10 Day California Vacation Advice

Old Dec 24th, 2013, 08:46 AM
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10 Day California Vacation Advice

Thank you in advance to any advice you can share!

My wife and I have never been to Califonia but it's been on our bucket list of things to do before starting a family. We are looking at an early June departure for 10 days (give or take). Our interests include good food (excluding seafood), sights and activities. Wine, famous people and lounging at beaches is not what we're looking for.

From the research I've done it looks like a drive down (or up) the PCH might be our best bet.
1. Is it best to start south and head north or vice versa?
2. What stops do you recommend we make and for how long in each destination?
3. Any restaurants, sights, parks, activites etc... you would recommend?

Thanks!
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Old Dec 24th, 2013, 09:25 AM
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OK - clarify something. You don't want beaches or famous people. Does LA or San Diego interest you??? Or are you more/only interested in driving up our famous Hwy #1 (it's only called PCH in the Southern Calif area), Yosemite, San Francisco, and Napa/Sonoma Wine country???

Do you have airline tickets booked yet???

Here are some ideas about Hwy #1, Big Sur, Carmel, Pt Lobos, and a lot about the San Francisco Bay Area & wine country.

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...mendations.cfm

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 24th, 2013, 09:54 AM
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Thank you Stu. I will definately incorporate your San Fran suggestions.

No airline tickets booked yet. We'd like to check out Yosemite but probably not Napa/Sonoma. We havent ruled out LA or San Diego, but we want to make sure we can fit everything in within 10 days.
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Old Dec 24th, 2013, 09:58 AM
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They each have their advantages, north to south you are on the ocean side of the road, easier to pull into turnouts but being so close to the side of the road makes some folks nervous. South to north the sun is not in your eyes.
Definitely stay at least two nights along Highway 1.
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Old Dec 24th, 2013, 10:42 AM
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You won't have time enough for San Diego, LA, Big Sur Coast, San Francisco, and Yosemite.

IMO, minimum nights in each destination are:
San Diego - 3 if you start there
LA - 3
Cambria (start of Hwy 1 drive & Hearst castle) 1
Carmel/Monterey 2
San Francisco 4
Yosemite 2 nights 1 3/4 days

That's 14 nights - something's gotta give. I'm not a big LA fan - although I lived there until I was 28. If you don't visit San Diego and LA, you'll save a lot of time & ugly freeway driving.

Where can you fly to/from where you live??

IMO, a perfect itinerary would be:

- Fly to Santa Barbara and stay the first night in Cambria. Visit Hearst Castle & explore Cambria.

- Slowly drive north on Hwy #1 (Cabrillo Highway here - not PCH) and visit Julia Preiffer Burns State Park, and have lunch at Nepenthe at the south end of Big Sur. Visit lovely Pfeiffer Beach, and perhaps Pfeiffer State Park (lots of Pfeiffers here) where there are many redwood trees. Keep heading north om Hwy 1 to Carmel. Stay in Carmel for 2-3 nights, and visit all the stuff around there - Carmel, Carmel Beach, Spanish Bay, Pacific Grove, 17 Mile Drive, and the aquarium if that interests you.

- From Carmel, backtrack a bit to Pt Lobos & spend most of the morning there. This has been called "the most beautify meeting of land and sea". Then head to San Francisco (2 1/2 hr drive with minimum traffic). Try to leave before 1PM to beat the commute traffic if it a work day. Spend 4 nights in San Francisco.

- Early the last morning in SF, drive to Yosemite. You will be going in the opposite direction of the morning commute. Spend 2-3 nights in Yosemite Valley. Reservations are hard to get. If you choose to visit Yosemite, determine when rooms are available and work your plans around those dates. You could do this itinerary in reverse.

- Fly home from Sacramento.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 24th, 2013, 10:47 AM
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I would fly into San Francisco or even San Jose. I would see Yosemite(first-as the earlier the better for the waterfall flow/rate). Be sure and see The Valley and Maripossa Grove. This can be done in a day, but really 2-3 days is better if you plan on hiking any at all. I think early June is the very best time for Yosemite.

