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CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

Idaho
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CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

Hello,

We are planning a trip from Boise, Idaho to Crater Lake, then Crescent City area down to Santa Cruz and home. We love a road trip but this is unfamiliar territory and the opportunities are so dense that I find myself overwhelmed! We have about 8 days...9 max. Our kids are 7,12,15,and 17. Long drives are no problem but we also love to unpile for multiple sights, activities along the way. We are planning on camping most of the time with a hotel or yurt once or twice for a break. We are on a budget, (surprise) but that brings out the adventure! We, including kids are easy to please and so much of this will be new to us,..we just don't want to miss any highlights.

We enjoy hiking, beach combing, the kids will want to swim even if its cold...there is no ocean in Idaho after all! Sea life, tide pools, redwoods, adventure, special sites along the way, the Golden Gate Bridge, the boardwalk, drive theough trees, so many things. If you had to boil it down, what would you do? What MUST we do? Where would you camp....are there any places to camp without bumping the neighboring tent? Gold Bluffs for a different camp experience? Is there a splurge along the way not to be missed? Most meals will be at camp, picnics but are there some must try little spots to eat or shop?

Each summer we take the kids on a "Magical Mystery Tour", a surprise road trip filled with unknown destinations each day...except this time, even we aren't sure of the destinations, just the general direction. We are adept at packing lots of fun into a small window so please be generous with any ideas! Thank you!

So Cal
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1. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

I know there's a campground at Crater Lake, don't know the details (we stayed at the Lodge). But make sure you do some of the rim drive there, and also take the steepish hike down to the lake's surface at Cleetwood Cove, even if you don't take any of the boat rides. That water is so wonderfully clear! You can swim from there, or just have a nice picnic (but I cannot imagine any kid not wanting to get into that water).

The Sinnott Memorial Overlook, near the smaller Visitor Center up near the Lodge, is terrific for adults and kids.

If you have time to stop at Oregon Caves (off the 199, between Crater Lake and Crescent City), it's well worth it. A lot depends on the guide (our ranger was terrific, very interested in her subject and very good at making it relatable to everyone), but even with a so-so one, the caves would still be beautiful. If anyone is uncomfortable on such a tour, they can wait at the hotel right outside - there's a cafe, museum, some short hiking trails, and a nice outdoor seating area.

You'll have to read up on the redwood parks - tons of great places to pick from.

Idaho
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2. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

Thank you so much, these are great things to keep in mind. I hadn't thought of swimming at Crater Lake but you are right, the kids will want to jump in! We have toured the Lava tubes near Prineville and the kids still talk about that adventure. Now, for the next leg of the trip.....anyone?

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

I would start by looking at camp grounds on your way which may be near sights you want to see.

Start with this, which is a list of Sunset Magazines "best campgrounds in California".

It shows locations on a map of California and if you click on the indicators it describes the campground.

http://tinyurl.com/mx9e478

It sounds like a lovely trip. Be aware, however, that you may need reservations in some of the public campgrounds which are popular.

When you get to Santa Cruz (welcome) here is an article describing what you might see and do. If you want to camp near Santa Cruz, you MUST have reservations as far ahead as possible. If you can't get them, let me know and I will try to recommend an inexpensive lodging. Your kids will love the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

http://tinyurl.com/y4hnbu9

Idaho
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4. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

Wonderful, helpful information. That campground map is great, they all sound like an experience not to miss. I wish we had more days!

So maybe this for a rough sketch.....

Day 1. Very early morning departure and Crater Lake area

Day 2. Crescent City and a beach?

Day 3. Redwoods drive with stops along the way, Avenue of the Giants, Golden Gate Bridge, overnight? Or on to Santa Cruz area?

Day 4,5,6 Santa Cruz and surrounding sites...boardwalk, beach time,aquarium, natural bridges, suggestions from your attachment

Day 7 and 8 to be determined on our way home

I will try to make the camping reservations soon..Henry Cowell or Big Basin in santa Cruz. Are these the type of camp sites where you are snugged up to your neighbor or is there a buffer? Once in Santa Cruz we would like to have a hotel for at least 2 nights as a treat. Nothing fancy, just safe and clean so I would love suggestions. Also, with your warm welcome, I'm guessing SC is your home town. Could you suggest a spot for groceries and a few special places to eat?

Thanks so much!

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

Hi,

Your Day 3 doesn't look workable to me. It is almost 500 miles from Crescent City to Santa Cruz, about 9 hours driving, leaving little time for the redwoods, etc. You mention the Golden Gate Bridge in the same sentence as " overnight". I think someone mentioned Samuel P. Taylor State Park as a possible campground. This is north of the city. in Marin County. Still, a heavy driving day. You might want to break this drive into two days or you will be rushing past things you might want to see.

Big Basin is a lovely park but not very convenient if you want to have activities around Santa Cruz. The center of the park is 20 miles north of SC on some very twisty roads. Henry Cowell is an easy 7 miles up the same road. I am sorry that I have not seen the campground there for quite a few years and don't remember how close together the camp sites are. They are very nice, however.

A hotel in Santa Cruz for a couple of nights. Six of you. OK. I will warn you that this is a popular tourist destination and prices will be high. You would probably like to be near the Boardwalk and there are some (relatively) cheap hotels in one area there, but we do not recommend staying there because of a spotty neighborhood nearby where there has been some gang activity. And the motels are pretty cheesy.

