I am thinking to do this trip in a couple of weeks (not bringing kids)...my first time in Cali and would like to do what is referred to as one of the prettiest drive in the USA. I have 2 full days to do it. I am landing in SFO and flying out from LAX. A few questions:
1) Where will you definitively visit or make sure to do while in that corridor?
2) Any recommendated stays?
If you want to stay with Marriott's, I would stay at the Monterey Marriott the first night and in San Louis Obispo CY or Santa Maria FFI the second (depending of your flight times). This gives almost a whole day to drive one of the most scenic drives in the world, Highway 1 which would take about 2 hours to drive straight through. You need time to stop and enjoy the beauty. If you are in a pinch for time, you could drive farther the second night.
Monterey is really nice and if you have time do the 17 mile drive, if it is not foggy. There are many state parks on the way if you like to hike.
beautiful area we were there a few years ago.
As Californian said Monterey & 17 mile drive are nice to visit.
carmel by the sea is worth a visit http://www.carmelcalifornia.com/
hearst castle is very good http://www.hearstcastle.org
santa barbara is another nice place http://www.santabarbaraca.gov/Visitor/
nice place to walk around and for some wine tasting also.
IF you are interested in wine then the Santa ynez valley area is a nice diversion.
solvang is beautiful and different http://www.solvangusa.com
time will be your enemy though, we spent over a week in this area.
you will have to make compromises.