No, not really. If you come up with an itinerary, even a rough one, then we can help you. You have so much more information to provide; budget, how you're traveling; how many; sights you want to see; places you want to visit; etc. See ya later. Chuck.
i plan to be driving by car on a reasonably tight budget
Great start, Sue, although your definition of "reasonably tight budget" and mine are probably different, so please give a $$ amount. Now keep the details coming. Thanks. Chuck.
looking at a budget of around $1,600 for the whole trip.
How about something like this:
Fly into LA, spend 3 nights.
Drive down to SD for 2 nights
Drive back north to Santa Barbara for 1 night
Drive to Yosemite, spend 2 nights
Drive to SF, turn the car back in, spend 3 nights
Fly home from SF.
That adds up to the right number of nights, right? Or does the 12 days include arrival and departure days?
Fly into SAN and out of SFO or OAK.
2 nights San Diego
3 nights LA (probably the Hollywood area)
1 night Santa Barbara
1 night Cambria
1 night Monterey
1 night Yosemite
3 nights San Francisco.
Adjustments that you can make include spending less time on the coast (1 or 2 nights vs 3) but there really is a lot to see in all those areas.
For some reason, I was thinking that the OP was coming from overseas, so flying into LA would work best - BUT - I see the OP is from Texas, so flying into SD would be fine. That would eliminate the need to back track between LA and SD, definitely.
You *must* book your Yosemite lodging well ahead - now is not too soon.
I'm going to guess that a "reasonably tight budget" is maybe $100 per night? You will have trouble finding lodging in some locations for that amount. I'm not sure it's possible at all in Yosemite.
Oh, wait, you said $1,600 for the whole trip.
Including airfare? And car rental? And lodging and food?
If I were "dividing" my time between those destinations, I'd choose more time in the locations that best match my travel style. I love to hike & to be outdoors, so I'd spend more time in Yosemite (and of course I already know that I love Yosemite.)
What about you? What are your plans? Do you want to see as much as possible or to spend time getting to know a destination? Do you like museums? Are you interested in kayaking or hiking? Is fine dining your preference, or maybe picnics in beautiful places?