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California plan. Have we got it right?

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California plan. Have we got it right?

Hi all,

Coming to California in the summer from Portland as part of a three month trip north America (Vancouver to New York via south/mid US).

I am travelling with my girlfriend, we are two students 23 and 21 years old from the UK and after researching around we want to spend about 3 weeks travelling around the California.

Or plan at the moment is a follows (all dates in August)...

- 1st to 4th in Sacramento (3 nights)

- 4th to 9th in San Francisco (5 nights)

- 9th to 10th in Santa Maria (1 night)

- 10th to 13th surfing (location and dates can change) (3 nights)

- 13th to 16th in LA (3 nights)

- 16th to 19th in San Diego (3 nights)

We have 1 day spare in the plan as we want to fly to Honolulu on the 20th once we check our times for this leg of the trip.

Stopping at Santa Maria was because it looks halfway down the coast, there could be somewhere better?

Surfing is unknown with location and dates yet because we don't know which beach or area along to coast to do it on (between SF and San Diego).

Only booked activity is the color run in Sacramento on 3rd August and we know we want to go to Disneyland in LA too.

Do these timings seem too much or too little? We are not massive on sightseeing or outdoor activities but would like to do as much as we can to see and experience the area and enjoy California as it's looking like our favourite bit of the trip.

Any help would be awesome thanks.

If anyone has any idea what type of daily budget we should thinking of with cheap accommodation such as hostels and any good websites / places to book car hire for young people between SF and San Diego that'd be amazing.

Thank you a lot for any help!

Jason

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1. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

Ditch Santa Maria. It's a crime infested farm town with nothing there for a tourist.

You have the 9th through the 13th to work with before you hit LA. My suggestion would be to add additional nights along the coast between SF and LA. The SF to LA drive is a minimum 10 hour drive WITHOUT stops.

You can find good surfing spots along the way: Santa Cruz, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach.

Here's a possible itinerary:

9th: Santa Cruz (2 hours from SF): Popular Nor Cal surf spot

10th: Monterey/Carmel

11-12th: Pismo Beach via Big Sur (The drive through Big Sur is slow, winding and highly scenic. You'll want to take your time to savor the sights: Point Lobos, Bixby Bridge, Point Sur, Pfeiffer Beach, Nepenthe, McWay Falls, Ragged Point, elephant seal rookery)

The 13th you could add to LA or Santa Barbara and give up the 16th in LA for one of So Cal's surfing beaches, like Huntington Beach.

Keep in mind that our ocean water is cold all year round. Wet suits are required when spending any appreciable amount of time in the water.

Edited: 05 June 2013, 14:24
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2. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

Why 3 nights in Sacto? Also I presume you are driving and have looked at the cost for renting a car under 25

There is surfing in SoCal as well in Huntington Beach and further south. You mention Disneyland. But there is no time allocated for that. Disneyland is NOT in LA. I think you may want to look at a map and map it out and read the Top Questions on what to do and see in CA

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3. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

Pismo would be a better place to stay than Santa Maria! Check out the Seascrest Oceanfront Resort there. :)

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4. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

I'd also agree about Sacramento - that's probably too much time there, unless you've got a specific itinerary in mind for that town that can't be done in less time.

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5. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

Hello UberJason, and welcome to the California forum.

Low budget travel is something I've done in the past, and continue to do when needed, so you've got the right 'dog in your corner. (smile)

The hostel organization I trust the most is Hostelling International, http://www.hihostels.com/ which has plenty of hostels throughout California and beyond. Sacramento has availability currently, for one male at USD$29.99 a night, same for one female. So a total of ~USD$60 per night there in a Victorian mansion in the downtown area. Seems to be highly rated. Go for it.

I've personally stayed for extended periods of time more than once at your next stop in San Francisco: HI San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf in historic Fort Mason. Available currently. USD$37.99 for one male, same for one female, non coed. Out of the three locations HI has in the City by the Bay, this is the one I'd recommend to the first time traveler. Walk to Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz Tours, Cable Cars (Taylor Street roundtable), and walk to Safeway (supermarket) and see the Golden Gate Bridge while doing so! I have a soft spot for this place. . . so very San Francisco. Go for it.

Your next stop tells me that you don't know California all that very well. No matter. . . this is why there's TripAdvisor acting as your friendly overseas "uncle" giving you great advice. Instead of Santa Maria, where there is cheap housing for long term residents but no hostels, why not stay at a college town on the Central Coast instead? Hey, it's where my youngest brother graduated from college. . . great safe smaller size city on the coast. San Luis Obispo at the junction of US Route 101 and California State Route 1/Pacific Coast Highway is the place! There's an HI hostel in the lovely downtown area for USD$28 per bed and is currently available. See Bubble Gum Alley while you're in town. . . and a real treat if you like European architecture and artifacts, with a bit of American rags to riches tale thrown in, the Hearst family's La Cuesta Encantada - Hearst San Simeon State Historic Park aka Hearst Castle - is a great place to tour that attracts visitors the world over. The Experience Tour is recommended for first time visitors. Here's the link: http://www.hearstcastle.org/ Highly recommended even for folks from the Old Country that have real castles!

Surfing. . . do it the Beach Boys way: Ventura County Line! (from the song "Surfin' USA) Go to the beach north of fabled Malibu called Zuma Beach. Perfect place. Water will be in the mid 60's for August here, so a wetsuit would be best. You'll find that out in a hurry if you don't get one, trust me.

