Start anywhere you like, but Pismo Beach makes a nice departure point and provides immediate access to California 1.
Don't expect to make good time. This 145-mile drive will take more than three hours if you make no stops. But you'll want to make a lot of stops. You'll pass through unique places like Morro Beach, the Hearst Castle and Big Sur Beaches en route to Carmel. There are scenic overlooks you won't want to miss, and curving, cliff-hugging stretches where you'll slow to a crawl. But there are no deadlines here and no toll booths.
Spend at least a day enjoying one of the finest driving experiences in the world. Near Carmel, you'll encounter the famous 17-Mile-Drive, but it's a toll road.