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May 7, 2005 02:38 PM

driving from san diego to san francisco

  • j

We are a making a trip in about a week to California and looking for some suggestions. We are from Alabama and have never been to the west coast. We are flying into san diego renting a car and driving up to san francisco where we are flying out. We are coming into san diego on a sunday afternoon and flying out of san fran on the following saturday. We have no plans except for sun. night and mon. night in san diego and fri. night in san fran. What is the coolest route from san diego to san francisco. We are looking for a scenic drive, but don't want to spend the whole time driving. After leaving san diego on tues. morning, where should we go (hwy 1, 101?)? What cities should we stay in? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We know nothing about this area.


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  1. I would suggest I-5 to LA then 101 up to Santa Barbara on Tues. Stop at the Cliff House in Mussel Shoals (about 15 min. south of Santa Barbara) or continue on to SB, lot's of great lunch options, La Super Rica, Brophy Bros. on the harbor. Plenty of nice places for dinner, do a search for Santa Barbara on this board.

    Wed. north on 101 to San Luis Obispo area, two choices here, take Hwy 1 toward Morro Bay (south of SLO) and up to Cambria. Black Cat Bistro good dinner choice, or do search as before. Before deciding on this might want to call 800-427-ROAD and check on Hwy 1 north conditions to Monterey, road is sometimes closed. It's only about 90 miles from Cambria to Carmel but this leg will take at least 3 hours, windy mountainous driving but unbelievable scenery. Or do some wine tasting btw SLO and Paso Robles, check out the Madonna Inn, stay in SLO or PR after wine tasting then Thurs. head up 101 to Hwy 68W in Salinas to Monterey or the 40 mi or so windy back road (G-16) from Greenfield (@ 10mi N of King City) through Carmel Valley into Carmel.

    Again, searches for Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, will yield all sorts of great dining.

    Fri. head on up to the SF Bay, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours (via 101) or if not in a hurry, continue up scenic Hwy 1.

    Have a great trip and let us know how it turns out.

    Cliff House (Mussel Shoals half way btw Ventura & SB)
    6602 W. PCH
    great ciopinno and rock shrimp scallop spinach salad w/creamy lemon basil

    1. Hi Folks-

      Please keep the discussion primarilyh on the food on this food related discussion forum.

      Thanks, and enjoy your trip, there will be plenty to see and eat.

      1. Good info from Polar Bear, I-5 from San Diego to L.A., there will be a zillion great places to eat on the Orange County and L.A. County legs of that route, you need to scroll through the current and archived versions of the Chowhound L.A. board to get an idea of the food options available.

        101 is the only way to travel between L.A. and San Francisco for varying scenery and for food along the way (I-5 between L.A. and Sacramento is a dining wasteland). Scroll this board for eats from Ventura County north to the Gilroy area.

        Have heard good things about La Super Rica and Brophy Brothers in Santa Barbara. If you pass through Paso Robles, I liked Margie's Diner for breakfast (but its a little shabby around the edges), they claim no frozen and no canned food touches their plates. Enormous portions. Also though the 'Q was servicable at Big Bubba's (next door to Margie's), this place is more like a "theme" restaurant, complete with Disneyesque audio/amniatronic mannekins, and a bucking bull in the bar area.

        I liked Moe's BBQ in downtown San Luis Obispo quite a bit. Also if you see Santa Maria style BBQ advertized, try that, it is 'Q indigenous to Californila and it's Spanish heritage. The epitome of Santa Maria style is BBQ'd tri-tip.

        If you opt for the Highway 1 route, definately stop at San Simeon (Hearst's Castle). You may need a reservation for the tour. Spectacular scenery along 1, but it is on a high cliff on a narrow road. At the top end of your cruise on Highway 1 will be Big Sur, no paved road to the beach, but it is worth going down that dirt road, again spectacular scenery. Visit Point Lobos, take the 17 Mile drive in Monterey/Carmel.

        Many places to eat in Carmel and Monterey (take your time scrolling through the postings on this board). Just north of Monterey in Castroville is Central Texas BBQ, the proprietor is a dead-ringer for Willie Nelson, and the 'Q is pretty good. (Can you tell yet that I like 'Q?)

        In San Francisco, go to Tadich Grill, quintessential old San Francisco, and great seafood. Visit Fisherman's Wharf but don't get suckered by the restaurants there, all for the tourists. (See the Chowhound San Francisco discussion board for a zillion food tips.)

        Whether you are a member of AAA or not, get their California/Nevada Tour Book. Lots of lodging recommendations (food recommendations are about useless) and lot's of info about cultural/tourist attractions.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chino Wayne
          Meg McRoberts

          If you drive Highway 1 between Monterey and the Santa Cruz area, consider a meal at Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing. This is a cavernous dining area -- you place your order at the central counter then they bring the food to you at your table. They have all sorts of excellent fish and seafood dishes -- some with pasta, some blackened, some deep-fried, excellent chowder (red or white) and Ciopino (a seafood-and-tomato chowder), a seafood-stuffed artichoke. It's all quite excellent. Expect to be stuffed to the proverbial gills when you're done -- a nice walk among the boats feels good before you get in the car again.

          Slightly off-topic, but Phil's wife breeds Scottish Terriers and one whole wall of the restaurant holds pictures of her dogs.

          To get there, you'll turn towards the water, then go right across a tiny little bridge, and you'll be driving along a little road with a Marine Lab on your left and a harbor full of boats on your right. Phil's is almost to the end on your left. Moss Landing is little more than a landing, but there are some used book and "antique" shops that can be fun while you're there.