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Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

Wesley Chapel...
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Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

My wife, 9-year old son, and myself are planning a trip to California in the summer of 2014 (Might as well start planning early). We have some ideas on what we want to do, but would love to have advice from people familiar with the area.

We will be flying from Tampa on a Friday and will return to Tampa the following Sunday with 8 free days in between. We are open to using any airport that Southwest flies into (lots of points to use) but we assume that San Diego will be one of them.

Zoos, aquariums, and nature will definitely be the theme of this trip. We intend to go to both San Diego Zoo parks as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Our only other real goal (actually mine) is to see Sequoias or Redwoods (Yosemite?). Other (potential but not necessary) interests would be catching a baseball game in SF, LA, or SD. Disney, Sea World, etc are not options since we already have those here in FL. So are there any other zoos or aquariums worth the visit? What about wine country? Sequoias and Redwoods? Any other natural wonders?

Any and all help would be appreciated. Basically, the only constants are flying in on a Friday and returning on a Sunday.

Thank you in advance,

Lee

Anaheim, California
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1. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

The Birch Aquarium in La Jolla (San Diego area) is good.

Your son might like the SEALIFE Aquarium at the LEGOLAND Resort in Carlsbad (northern San Diego County).

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach (LA County) is a very good Aquarium.

Zoos, besides the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (two different locations), there is the Los Angeles Zoo in the Griffith Park/Burbank area, and the Santa Ana Zoo, a smaller location, known for its monkeys and being used for Movie and TV filming. (They are not open everyday of the year, which allows film crews to not have to worry about park quests).

Sounds like you might want to focus just on Southern California, so the Temecula Wine County is a good option. (Southern Riverside County).

National Wonders, the Cleveland National Forest is in San Diego and Orange County, the Torrey Pines Natural Reserve is near the Birch Aquarium, so maybe combine the two in the same day. I would normally recommended the Palm Springs/Palm Desert area, but during Summer, it can get very hot.

Science Museums in the area are very good, including the Reuben H. Fleet Center in San Diego (near the San Diego Zoo), and the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, near Disneyland and Angel Stadium.

Southwest Airlines use the following regional airports, San Diego Lindbergh Field (SAN), John Wayne Airport (aka Orange County/Santa Ana/SNA), LAX, Bob Hope Airport (Burbank/BUR) and Ontario (ONT).

Baseball, you have the San Diego Padres playing at PETCO Park in the downtown San Diego area, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are near Disneyland, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are near Downtown LA.

Williamston...
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2. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

Give yourself at least a couple of days for Yosemite.

Anaheim, California
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3. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

Also, you might want to look at Knott's Berry Farm, a Theme Park that has no Florida Presence. America's First Theme Park, has a Wild West Theme, and is very good for families, including Camp Snoopy (Peanuts Themed), and low level thrill rides and shows.

Located in Buena Park (Orange County) near Disneyland.

Washington State
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4. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

With only 9 days, I agree with others. Focus on Southern California (San Diego, L.A.) or on a more northerly California loop (SF - Yosemite - Monterey ~ could include 6 Flags, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Giant Sequoia trees, Coastal Redwood trees.)

Wesley Chapel...
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5. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

What about something like this (as a really rough draft)...

Fly into Sacramento and drive down to Yosemite.

Spend 3-4 days in Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia NP's

Drive to Monterey and visit the aquarium.

Drive to San Diego down the coast (overnight stop possible)

Two days at SD Zoo and the Safari Park

Fly home

Reasonable?

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

That seems like a slight zig zag. So perhaps fly into SJC and visit Monterey and then you can go to Yosemite and then SEKI and down down to San Diego. It is a lot of driving and you will pay more for your one way car rental but if you are ok with that, sure. No point in going to Sacramento if you are not going to spend time there. You can plan a SD Padres game at Petco park -- imho the nicest of the ballparks in SoCal

Or If you want to do the Big Sur Coast

Fly into OAK perhaps and drive to Yosemite for 2 days then to Monterey Carmel for a couple and south to Pismo beach for a night and then a very long drive to SD (perhaps an overnight in the LA area) and then SD

Edited: 13 May 2013, 15:49
Washington State
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7. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

It's too bad Southwest doesn't fly into Fresno FAT.

SMF or OAK are similar drive times to Yosemite Valley ~ around 4 hrs. As long as you aren't driving during commute hours in the Bay Area, I think either one will work.

Friday SMF or OAK, drive to Yosemite Valley, maybe Glacier Point for sunset but probably not

Saturday Tuolumne Meadows

Sunday Yosemite Valley tourism, maybe Glacier Point or Sentinel Dome hike for sunset

Monday Mariposa Grove in AM, drive to Monterey in afternoon (detour to a grove of Coastal Redwoods?)

Tuesday Monterey Bay Aquarium, Elkhorn Slough (kayak or tour)

Wed drive Hwy 1 to Pismo Beach, lots of 'nature' and "animal" stops

Thurs longish drive to San Diego, maybe Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific on the way?

Fri San Diego tourism

Sat San Diego tourism

Sun fly home from SAN

Wesley Chapel...
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8. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

Thanks. That looks a geat starting itinerary to base the trip on. At least I have plenty of time to research the possibilities and it will allow me to book lodging in Yosemite early.

Wesley Chapel...
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9. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

Any other suggestions from anyone else?

Wesley Chapel...
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10. Re: Need help with 9-Day California itinerary

Ok, my wife found out she would be able to take a little longer vacation than originally thought.

So now it looks like we will have 2 travel days and 10 free days in between. That should either give us more time at the spots we want to hit, or a little extra time to squeeze in some new ideas.

Hmmm....