I have recently posted this in Road Trips but have not had much feedback so trying again here:
We are a family of 4, including a 17 year old daughter and 14 year old son, flying in to San Francisco on 21st August for an 18 day road trip around California flying out from San Francisco on 8th September. I have prepared an initial draft of our intended itinerary, and would welcome people's views on it, and whether the balance of time spent at various points is OK, and that I am not overstretching myself or missing out anything obvious.
Thurs 21st August - Monday 25th August SAN FRANCISCO (4 days)
To include Alcatraz, Chinatown, a bike ride to Sausolito (ferry back), a cable car ride, Lombard Street, North Beach, Mission District, Ocean Beach, views of the city from one or more of Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill, Twin Peaks or top of MH de Young Museum.
To include Monterey Bay Aquarium, Kayaking in the Bay (maybe), Monterey State Historic Park, Whale Watching trip (maybe), Carmel Beach, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, 17 mile drive.
Tuesday 26th BIG SUR - PISMO BEACH (1 day)
To include Pfeiffer Beach, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony, Morro Bay, Hearst Castle (maybe).
Wednesday 27th SANTA BARBARA (1 day)
Time to wander and take in the town/beaches.
Thursday 28th - Saturday 30th LOS ANGELES (3 days)
To include Hollywood sign viewed from Griffith Park Observatory, Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, cycle from Will Rogers Beach to Torrance Beach, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain. Other possibilities - studio tour, surf lesson.
Sunday 31st DEATH VALLEY (1 day)
To include Zabriskie Point, Dante's View, Badwater, Devil's Golf Course, Artist's Drive, hire a 4WD for the more inaccessible areas (possibly).
*I am aware that this is the hottest time of the year, and perhaps DEATH VALLEY should be avoided and replaced by SEQUOIA and/or KINGS CANYON. I am not sure if driving or hiring a car is advisable in the heat*
Monday 1st Sept DEATH VALLEY - YOSEMITE (1 day)
Hopefully we will have secured a campsite for 4 nights in the Valley. Which route is best?
Monday 1st - Thursday 4th - YOSEMITE (3 days)
To include Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome, Half Dome hike (permit lottery), Yosemite Valley generally (tunnel view, El capitan, waterfalls), Mariposa Grove.
Friday 5th - YOSEMITE (TUOLUMNE MEADOWS) (1 day)
To include Tioga Pass, Mono Lake, Clouds Rest.
Saturday 6th AMERICAN RIVER RAFTING (1 day)
Full day rafting trip
Sunday 7th SAN FRANCISCO (NORTH) (1 day)
To include Muir Woods National Monument or possibly as far as Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Sonoma Vally and Sonoma Coast State Beach, Marin Headlands.
Monday 8th FLY HOME
There are a number of things I wanted to include but I don't seem to have time for, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon, Lassen Volcanic National park. I would also like to include a horse ride somewhere special if anybody has any recommendations.
I have just started to look at accommodations and found that the price for Sunday night in San Francisco seems to be higher than the first three nights. Perhaps I could set off on the Sunday afternoon and stay an extra night down the coast.
It appears I have not given myself enough time in Los Angeles as each theme park takes up a day. Perhaps I needn't stop in Santa Barbara, or should travel down the coast a day quicker. Everybody has their favourite places for which they would say I should spend more time there. However, it's about getting the balance right between seeing enough in one place, but not at the expense of missing out on somewhere else.
Your thoughts would genuinely be much appreciated.