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3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

Bristol, United...
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3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

We (adults in mid 40s and two teenagers) are in the early stages of planning a road trip next year and would value some input as not done this kind of thing before. There is so much to see but we don't want to spend hours and hours on the road every day. We like the natural world and beaches but obviously want to see the main sites in the cities (especially SF). We also want to finish off the trip with some down time, probably in San Diego. We have put a rough itinerary together as follows:

1 Fly to LA and drive to Palm Springs for the night. (Not bothered about seeing LA)

2 Drive to Flagstaff or Sedona - stay the night. Any advice on preferred option?

3 Drive to Grand Canyon - stay 2 nights

5 Drive on Hwy 40 towards Barstow - want a stop over but not sure where - any advice? Want to drive up route 395 to Lone Pine or Bishop next day. Is it worth the trek to Barstow so we can call in Death Valley on the way up the next day? Or will we not have enough time to do it justice?

6 Drive to Bishop/Lone Pine - stay the night. Any comments on best place to stop?

7 Drive to Yosemite - stay 2 nights

9 Drive to San Francisco - stay 2 or 3 nights - is 1 1/2 days enough to see main sights or will we need 2 -2 1/2 days?

12 Drive to Monterey/Carmel - stay 1 night

13 Drive to Cambria or Pismo Beach - stay 1 night - any comments on best place to stop over?

14 Drive to Santa Monica - stay the night

15 Would like to head down to San Diego for some down time for the remainder of the holiday. Any suggestions on best route? Accommodation recommendations for beach area?

Would we need a car in San Diego or is public transport good?

Many thanks in advance for your help. It's a mammoth task trying to put this together with very little knowledge!

Anaheim
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1. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

1-We like the HIE Cathedral City for the view and pool.

2-Do Prescott for a meal to Sedona for a night

3-Book Mazwik Lodge NOW = near the mules too!

3A-Rise early and follow/lead the mules for a while.

5-Barstow is a train town but not much else...

5A-Have lunch in old time saloon in Randsburg

6-See Hot Creek near Mammoth Fish Hatchery

7-Only two nights so I stay in Whitewolf for both

7A-Drive to the crowded valley on your way out

9-Trade a day in Yosemite or Cambria for Frisco

12-Sunset near Assilomar and AM at Point Lobos

13-Cambria over Pismo (but do drive on P-Beach)

13A-Elephant Seals near Hearst Castle bathrooms

14-Plan for Santa Monica at night and leave early

14A-Costco in SLO has nicer outdoor food court

15-Drive to USS Iowa and Stay on Coast Highway

15A-PCH goes through all the cool beach towns!

Hope this helps,

Rosco

Look up addresses here too:

http://goo.gl/maps/JyGO7

Fun things to stop and see!

San Diego...
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2. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

Make your reservations for the Grand Canyon and Yosemite as soon as possible. You might want to consider a cabin in Foresta, which is close to Yosemite Valley.

Palm Springs is going to be pretty hot in July - averaging 108 F (42.2 C) for the afternoon high. You can escape the heat with pools and air conditioning, or ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (about $23) up to the cool, forested Mt. San Jacinto State Park. I would try to get further than Palm Springs, preferably to Lake Havasu City at least. Lake Havasu City will also be hot, but the Colorado River is there and you can cool off in that, or your hotel pool or air conditioning. The old London Bridge is a minor tourist attraction there.

Next day drive through the historic mining town of Oatman, AZ and see and feed the wild burros. From Kingman you can drive a part of the old Route 66 through Peach Springs to Seligman, and Peach Springs is said to be the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the "Cars" films. From Seligman go east on I-40 to Williams, then go north on AZ-64 to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. No need to go all the way to Flagstaff.

From Grand Canyon to Lone Pine, the shortest route would be through Las Vegas and Death Valley. A sight along the way is Hoover Dam. There is no need to go to Barstow, even if you want to go to Death Valley. In July Death Valley can be fiercely hot (afternoon temperatures of 120 F (48.8 C) are common) so if you go there, be prepared for extreme heat. And consider making your crossing of Death Valley at night or early in the morning to escape the hottest part of the day.

Lone Pine will also be hot but not as hot as Death Valley, averaging only 100 F (37.7 C) for the afternoon high in July. That's still hot, so make sure you have a motel with air conditioning and/or pool.

At Lone Pine you can drive 5 minutes to the picturesque Alabama Hills and you will have a good view of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the United States except Alaska. Or you can stay overnight in Bishop, or even Mammoth Lakes, which due to its higher elevation will be considerably cooler than the deserts. The afternoon high there in July averages 83 F (28.3 C) so that might be refreshing after the heat of the deserts. One guide to Mammoth Lakes is at http://jrabold.net/mammoth/

There are many interesting things to see and do between Death Valley and Yosemite. See this travelogue for photos and descriptions: travelswithbillandnancy.com/eastern_sierras.…

I would stay 3 nights in San Francisco.

