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mymatemarmite Jul 4th, 2020 06:37 AM

CA road trip - off beat stopovers?
We live in LA and are planning a road trip to Humboldt in August, our vague itinerary is as follows (camping is booked and it open as of today)
3-6th - Sequoia (camping)
Tahoe 3 nights?
Humboldt/Redwoods (camping) 3 nights?
Mendecino 1 night
Monterey/Capitola/Santa Cruz 2/3 nights

Would love it to be a proper road trip with stop overs etc. I'm looking for ideas for maybe kooky off the beaten track places to stay between our big stays, we can do LA to Sequoia in one day but would be happy to stay overnight if it meant we can take more time getting there, but also happy to do it in a morning (Hate setting up camp in the evening!)

Looks like 6 hours if we're lucky Sequoia to Tahoe - have found several sites that suggest some cool places to get off the road and visit so somewhere to stay on the way, maybe a motel, would be great. We've been to Yosemite before, I know we can take the quicker route and stop in Modesto maybe, but happy to take a scenic route around the edge of Yosemite.

Same Tahoe - Humboldt though this is mainly to make sure we don't show up for camping late at night and we'll have to do a food run on the way.

We're doing a mixture of budgets and stays, so camping and cheap, a house in Tahoe which is cheap by Tahoe standards but still a good $1200 for 3 nights. Happy to do one night stays in motels or B&B's, so pref a bit cheaper.

Coming back from Tahoe if the Aquarium looks set to be open we'd like to be around there for the trees in the redwoods north of SC and some beach time and the Aquarium. Coming home from there we've done Big Sur a lot and love Cambria (done Hearst Castle/Solvang etc) but not averse to one more stop on the way home if time allows (we did Carmel - LA in a day a few years ago). Happy to do glamping/stationary RV's/Motels etc - any recommendations for something a bit different would be brilliant

Family of 4, 2 kids aged 8&11


Gardyloo Jul 4th, 2020 07:23 AM

Obviously all things will be dependent on the Covid-19 situation re openings, accommodations, restaurants, etc., but if it was me (and it's not - it's your vacation) I'd probably reduce the time at Lake Tahoe and substitute it with a night or two in the gold rush country along CA Hwy 49. Google Columbia State Historic Park, and, while you're at it, have a look at - just maybe - swapping the Calaveras Big Trees State Park (on CA 4 a little east of the gold rush town (and major wine center) of Murphys. Obviously Sequoia NP is terrific, but if you swapped Calaveras Big Trees for it you could still see the big sequoias but - maybe - have more time for family activities in the gold country. Worth thinking about. Also note that the Sierra foothills and valleys can be quite warm/hot in August, and - god forbid - it's also the start of fire season.

Two places to investigate in Humboldt County are (a) the Victorian town of Ferndale, a little south of Eureka - very picturesque and a possible gateway to the Lost Coast - last coastal wilderness area in California, and (b) a meal or two at the Samoa Cookhouse in Samoa, across the bay from Eureka. It's a former lumber mill mess hall, where you're served hearty food family-style by grannies with attitude. Really fun and a big kid-pleaser.

Farther north, in the Redwood National Park area is the Trees of Mystery. This has been around for 75 years or more, and yes, it's incredibly kitschy, but yes, it's gobs of fun, and also educational. Again, a blast for kids.

On the way home, if you take Highway 1 south from Monterey, be sure to visit the lovely old Spanish mission in Carmel, and if you haven't seen it before, a stop at the Piedras Blancas elephant seal colony, just north of the Hearst Castle visitor center, is a fascinating (and rather smelly) spot. I'd also suggest seeing the Santa Barbara mission, if you haven't before. It's the "queen of the missions" and rightly so.

Jean Jul 4th, 2020 08:04 AM

I like road trips, but I'm not crazy about this one. There are some really boring driving segments if you choose the fastest routes and a lot of time overall in the car if you detour/route to interesting stopovers. Personal preference, but I'd rather stay longer in fewer places, esp. if camping is involved.

For a start, I'd want another night in Sequoia to have time to explore a little of Kings Canyon. You don't say why you include Lake Tahoe or where you'd stay on the lake, but two days to explore a fairly big area isn't much time. In this itinerary, I might consider Lake Shasta instead and see the Caverns if they're open. I'd want to drive along the coast south of Monterey, so Monterey to LA in one day would be too long for me.

Michael Jul 4th, 2020 08:09 AM

The Gold Lake campground above Greagle, north of Truckee, is not that far that setting up camp would still give time of afternoon activities. Horse rentals are nearby. It probably would be best to arrive at the campground early in the week because National Forest campgrounds close to water tend to fill up quickly on weekends.

janisj Jul 4th, 2020 08:57 AM

Getting ready to leave for a 4th picnic so not much time right now -- will post more later.

