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Travelling between San Fran and LA...

Sydney, Australia
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Travelling between San Fran and LA...

I am travelling from San Fran to Anaheim in June with my two kids, aged 13 and 15. We love hwy 101 and have booked o/n in San Simeon however...Im rethinking pushing straight through to LA allowing us 3 days for Disney, Universal and an LA Tour. I want to make the most of our trip before continuing on to Canada from Australia. I must add that we have driven Hwy 101 5 years ago and the kids have seen Disneyland/Universal also at that time. I like the charm of Monterey/Carmel. Any advice is appreciated!

Uden, The...
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1. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

San Simeon is not on hw101 but on hw1. I'd keep that reservation and don't drive in one day between SF and Anaheim along the coast in one day.

San Francisco...
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2. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

It is your call and your vacation. So please decide based on what you want to do. Comparing Monterey and San Simeon v/s a theme park does not make sense so it is upto you to decide where you want to spend more time. maps.google.com can help you plan a route which you are comfortable with. If you go 101 you miss most of the coast but it is faster than Hwy 1

Cuenca, Ecuador
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3. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

Hello daena w, and welcome to the California forum.

If Disney, Universal Studios, and an LA tour is your focus, skip San Simeon. If you appreciate the historic and cultural aspects of the Golden State, see Monterey and Carmel.

Coming from Australia, I don't know what you know of Hearst San Simeon State Historic Park, aka Hearst Castle. It's a State Historic Park because the estate of William Randolph Hearst, newspaper magnate and the protagonist in the Orson Welles film "Citizen Kane" deeded it to the State of California, seeing as there would likely not be anyone rich enough to purchase the estate outright. That doesn't mean it's not as good as a National Park. . . far from it! Hearst is outstanding in every way. . . architecturally, historically (it has plenty of furnishings and wall coverings and ceilings imported from Europe) and culturally (the Hearst family still ranches in these same Santa Lucia Mountains to this very day. . . my Cambria cousin met Wm. Randolph Hearst II of late). Here's the link: http://www.hearstcastle.org/ Maybe you and your children might appreciate it better than a theme park or castle therein. Up to you, of course.

I'm guessing here, but here's a bit of a compromise: visit Monterey and Carmel areas, and afterwards, see Disney and LA. The day will be a long one, and you will want to get up and out early to do what you want to happen. Tip: take US Route 101 south to Paso Robles and cut east on CA Route 46 to Interstate 5 south to Disneyland in Anaheim. Most efficient routing from Carmel timewise. I'd leave Monterey/Carmel by 11:00 AM to no later than 12::00 noon to get to your lodging in Anaheim at a reasonable hour (the next day will be a long one at the Disney Parks). Allow 6 hours or so for straight travel time from Carmel to Anaheim.

Or don't visit Southern California at all, and spend the time visiting a real California castle. . . Hearst San Simeon. Many visitors (and there are plenty of international ones there) take in two or more tours of the place, spending one or two nights in the area, and on the Hearst grounds for two days. Up to you, of course. Let us know your thoughts.

Edited: 30 April 2013, 15:56
Grover Beach...
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4. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

San Francisco to Anaheim via coastal Highway 1 is an 11 hour drive WITHOUT stops!! NOT recommended to do in one day. Too much to see/do. You won't have time for stops in Monterey/Carmel... or anywhere else, for that matter... except for restroom and food breaks.

Keep in mind that much of the coastal route is slow and winding. And tiring.... especially for kids who get bored easily.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

You are so right that the comparison of monterey/Carmel and Universal studios dosent make sense. If I didnt have the kids to consider I wld definitely spend more time on the coast! I do recall on our previous trip that long and winding road.

I will compromise as advised from underdog SPP. The idea of a quick visit to Carmel/Monterey and then branching onto Hwy 5. We visited and loved Hearst castle and have seen it in a previous trip, so will give that a miss this time.

Thanks for your advice!

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6. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

If your real goal is Disneyland and you have done the coastal drive, why not just skip the drive and fly from SFO to Orange County (SNA) airport and head on into Anaheim?

If you are not doing the coastal route, then I see no reason to do the very boring I-5 inland route.

Grover Beach...
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7. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

And I've never believed that you can save time by driving east on a 55 MPH highway to travel south when you can stay on a multi lane 65 MPH highway all the way down to LA.

And Highway 101 is so much more scenic compared to boring I-5.

Edited: 01 May 2013, 00:09
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8. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

FYI, although it's common to state otherwise: Anaheim is a separate city from Los Angeles, in a different county than Los Angeles. Many visitors to the region spend the majority of their time at the theme parks with a 'day trip' into Los Angeles (the second-largest city in the U.S. with 100s of attractions) and that's a shame since Disneyland is an 'excursion from L.A.', not the other way around.

As mentioned above, the choice of the content of your holiday is yours but given the great distances you're traveling, consider exposing the kids to a different culture than yours (our massive city is a 'melting pot' of dozens of ethnicities, as well as being the home of the American Movie Industry and the American Music Industry.

Universal Studios is, largely, another theme park. The 'studio tour' that's included in the general admission fee is a 'drive by' of some exterior sets and 'studio buildings' -- you never go inside any of the sound stages or 'technical buildings' (sound stages, prop houses, Foley Studios), etc (unless you pay hundreds more for the "VIP experience"). The entire studio tour takes less than an hour and half of it is a 'special effects' ride (the tram gets 'attacked' by the shark from Jaws, etc).

Consider a standard 2-hour 'studio tour' at Warner Bros or Paramount Studios or Sony -- conducted in a small group with a private tour guide (rather than Universal's standard tour, conducted on a tram with 200+ people, listening to a pre-recorded tour). Universal's tram never stops to let you get off; the other three do -- several times so that you can be escorted 'behind the scenes" to learn how tv programming and movies are made.

The California Science Center, new home of the Space Shuttle Endeavor, is a favorite among kids (lots of "hand's on" things to explore as well as a 'rock wall' and a tight rope upon which kids can ride a bicycle -- it's true).

We have one of the largest urban parks in the U.S. (with a dozen attractions including the Griffith Observatory/Planetarium), mountains, valleys, beaches, etc, etc.

I'm sure the kids think that Disneyland and Universal are the only options but if kids ruled the world, well, I'll let you finish that sentence...

Have a great visit.

Cuenca, Ecuador
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9. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

Well, Kibblesmom. . . one of the "tricks of the trade" extended tour drivers learn is routing like the one described in my post #3. From Paso Robles, taking CA Route 46 to Interstate 5 south saves 14 minutes and 7 miles of driving off a straight US Route 101 trip to LA, according to Mapquest (check out their comparison between the two cities). Up to the folks who are taking their vacation, of course.

To a trucking company or provider of tourist transportation, these small incremental savings can mean the difference in getting somewhere on time or not. To the typical traveler, granted, they don't usually mean as much. It's been years since I last traveled from Atascadero to Salinas on US Route 101. . . and now you know why! (grin)

Sounds like the OP daena w has found an agreeable choice of my compromise. I'm glad we all were able to be of help to our Aussie friends here.

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10. Re: Travelling between San Fran and LA...

Not sure how much time you have. The Coast Highway is beautiful, but slow going (also requires Dramamine for people in the back seat, very curvy). If time is an issue I'd scoot on down I5, go to Santa Monica and then head down to Anaheim. Have a wonderful visit!