Cafe Fina, on the other hand, simply showed a video of Rachel Ray's feature of the restaurant in front of their entrance. That is the last time I trust Rachel Ray for a restaurant recommendation.

First the waiter became less than courteous when we did not order wine. With two entrees and a soup our bill came to $35.61.

I found hair in my seafood platter. Yuck!

Cafe Fina
47 Fisherman's Wharf
Monterey, California, 93940
(831) 372-5200

17 Mile Drive

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by modernist on June 25, 2006

Really well worth the $8.75 per car entrance fee, which must be paid in cash only. I just looked at my receipt and it says, "Refundable with purchase over $25 on PBC rounds and PBC restaurants only". So if you are planning on eating or playing golf at Pebble Beach Compound, you could get 8.75 towards your meal or round of golf.

The drive is one of only nine private toll roads in the country, according to the Pebble Beach Company. The brochure you get after paying at the private toll booth has a nice map of the drive with highlights of all the major sightseeing points.

I was surprised at how developed it is. There are a lot of private residences along the 17 mile drive. It feels like a very fancy subdivision, but with the Pacific Ocean and numerous world class golf courses dotting the drive.

One of my favorites was the Lone Cypress, which is apprently the most photographed tree in California. So we of course took a picture.

At one point near Point Joe there was a baby seal being born, we could not see it as the area was roped off to the public to protect the wildlife.

Rather than shell out the big bucks to have lunch at the Pebble Beach Lodge overlooking the 18th-hole. We decided to bring picnic lunch and enjoy one of the many free picnic tables with equally stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. In fact one of my favorite memories of the drive was watching two labs chasing after tennis balls thrown by the owner along the beach.

Here are directions to enter the 17 mile drive. From Highway 17, take Highway 1 south, and then take the exit for 68 west (Pacific Grove/Pebble Beach). Follow signs to the nearest Highway 1 private toll entrance, run by the Pebble Beach Company. Past the gate, follow the red dash lines in the middle of the road.

Seventeen Mile Drive
Seventeen Mile Drive
Carmel, California, 93950
+1 831 373 3304

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by modernist on June 26, 2006

I would say the Aquarium was the highlight in Monterey. It is very well designed and very family friendly. Even though it was quite crowded on the day I visited, I never felt it was overwhelming. First thing to worry about is parking. I parked the car on a meter parking as I knew we would not be able to spend more than 3 hours due to our travel schedule. However, having spent some time there, I wished I had parked the car in a parking structure and spent the entire day at the Aquarium. It is possible for one to buy a ticket and re-enter the park with a stamp on the same day. The Aquarium is open 10am to 6pm and summer hours are 9:30am to 6pm. There are some machines which will give you quarters if you insert $1, or $5 bills, but none of them worked.

I started with the Sea Otters. Make sure you are there for feeding time. The trainers were very good with the Sea Otters. Don't miss the Sharks, Jelly Fish, and especially the Penguins. The Aquarium is very well designed for children. There are amazing interactive displays. I would definitely bring children here. We also had a snack at the Portola Cafe which is inside the Aquarium. It is very high quality food for reasonable prices. Actually a delightful surprise. Usually I am very much turned off by the quality of food service at Aquariums and parks in general. But this was the exemption to the rule. Here is the website;

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, California, 93940
(831) 648-4888

Outlet Shopping in Camarillo, CA

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by modernist on June 25, 2006

One of the first stops you may get to is an outlet mall. Here are the directions from their website;

Camarillo Premium Outlets is located just 45 minutes north of Los Angeles and 40 minutes south of Santa Barbara.
Take Highway 101 to Camarillo, exit Las Posas Road.

If you don't live near a big outlet mall, this is one of the better ones. But be ready to spend at least half a day, unless you are really fast shopper. We found parking to be more difficult than necessary, mainly due to the sheer number of people. As much as we love shopping, we decided to focus on the drive on this trip. We did get a great burger at In-N-Out Burger near the outlet mall. As we live on the East Coast. It is a treat when we can get animal style at In-N-Out Burger. I have to say that I still think the In-N-Out Burger on Sunset is the best one.

Stop in Santa Barbara

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by modernist on June 25, 2006

We stopped in Santa Barbara after a few hours of driving from LA. It seemed like a good idea to stretch our legs and walk around a bit. We found a public parking lot. For less than an hour the parking was free. Since our PT cruiser's radio did not work, we decided to buy a Wireless transmitter so that we could hook up our iPod. This set us back $53.86 at the local Radio Shack. Make sure your rental car radio works before you leave the rental agency.

After walking around we found a great shop called Marcel Monsivais [531 State Street] (805) 963-8387. Being from the dark and wintry upstate New York, we were in much needed shading and protection from the sun. I bought a very nice hat for $24.73. The shop also had originally designed clothing by the owner.

We did not have to spend more than hour, as downtown Santa Barbara was not too enticing for us. We were glad we stopped but glad we did not linger too long.

Pismo Beach

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by modernist on June 25, 2006

Our next stop, and actually the first stop that really warranted us to take some pictures, was Pismo Beach. In fact, if we had to do it over, we would have made Pismo Beach our first stop and spent a longer amount of time here. We also switched over to Highway 1 after Pismo Beach. Until Pismo Beach we used Highway 101 to come north.

The sand at Pismo Beach was exquisite. It was so fine and white. Even after Waikiki, we found the sand at Pismo Beach to be much more pleasant to be walking around in. There was also next to no one on the Beach. It was quite peaceful.

I also saw a RV park at which you can reserve space. There was also a place to reserve a campsite. It is $5 to enter the beach with your vehicle. We just pulled into the parking lot behind a sea food restaurant and went on the beach without having to pay for our vehicle.

© LP 2000-2009