My husband and I have decided we want to go to California for our 10 year anniversary; 8 days in February 2015. We'd like to stick to the coast and go no farther north than San Francisco. I've been doing a bit of research and we already scaled back quite a bit of what we thought we would get to see/do. I was hoping to fly into Vegas and spend one full day and night there, and then fly into either Los Angeles, San Diego or San Fran and make our way up or down the coast (depending on where we flew into) and fly back to Buffalo, NY.
The only must haves on our list along the coast include: driving Highway 1 (especially near Big Sur), seeing redwoods (can't figure out how far south they are found or how close to the coast), and going to Santa Monica Pier/Venice Beach.
Things we'd like to do: Hollywood/LA tour of some kind, San Francisco Bay bridges, see Alcatraz island (not tour it), see some beautiful beaches (some of the smaller state park beaches along the coast seem amazing) or just stay ocean side one or two nights to catch sunrise and sunset, check out a Mission area (Monterey?). The Seal Rookery sounds really neat too. I'd love to cross into Tijuana but my husband isn't sold on going there.
We are fairly adventurous and tend to prefer activities that give us a touristy taste but are more off the beaten path.
I'm debating skipping the first night in Vegas, though I don't know if I'd ever get to make it out there again. My husband has been a few times and is indifferent, but would be nice to say I've been. Chances are if we even made it out West again, the kids would have to tag along since it's taken some major planning to be able to be gone a week on our own so Vegas would be left out.
With all this in mind and a hotel budget around $100-150/night, is this feasible for 8 days. Or should we be looking to skip San Diego and go from LA up to SanFran? I don't want to spend the whole week in a car but we definitely plan on covering some miles.
Thanks for any input or suggestions!