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California Vacation - San Francisco

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Vancouver, Canada
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California Vacation - San Francisco

Hi...I'm taking my family to California in March and was wondering if anyone could suggest the best places to visit in San Francisco. I'm unfamiliar with the city, so any suggetions would be appreciated. I'd like a good mix of culture, recreation, history, and fun for the kids who are 6 and 10 years old. I'm not sure where to book a hotel either. I have no idea which parts of the city I should avoid.

We'll be driving our way north from Los Angeles, so any advice on where to stop on the coast along the way would be greatly appreciated.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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1. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

Here's a link to SF City Guide with all kinds of info about what to see and do in SF:

www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/insiders_guide/

How many days/nights will you allow for the journey from LA to SF and do you plan on taking scenic Hwy 1?

That will give us a better idea on where to overnight between cities.

Newbury Park...
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2. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

I have kids similar ages who love San Francisco and can't wait to return. Here is a link to a goList I created with their favorite places there.

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i16048-San_Fran…

San Francisco...
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3. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

Take 101 or 1 and you can stop by Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, or Monterey on your way up to SF. On 5, you get to see (an smell) miles and miles of cow.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

Gee....this site is amazing. Thanks for all your help! The San Francisco sites look great. The info on where to take the kids was very helpful as there are so many guide books that don't take into account what will interest kids at different ages. The Columbus Inn looks good for our budget and needs. I'll take the advice and book there.

As for the trip from L.A. to San Francisco, we will be leaving L.A. on March 18th and arriving in San Francisco on the 19th. We're not sure which town to stay in along the way though. There are so many lovely-looking beach communities along the coast. We definitely want to stay by the water's edge for a more scenic drive. Any advice on where to visit and stay along that route?

I've read about Hearst Castle. Is it worth a look with kids in tow?

Thanks, in advance, for your replies. You've been a great help so far.

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

I meant to ask that if you could stay in one beach community along the L.A. to San Francisco route, which one would it be? There are too many to choose from for a one-day trip. Thanks again!

New York City, New...
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6. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

1 night along the coast is not a lot of time since that scenic drive takes 10-12 hours without stopping. that means that you still have to drive for 5-6 hrs each day. Santa Barbara is a good stop, so is the Monterey Aquarium (I think more interesting for your kids), or Santa Cruz. If you enjoy nature, then Big Sur. Make sure to do the 17-mile drive.

March is not going too be warm enough for beach tanning etc, so it's not really necessary to stay right on the beach unless you really want to.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

Yes...we are really pushing it with the long drive. I want to see a lot of ocean scenery though, so will consider shaving a day off either L.A. or San Francisco just to have some quiet, wandering time in the smaller beachside communities. It's a tough decision which city to spend less time in though.

Thanks to you all for the great suggestions.

New York City, New...
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8. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

How many days do you have in each city as planned right now? I've lived in both, and I would definitely spend more time in SF if I had to choose. SF is more charming. However, if you're going to be visiting many theme parks, those are mostly in and aorund LA, and each take a full day to explore.

Grover Beach...
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9. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

Cambria or San Simeon are your best mid-way stops between LA & SF. There are many lovely inns along Moonstone Beach Drive in Cambria or the Best Western Cavalier in San Simeon is quite popular with travelers. The Cavalier is right next to the water with nearby beach access.

Hearst Castle might be interesting to your 10 year old, but probably not to your 6 year old. I recommend continuing past Hearst to Monterey and stopping to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium instead, which will appeal to your whole family overall. Keep in mind that it will be getting dark in SF around 6:30 pm and that the drive up Hwy 1 from Monterey to SF will take at least 3 hours.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: California Vacation - San Francisco

So far, we've planned 4 days in Disneyland alone and 4 days to sight-see in and around Los Angeles. We're using Best Western Travel cards to pay for our hotels, but finding a Best Western hotel for the 4 day Los Angeles leg is proving to be a challenge. I'm sure I'll find something though. We're planning to go to Universal Studios, Hollywood, Santa Monica, the Getty Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, the Queen Mary--whatever we can fit into the 4 days to keep the kids and ourselves busy and interested.

San Francisco is a 3 day stay--Alcatraz, cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf--the usual stuff. I'm a 60s music fan, so I'd like to see the Haight-Ashbury district (I hope I spelled that correctly). I'm not sure if there are any music stores or museums to represent the 60s music movement there. It's tough finding any info on that area. I'm guessing it's just your average neighbourhood with homes and Starbucks cafes now? :-)

I agree that my younger son would probably be bored at Hearst Castle. After considering the distance and the time, I think we might just stop in San Luis Obispo and wander around that area, stopping at Pismo Beach along the way. Then we'll make our way north via 101 to Salinas and Santa Cruz. We can save the ocean drive when we drive north of San Francisco back to Vancouver: Bodega Bay, Mendocino, etc. I haven't read much about those places yet, but I will after I figure out the Los Angeles to San Francisco schedule.

You folks are being incredibly helpful. Thanks!