In the preferred area, next to the Municipal Wharf, there are two expensive hotels, the Dream Inn and the Surf and Sand Inn. Both of these have Bay views.

Look at Coastview Inn, Seaway Inn. Beach Street Inn and Suites. Ocean Pacific Lodge is usually reasonable. This is two blocks back from the Wharf.

http://www.coastviewinn.com/

http://www.seawayinn.com/

http://www.beachstreetinn.com/

https://www.theoceanpacificlodge.com/

If you do not mind not being near the Boardwalk, there are motels on Ocean Street as you come into town. I would not use a motel on Ocean Street with a lower street number than 400, or one on Riverside Drive. But, on upper Ocean Street I just made reservations for early July for our nephew and his family at $135/night, two queen beds, cooked breakfast, pool. This is the Comfort Inn whose address is on Plymouth Street. Not the Comfort Inn Boardwalk. This is a nice, off-the-street location.

comfortinn.com/hotel-santa_cruz-california-C…

Grocery stores. Lots of them from Costco (warehouse, membership required) to huge fancy organic Whole Foods. If you google grocery stores Felton, Ca, you get this. (my connection to tinyurl to shorten the URL isn't working. If this link is too long to work, just google it yourself. Sorry.

https://www.google.com/search…

Where to eat. The main street of Santa Cruz, Pacific Avenue, has scads of restaurants, with sidewalk seating as well as indoors. You can walk the street and look at the posted menus. I will just mention a couple which we like and are family friendly. Kianti's Pizza and Pasta, Rosie McCann's Irish Pub (upstairs...pub is in the way back so it doesn't interfere with your dinner). Reasonable prices, good hearty food. Betty's Burgers (I think your boys would love this one.)

http://www.bettyburgers.com/

It is tempting to eat at the Wharf. Generally speaking the seafood restaurants there are tourist oriented, meaning that they do not have to depend upon repeat business. The one the locals like is Riva, which does not take reservations nor credit cards, but has a history of good food. We used to love it, but the food has been sub par the last two times. However, it might be worth picking one of the Wharf restaurants just for the view. If you make reservations ask for a window table.

OK, I will shut up now.

Let me know if you have questions.

San Jose, California
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6. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

Not far from Crescent City is Prairie Creek Redwoods state park - they have a nice campground in the redwoods there. We spent a weekend there a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Gold Bluffs campground is also in that park, which is right on the beach - you go down a long dirt road to get there, but it is well maintained. We drove down in my Mazda 3 without any problems - it wasn't loaded with gear at the time though - I think a normal car loaded with gear and people might have some trouble on that road.

A bit further south is Patrick's Point state park, which has a wonderful rocky coastline and some nice camping.

So Cal
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7. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

I'm scratching my head at your Day 1. Crater Lake looks to be about 8 hours from Boise (haven't been to Boise, so I'll take Google's word for that); from there to Crescent City it's almost 4 hours (I have driven that one, and it's about right). So that's a minimum of 11 hours driving in one day. You won't have any time to enjoy the lake - you might as well skip it and drive directly to CC. If you do want to stop at the lake, you really need to stay there overnight.

Idaho
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8. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

Putter. Holy cow! Thank you for taking the time to share so much great and practical information. At your recommendation I've included a new stop for Day 3. Rather than try to get all the way to SF area we will try to stay in Windsor for a night....leave early the next day for some time in the city...then that evening, onto SC.

You are right about the hotels, expensive for our family, I think thAt 135.00 price must not have been at high season, now it is closer to 200. Likely we will camp at Henry Cowell but I will keep looking, by then a stationary bed will be a treat! Thanks again for your help, truly appreciate it!

Idaho
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9. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

November...which would you choose, Gold Bluffs or PP for a family ? For swimming/wading, for beach combing? Tide pools? Thanks!

Jenazz, you're right, 11 hours would be raw. We will actually leave home in the wee hours and plan to arrive at Crater around 2 or 3, camping there overnight. Enjoy the sunset at lookout point that night, investigate a bit into late morning and then head out for Crescent City area to enjoy and spend our 2nd night. Sorry I wasn't more clear on that and thanks for taking the time to point out a potential trip kill! :)

San Jose, California
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10. Re: CC to Santa Cruz, family road trip...ideas?

Both are good choices. Which is best really depends on what you are looking for.

Gold Bluffs is a bit more remote and that campground is right on the beach - you go several miles down a dirt road and have to ford a couple creeks - well-maintained fords that you can make in a regular car that time of year. If memory serves, there is little to no shade or cover at the campground - it is very open. Being on the beach has plusses and minuses - a minus being that if there is wind, of course, the sand will blow around. On the otherhand, you are on the beach :-) And the beach here is very wide. A real benefit of this campground is that you are very close to Fern Canyon, which is really neat.

Patrick's Point is easier to get to - no dirt road or anything and it is closer to the highway. The campgrounds are all on a bluff overlooking the ocean, so you would need to walk down to the beach rather than being on the beach itself. The campgrounds are more sheltered though, since they are back in the trees a bit - so there is shade and some shelter from the wind.