Big Sur daytrip from Los Angeles
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Jun 27, 2012 12:18 AM Last Post By: piaczka
Aug 23, 2011 3:17 PM
Big Sur daytrip from Los AngelesHi all, I am a poor student in downtown LA and am wondering if a day trip to Big Sur would be somewhat plausible/worth it. From what I gather, it is about a six hour drive from LA to Pfeiffer Big Sur Park, so theoretically if I left at 5 am I'd be in the Big Sur region at around 11. With that being said, would I be too rushed to be able to actually appreciate the true beauty of the coastline? Also, would that leave me any time to hike and whatnot? I did a quick search on the forums and saw that there was a ton of posts about Big Sur so I am sure I can glean information about the best hikes, beaches, etc. but please feel free to share the can't miss destinations :)
Thanks for the help!
Aug 23, 2011 4:03 PM
1Hi, we actually just got back from Big Sur where we go camping every year and we live near L.A. It's more like 7 hours really to get up there to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (and beware because all the parks around there are named after the founding Pfeiffer family so it can get very confusing!). The thing is that the driving is very tiring because after you get north of San Simeon it is switchbacks nearly all the way up there, so if you are doing all the driving yourself, you would become very exhausted to the point it could be dangerous. Also really while the scenery from the road is spectacular, you would really have little time to hike. If that was your only day to ever experience Big Sur in your whole life, maybe it would be worth it, certainly it's one of the most amazing places I've ever been. If you explain why you only have one day I could advise you further. One suggestion would be to take the 101 north from L.A., which is quite a bit faster, and then cut over and take Hwy 1 south from Carmel through the Big Sur region, then you only do the winding coastal drive one way instead of both ways. If you can't afford to stay in Big Sur because it's too pricey (and it is) then I would recommend driving up the 101 to Monterey, spending the night at a motel in Seaside (the low rent neighbor of Monterey) and then embarking on your drive south through Big Sur. You can end up staying over in Cambria, where there's a hostel or maybe at an inexpensive motel in San Simeon or Lompoc and then driving the rest of the way back down to L.A. You also do not have to drive all the way up to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to get a taste of Big Sur, there is beautiful hiking at Limekiln State Park at the more southern end of Hwy 1, quite a bit easier to get to than Pfeiffer. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=577 You can hike there in the redwoods and there's a beach there, too. There used to be a beautiful hike to a waterfall if they've repaired the trail after the fires there. Feel free to contact me if you want other ideas.
Aug 23, 2011 4:36 PM
2You will have a fantastic time in Big Sur! If at all possible I would definitely recommend staying the night (or two) at either a lodge or a campground.
Some of the best hikes can be found at Julia Pfeiffer Burns, Pfeiffer Big Sur, Andrew Molera and Garrapata. Be sure to check out McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns. You also can't miss Nepenthe's. It's a great lunch spot with incredible views!
Aug 23, 2011 4:52 PM
3Wow, its doable, but would be quite a day. A lot of the best of Big Sur can be seen by simply driving up and down highway 1 and stopping along the roadside here and there to gaze at the view.
Although I wouldn't reccomend it, one could theoretically not get out of their car and still see a lot of what Big Sur has to offer.
The reason I tell you this is that, unlike a lot of places, Big Sur is a place that can still be enjoyed in a couple of hours.
You might consider taking 101 and Highway 1 up north, and then making your way up to Monterey and then over to 156/152 over to the 5 back down to LA. I'm not sure that would be a faster way back, but you should check to see if it is. Or, maybe from Monterey over to Salinas and down the 101 from there (or even back over to the 5 via 198).
Aug 23, 2011 5:01 PM
4marlajfish- Thanks for all the advice! The initial reason I wanted to just do a daytrip was because from a financial standpoint, I simply don't have the money to stay in Big Sur. But it sounds like it is totally plausible to drive up and stay in Monterrey at a Motel 6 type place and then drive down the coast in the morning? I figure that way I would have adequate time to maybe go on a short hike and check out the waterfall, etc? Thanks for the tip on the Pfeiffer thing, that sounds like it could be a bit irritating!
Aug 23, 2011 5:04 PM
Aug 23, 2011 5:05 PM
Aug 23, 2011 8:08 PM
7If a room in Big Sur is too spendy, pitch a tent somewhere in the National Forest, along or off of Naciamento Ferguson Rd. Hike to the top of Cone Peak while you're at it - the views are amazing.
Aug 23, 2011 9:24 PM
8I'd agree that a daytrip is possible but a little insane. Spending the night is a much better idea. Camping is cheap. If you don't camp, I like the idea of taking 101 to Monterey (worth visiting in its own right for the aquarium) and then 1 back down through Big Sur the next day -- get an early start and make it a FULL day!
Aug 24, 2011 11:58 AM
9You can definitely find accommodations for a reasonable price. I would suggest looking into Fernwood Resort and Big Sur River Inn . You should be able to get a room in the $100-$150 range.
I work at the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau so my job is to make sure you have a great time and fully experience Big Sur!
Edited by: AllysonMonterey
Aug 25, 2011 10:57 AM
10If you shoot up either the 101 or the 5 then cut over, you can stay in a cheap motel in Seaside overnight and then you have all day to wend your way down southward on Hwy 1 back to L.A. the following day. My car broke down once in Big Sur, requiring me to stay overnight, and the tow truck driver not only took my car to a great place in Seaside to get it fixed there but also took me to a cheap motel, which is how I know about it. Seaside is right next to much pricier Monterey and easy access to Big Sur. Here is the Tripadvisor list of Seaside motels and ratings: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g33068-Seaside_California-Hotels.html. I also like the Big Sur River Inn if you can get an affordable deal there, you can actually sit in chairs in the Big Sur river there. If you decide not to stay overnight, you can just drive north from L.A. and drive up Hwy. 1 from San SImeon just long enough to get to Limekiln State Park and maybe one or two places past that, will give you the flavor of Big Sur. There is lots of camping there too even free on some forest service campgrounds up in the hills. Have fun!
Sep 10, 2011 11:59 AM
11If you could make this a weekend trip it would be much better. I like the idea of spending a night in Monterey or Seaside hotel. Or perhaps
Monterey Hostel The Monterey Hostel has pretty decent cheap nightly rates and then you can drive back to Big Sur in the morning. It is a beutifull area and shouldn't be missed I just think you need more than one day to do the drive and hiking etc. Good luck and have fun. Mike
Jun 27, 2012 12:18 AM
12onlymike, thanks for that link to the hostel at Monterey; it looks by far like the best deal on offer that I could find in that area:)
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