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 week itinerary for SF-LA-Yosemite - comments please!!

Ingatestone, United...
Level Contributor
244 posts
107 reviews
Save Topic
3 week itinerary for SF-LA-Yosemite - comments please!!

My husband and I are in the process of planning a 3 week tour around California starting next July. So far, all we have booked are our flights from the UK to San Francisco. I have a basic itinerary drawn up, but would really appreciate any comments from all you experts out there!

Day 1 - arrive San Francisco mid afternoon. Transfer to hotel and stay for 4 nights, giving 3 full days for city sightseeing, Alcatraz, Fishermans Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, etc. (or would 3 nights be enough? Hotel not yet chosen - may stay downtown, or near airport if more practical to do so).

Day 5 - pick up hire car from airport and drive south to Monterey. Do whale-watching trip this afternoon or next morning. Overnight Monterey.

Day 6 - drive south via coast road, maybe stay overnight Santa Barbara or somewhere in that area.

Day 7 - arrive LA. Stay 5 nights (probably slightly out of town, maybe Santa Monica). Visit Hollywood, Beverly Hills, downtown, Six Flags Magic Mountain and/or Universal Studios, etc. Is 5 nights enough/too much?

Day 12 - Drive North to Sequoia/Kings Canyon area (Fresno?). Stay in area for 2 nights and visit Sequoia/Kings Canyon National parks.

Day 14 - Drive to Yosemite. Stay in Foresta (private cabin rental) for 4 nights, leaving plenty of time to explore the park and do some not-too-strenuous hikes.

Day 18 - Drive to Lake Tahoe. Stay for 2 nights (not in Nevada as we're not bothered about visiting casinos on this trip).

Day 20 - Drive to wine region. Stay for 3 nights in either Napa or Sonoma. Rent bikes and tour wineries.

Day 23 - Drive to San Francisco airport, return car and fly home

:o(

Further info: We're both keen photographers (especially of wildlife); we both like theme parks especially thrill rides; not too bothered about museums; and we like comfortable accommodation (nicer hotels rather than basic motels). Our budget is flexible - we're happy to splash out as it's a 40th birthday celebration for both of us!

Does the above sound reasonable and are we missing anything out or doing anything we shouldn't bother with? (e.g. should we skip Tahoe and visit San Diego instead, or spend less time in SF or LA?). I know it's all a matter of opinion but I'd be grateful to hear any recommendations for places to stay and/or visit.

Thanks all!

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
57,042 posts
113 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: 3 week itinerary for SF-LA-Yosemite - comments please!!

I love your itinerary and appreciate all the details you've shared about your travel style!

In general, the best accommodation & activity suggestions will be on the specific destination forum. I know that the SF folks will tell you to avoid staying near SFO (unless you go on vacation to spend time commuting!) and will probably direct you toward a hotel in Union Square, but they'll be able to help you with specific suggestions when you share your budget and type of hotel preferred. They can also give you great photography tips for The City.

For any of your destinations, post a question with your needs on the destination forum. Read the Top Questions & Itinerary links in the upper right first.

SEKI ~ I'd suggest you try to stay one night up in the mountains. I'm not familiar with all the options, but if you leave L.A. in the early afternoon you should be able to get to Visalia. Then go into the Parks the next morning and stay up there. On the 3rd day, exit mid-day and drive down to Fresno, then back up into the mountains on Hwy 41 and into Yosemite. It's about 4 hours to Foresta.

Here is a Yosemite mileage chart: nps.gov/yose/…mileages9-2007.pdf The distances and times are from the Valley Visitor Center, but you'll only be 20 minutes away. Foresta is closer to Crane Flat & Tioga Road, so on your arrival day you'll actually bypass the Valley and continue toward the Hwy 120 exits.

I think staying in Lake Tahoe is an excellent idea as well. The folks on that forum can guide you to a great lodging option with scenery. It might be on the Nevada side, but just because you don't gamble doesn't mean you need to avoid the state.

If you do adjust the itinerary, you might consider adding another day to the Hwy 1 drive. Photographers can spend a lot of time on this beautiful drive. How about two nights in Monterey?

Have you seen grizzy's recent reports? His photographs are fabulous. www.tripadvisor.com/members-forums/grizzy77 and http://cwwayne.zenfolio.com/f254667373 And this Yosemite visitor also took some great photos: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g61000-i315-k37336…

Ingatestone, United...
Level Contributor
244 posts
107 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: 3 week itinerary for SF-LA-Yosemite - comments please!!

That's very helpful PacificNWFamily; thanks for all the comments. I had considered Visalia so that's reassuring to hear it from an expert!

And we'll still look into visiting Tahoe then - I wasn't sure if it was worth the extra travelling. We do like to gamble from time to time, so that wasn't the reason for not wanting to stay on the Nevada side - I was under the impression that the scenery was better on the CA side, as well as being quieter. It looks like I've still got lots of research to do!

I'll add some individual posts to specific destination forums too.

Galveston, Texas
Level Contributor
2,128 posts
89 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: 3 week itinerary for SF-LA-Yosemite - comments please!!

You itinerary sounds v. reasonable, spending time in each location and not rushing around too much.

For San Francisco, I wouldn't recommend staying near the airport, staying in the Union Square area would probally suit you. There's no need to pick up the car at the San Francisco Airport, there are a handful of car rental locations within the city

For Monterey, you could spend 2 nights, Carmel is a nice town to stay in, lots of beautiful sites to picture.

Driving down the Hwy 1, you could spent the night in Cambria, and doing a tour of Hearst Castle, the next day before contining on to LA. Hearst Castle is beautiful more manison, plenty of great photos ops.

5 nights, is a good amount of time for LA. 4 full days, basically 6flags 1 day, Universal/Hollywood Blvd 1 day, Santa Monica 1 day, Beverly Hills next etc..

Yosemite, 4 nights is a great amount of time

3 nights sounds like a great time for wine country, great relaxing way to end the trip

Ingatestone, United...
Level Contributor
244 posts
107 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: 3 week itinerary for SF-LA-Yosemite - comments please!!

Thanks Emmaxoxo, that's very helpful.

We're looking into spending 2 nights in the Monterey area as a couple of people have recommended this; but this means we've got to lose one night somewhere else - I think it will either be San Francisco or LA, so reduce it to 3 nights in San Fran (which will give us 2.5 days there), or to 4 nights in LA (which will give us 3.5 days there).

Any comments appreciated!

Galveston, Texas
Level Contributor
2,128 posts
89 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: 3 week itinerary for SF-LA-Yosemite - comments please!!

I'd lose the night in LA, so you then have 4 nights for BOTH SF and LA

6. Re: 3 week itinerary for SF-LA-Yosemite - comments please!!

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 04 April 2011, 05:22