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Old 03-06-2013, 09:14 PM   #1
Disneylovers2000
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Driving from San Francisco-Please Help!!

We are a family of 4 driving from Alberta, Canada in July and I am having a bit of a difficult time figuring out timelines.
We are planning on driving from Florence Oregon to Fairfield California. This will be on Monday. Monday night we will stay in Fairfield and head to San Francisco in the morning. This is where it starts to get a little sketchy!
We plan on getting up quite early on Tuesday morning, seeing a few sights in San Fran - Fisherman's Warf, Golden Gate Bridge and we would like to take a Trolley tour. I am "hoping" to leave San Fran by 1. We would then like to drive down the coastal highway through Monterey and Carmel as well as Big Sur. The only things we would like to stop for in these areas is pictures. No real plans - eyes on Anaheim!. Was hoping to make it to Pisimo Beach or Los Osos, before its dark and stay there for Tuesday night. Up early again on Wednesday, travel trough Santa Barbara, stop in Santa Monica to see the pier then driving from straight on to Anaheim. Would like to be in Anaheim before dark on Wednesday - hoping for suppertime.
Soooo, is this doable??? I have researched the distances and travel times but since we have never driven it before....best laid plans and all!!
Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
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Old 03-06-2013, 09:45 PM   #2
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Doable. If you leave SF by 1PM and take Hwy-1 you should reach Pismo by
dark - it about a six hour drive with no stops. Pismo to Anaheim is about a
four hour drive depending on when you reach the Calabasas area. It COULD
be three hours from there, through Los Angeles into Anaheim - so figure six
plus hours for that leg on a Wednesday.
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:08 PM   #3
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Doable. If you leave SF by 1PM and take Hwy-1 you should reach Pismo by
dark - it about a six hour drive with no stops. Pismo to Anaheim is about a
four hour drive depending on when you reach the Calabasas area. It COULD
be three hours from there, through Los Angeles into Anaheim - so figure six
plus hours for that leg on a Wednesday.
Thank you for the quick response!! Would/could you suggest a stop before Pismo Beach? Wondering if we should plan to stop a little earlier north as we may stop for pics etc. and DO NOT want to drive in the dark - don't want to miss the sights! I looked into Big Sur but didn't find that it would be far enough south for a day of travel. I have been scouring for cheaper hotel/motels as we are only stopping long enough to sleep but I am a bit of a germaphobe and and worried about shady motels/hotels too!! On my map, it looks like there isn't much between Big Sur and Cambria. Cambria is quite pricey when looking for lodging. Or is there somewhere else I should be looking at?
Thanks again!!
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:20 PM   #4
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Thank you for the quick response!! Would/could you suggest a stop before Pismo Beach? Wondering if we should plan to stop a little earlier north as we may stop for pics etc. and DO NOT want to drive in the dark - don't want to miss the sights! I looked into Big Sur but didn't find that it would be far enough south for a day of travel. I have been scouring for cheaper hotel/motels as we are only stopping long enough to sleep but I am a bit of a germaphobe and and worried about shady motels/hotels too!! On my map, it looks like there isn't much between Big Sur and Cambria. Cambria is quite pricey when looking for lodging. Or is there somewhere else I should be looking at?
Thanks again!!
Motel 6 San Simeon. It might be cheap, but there's nothing particularly shady about the area. There's barely any town there, and the businesses primarily serve the tourist industry visiting Hearst Castle. Some of the other motels there might be a bit old and not well maintained, but I wouldn't worry about personal safety. The Motel 6 probably has certain standards for cleanliness.

http://www.motel6.com/reservations/m....aspx?num=1212
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:42 PM   #5
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I do this drive frequently since I live in Fairfield now, and our close friends live in Lompoc, about a half hour south of Pismo. Honestly if all you want is pictures ... I'd skip the coastal road altogether and almost cut in half your driving time by going down the 5 instead of the 101. Its beautiful, but really only worth it if you plan on doing the sights along the coast. The drive you're talking about should take ~11ish hours compared to 6 hours via the Interstate 5.

