10 Days- California during the holidays

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May 12th, 2016, 06:33 PM
  #1
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10 Days- California during the holidays

We live in Miami FL- myself, my wife and our 6yr old son.
I've been to CA as a kid. We did SeaWorld, Disneyland and other parks but hardly remember much and spent 1 day in SF on our way to our honeymoon (Australia).
Since we barely know CA at all, we are thinking of going for 10 days during the holidays. My idea is to depart Xmas day and do as much as possible in an approx 10 day itinerary. The main question is how is the weather at this time of year?
While I would love to see Yosemite is the time of the year appropriate? We are not hikers per se and my wife doesn't really fancy the cold. While we LOVE wine, Napa is pretty much out of the loop since we will be with our 6yr old. It seems like SD is a no go due to time. While I want to see the city since I hear its beautiful, we can do so on another trip.

Points of interest-
SF
Yosemite
Drive on Hwy# 1/ PCH
Monterrey
Carmel
Big Sur
Santa Barbara
Cambria
LA

*Keep in mind, my wife's bday is New Years Day and I'm celebrating an early 40th. My bday is in Jan as well.

Thanks in advance!

CasaCruz
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May 12th, 2016, 06:39 PM
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Yosemite Valley is open year round but the passes are closed often as early as October or November.
San Diego is indeed a gem one of my favorite cities in California.
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May 12th, 2016, 06:45 PM
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So the question begs- skip Yosemite for SD?
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May 12th, 2016, 06:56 PM
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Since you say your wife does not like cold, and Yosemite will certainly be that in late December, yes maybe switch out Yosemite for San Diego. San Diego is a beautiful little city with a lot of fun things for a six year old. The zoo is first rate for one. And if you drive up the coast, you could do a look at the Central Coast or Santa Barbara wineries. I think your six year old could suffer a visit to one or two, ours did.
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May 12th, 2016, 07:25 PM
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Thanks socaltraveler
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May 12th, 2016, 07:43 PM
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It is winter and our rainy season. Plus it is cold. San Diego could be better weather and more fun for your little one.
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May 12th, 2016, 07:44 PM
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The passes Stewbear mentions are on the east side of Yosemite across the Sierra mountains and don't affect arriving from the west. Yosemite Valley is absolutely iconic an one of the most beautiful places on Earth -- and ESPECIALLY beautiful in winter . . . but it is in the mountains and will be cold

I personally can't imagine skipping Yosemite because of it being nippy -- but if your wife can't do cold you'll have to skip Yosemite (and Lake Tahoe and other places)

However -- Christmas in YNP is fabulous and the Bracebridge Dinner is a WONDERFUL event.

In December and w/ a young child I'd probably stick to Southern California and primarily San Diego. Up north along the coast it could be lovely - but it could also be quite rainy.
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May 12th, 2016, 07:46 PM
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Oh -- for the Holidays -- consider staying a few days at the Del http://hoteldel.com
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May 12th, 2016, 07:46 PM
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was posting the same time as MichelleY . . .
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May 13th, 2016, 07:08 AM
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- Miami probably has a nice zoo
- Florida has a Disneyland
- The weather might be better in Miami in early Jan, than in San Diego or LA
- Is Miami itself "that different" from San Diego, Santa Barbara, or LA (answers only from those who have spent time in both areas).

It seems to me that casacruz wants/should experience something different than what's at "home".

Different is, IMO:

- San Francisco
- Big Sur Coast
- Carmel/Monterey
- Yosemite
- Snow
- Gold Country

As a long time LA/Orange Co resident - I hate snow. I loved Yosemite Valley in the snow & dinner at the Ahwahnee. Enjoyed the Gold Country ghost towns - especially Columbia (6 YO would too!!).

I've only had a glimpse of the Florida coast - but it's nothing like the Big Sur Coast & Carmel/Monterey/Pt Lobos (I think).

San Francisco speaks for itself - Alcatraz, Cable Cars, Ft Point, Victorian houses, GG Bridge, the Bay. Jeremiah O'Brian liberty Ship.


I would skip the LA/SD area and just concentrate on the northern Calif stuff. Ten days is just barely enough. Perhaps fly to Sacramento (Oakland, SJ, or SFO if direct flights work better). Spend 3 nights in Yosemite Valley. Drive to Columbia & spend some time there & at some of the other Ghost towns. Then to San Simeon & stay the night. Visit Hearst Castle, then up the Big Sur coast, stop for lunch at Nepenthe, and on to Pt Lobos and Carmel. Spend 2 nights in Carmel. Drive to San Francisco, return the car, and spend your remaining time there.