For a travelogue of the sights along the coast, posted by another member of this forum, see https:/…5621071823861282305

You can drive from Santa Monica to San Diego in about 2 hours or a little more, unless you run into traffic. The route would be mostly I-405 to I-5 south, but once you get to Oceanside you could get off I-5 and get on Pacific Coast Highway (101) and take the coast route from there down to the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego. It would be slower but more scenic than just taking I-5 the rest of the way and you would be close to the ocean at many points.

If you can afford it, I'd stay in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego. A nice beach to relax on is Windansea Beach, which is mostly surfers and locals and not overrun with tourists as La Jolla Cove is. There is a TravelLodge just a couple of blocks away from Windansea Beach. Marine Street Beach and Wipeout Beach, which is along the 700 block of Coast Boulevard in La Jolla, are also nice. The many sights of La Jolla are detailed in this thread: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g32578-i334-k54207…

A cheaper alternative to staying in La Jolla is to stay in Pacific Beach, which is just a few minutes' drive from La Jolla. There is public transport in San Diego, but it is pretty slow, and as long as you have the car, I would keep it for your time in San Diego.

Bristol, United...
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3. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

Many thanks Rosco and Sunrisesandiego for your very helpful and extensive comments; much appreciated. We'll take them into account in our detailed planning. Thanks again.

Washington State
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4. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

In case you haven't yet found them, read the relevant Top Questions on the right side of this page (full TA website, not the app.) Each destination forum will also have good info in the Top Q and Trip Ideas.

I also "vote" for more time in SF. But read the Top Questions to get a better idea about what to see & do.

Uden, The...
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5. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

Ok, so you want to drive from Lax to PS same day after arrival? It's a long flight, you have to go through immigration and pick up the rental car. (Count on some 2 hours for that). If this flight is not in the morning but arrives after 2 pm I would not go to Palm Springs same day driving on the right hand side of the road in horrible traffic, jetlagged and all. Safety first. I'd stay at a hotel close to Lax.

Rent the car already from UK with a broker like carhire3000 but there are more and have all insurances included

Tet

Anaheim, California
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6. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

The Pacific Coast Highway, with a couple of small detours, such as to Point Vicente in the LA area is a lot nicer than the 405 and 5 freeways. It should take a full day with a few stops for sights and meals. Here is a TA California TQ that talks about the route and the detours.

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

I would also just stay 2 nights in San Francisco, and use the third night for a stay in Santa Cruz, I think your kids would love the Beach Boardwalk. Also, maybe a classic train ride .

http://www.santacruzca.org

I agree with the Pacific Beach area with teenagers. Public transit is doable, the MTS Route 30 bus services Pacific Beach every 15 minutes most of the day, and is a short bus ride to the San Diego Trolley Light Rail system.

www.sdcommute.com

The Catamaran Resort is nice and reasonably priced, I think your entire family would like the Hotel and location.

Also instead of staying in Santa Monica, maybe look at the Redondo Beach area instead...

http://www.visitredondo.com/

Bristol, United...
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7. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

Thanks Tet. The planned arrival time is either 1:20pm or 2:50 pm (depending on who we fly with). We are keen to get to Sedona/Flagstaff the next day so, if we do decide to stay nearer LAX, do you have any suggestions? I have read your helpful suggestions on other postings and would appreciate your comments on whether our proposed itinerary is reasonable or we are trying to do too much. Also, is there anything you would do differently? Would you recommend Sedona over Flagstaff and Lone Pine before Bishop? Thanks.

Bristol, United...
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8. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

Thanks, Darkbeer, for your suggestions and links. I'll have a look when considering the detail.

Anaheim, California
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9. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

Why not make Santa Monica your first night, it is near LAX, also maybe Manhattan Beach.

Or if you want to get on the road a bit, maybe the city of Ontario at the junction of the I-10 and I-15, reasonably priced accommodations, I like the Ayres Hotel chain. Nothing fancy, but a large outlet mall, lots of restaurants and entertainment choice, maybe there might be a game at the Ontario Business Bank Arena, or a home game of minor league baseball, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

So Cal
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10. Re: 3 week California road trip from mid-July 2014

I wouldn't get on the road east at that point if it's a weekday. You're just going to sit in traffic - even getting to Ontario would take a couple hours. You'd be spending all that time in the car on the freeway, for very little payoff. Not really worth it. The same drive in the morning, going mainly against commuter traffic, would take half the time or less. Some people will wait till 7-8pm and then head out; I guess it depends on your comfort level, expectation of jet lag, etc.

Yosemite needs two nights at the minimum.