Spend 2-3 days in San Francisco

Spend3-4 days South of San Francisco on the coast. Monterey, Big Sur, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Hearst Castle, McWay Falls. Perhaps even as far south as The Channel Islands. If you don't make it to the Channel Islands, then do a Whale Watching Cruise from Monterey area. Food is great along the coast and in San Francisco. Try The Awahnee, in Yosemite for a meal or Sunday Brunch.

If you don't go to Yosemite, then consider heading north to see The Redwoods. The Mariposa Grove in Yosemite has huge trees, so you probably wouldn't want to do both in this short trip.
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Old Dec 24th, 2013, 04:49 PM
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There is so much to see in Calif a ten day trip is a great start to get the flavor of a few places.
IN SF bay area, walk across the golden gate bridge, go to zagat.com and pick the restaurants and bakeries that appeal to you. A walk in the Muir woods is astounding. Driving down the coast stopping at Big Sur, Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara is a thrill. In LA a bkie raide or walk along the path starting at Venice or Santa monica beach is fun. If you like coffee, Intelligentsia in LA, and Blue Bottle in SF are among the many great places. Happy to go into more detial if you send some or your likes.
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Old Dec 24th, 2013, 05:28 PM
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Stu of course is the expert here. I am inclined to think of California in terms of 3 regions: Southern, Central, and Northern. That is somewhat simplistic, but as it is a long state, more practical for me in terms of vacations and driving.

Since you are not seeking famous people, and since from your name it appears you are in Jupiter, FL, I'd just skip Southern California. Since you are not wine lovers, then you don't need to visit the popular wine regions. Next - for the 10 days, will you need to arrive/depart from the same airport? We normally do, for car rentals, but that is a consideration.

Thinking you have a loop in mind, you might consider one for Central in which you can see Monterey, Yosemite, Tahoe. Or, a coastal drive that encompasses San Francisco then up the coast to the Redwoods National Park. Either route will easily take up your 10 days as a round trip.
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Old Dec 24th, 2013, 07:31 PM
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You can visit or stay in any city of California. It has the most beautiful cities. There you will find some worth watching sights to see. It will complete your journey with satisfaction of watching the nature from so close.
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Old Dec 25th, 2013, 04:43 AM
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Au contraire - mon Northern California amis. I think a visit to Southern California is very doable in this 10 days - if you want to see a lot.

If you can be flexible on your flights - starting in Sacramento would be good/closer to Yosemite - and from there - head back to SF for a couple days - and then take a couple days heading down the Coast - and finally - after giving LA a quick look/see - wind up here - kicking back on the beach in San Diego while visiting the Zoo/Safari Park (formerly Wild Animal Park) and See World, whatever.

Fly out of here - San Diego - or a two hour drive up to LAX.
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Old Dec 25th, 2013, 04:50 AM
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And as for wine tasting - take a Napa tour (when we lived in SF - we loved riding/pedaling our bikes around Napa/Sonoma years ago - but some say the traffic is now too heavy for that?) - or at one of the wineries in/around Cambria/hiway 46 on the way to Paso Robles, or around Santa Barbara/the Danish village of Solvang ( http://www.cityofsolvang.com/ and the nearby Santa Rita Hills is a hot spot for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) - or even here - down in San Diego.

You could combine a trip here up into the hills of Julian (former mining town) - http://www.julianca.com/attractions/ for a small winery tour - and then enjoy some great apple pie.
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Old Dec 25th, 2013, 06:42 AM
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Tomsd, I understood them to say they do not want wine tasting, or beaches..
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Old Dec 25th, 2013, 08:01 AM
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I don't think "LA" and "quick look/see" belong in the same paragraph. Almost everything is far apart there. I had to drive 1+ hr to a Laker game, and 1 hr to LAX from San Gabriel. Longer during rush hours.