I'd maybe re-think some of your itinerary. August can be a beeee - atch in some places on your list heat-wise, smoke/fire-wise/crowds-wise. Tahoe -- I have a place at Incline Village and July/August are the only months I won't go up there. Everything is just sooooo crowded. Now - what things will be like THIS August - who knows?? But CA hwy 89 on the west side, NV hwy 28 on the east, and hwy 50 on southshore can become one huge parking lot. Not literally but a lot of traffic. Plus it can be uncomfortably warm for that altitude with the added bonus of afternoon thunder storms.

And if there are any fires in the Sierra/foothills (September is usually worse but August is pretty common) the visibility and air quality anywhere between Sequoia / Yosemite / Hwy 49 / Tahoe / Lassen can be severely impacted. And you won't know for sure until the time of travel.

If it was MY trip (I know it isn't) I'd want to concentrate more on the North Coast/Redwoods and Central Coast/Carmel/Big Sur

And sorry Jean -- But Lake Shasta or ANYWHERE near Redding in August can be (usually is) gawd awful. If it is 100F in say . . . Sacramento it will be 110 or more in Redding. Unless one has a houseboat or something, I'd rather be anyplace else at that time of year.

Jean Jul 4th, 2020 11:06 AM

I admit I haven't been to Shasta in August. I was thinking more logistics. But the caverns would be cool!

suze Jul 4th, 2020 06:41 PM

Not sure how this fits with your itinerary but when I was the age of your kids I loved Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.

janisj Jul 5th, 2020 12:00 AM

Originally Posted by Jean (Post 17124463)
I admit I haven't been to Shasta in August. . . . !

Wise on your part :D

I agree re the general road route and the caverns being cool inside . . . but the area can be really REALLY awful in August. And If we are lucky enough to have a heat wave coinciding with regional fires (!) . . .

mlgb Jul 5th, 2020 06:04 AM

Many people aren't aware of this option for seeing Sequoia Trees

The Redwood Meadow campground and yurt sites across the street can be reserved under this link

mymatemarmite Jul 5th, 2020 06:52 AM

Thankyou so much for taking time with responses. Weve decided to just do 2 nights in sequoia, we wont be going to see the redwoods in the park as weve done that before but we love camping in the Lake Hume area and have found a new off the beaten track campsite we havent tried before so going there just to get our fix.

Im still on the fence about Tahoe. Weve never been and I figure if theres ever a summer to go this would be it as hopefully less visitors than usual? Cant work out though if vacation rentals are allowed again following the spike.

anyway then we have Humboldt booked for 3 nights. Im interested in then going a bit further north but husband is then saying its a bit of a slog to get back down to LA in time for work and school starting. As I say weve seen/done a lot of the big sur over a variety of trips but I also love Cambria so maybe well do a night stop over there.

were somewhat tied to dates with what was available at the campsites but around that can be flexible. We currently have 4 nights between Humboldt and getting home - any thoughts?

yes to the mystery house, the kids will love that and looks like its open with advance ticket booking. Im hoping the aquarium will reopen but the new mandate means theyre current delaying a decision so maybe its a case of finding somewhere to stay on the central coast that leaves us flexibility closer to the time with what to do?

whats Mendocino like? Worth a stop?

mymatemarmite Jul 5th, 2020 06:57 AM

Should say I think were including Tahoe because weve just never been 🤷🏻‍♀️ Very up for other suggestions between sequoia and Humboldt!

socaltraveler Jul 5th, 2020 07:13 AM

I am not sure if Tahoe has reopened for visitors, so you should check on that. Sadly, it will probably not be much less crowded this season, if you can go, maybe time your visit for mid week. This is a tricky summer for travel, including road trips, I might try to check in to what amenities will be offered on the road.

mymatemarmite Jul 5th, 2020 10:46 AM

Thanks socaltraveler yeah I've been looking into the current restrictions and agree we need to constantly be up to date. Might just be that we do the camping and stop in between the two. The campsites are open and we figured it was a fairly good socially distancing activity but appreciate if numbers continue to go up we should probably stay closer to home.

Is north Lake Tahoe any quieter/calmer than South?

janisj Jul 5th, 2020 12:14 PM

"Is north Lake Tahoe any quieter/calmer than South?"

Absolutely -- and Other than Emerald Bay, a darn sight prettier too. The south side is much more built up with more congestion. Up north there is less traffic, though there can be a bottleneck of sorts in Tahoe City.

And hands down, Sand Harbor is a 'must' . . . (not my photo -- need to look back through my archives - I have probably 100+ various shots but this wa quicker to find :) )

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