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2 week itinerary in January- San Francisco/ LA

2 week itinerary in January- San Francisco/ LA

Old Sep 30th, 2019, 06:59 PM
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2 week itinerary in January- San Francisco/ LA


We are planning to visit San Francisco/ Los Angeles from Jan 15 - Jan 31. We are a family of 4 with my kids aged 5 & 7 years. We are flying out of Sydney and plan is to either fly in to SFO or LA and depart from either so flexible for our start and departure points.
I understand the weather is still cold so wanted to get advice on places we can visit around San Francisco and LA. So far we have thought of spending 2 days in Disney , 2-3 days in LA and 3-4 days in San Francisco. For the remaining 7-8 days, which other places can we look into visiting. Is visiting Yosemite during winter worth? Also, can we do a trip to Grand Canyon or will it be too hectic with the kids.

Appreciate your recommendation.

Last edited by travel2sk; Sep 30th, 2019 at 07:53 PM.
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Old Sep 30th, 2019, 08:43 PM
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Welcome to Fodors! What are our plans for travel between the cities? You are likely to encounter snow in late January in both Yosemite and the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Are you OK with driving on the right side of the road?
I would plan on flying to SFO first and seeing what you want in San Francisco without renting a car. You could either fly from SFO to LAX or you could take the Amtrak train Coast Starlight south from Oakland to Santa Barbara. This long distance train arrives in Santa Barbara about 6 PM Pacific Time every day. The zoo and the mission are two of the best things to see in Santa Barbara.
There are a couple of Pacific Surfliner trains that go south from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles during the day before the Coast Starlight arrives.
We have a couple of resident San Francisco experts that will chime in on what to see in the San Francisco area.
Plan on a warmer month for a visit to Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.
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Old Sep 30th, 2019, 09:20 PM
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>>I understand the weather is still cold
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Old Oct 1st, 2019, 06:07 AM
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Google the places on this map - https://goo.gl/maps/7REnWYVcwdLtA6cR6

What's included:

- Coast redwood groves at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
- The migrating monarch butterflies at Pacific Grove
- The wonderful aquarium in Monterey
- The beaches, twee shops and wonderful old Spanish mission in Carmel
- Spectacular Point Lobos - scenery, wildlife
- The Big Sur coastline
- The elephant seal colony (many babies) at Piedras Blancas, just north of the (amazing) Hearst Castle
- Historic and beautiful Santa Barbara with its "Queen of the Missions"
- Palm Springs with its warm weather, terrific mid-century architecture, fine little art museum
- The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - from desert to snow in a few minutes; by far the easiest way to have a "snow day" without days of driving in poor conditions
- Joshua Tree National Park, an easy day excursion from Palm Springs

This would make for a very enjoyable two weeks. Weather on the coast is of course changeable, but areas like the Monterey Peninsula offer a wide range of activities and sights (migrating butterflies, whale watching etc.) and by the time you get to southern California you ought to have fairly decent conditions. The Palm Springs area is terrific then.

This route would be more compact than one including places like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, both of which are terrific in the winter but also can involve hazardous driving conditions and long days when daylight hours are very short. I'd stick to the coast and desert; I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Sample pictures/videos (not all mine)

Henry Cowell redwoods

Monarch butterflies at Pacific Grove

Big Sur coast

Elephant seals, near Hearst Castle

Mission Santa Barbara

Joshua Tree NP

PS Aerial Tram

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Old Oct 1st, 2019, 07:23 AM
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Gardyloo's itinerary is great -- but only doable if there haven't been any big winter storms and Highway 1 is open. Most winters all or part of the route on that map between Monterey / Carmel and Hearst Castle is closed for short to months long periods, due to slides (rock and mud).

To be safe I'd maybe think of it as two separate loops -- one of SF to Monterey and back. Then fly to LA (or Burbank or Ontario) and do Gardyloo's southern loop.
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Old Oct 1st, 2019, 08:31 AM
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You'll need to play the stretch of Hwy 1 through Big Sur (between Cambria and Monterey) by ear but that can be a decision that you make the day of the drive as long as you booked accommodations on either end and not in Big Sur itself. You'll simply take the inland route instead that day. Even if the highway is open, I wouldn't want to drive it in a rain storm. This past winter parts of the highway were pre-emptively closed during storms. The closures and slides tend to be on the southern end so from Monterey you can usually still drive south to see the northern part of Big Sur.

If you decide to visit Yosemite, you can take YARTS into the Yosemite Valley so you don't have to deal with snow/tire chains https://yarts.com/routes-and-schedules/merced-hwy-140/ Once in the valley there are shuttles.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 09:14 AM
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Here re some things to do in the San Francisco area

San Francisco - Stu Dudley's Recommendations

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 3rd, 2019, 02:19 PM
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Thanks all for your suggestions. We are now perhaps thinking to travel in later months to make the most out of our trip.
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