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April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

San Diego
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April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

Hi,

Here's my trip plan and a few questions. Looking for any advice as to whether I need to adjust the trip a bit. Wife, 2 boys aged 4 and 8 - pretty good in the car with a few stops.

Day 1) Leaving San Diego on a Sat. in April - driving up to Yosemite. Staying at Best Western Plus Yosemite Gateway Inn in Oakhurst. Just to relax, indoor pool, etc. before heading into park.

Day 2-4) Sun. leave around 8 or so and head to Yosemite floor. Have a cabin in Curry Village for 3 nights. Bringing the bikes so we'll have Sun. thru Tuesday to explore.

Day 5-6) Wed. leave Yosemite and head over to Monterey area. We're staying at The Sanctuary Beach Resort. Plan to arrive at our leisure depending on when we leave Yosemite and then either go to the Acquarium/dinner in Monterey that night or the next day. I'm thinking we do the town of Monterey the afternoon/night we arrive so that we can enjoy the resort the next day (full day).

Day 7) Fri. leave Monterey and drive down Big Sur. Likely will skip 17 mile drive based on forum reviews given views in Big Sur. Plan is to stop a few places to take a few short hikes, grab lunch, take photos and enjoy the day. We had considered Hearst Castle but given time I think we'll plan that for a future trip when our 4 year old is a bit older. Stop over in Santa Maria Inn (enjoy some open-pit BBQ for dinner :) Considered staying a night on the beach but given likely late arrival, tied kids (and driver) and early departure I'm not sure that it matters.

Day 8) Casual drive back to San Diego that Saturday....I want to drive down coast at least thru Malibu area with a stop or two along the way. Once we hit LA, that'll just be pass-thru back to our home in SD.

Sounds good? Any changes I should consider? I have a few questions:

1) Should I buy a state parking pass (I think $195) if I'm going to be parking along the way in state parking lots/beaches? I do live near Torrey Pines State Beach so I could use it there too but I usually just try to find free parking.

2) What suggestions do you have for my time in Monterey and the day along Big Sur? I'm just beginning to research all the great things along the drive but could use some help narrowing down the things we should do with our kids.

3) After we leave Santa Maria what recommendations if any do you have along the way up to the point where we hit LA Traffic below Malibu? :)

Thanks,

Ben

Once the trip happens I'll do a trip report - very excited about this one to explore more of CA. I see this as a way of seeing enough and understanding where we want to focus a future trip.

Point Lobos State Reserve
Beaches, Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks, Hiking Trails
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks, Hiking Trails
Marin Headlands
Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks
Armstrong Redwood State Reserve
Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks
Fremont, California
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for San Francisco
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1. Re: April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

Sounds like a nice trip......and like your plans.

1) There are various prices and options on the California State Park Pass

http://store.parks.ca.gov/park-passes/

We have purchased it several times - and skipped a couple of years when our vacation plans took us out of state. At $195 you need to visit about 18 times a state park during the year to break even - so it only makes sense if you visit more frequently. It sounds like you are finding free parking for the parks closer to your homes so for this trip alone - no. It depends what else you plan to do (Note: Several of the LA area beaches do not take this state park pass as they are serviced by other parking companies so take that into consideration as well.) They used to have a lower price point - now its a more difficult decision.

2) In Monterey, take the drive by Pacific Grove/Asilomar Beach area - this is the "free" version of the 17 mile drive and worth driving.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=566

Also see Point Lobos

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=566

Given the age of your kid, you might also like Dennis the Menace Park area

yelp.com/biz/dennis-the-menace-park-monterey…

Ok to skip Hearst Castle, but try to see the Hearst Castle Elephant Seals, Its a short stop on the side of the road. Just look for where everyone is standing on the cliff for best place to see the seals.

hearstcastle.org/plan-your-trip/…

On question 3 - hope others can answer that one for you.....I go to that area but locals will know of any current road issues better than me. If you do not get an answer also post on the city forum so the very good DEs there see the question.

Manhattan Beach...
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2. Re: April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

In addition to the elephant seals at Piedras Blanca I would consider a quick stop at Pt Lobos State Park. Malibu Creek State park might be an interesting stop, but after Yosemite your kids might be saturated.

Grover Beach...
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3. Re: April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

Santa Maria? You do realize that Santa Maria is long past the beach, right? And it's not exactly the best place to spend a night. Lots of gang crime in Santa Maria as of late and the Santa Maria Inn is right in the heart of it. If you chose this town as a way to save money, you can find better options further north that are budget friendly and not so long of a drive coming from Monterey.

San Diego
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4. Re: April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

Mini - Thanks for all the links and info. Given the breakdown, I think you've talked me out of spending $200 for a pass given we usually don't need one locally and won't go that many times out of S.D. You've provided some links to things I wouldn't have known about and will likely incorporate into the trip. Sounds like skipping Hearst is OK this time around.

Ralph - Appreciate the added info and will look that up as well. If we have time we'll hit Malibu Creek.

Kibbles - Much appreciated. Had no sense of that aspect and I very much do not need to be in an area like that. I'll cancel that reservation and book something more beachy. I'll look north but I know we also have a long drive the following day so I'm still trying to figure out exactly what the right spot is. Do you have any specific recommendations? It does look as though most coastal average hotels are still pricey and I'm OK paying it if needed.

You all have been more than helpful, thanks for the info and I'll commit to posting a trip report.

San Diego
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5. Re: April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

Given all the feedback, I made a change. Canceled the Santa Maria Inn and Booked The Morgan in San Simeon.....this will give us more time to travel down from Monterrey and will possibly allow us to do Hurst Castle bright and early Sat. morning before getting on the road for the long drive back to San Diego. Again, thanks for all the help.

Grover Beach...
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6. Re: April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

Oh NO!! You don't want the Morgan Hotel in San Simeon!! The photos look nice, but the reviews are pretty bad. Even the Motel 6 across the street would be better. It used to be a Holiday Inn, so a bit nicer than your typical Motel 6.

You should also consider staying in Cambria. It's just another 5 minutes down the highway with many more lodging options.

In Cambria, I would consider San Simeon Pines Lodge, Castle Inn, Fog Catcher Inn or Cambria Pines Lodge on 16 wooded acres.

San Diego
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7. Re: April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

Kibbles. Thanks. I canceled and booked at the Sea Otter Inn (Moonstone Property) in Cambria. Looked pretty nice and boutiquish. Should be a nice finish to our trip.

8. Re: April Trip: Travel Itinerary - Any suggestions?

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