Road number 1 - CaliforniaYou can drive from L.A to S.F on the highway but you will miss all the great view that you will see on road number 1. The drive on rod number one is slower (much slower) and to enjoy it you should take your time, 2-3 days is recommended for that drive.
The road begins north to Santa Barbara but you can save some time and drive 101 till Saint Louis Obispo - from this point the drive is amazing.
Morro bay - north to Saint Louis Obispo, this place is a habitat for a large variety of birds, also the Morro rock, which was a part of a volcano, is there.
Places you must visit:
North from Morro bay (30 Km) there is a town - san simeon, if you left L.A at noon it's a good place to spend the night- lots of motels, minutes from the beach. Another reason to spend the night there is Hearst castle - in the castle there are a lot of rooms, pools, and some animals running between the sculptors, It is recommended to buy tickets in advance (few days in advance) the place is crowded (not only during the summer) There are 5 tours, leaving from the visitor center.
Information and pictures from the tours - Here
Reservation from USA: 1-800-444-4445
reservations outside USA: 916-414-8400 extensions 4100
After the visit at Hearst castle you will see something really beautiful, on the left side of the road there is "point vista" there is a sign there that says "Piedras Blancas " (I havnt seen it)
Its one of the 2 places in the USA that has hundreds or even thousand of elephant seals, before there was fences there sometimes they reached the road , and there is a sign there for drivers to be careful. The entrance is free of charge - just park your car and watch them.
After that you will get to big sur - lots of nice trails at "Julia Pfeiffer burns", walk between the big redwoods. You can also walk to Julia Pfeiffer beach and enjoy the beautiful shoreline.
If you are not visiting during the summer check the weather, it can be dangerous to drive there after dark, also there are not many places to sleep there so try not to get there after dark if you don't have a reservation there.
Another place in the area is a small park "point lobos" - you can walk there in the woods and on the beach and see seals, deers and lots of birds there. They limit the number of visitor - 450 people per day so if you are visiting there during the weekend you should go to the park before noon.
From there you will get to Monterey and Carmel, they are really expensive so you might want to sleep at Seaside (close to Monterey).
Visit Monterey bay aquarium - lots of creatures, some of them you never heard of, the staff there will be happy to show your kids interesting thing, also there is one section for kids with lots of activities there. During the summer you should make reservations by phone.
Visit Carmel, and don't miss the 17-mile drive - beautiful drive. The drive takes about 2 hours; you buy ticket at the entrance and its valid for that day.
Another thing in Carmel is the old monastery, its still a Christian school and you can see the kids there The visit costs 2-3 USD and takes about 30 minutes.
You can spend another night at Seaside and at the morning drive to Santa cruse, a lot of surfers there, you can surf there or just watch the surfers there.
Ano Nuevo - another place with elephant seals, this place is older than Piedras blancas, you have to walk 3 miles (easy walk) to see them.
The reservation is closed for visitors between December 1-14, Between Dec 15 - March 31 you cant visit there by yourself but only with a ranger - because it's the mating season its really attracts lots of people so you need to make reservations.
The rest of the year the reservation is open for visitors with permit - you get it at the visitor center, no need to make reservations, between 8:30 am - 3:00 pm (April-August the reservation is open till 3:30 pm) The visitors must leave the reservation till 5 pm (April-August) and till 4 pm (September - October)
Entrance is free, parking cots 2 USD
Visit this site to learn more bout the elephant seals and watch them "live"
You will get to S.F that afternoon.
During the summer there will be a lot of traffic on road number 1 so try to avoid driving it on a weekend.
If you are driving back to L.A - take the 101 - faster - you will be back in L.A after 7 hours drive.
Sent by Tammy Sgan Cohen, Israel