Hostel that we recommend a lot here on the forum is the HI hostel in Santa Monica. Higher priced (Santa Monica is expensive in general) at USD$46 a night per person. Instead, since you seem to want to see Disneyland, stay at the HI Fullerton hostel at USD$24 a night per person. Fullerton is close by to Disneyland, and I've personally stayed there. Great hostel there, as is the San Pedro HI hostel in Los Angeles.

Disneyland and California Adventure are not in Los Angeles, and not in Los Angeles County, either. They're in adjacent Orange County to the south of LA County in the City of Anaheim. Expensive to go to the Disney parks, if you ask me. If you two do go, my recommendation is to get a discount ticket(s) before you go. Costco overseas should be able to help you, if you are a member. See Mousavers for more details here on discounts: http://www.mousesavers.com/

Car hire (Rent a Car) done overseas: we often recommend Car Hire 3000 which includes the appropriate insurances you will need while driving here in the USA for a packaged low price. Link here: http://www.carhire3000.com/

Your budget is probably going to be in the USD$150 range. Your mileage (or kilometers) may vary. At USD$60 an average per night, give or take, fuel expenses and food will take up the rest. Going to the supermarket will save you money while traveling. . . that's the way my Sweet Polly Purebred and I have always done it, and it works well to get for example microwaveable breakfasts for the morning, pack a sandwich and fruit for lunch, and go to a moderately priced restaurant for supper. Up to you, of course.

Your total budget as I see it is in the USD$3,000 range without going to Hawaii or flying from there or back home to the UK. Just a thought.

A lot of information, I know. Hope this helps you. Please feel free to ask further questions on here on the forum. . . there's a great number of folks here on the forum with wonderful insight and experience that are willing to help.

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6. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

I agree - unless you have something specific in mind for Sac, less time there and more time on the coast. 1 night between SF and LA is the absolute bare minimum. Santa Cruz is great for surfing, so it should definitely be on your itinerary. And definitely skip Santa Maria and go to Pismo Beach instead.

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7. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

Underdog, think that lodging budget may be on the low side for motels. There is a Motel 6 in a nondescript area of Torrance that I pass on the Harbor Freeway, their posted rate was over $60 for a single (Motel 6 charges more for doubles) and the one in Hollywood last time I looked was $85 plus tax.

Don't think the hostel in San Pedro is open all year and you really need a car there anyway, it is up on a very steep hill in the Point Fermin area.

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8. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

55vineyard, the lodging budget I estimated for the Original Poster took into consideration that they are from the United Kindgom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England) and are no doubt acculturated to the use of *hostels*, not hotels. Big difference. . . one has an extra "s," one does not.

That said, I'll stand with my estimation as a rough guesstimate of costs. I agree, though, that Motel 6 (another place that is a budget accommodation motel style) as a chain has some rates in Los Angeles and Southern California in the $60, $70 and even higher range. I've seen a Motel 6 in Reseda in the San Fernando Valley of late that charges $60 plus tax for one person. Santa Barbara, where the Motel 6 chain was founded decades ago, probably charges double that right now (June 2013) So the rates do vary depending on location. I know my local Motel 6 charges ~$35 a night for one person plus tax, as does its across the street competitor, EZ 8 Motels, a much smaller motel chain here in California.

These two travelers are traveling here in August, when the HI San Pedro hostel will be open to individual guests. Thanks for the reminder on this hostel being closed except for groups in the colder part of the year. Yes, you do need a rental car for the HI hostel in San Pedro. They stated that was their plan as such. Thanks again for keeping me on my toes! (smile)

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9. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

Im not sure I would suggest staying in Fullerton to visit Disneyland. Its about 5 miles away from Disneyland. And if you have a car to take you there, you are going to have to pay another $15 for parking at Disneyland. I would just add that cost into my budget and stay somewhere in walking distance. There are plenty on inexpensive options just across the street from the Disneyland Main Entrance around $50 a night. Motel prices also do vary quite alot with the seasons, and summertime is likely to have much higher prices everywhere for places to stay.

If you would like help finding somewhere to stay overnight for Disneyland. You can post in the Anaheim forum. Otherwise, if you just want a daytrip from the LA area, you can also take the train from the LA area to Anaheim, or, a tour from Starline Tours, but either of these options are not going to have the later hours you would need to get a full day at Disneyland and see the nightime entertainment which is very good such as the Fireworks or Fantasmic shows.

You can also post in the specific City forums you are thinking of visiting so they can help you with finding good places to stay, and your itinerary ect.

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10. Re: California plan. Have we got it right?

The HI Hostel in Santa Monica is excellent (really fantastic location), though tends to be a little bit more money than other hostels

As for car rental, its been mentioned briefly but if you're under 25, most rental companies will add on a large daily surcharge to the rental. Hertz is one car rental company (www.hertz.co.uk) that occasionally has coupons that waive the under-25 fee - do a Google search for this. Otherwise, try www.carehire3000.co.uk or www.traveljigsaw.com.au for the car rental, but there may be no avoiding the under-25 fee that way - but these companies do include insurance in their rates and you usually don't have to pay a fee for a one-way rental (i.e. pick up car in one city, drop off in another) if you book with them.

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