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Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

Peterborough UK
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Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

We are a 50-something couple planning a first time trip to California, most likely late June. Plan to fly into LAX, and drive up to San Francisco, and down to San Diego. Total trip time is 12-14 days. We like a blend of sightseeing, beach-lounging, dining out, etc. we are thinking maybe 2-3 nights each in LA, SF & SD, with appropriate stopovers on long-legs. Your thoughts most welcome on:

1. Whilst in SF, is it worth driving to Yosemite?

2. Best places to stopover between LA & SF?

3. Best sights to visit in each of LA, SF & SD?

4. Is June a good time for sunny, warm weather but not too overcrowded?

I know that's a lot to ask, but I am at the initial scoping stage. Thanks for any help.

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

No worries with your questions but as you can imagine many do this trip so if you check out the top questions and CA Itineraries on the right side of a web browser on a non-phone or tablet, you can get a lot if info.

LA to SD is just over 2 hours so you may want to do the SoCal part first and then head up north. You could fly back home from SF or fly back to LAX and then fly out so as not to waste a whole day driving back

One option could be LAX, stay in LA for a few days and then South to SD for a few days and then drive to Santa Barbara and then to Cambria and then Monterey/Carmel -- Yosemite and then to SF

Best SItes are many -- please look at the city pages for each city on and read a few pages of the forums for ideas. A good online guide book will also help. Top questions as usual have things to do and see

June is the start of our Summer Vacations so it does get crowded. Warm? SF is not warm in Summer and the coast could be clowdy. The inland areas will be warm. www.weather.com can give you averages for June

Washington State
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2. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

Hi IanTG

If you aren't set on a loop trip, I'd suggest considering an open-jaw flight for a one way drive. A vacation like this might be .....

LAX - L.A. (2-4 nights) - San Diego (2-4 nights) - Santa Barbara (1 night) - Cambria (1 night) - Carmel (1 night) - Yosemite Valley (2 nights) - San Francisco (2-4 nights) {drop car when you arrive in SF} - SFO

This type of trip could also work if you just want to take an inexpensive internal flight back to LAX for your return flight home. I see two immediate advantages to this one-way drive: (1) less driving (2) no car in SF {it's a hindrance in this city and a necessity in other places.}

Time of year ....

Lots of families will be vacationing with you; it is likely to be foggy in San Diego, along the coast, and in San Francisco; the waterfalls in Yosemite will be close to their peak flow; lodging in Yosemite will be more challenging to find.

If you want warmer weather, consider September. The waterfalls will barely be trickling, but the summer fog is likely to be gone along the coast!

=> 2. Best places to stopover between LA & SF? The Top Questions in the upper right has some great info about the Hwy 1 drive.

=> 3. Best sights to visit in each of LA, SF & SD? The Top Questions on each forum page is the absolutely best place to begin your exploration of each city. After you've read the relevant ones, post a question on their forum page.

------------

Alternate loop style trip ... LAX - L.A. - Cambria - Carmel - San Francisco {choose a hotel with free parking or pay $$$} - Yosemite Valley - eastern Sierra - Death Valley NP - San Diego - LAX

Shorter loop trip using your original ideas ... LAX - L.A. - Cambria - Carmel - San Francisco - Yosemite Valley - San Diego {long drive} - LAX Either direction would work.

Anaheim, California
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3. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

I would try and drive down the coast all the way from the San Francisco Bay area to San Diego.

Places for a stop for a day or two

Santa Barbara

http://www.santabarbaraca.com/

Long Beach (Maybe Huntington Beach if you are young at heart).

www.visitlongbeach.com

www.surfcityusa.com

Carlsbad

www.visitcarlsbad.com

Pacific Beach (city of San Diego), some great Hotels in the area, along the coast, and the Catamaran on the bay side. Also lots of choices as to where to eat.

www.tripadvisor.com/HACSearch…

Early June is better than late June for crowd size.

Here is a link to some recommended detours as part of the Southern California Coastal drive.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c174834/Califo…

San Francisco...
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4. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

Darkbeer -- Even I am confused. The OP lands in LAX and then what do you want them to do ? Go North to Santa Barbara and then head back south to Long Beach and then go to Huntington Beach . That sounds very confusing or are you asking the OP to leave the San Francisco Bay area ( I notice you never say San Francisco for some strange reason) and then drive all the way to Santa Barbara skipping Yosemite and the Big Sur Coast.

