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California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

Adelaide, Australia
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California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

Hi all,

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to the US for the end of University in late November/December of 2013. Possible dates would be November 20th through to December 27th. I know its early but I already have done some research and have formed somewhat of an itinerary and any of your advice would be great. The plan is to spend around 3 weeks on the East Coast and 2 weeks on the West Coast. The flight will more than likely be to LAX as this is the cheapest and most common flight from Adelaide, Australia. So here it goes

Day 1 (20th November) - Flight arrives in LA - Hire car and drive to Anaheim to stay the night

Day 2 (21st November) - Spend the day at Disneyland/California Adventure

Day 3 (22nd November) - Spend the day at Disneyland/California Adventure

Day 4 (23rd November) - Leave early and drive to San Diego

Day 5 (24th November) - San Diego, San Diego Zoo

Day 6 (25th November) - Leave early morning back to LA

Day 7 (26th November) - LA

Day 8 (27th November) - LA

Day 9 (28th November - Thanksgiving) - LA

Day 10 (29th November) - Leave early morning drive to San Luis/Pismo Beach or Cambria to stay the night

Day 11 (30th November) - Drive to Monterey/Carmel area (Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Monterey aquarium)

Day 12 (1st December) - Drive to Yosemite National park, aiming to stay in the valley

Day 14 (2nd December) - Spend the day in Yosemite Valley area (it will be early December so I don't really know what hiking options will be available)

Yosemite is optional as it seems like a lot of driving for only 1 full day in the park. With this time of the year a lot is closed from what i have read. The other option would be to drive from Monterey to San Francisco.

Day 15 (3rd December) - Leave early morning for San Francisco

Day 16 (4th December) - San Francisco

Day 17 (5th December) - San Francisco

Day 18 (6th December) - Fly to Las Vegas for 4 nights

From Las Vegas we aim to fly to Denver airport and stay and ski in Vail for 4 nights. From here we will be flying to the East Coast to spend some time in Miami, Boston, and Christmas in New York. After Christmas we will fly back to LA for our return Flight to Australia.

Edited: 11 September 2012, 07:46
Washington State
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1. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

Hi Brad M

I suggest you read some of the winter trip reports on the Yosemite forum to determine if it's right for you. Of course I'd keep it on the itinerary, but it depends on your travel style. Mariposa Grove Road will probably be open, but even if it's closed it's a nice hike into the Big Trees. Or hike down into a smaller grove closer to Yosemite Valley. Glacier Point Road is likely to be closed, but who knows? Most of the trails starting in Yosemite Valley & heading uphill will be open, but even strolling / hiking the flat Valley Floor Loop Trail is an excellent choice.

Pasadena, California
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2. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

Sounds pretty good. What happened to Day 13?

Los Angeles...
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3. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

You probably already realize this, but day 4 to San Diego - you should get there pretty early in the day, so you'll have some time to explore the city a bit before doing the zoo on day 5. There is plenty to do there. Might want to ask in the SD forum.

Also, regarding Yosemite in winter, I know that there are times when tire chains are required, and I believe most car rental companies have a rule against tire chains on their cars, to you might want to check on that. I'd ask in the Yosemite forum.

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4. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

You have done great job of planning. One of the few trips on here that does not try to do too much in too little time.

As to Yosemite, play it by ear & check on weather situation when the time arrives. You could whack off a day or so in LA and add to Yosemite.

Also, you might consider fitting a day or so in Napa valley (St. Helena) on way to SF.

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5. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

hi guys

we are from scotland but have holidayed in the us 13 times in total including 9 times beteen 1993 and 2002 which saw us 'progress' from watching the kids on disney rides to watching them hike down the grand canyon

so thats my first point......i dont see in your itinerey a visit to the grand canyon

weatherwise i dont think there is a problem visiting the south rim at that time of year so id take that change as a must - DO change your itinery to include the grand canyon

as a rule of thumb id say.

get good advice from the locals as to what the road conditions will be at tha t time of year

(we have only been in the warmer seasons)

i think the roads will be fine everywhere (ie as long as you stick to the main routes and avoid those that are known to be closed eg the tiega pass route out of yosemite)

so i would advise

- arrive in la

- nip down to san diego

- then up the coast via la san luis absipo and carmel to san fran

- then to yosemite

- and a route that is open to las vegas (via deat valley!?)