Stu Dudley
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May 13th, 2016, 07:39 AM
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Florida native now living in California...I wholeheartedly agree with Stu.
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May 13th, 2016, 08:02 AM
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I can agree with seeing the NoCal coast and environs, but you seem to miss the part where he says they are not hikers and the wife does not like cold. It is also her birthday. Holiday week reservations for Yosemite may be hard to come by and they will have to pack, maybe purchase since they live in Florida, and carry winter clothing for those 3 days. If the OP says he can save San Diego for another trip, maybe Yosemite in warmer weather is also a good idea. 10 days for LA to SF is a good amount of leisurely driving, but he really should decide soon and make some reservations since it is the holiday week.
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May 13th, 2016, 09:32 AM
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We did zero hiking when we visited Yosemite. My wife has bad feet. Is "doesn't like cold" the same as "my wife doesn't really fancy the cold"? If they follow my suggestion, they will be in San Francisco on January 1. A good place to be on a B-day.

On our most recent trip to Yosemite, we departed San Francisco and stayed the first night in Groveland at the Groveland hotel. We had planned to visit some Gold Country towns on that first day, but a heavy show was forecast for that night so we immediately headed into Yosemite Valley that first day - returning to Groveland later in the day. Next morning, everything in Groveland was covered with snow. The road we took to Yosemite Valley was closed. We therefore headed west, bought some chains, and then headed into Yosemite Valley via the Merced River - which is at a lower elevation and had little snow. We stayed in Yosemite Valley for 2 nights & never put on the chains.

I would recommend that casacruz stay in Groveland also - to shorten the drive on arrival day and to also allow him to be in a good "position" to "gage" the weather/cold situation. If the weather is really "bad" - don't go into Yosemite Valley and instead spend an extra day/night in the Gold Country. Call ahead & book an extra night in San Simeon/Cambria and spend some time in that region (wine, Hearst Castle, coast).

Stu Dudley
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May 13th, 2016, 09:36 AM
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Actually for what you want (and especially for what you don't want, CA may not be your best choice. Even on the coast it can be quite cold -- it can be beautiful and clear but still have cold winds so winter clothing (by Florida standards) would be necessary.

And as mentioned -- SoCal would be more Florida-ish with gorgeous beaches but the water is VERY cold.

I say buck up, put on a fleece and head scarf and do the coast and Yosemite but that may not be the sort of trip you want.
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May 13th, 2016, 12:11 PM
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Guess it depends on if they are willing to drive in possibly snowy conditions and carry chains if needed.
I personally hate snow and would stick to the coast, but it is not my trip, it is theirs.
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May 13th, 2016, 12:23 PM
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I don't think chains are allowed on rental cars.

Stu Dudley
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May 14th, 2016, 06:53 AM
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Thanks Stu for your suggestions.
I was born and raised in NYC so the cold is not a issue for me. My wife went to college in upstate NY but really doesn't like the cold. With that being said we've gone skiing numerous times in CO. Her take is we should do Yosemite on another trip during better climate. For instance, summer. We are pending a trip to Hawaii next year and could squeeze it in there if it is a better time?
Is Yosemite a must in winter or should one wait until summer time?

While I'd like to see SD, I agree that it has of lot Miami/FL within it so that could wait. However, I would like to see LA even if it's just for a few days. Almost 40yrs into to my life and I've never been to LA.
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May 14th, 2016, 06:57 AM
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Janisj- thanks.
We are not looking to go in the water. We've been exposed to beaches all of our lives. Our origin is from the Carribean. We are looking forward to exploring and getting a good taste of CA, including a bit of cold if that's what it offers.
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May 14th, 2016, 07:39 AM
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Also, as Socaltraveler stated not sure it's worth packing winter clothes for 3days. I'm open to doing it if it's a must to see Yosemite during winter/holiday time. Otherwise, we will be back for sure.
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May 14th, 2016, 07:45 AM
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>>Is Yosemite a must in winter or should one wait until summer time? <<<

If you like huge crowds, heavy traffic, perhaps diminished waterfalls, hard to get reservations that you may have to book 1+ yrs in advance, hiking - go in the summer or fall.

If you want roaring waterfalls, fewer crowds, perhaps less "predictable" good weather - go in the Spring.

My Wife's Shutterfly book of our Yosemite, Sequoia, Southwest US trip a few years ago:
https://stududley.shutterfly.com/52
click "full screen"

The picture of me putting on chains is in Sequoia - not Yosemite. Actually, we didn't need the chains in Sequoia.

>>Almost 40yrs into to my life and I've never been to LA.<<

That may be in your favor (joke). I spent the first 28 years of my life in LA. Glad my wife & I moved to San Francisco 40 years ago. IMO, I would be surprised if a 40 YO NYC person found much to like in LA in late December on a short visit - unless you really enjoy sitting on freeways, driving through ugly commerce, or the "Hollywood thing". "Theme parks" can't be a draw for you. A Miami resident with Carribean origins might be disappointed with the LA beaches - especially in winter.

Stu Dudley
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