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Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

london
Level Contributor
89 posts
1 review
Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

Hello,

Oh dear.

I am a single female planning a 2 week trip SF to LA (very last minute trip in a few weeks time!).

I had planned for 4-5 nights SF and then I thought I would drive 3 hours on the Pacific Highway to Montery (or nearby) and stay overnight. Then drive another few hours the next day to Big Sur and stay at Esalen for a few days for as workshop, before driving on to Topanga LA the next day which I thought would only be a couple of hours but it is another SIX! I'm having a MILD panic as I don't like driving more than 2 hours at a time and don't know if I can do all this by myself, especially since I don't know how to drive on the right yet (British)!

What would you recommend? Have I got the timings right? Off course bearing in mind I want to stop and walk along the way to and not feel caged in the car thew whole time.

If I fly SF to LA it defeats the point of doing both cities as I miss the natural part.

: [ (help!)

28 replies to this topic
Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
24,331 posts
25 reviews
1. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

You need at least 2 nights from SF to LA. Take a night from SF. First day start early from SF and see the coast and end up at Esalen. If you can, spend a night in Monterey before Esalen to see stuff further north of Esalen. Then leave Esalen and head to Topanga.

But not driving more than 2 hrs is going to be a problem. SF to Monterey is 3 hrs. Esalen to Topanga probably 4 hrs.

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
24,331 posts
25 reviews
2. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

Don't worry about driving the other side. The first 10 mins is disorientating but you get used to it. I had to do it in rural New Zealand. My husband is usually the driver but he knew he couldn't do it. I drove the entire time and did fine. Women make it work!

Pacifica, California
Destination Expert
for Pacifica
Level Contributor
11,400 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

Maybe you can spend the night in Morro Bay or San Luis Obispo, rather than driving directly into LA from Esalen. There's no shortcut or wormhole or anything to get you to LA in 2 hours.

By the time you get down to Big Sur, you should have had enough time driving on the "wrong" side of the road to have adapted pretty well.

Edited: 08 October 2018, 22:24
Pacifica, California
Destination Expert
for Pacifica
Level Contributor
11,400 posts
4 reviews
4. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

"Esalen to Topanga probably 4 hrs."

I would think 6 hours is more realistic.

Dublin, California
Level Contributor
23,927 posts
47 reviews
5. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

Esalen to Topanga is indeed 6 hrs. Stop for a night at Santa Barbara.

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
31,682 posts
45 reviews
6. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

Esalen to Topanga is 5 hours, have done it a bunch.

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
24,331 posts
25 reviews
7. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

That 4 hr was a guess. Should have Googled it. :p. Depending on your timing, stop before and or after Esalen as suggested. There is a lot to see around Monterey. That's 3 hrs from SF. Then another hour down to Esalen. Then maybe Morro Bay or Pismo or Santa Barbara on the way south.

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
24,331 posts
25 reviews
8. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

Another consideration is day light. We change to standard time from daylight saving the first week of November so it will be dark earlier. Not sure how soon is "a few weeks."

london
Level Contributor
89 posts
1 review
9. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

I'm so sad nobody could show me where the wormhole is! :(

I'm feeling very anxious about it.

- 3 hours drive SF to Big Sur I can manage. Add on top of that the finding the car hire in the first place and possibly a driving lesson to help me get used to the car and a stop at Santa Cruz - so it will be much longer in reality).

- rest at Esalen for a few days - great

- 3 hours to santa barbara next day

- 3 hours to Topanga net day

= equals 3 days driving...oh boy. the only other choice I have is to fly which defeats the object of the doing these two cities and I will miss the workshop at Esalen. But I could then have those extra 3 days doing day trips from either city or doing a Yosemite tour.

I feel might unprepared so any help is appreciated.

Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
14,117 posts
120 reviews
10. Re: Oh Dear I thought Pacific Highway was 6 hours SF to LA :[

Esalen to Topanga area depends a lot on which part of Topanga (it's a really long road), what time of day, and whether you have to deal with rush hour traffic on PCH (if it's that part of Topanga). It's at least 5 hours to the off-ramp on the 101, it's probably 6 hours (or a little more) from Esalen to Topanga at PCH/Malibu.

Where on Topanga is this? If it's a house up off Topanga between the 101 and the 1, yep, likely will be 6 hours.

Tip: if place is closer to PCH, take Rice Avenue in Camarillo over to the 1 (for some reason, they have now taken the HIghway 1 sign off the Oxnard Blvd exit - which is good, because they have redesignated Rice to be Highway 1 - but there's no sign southbound saying that it's Highway 1. Way faster than taking Oxnard Blvd.

You basically don't want to be hitting SB/Rincon/Oxnard between 4 and 6 pm. Unless it's a weekend, then it's Sunday all afternoon where it can be quite slow. I definitely think you'd be much happier if you knew you were pulling off the road in beautiful Santa Barbara, got to take more time on your way down, and then have a nice walk around SB.

Leave in the morning right at 9 am and you should have pretty clear sailing onward to Topanga (no matter which end).

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