JupiterFl might not enjoy that 7 1/2 t 8 1/2 drive from Cambria (overnight stop after Hwy 1) over to the truly boring Hwy #5, and then through the middle of LA with several hours of really bad freeway driving - to get to San Diego. This drive will consume an entire day - which he has few of.

If you want to visit Hwy 1 from Cambria to Carmel (the most scenic part of Hwy 1, by far) - then stay north, not south. Carmel is 1 1/2 hrs from San Francisco and Cambria is 8 hrs from San Diego and 4 1/2 hrs from the center of LA.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 25th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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Here's what we did on one approximately 10-day trip:

-Flew into San Francisco (spent a couple of days, went over also to Muir Woods and took ferry to Sausalito).

-Drove down coast, stayed in Monterey for a couple of days. Pt. Lobos, Carmel, etc.

-From there to Yosemite (here went through Central Valley, not terribly scenic but nut farms and agriculture interesting; stopped at some stands and got nut products).

-Couple of days in Yosemite, then out through Tioga Pass into Nevada side. (Can do a short detour to visit Devil's Postpile, although we did that on a different trip. Check pass opening dates, though.)

- North to Tahoe for a couple of days - absolutely spectacular lake.

- Back to San Francisco for a day and then fly home.
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Old Dec 26th, 2013, 12:01 AM
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It all depends on how the Florida visitors feel about driving - but if your second night along the Coast ends up at Cambria - it's a very doable drive from there down to San Diego - about six hours or so - trying to time getting through LA before say 3:30 PM when traffic starts to build.

My sister drove back and forth many times from here in SD to to San Luis Obisbo (just south of Cambria) when her daughter was going to school there - and if you left Cambria after a nice breakfast - say around 9 AM - you could be enjoying the great view of SD Bay/Downtown/Coronado - while getting a deal during happy hour at C Level - the lower price alternative to the adjacent Island Prime

see: http://www.cohnrestaurants.com/islandprime
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Old Dec 26th, 2013, 06:42 AM
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>>It all depends on how the Florida visitors feel about driving
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Old Dec 26th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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Stu - why do a number of posters seem to have some kind of 3 day rule? Not I for sure - as I like to see as much as possible - and then decide where to spend more time should you return.

The six hour drive from Cambria to SD can offer a couple beautiful/scenic alternatives along the way - adding a half hour to hour each - such as driving along PCH/Hiway 1/Coast hiway - from just south of Oxnard/below Santa Barbara - down to south of Malibu and then taking the freeway 10 a couple miles east/over to the 405 freeway.

And then - about an hour+ later - when you get to Carlsbad - on the south side of Camp Pendelton/just beyond Oceanside - get back on the beach road/PCH/Hiway 1 - for some additional/great ocean treats - all the way down to Pacific Beach.
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Old Dec 26th, 2013, 08:08 AM
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Hopefully, OP will come back soon. If in fact he lives in Jupiter, then he is already right on the ocean, in an area with too much traffic, celebrities, wannabees, beaches, and flat flat landscape. That's why I am thinking more of the craggier N. California coast and mountains.

OTOH, I believe this is a fairly recently-married couple and likely younger, so San Francisco could provide the more cosmopolitan choices and fine dining. JupiterFla2012 - seafood on the west coast is much different than here in Florida, FWIW. Also, you'll find a lot more good Asian cuisine. (Sometimes Florida - at least Central Florida - seems to be a culinary wasteland populated with chain restaurants.)

Even in June, there may be some snow to be seen around Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, and there is nothing remotely like those places in Florida.

Although, Tomsd - don't mean to knock San Diego, it is certainly wonderful.
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Old Dec 26th, 2013, 08:14 AM
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>>why do a number of posters seem to have some kind of 3 day rule?
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Old Dec 26th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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Tom - I'm assuming that you mean 3 days is too much time - not too little time.

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