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Drive from SF to Cambria

british columbia
Level Contributor
774 posts
10 reviews
Drive from SF to Cambria

So, I've been reading and re-reading old posts about the drive along Big Sur and I am now a bit concerned about our timeframe to get from San Francisco to Huntington Beach.

We leave SF on Aug. 28th and are scheduled to be in Huntington by Aug. 30th. We want to take our time and safely enjoy the scenery and stops along the Big Sur coastline. From what I've read on TA two overnight stops are ideal, and I was thinking our first overnight would be in Cambria or San Simeone area. But now I am second guessing that and thinking that may be too far to comfortably travel in one day.

I've read from DE's on here (I've printed off suggestions from Kibblesmom) that the Big Sur hwy can be exhausting and we don't want to burn ourselves out trying to get to Cambria nor do we want to miss any spectaular sights. Or drive at night.

South of Cambria I would like to stop in San Luis Obispo (I hear there is a really cool church there) and in Pismo beach, but beyond that, I am not sure that there is much more to see between there and Huntington Beach. From what I gather, our time would be better spent between Monterey and Cambria.

So, now, I need your opinions, please. As there doesn't seem to be anywhere in between Carmel and Cambria to stay for the night, should we spend Aug. 28th in Monterey, then take our time down the Big Sur coast line with our 2nd overnight in Cambria on Aug. 29th?

If so, how long will the drive then be to get from Cambria to Huntington? Will we be rushed on that leg of the drive? Will we have enough time to stop in San Luis Obispo and points in between?

Our check in at the Huntington Beach hotel probably won't be before 3pm anyways, so I guess there's no rush to get there.

What'd you all think?


Elk Grove...
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong
Level Contributor
20,036 posts
4 reviews
1. Re: Drive from SF to Cambria

Re: As there doesn't seem to be anywhere in between Carmel and Cambria to stay for the night,

That is right. There isn't any big town between Carmel and San Simeon (north of Cambria) except Big Sur - limited accommodation, more for camping.

What time are you starting in SF on Aug 28? You can do as you plan (which is good, I think), but your arrival at Huntington Beach will be late in the evening. There is quite a bit of distance to cover between Cambria and Huntington Beach, plus sight-seeing, plus some traffic to deal with from Santa Barbara on, through the Santa Monica / Los Angeles / Orange County areas.

british columbia
Level Contributor
774 posts
10 reviews
2. Re: Drive from SF to Cambria

Thanks for your reply, Happyfeet. From everything I have read and been told (big sur forum) we would be better off to take our time on day one and enjoy Monterey/Carmel to the fullest and overnight there. Then, get an early start on the big sur coast on day two, overnighting in Cambria or somewhere beyond. Then take Aug 30th to explore SoCal and into Huntington. I think we will be a lot less rushed and exhausted that way.

In your opinion, what would be some of the "must sees" in Cambria and it's surrounding area? Just out of curiosity.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
59,271 posts
149 reviews
3. Re: Drive from SF to Cambria

Duplicate posting. There is a great photoblog in the Big Sur forum that you may want to look at. Each picture is a 1000 words and you can then decide what is a must see or not must see.


1 post
1 review
4. Re: Drive from SF to Cambria

We just finished the drive on Hwy. 1 from Santa Cruz to Cambria. There is a 60 mile stretch that begins shortly after Monterey and ends about 20 miles north of Cambria that is nothing but winding road and beautiful coastline. It is a fairly slow drive in that there are a multitude of serious curves and you can get behind a driver that may be taking it slowly. There are very few stores or hotels on this stretch. There are a few state parks on this part of Hwy 1, but you won't see many hotels until you get to San Simeon/Cambria. When we hit Big Sur, we saw four or five places with cabins and campgrounds. There are several vistas to stop and take photos or even walk down to the beach. Sometimes walking down to the beach is a treacherous 100 yard trek. The foot paths are often just paths that have been created by others that have come before you. It's worth it, but can be time consuming.

5. Re: Drive from SF to Cambria

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