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Driving from Carlsbad to San Simeon

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
110 posts
1 review
Driving from Carlsbad to San Simeon

Hi, just after some advise on our drive from Carlsbad to San Simeon. We will be driving on Sunday 20th September. What time do you think we should leave our hotel at Legoland and best route to take. We are in no rush and want to take our time. Thanks.

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Oakland, California
Destination Expert
for Big Sur
Level Contributor
3,917 posts
13 reviews
1. Re: Driving from Carlsbad to San Simeon

It's about 6 hours of driving, so plan accordingly. 5-405-101-1 is the most straightforward route. You would probably want to break up the day with a stop in Santa Barbara for lunch. From a little after Ventura when the road hits the ocean all the way up to San Simeon it's a beautiful drive, with a mix of oceans, mountains and vineyards.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
33 posts
5 reviews
2. Re: Driving from Carlsbad to San Simeon

As a San Diegan, I would recommend leaving as early as possible. We went to Cambria in May (just south of San Simeon) and left about 4 in the morning, taking the scenic 101 and 1 option. My main reason for that is because when we did the same drive in March and left at noon, it took 9 hours! (5-6 of those sitting in LA traffic). Now it is easier said than done as we don't have kids to wake up and get ready, but I think the earlier you can get through LA the better. A neat place we found for breakfast was called Frankie and Lola's in Morro Bay. Great food with a nice view of Morro Rock. Also, walking around the beach and rock is a cool little place to explore and see some otters and seals while stretching your legs. Driving along the coast possibly takes a little longer, but you can't get those kind of views on the 5. Hope you have a great trip!

San Diego...
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
22,219 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: Driving from Carlsbad to San Simeon

On a Sunday morning you shouldn't have the weekday commuter traffic issues. I'd leave by 9:00. No later. You'd be in Santa Barbara for lunch. Then you can continue on from SB to San Simeon with what should be a nice and easy drive.

Carlsbad, CA
Destination Expert
for Carlsbad
Level Contributor
1,055 posts
19 reviews
4. Re: Driving from Carlsbad to San Simeon

My in-laws have multiple homes in Cambria so I've made the drive from Carlsbad many times. Door to door it is 335 miles with San Simeon being about ten miles further up the coast.

You'll take 5 to 405 to 101 to 1, but don't get off on 1 until you get to San Luis Obispo.

I would leave early as the 101 through Los Angeles can be a mess at virtually any time of the day. Skip Santa Barbara for lunch as parking can be a major pain. Instead get off in Summerland (immediately south of Montecito/Santa Barbara) and have lunch at Stacky's Seaside. You'll get a great burger and shake for a great price.

Because your destination is San Simeon I assume you are visiting Hearst Castle. It is crowded no matter what time of year you visit so reserve your tickets online before you go.

Thousand Oaks...
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
14,184 posts
26 reviews
5. Re: Driving from Carlsbad to San Simeon

It's not so much the 101 traffic, it's the Hwy 5 traffic just north of Carlsbad, the Hwy 5 traffic through San Clemente, and heavy weekend traffic.

Best bet as others have mentioned...... Leave early; around 9 or so.

Good idea about Stacky's.....

6. Re: Driving from Carlsbad to San Simeon

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