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LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Montreal
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LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Hi: I originally posted this on the Big Sur forum, but was advised to post here:

Hi: 3 of us, 2 adults, 13 y.o. son, driving from LA to SF. Please let me know how this sounds, probably late June or early July. One thing to keep in mind is that our attention spans (in particular the 13 year old, but the rest of us too) aren't that long, so we won't necessarily spend long hours in any particular place. Any hikes we do would probably be less than 2 hours.

Day 1: Leave LA, visit Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Solvang, Moonstone Beach, overnight at San Simeon.

Day 2: Hearst Castle, Elephant Seals, maybe lunch at Nepenth if the timing is right, Point Lobos Sate Park, overnight Santa Cruz

Day 3: SC Pier area, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, SF

Comments, suggestions appreciated.

Thanks,

Kay

p.s. People seem to like the Monterrey area, but it doesn't seem that it would be the ideal place for us. Been to aquariums, we'll have been to piers, we'll be going to other state parks.

San Francisco
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1. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Day 1 -- Santa Barbara is certainly worth a stop. More so than Solvang IMO.

Day 2 -- Not a lot of overnight accommodation options in San Simeon. More are available in Cambria or Pismo Beach. Pismo would probably be more fun for a 13 y.o. as Cambria is more couples oriented. This will be a long day if you do a Hearst tour in the morning and want to spend some time at Point Lobos as well (which is well worth a stop).

I suggest you find some time to fit in Elkhorn Slough which is north of Monterey. You can go kayaking, or on a tour boat, and see otters and lots of other animals and birds. I've never heard anyone not think this was a great excursion, regardless of how they got out on the water.

Montreal
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2. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Thanks for your feedback White Dahlia.

For us Santa Barbara probably won't be that interesting. I was thinking of Solvang as a meal or snack stop, because it will be different from other places.

The Elkhorn Slough tour boat sounded interesting to me, but it's expensive and my son (unlike other children) will be totally bored and he'll be doing enough things on this trip that he won't be crazy about that will be much cheaper!

Since I'm not familiar with the area, please explain why Hearst Castle and Point Lobos would be a long day. From what I read, Hearst Castle takes about 2 hours. Google maps claims it's 3.3 hours between Cambria and Santa Cruz. Maybe the reality is longer?

Kay

San Francisco
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3. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

<<Google maps claims it's 3.3 hours between Cambria and Santa Cruz>>

I suppose that's about right if you want to zoom on through. But there is a *lot* to stop and see between the two. Here's a traveler article on the drive. You might have a look at the Top Questions on this forum as well: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182762/Califo…

Santa Cruz...
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4. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Here is a traveler article with information about Santa Cruz....

http://tinyurl.com/y4hnbu9

Enjoy your trip.

Montreal
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5. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

I've looked extensively at descriptions of all the places to visit btw. LA and SF, and my list above seems like it would be the most interesting places for the 3 of us. There are so many lovely places, but unfortunately we have to choose.

About day 2, if I book the earliest Hearst Castle tour and we're done by 11, then we would still have about 9 hours until sunset, so hopefully we would have time for a hike in point los Lobos. Also, we could make choices along our way.

Santa Cruz sounds like a fun place with the pier and seems like a nice place to walk around.

K

K

Thousand Oaks...
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6. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Plan accordingly....the Reagan Library does not open until 10AM. With the new SPY exhibit (your son will love it!) going on, plan on at least 2 hours there. That takes you to noon. You group and your 13 year old may not like to wait until Solvang to have lunch.

It may be better to have lunch at the Library itself or in nearby Thousand Oaks prior to heading towards Solvang.

Dr. Z

Montreal
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7. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Thanks Dr. Z. Maybe a snack in Solvang! Teen boys tend to eat a lot.

Assuming I spent night 2 in Santa Cruz, is it recommended to follow highway 1 to SF or to head over to 280?

K

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8. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Everyone is different and has different tastes and based on your previous posts, I am glad you provide details about what you may on may not like so here are just my ideas based on having two teens

I am purely saying this based on you saying the may get bored in Elkhorn slough

Frankly the only thing they liked at Hearst castle (the younger one mostly) was the pool but other than that he was bored going on a tour So if Elkhorn may be boring with either a kayak or the boat, Hearst may be more

Solvang good for a food stop and to get cookies - nothing more

Kids here do missions in school so at least for them the Santa Barbara mission was interesting. The Reagan library they loved it and then we went on a dune buggy ride in Pismo beach which was a lot of fun

In the Big Sur village area, the hikes to all the Pfeiffer parks are fun ( less than 2 hrs). Point lobos can be 2-3 hours and I have not seen any kid who did not enjoy it.

Monterey and Carmel. The beach, the aquarium even for teens is fun and we go there almost every year to biking those huge 4 seater bikes along the pacific grove trail to lovers point, to kayaking in the Monterey Peninsula (our son was 15 when he did that )

Santa Cruz has the boardwalk , the best ice cream , and then the bridges state park and further north east is Henry Cowell which has hikes and if your teen is into steam trains there is one there. If he is too cool for trains , close by there is a zipline but that is not cheap

Just some of the things we have done in that area

Edited: 04 November 2013, 02:26
Santa Cruz...
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9. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

If you want more coast, etc. then take Hwy 1. However, 280 is a beautiful drive on an 8 lane freeway through the foothills of the Coast Range. It has been called "the most beautiful freeway in the world". Highway 1 from here is not spectacular, especially after you have seen Big Sur, and while there are things to see, a lighthouse, etc you will probably be ready for San Francisco at that point. There is another elephant seal reserve but it requires a guide at certain times a year. Better off to see them on the Big Sur trip.

We can be in the city from Santa Cruz by taking Hwys, 17, 85, and 280 in an hour and a half. What is your destination in the city and I can tell you how to get there.

Do you have reservations for Santa Cruz yet?

Edited: 04 November 2013, 02:32
Montreal
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10. Re: LA to SF drive plans, opinions please

Thanks for your input Belomiser. Good to know what other teens like.

Thanks Puter for the beta on roads from SC to SF. I guess by then we'll have had enough of windy coastal roads. I'm not sure yet where we'll be staying in SF. However I may be returning our rental car to SFO first, since it's on the way, and I'm not planning to keep the car for SF.

I don't have reservations for SC. Can you recommend anywhere for less than $200/night (much less would be fine too! I usually like to stay in house or condo rentals, but that won't work for 1 night.

K