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Big Sur

Driving to Hearst Castle

Planning a daytrip to and back from Hearst Castle from Santa Clara & wondered if:
1. Is it too much to try to do in one day?
2. Is a Sunday or a (Mon/Tue) the better day choice for less for traffic, etc?
3. Is driving Rte 1 trouble in the night and should take different route back to Santa Clara ?

Any help would be appreciated..

5 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chula Vista

It's doable but it will be a long day. Figure on 3-4 hours each way. Highway 1 can be quite slow if there's a lot of traffic.

I'd go for 880/17 to Santa Cruz, then Hwy 1 but it will be quite slow in the Carmel area. Once past Carmel, it's quite scenic.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chula Vista

BTW I've never had any issues driving 1 at night but it is not as much fun or scenic as during the daylight hours.

During the week might ease the "tourist traffic" a bit but at this time of year probably not that much.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

Don't drive route 1 at night. This is one of the most scenic roads in the world so you need daylight to see it. It's a glorious drive; enjoy it to the max.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Stockton

Yes, very doable. Leave early try to do during the week depending on time of the year. Keep in mind the fog can roll in and not burn off until 1100 or noon and then roll back in by 3:00 or 4:00 PM.

As stated much better to drive during day time, but at least plan one way or the other in day light and outside the fog hours.

Also, look at maybe doing one leg via Hwy 101 and cut over on Hwy 41 and back track on Hwy 1. If you want to leave real early maybe go done Hwy 101 and come back Hwy 1 or do 101 after dark since it's a lot more forgiving road than Hwy 1.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hesperia

Absolutely do not drive down Highway 1 at night to get to the Castle. It is a very VERY windy narrow road, with very sharp hairpin turns. Do what James, above suggested and take Highway 101 south and then cut across to Highway 1, and go a short way north to the Castle. Or do this in reverse if you are going back in the dark.

Understand that you cannot drive to the Castle. You have to park at the bottom of the hill, and ride on the Castle buses for the five miles up the hill.

Also be aware that there are several different tours, and if you want to take more than one, you need to leave a time frame (about an hour) between tours, in order to avoid any time conflict.

Personally, I would go down there in the afternoon, spend a night down in Cambria, or San Simeon, or even in San Luis Obisbo (Madonna Inn?), and go to the castle early next morning to catch their 8:00am bus, and this way you can take your time, and then drive up the cost with a stop, in Carmel/Monterey. Or even leave in the morning down the coast and spend time in Carmel and Monterey, and then head down to a overnight close to the castle. Then, after the castle tours, go back up the coast, for a nice dinner at the Fisherman's Grotto on the pier in Monterey, before heading back to Santa Clara. Have fun.....d:o)

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