Also, getting Fisherman's Wharf/Golden Gate/Trolley tour ... that's easily a full day of sightseeing. I'd recommend spending a full day in SF then head back on the 80/580 to the 5 South on to Anaheim if your goal is to get to Disneyland. You'll be a lot less cranky, especially since the road is so much straighter and you can go much faster.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:42 PM   #6
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I do this drive frequently since I live in Fairfield now, and our close friends live in Lompoc, about a half hour south of Pismo. Honestly if all you want is pictures ... I'd skip the coastal road altogether and almost cut in half your driving time by going down the 5 instead of the 101. Its beautiful, but really only worth it if you plan on doing the sights along the coast. The drive you're talking about should take ~11ish hours compared to 6 hours via the Interstate 5.

Also, getting Fisherman's Wharf/Golden Gate/Trolley tour ... that's easily a full day of sightseeing. I'd recommend spending a full day in SF then head back on the 80/580 to the 5 South on to Anaheim if your goal is to get to Disneyland. You'll be a lot less cranky, especially since the road is so much straighter and you can go much faster.
Thank you for your valuable information. Unfortunately we already have our hearts set on driving the coast and wouldn't want to miss out on this.
Do you have any recommendations on an inexpensive place to stay in Fairfield? I am looking at the Best Western Cordilia or the Comfort Inn Cordilia.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:44 PM   #7
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Motel 6 San Simeon. It might be cheap, but there's nothing particularly shady about the area. There's barely any town there, and the businesses primarily serve the tourist industry visiting Hearst Castle. Some of the other motels there might be a bit old and not well maintained, but I wouldn't worry about personal safety. The Motel 6 probably has certain standards for cleanliness.

http://www.motel6.com/reservations/m....aspx?num=1212
Thank you for your information! I looked into San Simeon and I think that this may end up being our stop over place! The Motel 6 looks decent and a pretty good price. I was also looking at San Simeon Lodge - its rather inexpensive too and seems to have good reviews on Tripadvisor.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:46 PM   #8
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Are their any suggestions for other places to stay or suggestions for my travels? I would love to hear them! I am still a little concerned about my time line but I think it will work itself out. Any other suggestions on travelling down the coastal highway, I am a little nervous about driving it! Would love to hear any other suggestions or if someone has done this drive, let me know what went wrong/right for you! Thanks so much!
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:31 PM   #9
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Thank you for your information! I looked into San Simeon and I think that this may end up being our stop over place! The Motel 6 looks decent and a pretty good price. I was also looking at San Simeon Lodge - its rather inexpensive too and seems to have good reviews on Tripadvisor.
I'll just say on a personal note I tend to be cheap and sometimes adventurous. I've have stayed at Motel 6 locations many times. Sometimes it's fine (the one in Moab, Utah is actually a hotel with interior hallways) and other times it can be interesting because of the clientele. Just read the reviews, and maybe have a healthy understanding that some negative reviews are from people who are hard to please. Still - sometimes it gets a little troubling when your fellow clientele argues all night in the parking lot, or there's a drug deal going on. I do remember one location when it was fully reserved, and they had security waiting in the parking lot and asking to see reservation confirmations before letting vehicles into their parking lot.

As I noted, San Simeon is in the middle of nowhere (population about 200) and basically all the businesses serve the tourist industry. I wouldn't worry about it as much as I would if I were in areas closer to population centers. In those or similar areas if you're at a cheap motel, there might be some interesting stuff going on that you might not want your kids to see or hear.
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:56 PM   #10
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I'll just say on a personal note I tend to be cheap and sometimes adventurous. I've have stayed at Motel 6 locations many times. Sometimes it's fine (the one in Moab, Utah is actually a hotel with interior hallways) and other times it can be interesting because of the clientele. Just read the reviews, and maybe have a healthy understanding that some negative reviews are from people who are hard to please. Still - sometimes it gets a little troubling when your fellow clientele argues all night in the parking lot, or there's a drug deal going on. I do remember one location when it was fully reserved, and they had security waiting in the parking lot and asking to see reservation confirmations before letting vehicles into their parking lot.

