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10 day California Trip in July

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Dec 11th, 2017, 05:39 PM
  #1
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10 day California Trip in July

Hi all, My husband, teenage daughter and I are planning a 10ish day trip from Ft. Lauderdale to California. We have never been to Cali. Our plan is to fly in and out of Los Angeles and drive from LA to San Francisco and back...OR fly in and out of San Francisco and drive to LA and back. Any thoughts on that?

Ideally, we would have liked to fly into LA and out of San Fran. but we plan on renting a car and to drop the car off in a different place than we rented it is very expensive, right?

Along the way, we plan to stop and visit in Solvang, San Simeon/Hearse Castle, Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Muir Woods, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, Sausalito.

How long should we plan to stay in each location? Thanks in advance for all your input.
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Dec 11th, 2017, 06:19 PM
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>>We have never been to Cali<< To get that out of the way first -- Cali is a city in Colombia.

>>Our plan is to fly in and out of Los Angeles and drive from LA to San Francisco and back...OR fly in and out of San Francisco and drive to LA and back. Any thoughts on that?<<

Neither IMO. Fly into one and fly home from the other. You only have 10 days and that isn't enough time to tour from SF > LA and back. Do a linear/one way drive.

You don't mention any sites south of Solvang and 3/4 of your list are in the SF/Monterey Bay area . . . so why do you want to fly in or out of LAX?

With just 10 days (and if that includes your travel days it is really only 8 or 9 days on the ground) you could fly in/out of SFO and do a loop of SF/San Simeon/Monterey/Santa Cruz (and forget about Solvang and LA). I'd also forget about Muir Woods -- and EXTREMELY crowded small-ish park and (as of January) one MUST pre-book a visit. Go to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park instead. It is in the Santa Cruz mountains.

What do you want to see/do in San Jose?

Note -- you can visit Big Sur but not drive all the way through so you will have to back track getting to or from Hearst Castle

If you want to visit LA -- then basically SF 2 nights > Santa Cruz 1 night > Monterey/Carmel area 2 nights > San Simeon/Cambria 1 night > Solvang/Santa Barbara area 1 night > LA 2 nights is doable.
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Dec 11th, 2017, 07:25 PM
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Using janisj's reasoning re LA and her list at the end, I'd amend it to:

SF - 4 nights
Monterey/Big Sur - 4 nights
Cambria - 2 nights

Return to SFO for flight home (3 1/2 or so hrs drive). A much nicer pace and quality trip, I think (and saves the drop-off fee).

Or reverse it, drive to San Simeon on arrival and spend the last few days in SF.
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Dec 11th, 2017, 08:55 PM
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That would be good -- assuming they have 10 nights. Not quite sure from the OP since it says >>10ish days<<
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Dec 11th, 2017, 09:02 PM
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Thank you for mentioning Muir Woods has reservations required starting January 1. In fact, if you get there by 8 or 8:30 in the morning, there is parking and there are not people. We live right by the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and will be sure to get there before it's reservation time (which may be a good idea since by 10 it's a zoo, but is taking away one of our favorite weekend things to do.
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Dec 12th, 2017, 05:05 PM
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Thanks for everyone's input. janisj, ideally, we would love to fly into LA and out of SF, but someone said the drop off fee for a car rental would be close to 800 dollars extra..

As far as San Jose, we are interested in the Egyptian Museum, Japantown, and the Winchester House.

MmePerdue, I will consider flying in and out of San Francisco. I thought it would be more expensive than LAX but it doesn't seem to be.

So, we need reservations just to get into Muir Woods? Do we need to chose a time frame too or just the day?
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Dec 13th, 2017, 01:10 PM
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You'll need reservations for Hearst Castle also.
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Dec 13th, 2017, 03:57 PM
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Thanks jamie99. I really have to plan this trip out well!
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Dec 13th, 2017, 08:02 PM
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>>So, we need reservations just to get into Muir Woods?<<

Yes.

I would totally forget about Muir Woods. You can visit a larger/less crowded redwood park when you drive from San Jose to Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay. Henry Cowell State park is in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

There is another Redwood park near San Jose -- Big Basin. A little more of a detour but you might be able to fit it in instead.

There is nothing 'magic' about Muir Woods . . . It is very nice but is waaaaaaay too crowded.
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Dec 14th, 2017, 03:35 AM
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That is good to know janisj. Everyone around here tells us we have to go to Muir Woods,but it sounds like it isn't the only place to see beautiful redwoods.

We wanted to go to Redwood National Forest, but it is just too far.
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Dec 14th, 2017, 08:09 AM
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staci, I live in San Francisco and I love redwoods. AND I haven’t been to Muir Woods in 35 years!
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Dec 14th, 2017, 08:40 AM
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Sf, not surprising. We from the area know where all the redwoods are and I think the particular value of Muir Woods is for their draw, to keep the tourists corralled there and we have the rest to ourselves. I don't recall ever having been there though quite a while ago I did visit what may be the next park to the north, Armstrong Redwoods. It was inadvertent as I was visiting someone who lived on the same road and figured I may as well.

My favorite "secret" redwoods are near the San Mateo County coast south of SF, Butano State Park and has the advantage of not being near any built-up area, just the beaches & stunning coastal drive and the nearest tiny town, Pescadero. That's the one I recommend, though in this case it may be a bit out of the way. Not a lot but not a straight line if San Jose is on the itinerary.
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Dec 14th, 2017, 08:42 AM
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>>Everyone around here tells us we have to go to Muir Woods<<

That is probably because it is the ONLY park they have heard of.


Happens all the time over on the Europe forum - Everyone MUST go to Loch Ness . . . but that's because it is the only Scottish Loch they've heard of so think it must be a 'must'. It is far from the best loch (not in the top ten)
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Dec 14th, 2017, 10:59 AM
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mmeperdu, you recommended Butano previously and we hiked there last year (followed by soup and pie at Duarte's of course). Very nice, and we were almost alone on the train we hiked.
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Dec 14th, 2017, 01:43 PM
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I thought I saw someone!
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Dec 14th, 2017, 02:13 PM
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Regarding one way car rentals - put your dates and locations in to a couple of rental sites and you will probably find one that does not have a drop off fee. We've done it a couple of times and all companies do not charge the fee.
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Dec 14th, 2017, 02:36 PM
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Also check on booking through your airline site as there are some good deals to be had when you book it with your flights. And maybe after, too, I don't recall which it was last time.
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Dec 14th, 2017, 02:54 PM
  #18
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O.K., thanks--I'll look at Butano State Park. If we could avoid the tourist crowds, all the better. We are so tired of looking at palm trees!

I'll also play around with the car rental companies. I just assumed they all had a drop off fee-good to know.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 09:46 AM
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Butano is one of my favorite parks. It has plenty of redwoods, but no old-growth groves, so you won't see the really big trees there. It's still a great park though. And you can hike for hours and only pass a few people.

Both Big Basin and Henry Cowell have old growth groves - both are popular, but not really crowded, especially if you visit on a weekday. We visit Big Basin regularly on summer weekends. The main park headquarters area is busy, but all you have to do is walk 0.25 mile down any trail and to leave the crowds behind - there will be people on the trails, but not a ton.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 12:51 PM
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Butano is a wonderful park . . . But I definitely recommend Henry Cowell or Big Basin instead. You want to see the big trees -- that isn't Butano.

••• Now, IF you have time for Butano PLUS one of the other two -- absolutely fit it in. But not 'instead of' •••
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