Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Big Sur Road Trip

If you are picking up your motorhome in Los Angeles, a Big Sur Roadtrip is an excellent and highly scenic choice. A region of the Californian coast north of Los Angeles, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean there, making for amazing vistas. Here is a suggested easy itinerary that will allow you to take it easy and travel a few hours a day, whilst taking in all that the coast has to offer.

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Day 1: Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara is less than 2 hours from Los Angeles, but after the fuss of picking up an RV from the depot and figuring out how to get out of the city, it can be nice to have a short trip on day 1! Take CA-1/US101 out of the city, and this will take you directly to Santa Barbara. Once through the peripheral suburbs, the road goes along the coast for Pacific views. The route takes you through Carpinteria, which is set around a beautiful and safe swimming beach, a great spot to take a dip. Santa Barbara is only a short drive from here. The city is loved for its fair weather and spanish architecture.There are many annual events in the city- the 'Fiesta' in August, the French Festival on Bastille Day weekend in July, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February being the best ones. If you wish to stay in town, the Sunrise RV Park is right off the highway on S Salinas Street.

 Santa Barbara
by Konrad Summers Flickr Creative Commons

Day 2: Santa Barbara to Monterey

Spread the 4-5 hours of driving out, and take the chance to see some of the amazing views that the Big Sur is known for. Head out along the coast on CA-1. As you turn away from the coast and get on US-101 towards Buelton, you will drive through the Gaviota State Park, popular for swimming, fishing and picnicking. Inland, the highway passes through several towns of the Santa Ynez Valley community- Buelton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, before arriving in Santa Maria.This city is known for its wine industry, and is also a popular location for filming- Pirates of the Caribbean and other films have scenes set there- so look out for cameras! After San Luis Obispo, which advertises itself on the town website as the happiest town in America, head back towards the coast and make your away along CA-1.

The 'Big Sur' can't be easily defined- it is not a single State Park, although it contains several, and it is more than just the Big Sur River Valley- the definition can be extended to include the entire coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, this section of the CA-1 between San Luis Obispo will take you some of the rocky coastal stretches that are typical of most people's visions of the Big Sur. Along here, the mountains meet the ocean and the road is carved into the cliff in many places. The landscape has attracted many writers and artists, as well as international travelers, so be sure to stop in a few of the small towns and interact with the fascinating locals. Interesting stops along here include Hearst Castle at San Simeon, the Elephant Seal Rookery, Jade Cove at Plaskett where pieces of jade can be found, and the several State Parks that are scattered along the coast. Lime Kilns State Park near Lucia has beautiful redwoods in its rugged terrain, and still houses historic lime kilns in which limestone was reduced to lime. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park features a stunning 80-foot waterfall which drops into the ocean, and further north is the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

 by cjuneau Flickr Creative Commons

by Meg Lessard Flickr Creative Commons

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
by Mike Baird Flickr Creative Commons

Monterey is a coastal city with a lot of history and a lot of diverse marine life! The Monterey Bay Aquarium is among the largest in North America and attracts and educates millions of tourists a year. Just outside, Cannery Row is a main street lined with hotels, restaurants and amusement, named for the novel by John Steinbeck about life in Monterey during the height of the canning industry. The charming city has many other spots to explore, and a handy spot for the night is the RV Park at the County Fair.

 Monterey Bay Aquarium
by Jim G Flickr Creative Commons

Day 3: Monterey to San Francisco

From Monterey to San Francisco is only 2 hours, so take  your time and get to the Aquarium if you didn't have time the day before.Head out of the city on CA-1 and head along the coast to Watsonville. Back from the coast, this city is known for its agriculture. The next city is Santa Cruz, which has an original Spanish settlement dating back to 1791. Watersports are popular here, especially surfing, so stop in at one of the beaches to get in the water or just watch!

Santa Cruz
by Adam Freidin Flickr Creative Commons

After Santa Cruz, go right onto CA-17 and head in to San Francisco. San Fran is known for diversity, hills and eclectic architecture. What to do in the city if you are staying is a whole other topic, but there are plenty of RV Resorts around, like the San Francisco RV Resort which overlooks the coast just out of town.

Find some great USA RV Rental deals here!

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