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Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

Singapore
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Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

Hi Everyone,

Our family of 5 are planning a road trip from SF to LA from 6/12 to 19/12 with our 3 young boys aged 2, 4 & 6. I've etched out the itinerary & would greatly appreciate any pointers =)

We arrive on the night of 6/12 in SF & will start our vacation proper on 7/12. I've planned a longer stay in SF to take it easy & let the kids get over their jetlag. We'll depart LAX on 19/12 to Vancouver/Whistler for some skiing! So, here goes our itinerary from SF to LA:

07/12: SF - Chinatown, Coit Tower & Ferry Building Marketplace

08/12: SF - Golden Gate Bridge & California Academy of Sciences

09/12: SF - Alcatraz, Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square

10/12: SF - Outlet Shopping (Gilroy or Livermore?)

11/12: SF to Monterey - Monterey Bay Aquarium & 17 Mile Drive

12/12: Monterey to Santa Monica (via Pacific Coast Highway)

13/12: Santa Monica - 3rd St Promenade, Venice Beach, Pier, Hollywood, Farmer's Market

14/12: Santa Monica to San Diego - San Diego Safari Park

15/12: San Diego - SeaWorld (& if time permits: La Jolla, Mission Beach & Coronado)

16/12: San Diego to Anaheim - Disneyland

17/12: Anaheim - Disneyland

18/12: Anaheim - Disneyland

19/12: LAX to Vancouver (at 1130AM)

Are we trying to squeeze in too much? I'm a bit worried about the long drive from Monterey to Santa Monica, but didn't want to waste a day breaking-up the drive.

I'm also not quite sure where are good places to stay in Monterey, Santa Monica & San Diego given the places we want to visit. Our accommodation budget is around US$300 or less.

Lastly, with regards to San Francisco, would you guys advice renting a car or can we get around with public transport to sightsee? (Would parking be a pain & costly???)

Thank you in advance for your help!!! =)

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

I am glad you took the time to plan your vacation. The Ca forum is the place to validate your Itinerary and then you can look at the SF, LA and SD forum TOP QUESTIONS for the details on what to do and see and WHERE to STAY.

You do need to stay one more night between Monterey and SM -- See Pismo beach. This link has info on links for that drive

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c197885/Califo…

You can do Gilory outlets on the way to Monterey -- no need to waste another day driving back and forth. Do look at citypass for SF and for the SoCal areas based on your needs. We use MM/DD as date formats-- FYI

You are not doing justice to SM or SD and rushing through it. I would add a day more to Pismo and then to SM and SD if possible

As far as parking in SF goes please read the Top Questions in the SF forum including the one -- Why not have a car in SF? Advise on CAR RENTALS if you need a car after S

Edited: 03 August 2013, 16:04
San Francisco
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2. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

(Please note we write our dates the other way so it's best to write out the month. So your trip will be Dec 6 - Dec 19.)

In SF I would add the Exploratorium.

I agree that Monterey to SM in one day via Highway 1 is too much driving. Pismo or one of the other beach towns in the area would be the natural stopping place.

Driving to San Diego for just one full day doesn't make sense IMO. Also the Safari Park is out near Escondido and takes 30-40 minutes from the coast.

17 Mile Drive is not worth the time or money unless you want to peek at big houses through dense hedges. Substitute Point Lobos State Park instead.

In SF, with the exception of GG Park everything on your itinerary is walking distance apart. And trying to drive and park downtown, at the Wharf and Chinatown is insane. Also from downtown to GG Park is a straight shot on the Metro -- no transfer required -- and probably takes 30 minutes.

Edited: 03 August 2013, 16:22
san mateo CA
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3. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

I was going to say the same thing as belomiser, just hit the Gilroy outlets on the way to Monterey.

I would also suggest that 2.5 days at Disneyland is far more than is necessary, 1.5 should do it.

That extra day could be used as suggested to make the drive down the coast more reasonable.