Are you asking the OP to stay a night in LB and the HB and Carlsbad or just drive through because as you may know there are plenty of other coastal towns enroute ?

To the OP -- maps.google.com would be a good way to get bearings and see all the places mentioned by Pacific and I. I'll let Darkbeer explain what his route is because he has you magically get from LAX to SF or zig zag your way through Southern California.

Edited: 26 November 2012, 21:04
Anaheim, California
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5. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

I would drive straight up I-5 the first day to the Bay area, and then start the trip going southbound along the coast to San Diego. Of course, stay first in San Francisco, and then look at the cities I mentioned as places to stop for a day or two and check out the area.

The OP stated they lake to lounge by the Beach, and in California, that is better in the Southern California area.

The cities I picked I think would match up with the OP comments. Of course there are other cities, but I think for sightseeing, dining out and being by the beach, they are great options.

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

So your perspective Darkbeer is that people should get of fa 10 hour flight from the UK, spend 1-2 hours in immigration and then and get into a car and drive for 6 or 7 hours on their first day ? Are you then suggesting they keep a car in SF or stay outside of SF just because they have a car ?

Just for the record all locals and regulars on the SF forum would suggest people who want to see San Francisco stay in San Francisco similar to your recommendation that if someone wants to see your Disneyland, they should stay close to Disneyland.

Then your plan is they skip Yosemite and go straight down to Santa Barbara ? Is that what you are suggesting ? Is that not a long drive from San Francisco to Santa Barbara along the coast ? Not sure when was the last time you did that drive but most would stop and see things and not just drive.

I am not questioning places like Carlsbad or Huntington Beach or Pacific Beach, They are great Beach towns. I just question why you you think it would make sense to drive day 1 instead of relaxing in those cities or in Santa Monica which would be just 24 minutes away from LAX, get over the jet lag and then head south ?

Edited: 26 November 2012, 21:37
Uden, The...
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7. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

What you also can do is fly to LA and spend the night. Next day drive to Yosemite NP (you'll be up very early...) for a couple of nights. To San Francsico after that and down to coast to San Diego. That leaves the "problem" with the car in SF but we always like to drive those steep hills. Parking can be expensive though.

cambs
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8. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

hi guys

we are also in our 50s

scottish

but living these past 28 years in st neots

been to california several times

mostly with our boys

but last time just wife and i

great time of year you have chosen!!

to me the best part of the trip is yosemite

prettiest place ive ever been

(not awesome, like the grand canyon, but simply wonderful)

be sure to drive up to sentianlpoint and down to the grove of the iant sequoias near the southern entrance

(take the bus UP the hill to the top of the grove but do NOT come back on the bus instead get out and wlk back down

id fecommend staying in yosemite valley itself - there is a range of accommodation but it books up VERY EARLY so get onto it soon like NOW

next best thing is the cost line

it is wonderful

highlights would be

santa barabara

hearst castle

big sur\lucia area

carmel\nonerey\pcific grove - and DO drive 17 mile drive in carmel

id be tempted to say do NOT frive down to san diego

but only because it is in the wrong direction

i actually prefer it to san fran and la

the zoo and wild animal park are terrific

and we love la jolla

if you are here go fot lunch at what used to be georges at the cove

it was renovated since we wee there at a cost of several million dollars but the new name is very similar

avoid the expensive main restaurant

instead visit the terrace resturant at the to pof the stairs

be prepard to wait for a table by the edge

great food

very reasonable prices

views out of this world

san fran is fun if a little tacky , a sort of upmarket blackpool

la is huge and sprawling almost makes london look like hicksville

we were only there a couuple of days so can begin to say we got to know it

what i wouls advise is work out which particular atrations you want to see

then check them out carefully s othat you group them by location

and have a good plan of how to get from one to the other

given that there is so much else to see

id personally do the extra miles to get to san diego

but skip la and spend more time on the coast and at yosemite

by the way the cal coast north of san fran is almost as spectacular as big sur

and much much quieter

with lots of prety little towns

you propably wont have time to drive this far north

next time.......

remeber to get onto that yosemite reservation....

Peterborough UK
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9. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

Thank you all. Lots to think about, and almost too many options to comfortably fit into time available.

10. Re: Road trip in California - suggestions and ideas most welcome

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