As I noted, San Simeon is in the middle of nowhere (population about 200) and basically all the businesses serve the tourist industry. I wouldn't worry about it as much as I would if I were in areas closer to population centers. In those or similar areas if you're at a cheap motel, there might be some interesting stuff going on that you might not want your kids to see or hear.
Haha! Isn't that the truth!
I actually just read the Tripadvisor on Motel 6!!! Not so sure we will be laying our heads down there!!
Is there somewhere other than San Simeon that you could suggest?
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:58 PM   #11
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Haha! Isn't that the truth!
I actually just read the Tripadvisor on Motel 6!!! Not so sure we will be laying our heads down there!!
Is there somewhere other than San Simeon that you could suggest?
Most of the motels in San Simeon seem to be a little bit old. That's just kind of the way it is. About the only place with few bad reviews is the Best Western Cavalier, but it's also the most expensive.

There really isn't that much along CA-1 except for pricey inns and bed and breakfasts. If you don't plan on making it to Pismo Beach, then your options with either be expensive or "defective" in some way. Maybe something inland. It's just going to be that way if you insist on taking the coastal route and stopping before it gets dark. I understand your concerns for driving safety at night (and I've driven that section of US-101 at night) but it's either going to cost you or you'll need to compromise on the quality of your accommodations. San Simeon is actually pretty cheap because of a relative glut of motels.

There is camping at Hearst San Simeon State Park. Not sure how you would do it, but I think it might be legal to sleep in your car as long as you pay for a campsite.

I don't know where else. Maybe get an invite to stay at Hearst Castle?
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Old 03-07-2013, 11:14 PM   #12
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I would love that invitation!
Well, I have been doing much more research-I am researched to death! The more I read the more confused I am getting! I WAS a little confused about the PCH and the 101. Honestly, I thought they were the same highway, therefore my planning got very confused when I realized they were not! Soooo, I am now realizing that the PCH may be very beautiful but I am thinking the LONG winding road may get a little tired for us. I do need to keep in mind that I am travelling with 2 kids and a husband as well!
Now I am thinking that I would still like to drive to see Monterey/Carmel and Big Sur, but would then like to scootch over to the 101. From the maps I am looking at, this may not be possible until I get to Morro Bay. Morro Bay or San Luis Obispo may now be our stop over for the night! Then take the 101 the rest of the way. I DO NOT want to take the I-5, that is a deal breaker for us. Although, my husband is now getting to the point with my planning and researching where he is saying, to heck with the plan, lets just drive till we get there!! My A type personality does not allow for this type of trip though!haha!
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Old 03-08-2013, 12:52 AM   #13
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If you're looking at San Luis Obispo, drive the extra 20 minutes and stay in Pismo Beach. There are tons of motels and hotels and most are on the beach.
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Old 03-08-2013, 01:12 AM   #14
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my husband is now getting to the point with my planning and researching where he is saying, to heck with the plan, lets just drive till we get there!!
He is so right! HWY-1 is such a beautiful drive that it would be a shame to miss it because of over-planning. Get in the car an go. I know, I know, you can't do that. You need to plan down to the last second. But you'll miss some amazing sights and a wonderful trip.

My first time on that highway was in the back seat when I was 7. I still remember it - stopping often to get out and take pictures, being a bit scared of the winding road and the cliffs. A great experience.
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Old 03-08-2013, 10:18 AM   #15
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My reference to 101 was about the stretch from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara where there really is no CA-1.

The fact is that it's going to take longer on that route than a straight shot down I-5. Great views along the Coast though, but it's going to cost you time and maybe a night at a motel.
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