Lay of the Land
One of the great classic American family trips is exploring the central California coast. For the combination of great natural beauty and fun educational activities, Carmel and the region is tough to top for a wonderful family weekend.
If you want to road trip the entire stretch between San Francisco and LA, start from San Fran and work your way south instead of the reverse. It takes two hours to arrive in Monterey, the town that’s famous for its aquarium and annual Jazz Festival. Close to Monterey is the scenic town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, long known as an enclave for artists and creative types. Another important part of the Monterey peninsula is Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of the world’s most celebrated golf destinations. The two stand-out resorts are located in the gorgeous countryside a short drive from Carmel and Monterey: Bernardus Lodge and Carmel Valley Ranch.
Driving further south, down the iconic Route 1, is one of the country’s most fabled scenic drives. It takes about an hour from Carmel, and especially the approach to Big Sur, home to the acclaimed Post Ranch Inn, is spectacular.
San Francisco – Monterey: 2 hours
Monterey– Carmel: 15 minutes
Carmel – Big Sur: 1 hour
Big Sur – San Francisco: 3 hours
Big Sur – Santa Barbara: 4h30min
Big Sur – Los Angeles: 6 hours