We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

3 weeks in California, but where?

Herts, UK
Level Contributor
19 posts
25 reviews
Save Topic
3 weeks in California, but where?

After saving BA miles for 3 years, I have accrued enough to fly my family to SF comfy class in August 08!

We want to make this a special family holiday and have been planning the idea (but not the detail) for ages.

Two young kids 6 1/2 and almost 10 years, plus the wife and I are up for a holiday that is part road trip; part beach and part fun/adventure.

Currently the plan is to include surprise surprise Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, everything else is open.

I have two key questions:

1. When we arrive 31/07 in SF where should we stay; I plan to be here on arrival for a few days in order to check it out a little?

2. On departing SF, what route would you take and what would you include in the itinerary? By the way, I am assuming we'll do this by car.

Probably a little vague, but I am happy to be swayed by the responses I hope to get.

Thanks in advance?


PS Any general advice also very welcome.

Newbury Park...
Level Contributor
3,358 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

Your kids are about my kids ages (I have an almost 10, 6 and almost 2 year old). There is soooo much to do that you will all enjoy. Are you looking to include LA & San Diego in your trip as well - theme parks or not?

For some fun family activities in San Francisco


Also - I would include Yosemite in your plans if time allows for it. If you are not including Southern California - consider adding Gold Country on your drive from SF to Yosemite.

Family activities there


Here is a really rough itinerary - and really depends on what you want to see - this hits a lot so you may want to take out sections to give you more time in the places you really want to see.

Day 1-4: San Francisco

Day 5 & 6 Gold Country

Day 7 & 8 Yosemite (try to get up to Touloumne Meadows)

Day 9 - drive to Death Valley (will be really HOT though)

Day 10-13 Las Vegas (day trip to Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam)

Day 14-16 San Diego

Day 17-19 Anaheim if you are doing Disney - otherwise Los Angeles / Santa Monica

Day 20 Santa Barbara

Day 21 Monterey

Day 22 fly home

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
19,390 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

Here are some of the places you could choose to visit including beaches and mountains:

San Francisco


Santa Cruz (Boardwalk w/amusement rides)

Monterey (World class aquarium)

Carmel (Point Lobos State Reserve for hiking)

Big Sur (More great hiking. Lunch at Nepenthe for stunning views)

San Simeon/Cambria: (Tour Hearst Castle)

Morro Bay

San Luis Obispo

Pismo Beach

Santa Barbara

LA/Santa Monica: (Universal Studios)

Anaheim: (Disneyland)

San Diego: (Sea World)

Grand Canyon

Las Vegas

The drive from Santa Cruz down Hwy 1 through Big Sur is one of California's most spectacular drives. Keep in mind that traveling through the desert to GC & LV will be very hot in July/Aug.

Topanga, California
Level Contributor
1,769 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

I love Death Valley, but that will be pretty nasty in August for young children. It can easily be 120 degrees in the shade...and there's no shade!

I applaud you decision to do the trip by car. California and the surrounding states are meant to be seen from the ground, not from the air. I'm sure the children will be fascinated by the drives through the desert.

Let me give you a little tip. You'll probably find yourself in Baker, on I-15 between Barstow and Las Vegas. Stop in a place called The Mad Greek. They have fresh strawberry shakes there that you and the kids will love. The world's largest thermometer is there, and unless you arrive at night, there's going to be a mighty large number on it!

As far as other ideas, what sort of things interest your children. Some like hiking. Some like museums. Maybe your kids would like a personal surfing lesson in Malibu!

Herts, UK
Level Contributor
19 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

Thank you for your replies so far - fantastic!

In 1988 I spent 4 months delivered cars across the US, visited 27 states in total - it was without doubt the most amazing times of my life - prior to meeting wife and having kids of course!

So, for me there is only one way to travel and that's by car, albeit this time around it won't have to be Hotel Chevrolet three nights in every four!

I'm scared it will have changed alot; 20 years ago I was known as Mr Cheerio by the driveaway company because of my accent; and I don't know how many times a waiter brought me a drink bought by an American just dying to have a chat with this strange Brit sat on his own in a bar - it's quite true,it may sound ridiculous now?

Still, with some careful planning, rather than my desitination being decided by the quality of the car that needed delivering LOL, I think I can match the experience.

Keep the info flowing; I'll study it all come decidion time and take your tips on board.

Herts, UK
Level Contributor
19 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

PS How do you edit a post?

It's probably in a sticky somewhere, sorry for being lazy.

Newbury Park...
Level Contributor
3,358 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

Unfortunately - you can't edit post. You can add additional information or start a new one.

Herts, UK
Level Contributor
19 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?


You thread history (is that the correct term?) is a phenomenal source of info for someone like me looking to holiday in California.

I can see me spending hours going through them all...


Newbury Park...
Level Contributor
3,358 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

aah thanks :) Love California and love to travel with the family - both to the touristy parts and the off the beaten path places and have found many of them through others on this board - so try to help others in return. If you have any additional questions once you narrow down your itinerary - let me know.

Happy planning!

Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
Level Contributor
42,729 posts
1,024 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

Hi! Lots of very good itinerary ideas above, but a couple of notes. Not only will Death Valley be scorching hot (50ºC+), but I think some of the lodging closes in the summer. You can search in the DV forum for info. Las Vegas is also very hot. August is a very busy month here (as in England!), so as your plans get finalized, be sure to book ahead. Grand Canyon and Yosemite fill up very, very early if you want to stay in the Parks. So book them as soon as possible. Which brings me to my third suggestion ...

as often discussed on the UK forum, one of our two countries lists the dates "backwards". I'll leave it up to you to decide which one, lol! But when making bookings (reservations here), be sure to use the words August 7th, (not 7/8), since 7/8 means July 8th here. And that would really foul up your holiday!

Happy planning :-)

San Mateo...
Level Contributor
1,322 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: 3 weeks in California, but where?

My suggested itinerary:

5 nights SF

Drive through Santa Cruz to Monterey

1 night Monterey

drive on down the coast

1 night in Santa Barbara (visit the cute little zoo)

5 nights in LA (Disneyland, Santa Monica, Hollywood, etc.)

3 nights in SD (Zoo, Seaworld, etc)

drive to Vegas

3-4 nights in Vegas (side trip to Grand Canyon)

fly out of Vegas

I'm sure that didn't add up to 3 weeks but you get the idea. I'd skip Yosemite only because it'll be crowded at the peak of summer.