Road trip from San Francisco to Santa Barbra
We are over from Australia and we are planning a road trip down the Pacific coast HWY from San Francisco to Santa Barbra. We plan to do it slower so we can check some of the cool towns out on the way.
Our plans are below at the moment are:
1st night: Santa Cruz
2nd night: Monterey
3rd night: Big Sur
4th night: Santa Barbara
Would you agree with these places to stop at overnight and if you have any recommendations for foodie places restaurants/institutions to visit on the way?
We are not sure about staying overnight around the big sur area as we visited the Ave of the Giants on another road trip and would prefer more lively towns with plenty of restaurants and places to visit so we may drive straight through and have two nights in Santa Barbara or stop in San Luis Obispo?
I work at the Monterey County Visitor's Center and I would definitely recommend checking out our website at www.seemonterey.com There is all kinds of information and recommendations on there as to where to stay, eat and the endless activities we have to offer. Downtown Monterey is a fun spot to walk around, shop and eat. It also has a few bars and clubs for nightlife options as well. I would also recommend checking out Carmel-by-the-Sea which is just south of Monterey on Hwy 1. It is a very cute romantic town with shops and wonderful restaurants.
South of Carmel-by-the-Sea is the Big Sur coastline. There is the small Big Sur Village which has a few eclectic shops and a few restaurants. The views through this area are breathtaking and I would suggest taking your time through this area. There are many places to stop and get out to enjoy the views. If you chose to stay in the Big Sur area, there are several lodging choices. If you chose not to stay in Big Sur, the next town you will come to is San Simeon. I hope this information helped and I hope you have a wonderful trip!
San Simeon is not a town, just a couple fo motels on either side of the road plus a trailer park and a liquor store. Don't expect anything from this place, chow-wise but cokes, doritos and slim jims.
Cambria is the next TOWN south of Big Sur area, about 5 minutes south of San Simeon. Lots of chow there. Gas will be cheaper about 15 minutes to the south of Cambria (now close to $4.) in Morro Bay, so gas up (and grab a slim jim) in Monterey before heading south.
Santa Cruz is a "college town" with the University of California campus there, but they are the most laid back campus of all so not sure night life will be lively there either. Lower State Street "Old Towne" in Santa Barbara is our only lively nightlife part of town but mainly drunk (but colorful) college kids from University of California Santa Barbara. And again the other Central Coast "college town" is San Luis Obispo for a livelier night life if hanging out with college age kids is even remotely appealing. So agree -it is a pretty sleepy bunch on the Central Coast for the rest of us. They kind of rock at night in the sea side hot tubs at Esalen on Highway One Big Sur area, and you can see if they still offer day passes to the naturally warm sulfur-infused waters. Knock-out views and maybe even a massage. This was the place for "enlightenment" in the 1960s/1970's and they still offer some unique opportunties for consciousness raising.
Sorry you've had no direct replies to your inquiry. But, if you'll do a search on this California board, using the search function in the top right-hand corner of the page, just enter the town name, and you'll get many threads already filled with discussions about these towns, many originated by travelers such as yourselves. Find something you'd like more detail about, and start a fresh post with that in the topic line. The more specific you can be, the more detailed info you'll get back in return.
Do keep in mind the only metro areas with active night life in California are the greater Los Angeles area, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay area. The coastal towns strung out along the coast on Highway 1 are pretty sleepy, not large and most of the time, geographically remote. Most restaurants serve until 9 pm, and there's not much "club' action, though you will find local bars open till 2 am. Pick up a local "entertainment weekly" paper, free at most liquor stores and convenience stores like 7-11. They will list restaurants, clubs and entertainment venues. The coast does get it's fair share of good entertainers as it is between the big venues in LA and SF, and touring artists love the laid back coastal towns with their smaller, more intimate venues for achange of pace. Most of these venues serve meals and I'd say all have bars for liqour service, so you could enjoy a nice evening out.
The Big Sur area is generally more about the incredibly stunning coastline where sea meets mountainside, than about the redwoods. It is a mystically beautiful area; you might enjoy staying at historical Deetjen's BigSur Inn, where they have a nice cozy lodge with meals served. For a decidedly more upscale experience, Post Ranch Inn is stunning. The Big Sur Bakery gets many nods here for great food all day long.
I hope your trip is still in the planning stages, and that you'll be able to include many spots in your itinerary for sampling the best the coast has to offer. We're often called The Middle Kingdom because of the rural setting and lack of big city vibe; now some travel writers have started to use the name "Platinum Coast" for the new upscale dining, lodging and wine-tasting venues starting up.
Sort of a best-of-both-worlds where you can get just about anything you want, from wonderful Mexican food taco trucks to quality fine-dining experiences. I hope you have the trip of a lifetime. Do keep in touch and let us know how the planning's going, and of course we'd love some reports and photos of the chow you encounter.
I live in SLO county, so here's a link about the area to get you started; http://www.sanluisobispocounty.com/in...
Big Sur Bakery
47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920