California coast: April

Aug 23rd, 2014, 05:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 14
California coast: April

My husband and I are planning a trip to California next April and are looking for itinerary suggestions. We are in our twenties and would rather see a lot this trip and come back another time to spend more time in one area. We love the outdoors, walking/biking cities, beer/wine, hiking, etc. Our hope is to drive from San Francisco to San Diego in 8 days (fly in on a Friday morning and home on a Saturday).

Here is a rough outline of what we are thinking:
Friday + Saturday: San Francisco
Sunday: rent a car, drive to Napa/Sonoma and spend the night there
Monday: leave Sonoma, drive to Carmel. Spend the night there.
Tuesday: Carmel/Big Sur. Spend the night in Solvang or Santa Barbara.
Wednesday: Drive to LA/stay in LA. We just want a taste if LA, don't need much time. Should we even stay here?
Thursday: San Diego
Friday: San Diego
Saturday: fly home

Are there places worth skipping or staying longer? I've never been in April and I'm hoping the weather will be ok for a coast drive. Any hotel, sightseeing, restaurant recommendations?

Thanks in advance!
kgb727 is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2014, 05:52 AM
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I'd do exactly what you have planned . . . except ditch Napa/Sonoma. It complicates things, has you driving through the Bay Area traffic two times, and there are so many vineyards/wineries along the rest of your route you wouldn't miss anything.

Driving from Sonoma to Carmel on a Monday morning would be hell.

Then you'd have an extra day either in Carmel or farther down along the coast.
janisj is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2014, 05:54 AM
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oh - to be clear - the Sunday drive north wouldn't be horrible - but the monday drive would be.
janisj is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2014, 05:57 AM
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oops -- to make it even clearer . . the drive up TO Napa/Sonoma wouldn't be bad, but driving around IN Napa/Sonoma on a Sunday can basically be bumper to bumper. and the drive south -- yep - awful

( shouldn't try to post before my first cup of tea in the morning )
janisj is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2014, 07:49 AM
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well I like Los Angeles a lot, so I would probably spend a day or two there. But if it is not of interest to you, no reason you can't drive from Santa Barbara down to San Diego. I think each is about 2 hours on opposite sides of LA, right? So a 4 hour drive or so that day.
suze is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2014, 10:47 AM
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Long drive from Carmel to Santa Barbara, maybe stay Cambria instead, there are some nice wineries in nearby Paso Robles and the tasting fees are a LOT less than pricey Napa. Or you can visit the wineries north of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez valley.
jamie99 is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2014, 12:33 PM
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What jamie99 said.

Personally I find Santa Barbara a bit boring (and you won't get much hotel for the $).

The area around Solvang puts you near the Santa Ynez Valley, then I'd do the following night in Los Angeles.
mlgb is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2014, 02:29 PM
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a friend went to carmel & remarked about a great bike ride

other activities:
Suzie is offline  
Aug 24th, 2014, 05:13 AM
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I wouldn't go up to Napa either. But, I would take Sunday and go to Muir Woods. You can stay at your San Francisco hotel and leave Monday morning after rush hour. Or really early before it. If you like hiking and being outside, I'd also spend more time in Big Sur. I'd definitely suggest stopping at Hearst Castle. It's in Cambria, or just outside it, and it's really something to not miss. That stop would take about two hours. You can only see the castle with a tour guide so they get you in and out but if you don't have advance tickets you may be at the visitors center for a while. The beach in Cambria is also called the singing beach because of the sound the waves make on the sand and small stones. South of LA I'd suggest stopping in Laguna or LaJolla. Both have beautiful and very unique beaches. My only other suggestion, if you haven't already bought tickets, is that I'd skip southern CA and fly out of LA. Personally, I think San Diego is boring. A nice place to live but as a tourist I have always been underwhelmed. That aside though. I did this trip with my husband when we were in our twenties and what I regret is that we packed so much in we were mostly in the car trying to get to the next overnight stop. I have lots of blurry pictures taken from the car window. It's great to see everything, but sometimes that means you don't have the time to enjoy anything.
LaraM is offline  
Aug 24th, 2014, 08:49 AM
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>>But, I would take Sunday and go to Muir Woods. <<

Muir Woods is lovely (and worth the visit if one doesn't plan on seeing Redwoods down the coast (like in Big Sur, etc.) . . . But not on a Sunday (or Saturday for that matter). Muir Woods is a relatively small park near a major metropolitan area and it gets massively crowded on weekends. In fact they often have to close the parking/access before noon.
janisj is online now  
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