Other than that it looks to me like a very doable itinerary although south of Pismo Beach I am not so sure about distances between attractions and that sort of thing.

As far as a car in San Francisco the day for the Golden Gate Bridge and the Academy of Sciences is the only one that is not easily done by public transit. It could still be done but others who are more familiar with the current state of the MUNI would have to tell you.

That first day with Chinatown, Coit Tower and the Ferry Building could be a very nice day walk. A bit strenuous getting over Telegraph Hill but if done right it will take you through some very interesting parts of the City.

Houston, TX
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4. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

Agree that if you could it would be great to add another night's stay along the coast and Pismo Beach would be good. The drive from Monterey to Cambria (through Big Sur which is the most scenic part) takes about 2.5-3 hours without stops and you really don't want to rush that.

Have a look at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, just a few miles from Santa Cruz. This could make an interesting short stop on your way to Monterey. There is an interpretive loop trail that takes about 45 minutes to walk among the huge trees. You pick up a small brochure at the start with information that helps you understand more about the trees.

Agree that time spent at Point Lobos would be more interesting for the boys (and I suspect the adults as well) than the 17 mile drive.

Don't miss the elephant seal rookery on the beach near Piedras Blancas, just north of San Simeon. Hundreds if not more elephant seals right there. Take the time to read the information displays posted so you can understand the behaviors you will see among the seals.

The entrance and grounds of Hearst Castle are at Sam Simeon and a bit south. Hearst used to have a private zoo on the grounds and there are still a few zebras that roam the property, which is huge. You might get lucky and see them on the property along the highway as you drive by. We have, and it is really something--ocean on one side and free roaming zebras on the other.

Edited: 03 August 2013, 16:57
Pauma Valley, CA
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5. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

Buy the CityPass in SF. It includes unlimited MUNI/Cablecar rides for 7 days, no need for a car. It also includes admission for Monterey Bay Aquarium, harbor tour(not Alcatraz), Exploratorium and The California Academy of Sciences. I see your plan as heavy on things Mom and Dad might want to do and not enough what will keep kids engaged. Skip Union Square and Alcatraz, do the Exploratorium, Pier 39, Blue and Gold harbor cruise ( you will criuse around Alcatraz as well as under the Golden Gate Bridge) and anything else down there you have time to do. The CityPass was a bargain for us on our trip even though we did not have time for the Exploratorium : ( . Do not drive from Monterey to SM in one shot. Do your kids get car sick? You may have or want to stop several times along the way through Big Sur. Hearst Castle may not be right for your little ones, I could not get my 16 yo to go on the tour, so we just stopped at the visitor center and stopped at Moonstone Beach to look for Moonstones in Cambria. I would recommend a night in Pismo Beach, take the boys to the beach for some fun rec. Then push on to SM. Do not do 17 mile dr, go to Point Lobos and hike. Do go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it is wonderful! As for LA, I dislike LA so I won't make any recommendations. If you do the Safari Park, leave SM as early as practical and drive to Escondido via I-5 South to the 78 East and follow the signs to the park, then drive on to your hotel in San Diego. I just posted a link today for a half price ticket for the Safari Park from Living Social, it is good until Dec 15.

https:/…

Most families with young children wish to go to Legoland in Carlsbad. You could stop there on your way to Anaheim, it is right off the I-5. Then go on to your hotel in Anaheim, relax and go to Disneyland the next two days.

Singapore
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6. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

Hi!

Thanks everyone for your replies!

Ha0ha...I was trying to save time & thought we'd just heck it & do that long drive in a day from Monterey to Sa0nta Monica! I see it's a really bad choice! Ok, so this would be a better itinerary then?

