10 Day SF to San Diego Itinerary: Campervan

Old Jan 12th, 2020, 08:36 AM
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10 Day SF to San Diego Itinerary: Campervan

Hi everyone, hoping to get some feed back for our itinerary. We're flying to SF on June 18th, spending 2 days there with friends who are taking us around, and then picking up a camper van from Jucy early on the 20th. We have reserved campsites already. We tried to limit our driving between destinations to 2-3 hours so we had lots of time to stop wherever/whenever we felt like it, eat good food, hike, etc. Our main interests are nature / hiking / swimming (when possible), advernture etc. We are less into big cities (ie LA) or museums. Still trying to decide whether to visit Hearst Castle because it wouldn't normally be our first instinct, but everyone says to go. Our current itinerary is below, as well as a few notes of things we want to do & see. Would love feedback on both the plan as well as any things you think we shouldn't miss!

June 20: pick up van @ 9am
- maybe drive to Point Reyes (not sure if there's enough time)
- visit Big Basin Redwood State Park
- end up at New Brighton State Beach for 1 night.

June 21/22
- kayak Elkhorn Slough
- try an Esalen night bath
- camp at Kirk Creek Camp Ground for 2 nights

June 23:
- camp at El Capitan State Beach for 1 night

June 24:
- possibly take a ferry to Channel Islands for the day?
- camp at Leo Carillo State Beach 1 night

June 25:
- Stay at Sheraton La Jolla in San Diego for 1 night
- Snorkle La Jolla Cove

June 26:
- Start heading back towards LA
- Stay at San Clemente State Beach for 1 night

June 27:
drop off rental at airport, fly out that evening.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 09:42 AM
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I wouldn't enjoy the string of single nights, but I guess it's less onerous in a camper.

Re Hearst Castle.... It's not a quick stop, and you'd be bound by the timing of whatever tour or tours you'd want to take. (It gets expensive and time consuming if you choose a couple of tours.) Your drive from Kirk Creek to El Cap is already the longest driving day at a bit over 3 hours. And it will be longer if you keep to Hwy. 1 (rather than Hwy. 101) the entire way and whether you make any interesting stops, including the Elephant Seal Rookery at Piedras Blancas (very highly recommended), the town of Cambria, possibly Los Olivos or Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley.

You'd have to work out the timing of a day sail to the Channel Islands and whether the mid-week boat schedules would work with your drive from El Cap and the need to reach Leo Carrillo afterward.

The drive from Leo Carrillo to La Jolla will be another 3 hour (or longer) day. It's a slow, boring slog in traffic most of the way.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 09:55 AM
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Hearst Castle is great but is a very big time commitment. You need to pre-book and the ride the bus up the hill for your tour and back down. If you take more than one tour (many people take 2 or 3 because they are all different and emphasize different aspects) then you have to ride the bus up and back and up and back.

Are you collecting the camper from Jucy in San Leandro? There is no way you could visit both Pt Reyes and Big Basin on the same day,

Instead of Big Basin, which is great, I'd recommend Henry Cowell instead. It is much more convenient for the drive to New Brighton Beach and it is a wonderful park. It would cut more than an hour from your drive time (assuming you are picking up the van in San Leandro) and is on the direct yet still scenic route.

Definitely try to fit in Point Lobos!
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 09:56 AM
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Thank you! That was sort of what I thought about Hearst Castle but it was nice to have someone confirm. Definitely want to see the Elephant Seals - will add that in! And yes, if we were going hotel to hotel I wouldn't love it, but sleeping in the van I am less worried about the string of single nights.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 09:57 AM
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. . . Meant to say -- from other threads I know you are from Canada so are probably hardy souls but I wouldn't plan on ocean swimming until (maybe) your San Diego/La Jolla stop.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Hearst Castle is great but is a very big time commitment. You need to pre-book and the ride the bus up the hill for your tour and back down. If you take more than one tour (many people take 2 or 3 because they are all different and emphasize different aspects) then you have to ride the bus up and back and up and back.

Are you collecting the camper from Jucy in San Leandro? There is no way you could visit both Pt Reyes and Big Basin on the same day,

Instead of Big Basin, which is great, I'd recommend Henry Cowell instead. It is much more convenient for the drive to New Brighton Beach and it is a wonderful park. It would cut more than an hour from your drive time (assuming you are picking up the van in San Leandro) and is on the direct yet still scenic route.

Definitely try to fit in Point Lobos!
Good tips, thank you! I still can't decide if we want to go to Point Reyes. It looks beautiful - but we'll be seeing the coast all week, so maybe it's not necessary? And yes - picking up from San Leandro
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 10:04 AM
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OK -- Pt Reyes is fine -- but really isn't as scenic as places like Pt Lobos, or Big Sur. If you REALLY want to to see it -- have your friends take you there as a day trip from San Francisco -- it does not fit with any of the rest of your Itinerary -- and would have you trudging through hellacious Bay Area traffic for a huge detour.

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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 02:11 PM
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Get an early start on the 21st so you can see Point Lobos and other northern Big Sur sights on your way to Kirk Creek. That's a Sunday so traffic will be busy on Hwy 1 and parking can be difficult. You could go back the next day and see what you missed on your way south but Kirk Creek is pretty far south so it would be a bit of a detour.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 02:23 PM
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There is no "ferry" to the Channel Islands, you have to take a trip with the official concessionaire, Island Packers. Frankly I do not think you have enough time, your trip is pretty rushed as it is. The shortest trip I could find was a 3/4 day trip to Anacapa Island but you do not land and need to bring your own lunch. Their galley only sells drinks and snacks.
You might be able to fit in a trip to Catalina Island which does have restaurants, hotels, etc. but it would still be pretty rushed. Most boats go out of either Long Beach or San Pedro, CA. The Catalina Express also does one trip most days to Two Harbors which has much more limited facilities (one bar, one restaurant, one snack bar, one small store for food, etc.).
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 03:41 PM
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A couple comments:

Is snorkeling in La Jolla Cove a thing? You will have hundreds of spectators during your snorkel and parking will be a challenge.

The break even point for a California State Park annual pass is high, like 12 days. California isnít like most states or provinces where an annual pass is $35-50 and can make sense for short stay tourists.

Last edited by tom_mn; Jan 12th, 2020 at 03:45 PM.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by tom_mn View Post
A couple comments:

Is snorkeling in La Jolla Cove a thing? You will have hundreds of spectators during your snorkel and parking will be a challenge.

The break even point for a California State Park annual pass is high, like 12 days. California isnít like most states or provinces where an annual pass is $35-50 and can make sense for short stay tourists.

hi! Not quite sure what you mean about the state park pass. Sorry if itís just me being uninformed - but is this something I need to purchase ahead of time? We have camp sites reserved and paid for at each of those places already.
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 03:56 PM
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You don't need a pass . . .
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
You don't need a pass . . .
thank you!
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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 07:09 PM
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The popular California state parks are $10 for a day use permit. Since an annual pass is $125-195, it doesnít make sense for a short stay visitor to buy one. Iím just doing the math for you.
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