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Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

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Orange, California
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Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

Hello to all Mentors and Guides...your inputs are appreciated and Thanks in Advance...my first post on this....

We intend to visit Hearst Castle and surrounding areas starting 22nd Dec...we are flexible to the days we can spend there 2-3 ...however we want to have a relaxing trip and visit exclusive and beautiful places..rather than try to add all in one go..we can visit again if required. So lets say 2-3 day trip feels good. Hope we can do it with kids shouting "are we there yet " :)

First as indicated

To get the best advice, include:

Your budget - Needs to be economical, as we are travelling in group ..we can split the cost.. we can rent a vacation home as well....we dont intend to camp..and would like options with extende kitchens..so as to cook our meals .

Your travel companions - Group - at-least 3 Families - with 6 Adults and 6 kids; Kids age - 2 - 11 yrs, 2 - 4 years, 2 - 7 year olds.

Your part of town - we are from Orange County, south cal

Your likes, dislikes - Open to anything and every experience, basically there to create memories. Note: My friends (8 of them ) have taken to Vegetarianism...however we are open

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Here's my thought as of yet. Visit.

* Hearst Castle

* Elephant Seal Rookery

* Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

* May be reagan lib/air force one.

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Your expertise is needed in identifying an itinerary that consists of above and/or other options with 2-3 day time period..we can extend if u suggest we should really really visit it..

*** Need suggestion on places where we can /should stay , which town/city ???..would u suggest taking one place and then moving about from there..or stay at different places...?

*** Eating places ??? - Note: My friends have taken to Vegetarianism...however we are open

*** Vista points ?? - where you feel we should stop/route to take so as to take memorable photo's . do advise how long the trip gets extended if we intend to stop at Vista points suggested. We can detour to other places adjacent to main route if suggested.

*** Any towns/ things to do you feel need to be on our to do list ??.

Also since its winter time..any ideas on post daylight time activities /winter specific/christmas activities around towns...that we can do to keep kids busy..that doesn't involve reading them stories :)..may be a place with hot water pools etc..

Phew..lots of questions..would greatly appreciate if you could invest some time on this subject and advise

Orange, California
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1. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

Just additional info - Have been to Ojai/SantaBarbara and SFO already.

however havent visited any Winery..is this a good time to visit ? any recommendations would be great

Cambria, California
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2. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

Well, you might find it challenging to meet all your needs since your dates are right in the middle of the busiest time of year for accommodations. You can try some of the real estate/vacation rental offices in Cambria or Morro Bay to see if anything's still available to meet your needs, but will probably be paying premium prices. Hearst Castle, the rookery and lighthouse are all closest to Cambria.

Some suggestions on things to do -

If you intend to go to Hearst Castle, buy your tickets online ASAP. I work there, and we sell out during the holidays. If you are bringing the 2 year olds and this is too much for them (it is a museum and there are restrictions to protect the collection that young ones sometimes have trouble with) know that there is a comfort room and it's also part of the tour to be able to wander the grounds on your own.

http://www.hearstcastle.org/tours

http://hearst.reserveamerica.com/

The Elephant Seal rookery is free and just a 5 minute drive up the road. You can also check the website for the Piedras Blancas lighthouse to see if they are doing tours when you're in the area.

www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=89

You can also go out on the pier at WRH State Beach, across the street from the Castle Visitor's Center entrance. Many beaches in Cambria along Moonstone Beach Drive have pebbles, beach glass and driftwood everyone can search for treasures in.

Big Sur within reach if you stay in Cambria - lots of vistas.

The Cambria Pines Lodge has a free "European Marketplace" in their gardens with an amazing light display - lights everywhere as you walk thru the gardens, and photos with Santa.

Restaurants in Cambria that could work for your vegetarian friends include Robins and Wild Ginger.

http://www.robinsrestaurant.com/

http://www.wildgingercambria.com/ (this place is very small, tho')

In Morro Bay (about 25 minute south of Cambria) there are kayak and canoe rentals where you can float around in the protected harbor. Lots of restaurant choices with a variety of foods.

Highway 46 is the most picturesque drive and less winding than Highway 41 to head east from Highway 1. Paso Robles/Templeton are world-class areas for wine and many wineries are open for tasting, but it isn't cheap (usually $5-10pp that's applied to purchase) and the kids might get bored with that. Some have petting zoos, tho.

If I think of more, I'll add to the post. But right now you need to figure out where you can find a place and then plan your adventures from there.

Edited: 13 December 2012, 18:11
Grover Beach...
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3. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

Yeah, kinda late to be planning a Christmas week visit for this area. I, too, think Cambria Pines Lodge would work well for you, but there aren't any hotels in this area with kitchenettes and rental/vacation homes have likely been reserved for months now.

If you just need cheap... look at Motel 6 in neighboring San Simeon. It used to be a Holiday Inn, so it's a bit nicer than your typical Motel 6. Cambria is only 5 minutes away, so you could easily drive down for breakfast, lunch, dinner from San Simeon.

Orange, California
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4. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

Thank You so much wanderluster..much appreciated.

what time is the best time to take hearst castle tour, i was planning evening one..however cant make it on the day its available and its unavailable on others...so would a late afternoon one be good..so that we get to see the views in the afternoon and lighting at dusk..am planning to take just one tour..?

For wineries..its more for kids to see vineyards..will they be open during this time of the year...?

Orange, California
14 posts
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5. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

you were right in terms of getting vacation rentals....i was searching for rentals in cambria..and didnt find any...which are the other good towns/cities..i should look at while searching..which can accomodate our trip..without too much of to and fro travel...thanks again..

Orange, California
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6. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

Thank You KimbbelsMom for taking out time and advising..much appreciated....this is so wonderful..my first tryst with tripadvisor and am loving it....what are other neihbouring towns that we should look at while booking hotels/vacation rentals..i have rented vacation homes couple of times and they have worked out great everytime...so with group such as ours.would prefer vacation rentals..and with kids u know the noise they create when they get hyper...

Orange, California
14 posts
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7. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

KibblesMom- was looking at Pismo beach as well..i believe ther's a butterfly park or something open during this season...recommended...how about things around Pismo beach..

Grover Beach...
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8. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

The majority of wineries will be open (Except Christmas/New Year's Day) during your visit.

Here's a list of family friendly ones (Just check ahead of time to see if they're still open):

Sylvester, Castoro, Sculpterra, Tobin James

RE: Vacation homes

Many towns require at least a one week or more stay in a vacation home in this area. Each town has its own laws on this, so be sure to know what they are in each town you look at or you could end up with problems from neighbors and local LE.

Cambria and San Simeon are the closest to Hearst Castle. You might try Paso Robles, Cayucos or Morro Bay.

The Central Coast is VERY popular this time of year and it will be difficult finding lodging at this late date. Wish I could be more optimistic for you, but we only have so many hotel rooms and vacation homes to accommodate the thousands who flock here for winter break.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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9. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

Pismo Beach is about an hour south of Hearst Castle, but it's really popular here at Christmas time. I'm sure the vacation homes are fully booked.

For hotels, look at Kon Tiki Inn, Oxford Suites, Spyglass Inn.

You might also try looking in San Luis Obispo. Quality Suites, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Peach Tree Inn.

Novo and Blue Sky Cafe are good vegan choices in SLO.

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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10. Re: Planning trip from LA to Hearst Castle and surrounding area

I found a vacation with availability for your dates and it can accommodate your whole group:

http://www.vrbo.com/194429

I would call quick on it!