12/07: SF - Chinatown, Coit Tower & Ferry Building Marketplace

12/08: SF - Golden Gate Bridge & California Academy of Sciences

12/09: SF - Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Blue & Gold Cruise, & Exploratorium

12/10: SF - Gilroy or Livermore, then drive to Monterey

12/11: Monterey Bay Aquarium then drive to Pismo Beach

12/12: Pismo Beach to Santa Monica

13/12: Santa Monica - 3rd St Promenade, Venice beach, Pier, Hollywood, Farmer's Market

14/12: Santa Monica to San Diego Safari Park

15/12: SeaWorld

16/12: La Jolla, Coronado, Mission Beach then drive to Anaheim

17/12: Disneyland

18/12: Disneyland (California Adventure)

19/12: LAX to Vancouver

Would this look better? The reason I gave 3 days for Disneyland was because a friend recommended that we get the SoCal pass which includes a 3 day pass to Disneyland. You guys think just 2 days would suffice?

ALSO....can I run an alternative idea by you guys...2 jaded travellers (namely my dad & a friend) said that "if you've seen a coastline, you've seen them all"...they both suggested that we fly from SFO to San Diego instead of doing that loooooong drive. To be honest, the drive is probably more for us adults who can appreciate the sights, but I dunno if it'll be a torture for the kids. If we fly direct to San Diego, it will save us 10 hours on the road & give us 2 more days to sightsee & do stuff in SF or LA/San Diego. Any insights on that?

Thanks again!!!

Grover Beach...
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7. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

12/10 -Livermore? That's WAY out of your way. Gilroy is more in the direction of Monterey and the outlets can be done on the way.

"......2 jaded travellers (namely my dad & a friend) said that "if you've seen a coastline, you've seen them all"....

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Well, okay. Maybe. But not all coastlines are created equal. Some of our finest coastal scenery lays between Monterey and San Simeon. Roadway that sits hundreds of feet above the ocean with tight hairpin turns, coves, waterfalls, redwood trees, elephant seals laying on the beach. I'll agree to disagree with that statement.

But.... if spending more time with the man made sights works better for your family then, sure, you can avoid the scenic coast altogether and fly to SD from SF.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here's a look at some of our scenic Big Sur coastline:

www.pashnit.com/roads/cal/Hwy1BigSur.htm

Edited: 04 August 2013, 05:21
San Francisco, Ca
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8. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

Your revision is MUCH better (but drop the idea of Livermore shopping... Gilroy is more along your route). And do look at photos of Big Sur... the coast is amazing! The kids should like beachcombing and tidepooling, if nothing else.

Singapore
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9. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

Hi again!

Hmmm...I REALLY hadn't considered this before but now I'm really a bit torn on the decision whether to drive or to fly!

While the coastline looks amazing (& I know my husband & I would enjoy it), the cons would be like belomiser said: I won't be doing much justice to SM or SD as we'd pretty much have to rush through it. (We don't have extra days to spare if we drive). Plus, I'm not entirely sure if the kids will take to the long drives. We did do some long drives in New Zealand, but that was with 2 kids then who napped a lot more as they were younger! Also, I'm wondering if the beaches will be too cold for beachcombing & tidepooling as SFSusanW recommended?

On the other hand, if we flew from SF to LA instead, the trip would be a lot less rushed. We'd have to do Monterey as a daytrip but we might have time for Muir Woods (which I just read that it's worth a visit) & also a more leisurely time to see SD & SM....but of course at the expense of the coastline views.

Sorry for being so fickle! But....Coastline vs More time in SD/SM + Muir Woods???

Grover Beach...
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10. Re: Road Trip fr SF to LA with 3 young boys! Itinerary help pls!

Muir is a VERY popular tourist draw and gets VERY crowded. Another option would be to visit Henry Cowell Redwoods a few miles east of Santa Cruz. There's a short loop trail at HC and it isn't overrun with people during the day. Parking at Muir can be difficult to come by. Not so at HC.

I understand your dilemma with the time you have and the things you would like to do. This is your trip and you get to spend it the way you want to.

Perhaps add and overnight trip to Monterey taking in Henry Cowell on the way and return to SFO or maybe San Jose and fly to LAX, etc. for added time in SM or SD.