|Subject: Pacific Coast Highway trip planning|
To add on to JoAnne's blurb: If you fancy nature and more out of the way scenic spots you might want to visit Jalama beach, north of Santa Barbara where Highway 1 begins. It is lovely and quite serene since most people zip right past this area on the way to San Luis Obispo and the most famous part of highway 1. Jalama is awesome, you can stroll the beach and find whole abalone shells since it is way out on point conception. They also have a famous Jalama burger, if you like that sort of thing! The closest town is Lompoc, which is a more quiet (that usually means cheaper) location to stop in than Santa Barbara.
I would also suggest you take the opportunity to see the Elephant Seals which are very active at that time of year. These magnificent beasts are located about a half-mile south of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and just north of Cambria. You cannot miss them, you can see them right off the highway.
Along the more popular part of highway 1, which begins close to Morro Bay, expect minimal traffic since you will be there during the winter. Be sure to call and/or check to make sure that the road is open, during bad weather they often have mud slides along the 1 and close it to traffic!
I love Limekiln State park for great beaches and redwoods. This park is along highway 1, just south of Big Sur:
On the weekend I would avoid Carmel and Monterey like the plague! Its a zoo, difficult to drive and maneuver traffic and packed with wall to wall people no matter what time of year. Better to visit during the weekdays. If you are going to be in Big Sur/Carmel/Monterey area on the weekend make sure you secure reservations or expect to pay top dollar for rooms.
I stay in Mountain View all the time, i like the Holiday Inn Express there. Its really hi tech, got great big rooms in the executive building with all the trimmings. Its got 24/7 hi speed internet connections, free internet computers in the lobby for hi speed surfing, and free breakfast with Krispy Kreme Donuts ( something you Should try).
There is a theme park in Santa Clara (San Jose area) called Great America, I have never been so I cannot share any insights about it:
http://www.pgathrills.com/ http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g33046-Activities-Santa_Clara_California.html http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g33020-Activities-San_Jose_California.html (for a list of attractions)
I have visited a cool Mummy Museum in San Jose called Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, very interesting if you like Ancient Egyptian history:
Another nice thing to do is visit Santa Cruz, they have a very kid friendly boardwalk with lots of fun, games and rides which should consume the better part of a day to explore:
On the way to or from Santa Cruz you might want to visit Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California's oldest state park and a wonderful place to visit a pristine Redwood Forest that has been protected for awhile: Don't be surprised if you bump into Clint Eastwood here, I have!
Well, those are my suggestions. Have a great trip!
Amelia Hesson Los Angeles