- then on to south rim of grand canyon

- and via moab to denver

id drive all the way ( having got confirmation from local experts that the roads will be clear - yes its a long way but the roads are high quality, traffic is light, the scenery fantastic - plus you dont aste time handing in the car checking in standing in line etc etc)

you will also love the est coast, florida being rather warmer!!!

here is our scores out of 10 for the places we have visited

(remeber we wee there in good weather though...)

san diego 9

la 7

san francisco 8

yosemite 12

death valley 8.5

las vegas 10

grand canyon 14

moab (arches etc) 9

denver 7

boston 8.5

nyc 10

miami 8.5

florida coast 8

number 1 son has had 2 gap years and been round the world twice

including ayres rock, sydney etc

when he saw my scedule his only comment was that 1h out of 10 wasnt enuf for the grand canyon

have a great trip

ps have you been to scotland????

Adelaide, Australia
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6. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

Thanks so much for all of your advice! So you think that Yosemite sounds doable for that time of year, but we are hiring a car so if chains are required for December we might hit some obstacles. Out of Cambria or Pismo beach what would you recommend for that time of year? Is this the route that you would take at this time of the year? If it were feasible I would have probably flown into San Francisco and done the trip in reverse as I have heard the drive North to South is better. Should we drop the car off when we get to San Francisco and use public transport for our stay there? Is there somewhere you would recommend more time or less time? Again thanks for all of your responses

Washington State
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7. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

I vote for Cambria.

Some folks prefer the Hwy 1 drive south to north as the views just get better & better.

Check the Yosemite forum Top Q for winter driving info.

Yes, drop the car when you get to San Francisco.


You might want more time in San Diego; it's not possible for us to guess.

Did you figure out what happened to Day 13? Is this really a 17 day trip?

Adelaide, Australia
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8. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

Yeh I have heard great things about San Diego and I am thinking I would love to stay longer there. But my girlfriend and I are wanting to universal at LA and see the sights of LA as well as spending longer in San Francisco so I don't know if there will be longer in San Diego unless I drop Yosemite??

Yeh I think day 13 has just been overlooked as a mistake haha. So I guess it's actually a 16 day California itinerary. This is followed by a flight to

Vegas for four nights from San Francisco. Is this what you would recommend? Or drive from San Francisco to Vegas?? This would be hard because Tioga rd will be closed.

So I reckon lock Cambria in!! This would mean that we will be leaving Cambria in the early morning and driving through to Monterey/Carmel area and seeing the sights. What do you recommend for the one day of this area?? Will it be too rushed as the plan would be to leave the next day in the early afternoon so there is a possibility to see some sights the following morning as well.


Brad M

Adelaide, Australia
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9. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

From what I am reading you are not allowed to use chains on rental vehicles. The plan was to rent a full size not a 4WD so if there are chains required that will throw a major spanner in the works. I was planning on booking the Yosemite lodging fairly early as I am aware that accomodation is hard to come by. As much as Yosemite was one of the major places that I was looking forward to seeing I am almost thinking that this part of the trip is going to cause a lot of hassle for only 1 full day in winter where the weather may not be great? What would you do? We were really looking forward to seeing some of the amazing natural wonders of America. Will Big Sur and the Grand Canyon be as good? Will we regret not going to Yosemite?

Washington State
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10. Re: California itinerary - Suggestions wanted

Hi Brad

Pop over to the Yosemite forum where we can chat about the likelihood of needing chains in December and the fee public transit option to get into Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g61000-i315-Yosemi…