California in springtime - heat and sun

Jan 11th, 2007, 06:33 PM
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California in springtime - heat and sun

How far south into California would one have to travel to find a place likely to have sunshine and heat in April or May? My husband and I like nature, desert scenery and vegetation (also the ocean), palm trees, south-west architecture and art. Anything aviation related would be a bonus. We love San Francisco and have been as far south as LA, but aren't very familiar with inland areas. I thought of Palm Springs, but wonder if that would be too touristy - plus we don't golf or gamble and aren't much into night life. We do like clean, bug free rooms and lots of peace and quiet. Any ideas?

We would probably travel by train from Seattle and then rent a car in California. Return trip on a repositioning cruise from LA or San Francisco is a possibility.
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Jan 11th, 2007, 06:46 PM
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San Diego, and inland of there I like Temecula(northeast 45 minutes maybe?). Also near Palm Springs and maybe less touristy, is Desert Hot Springs. Joshua Tree National Park is near there.
Also, inland from Santa Barbars is Ojai, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang. They would most likely be mild to warm that time of year.
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Jan 11th, 2007, 06:47 PM
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Santa Barbara.
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Jan 11th, 2007, 07:07 PM
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So we'd have to go quite far south then? I will research those places. I've always wanted to see Santa Barbara - so maybe renting a car from there would make sense - and I like the sound of Joshua Tree National Park. Thanks.
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Jan 11th, 2007, 07:19 PM
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Well, you may not have to go that far, it just varies from year to year in late April or May. Carmel and Carmel Valley, may be nice. Have you ever been to Big Sur? It could still be foggy, or sunny in the afternoon.
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Jan 11th, 2007, 07:19 PM
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April can be iffy in some areas, but by May it will be warm - or even HOT in most of California except for right on the coast and in the high Sierras. So what do you mean by how far south? Are you just talking about along the Pacific coast?

For instance where I live in No. Calif will almost always be hotter than LA or San Diego in late Spring. But maybe inland CA is not what you are looking for . . . . .
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Jan 12th, 2007, 01:44 AM
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I've only zipped by Big Sur, never stayed there.

By how far south, I mean the distance to travel from Seattle. Inland would be fine with me, especially if it's desertlike. (We live by the ocean.) I'd like a place to put my feet up for a few days that also has interesting areas for walking or touring by car.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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Well - one option about 400 miles closer to you than SD/LA would be the Gold Rush foothills along hwy 49 east of Sacramento. The altitude is low enough that it will be just about as warm as the central valley. It is not desert-like but is very scenic.

It is a long road but I'm mainly talking about Nevada City in the north, Auburn/Coloma/Placerville in the middle, and then the stretch from Plymouth to Yosemite. The area is full of gold rush towns/villages, lots of wineries (mostly centered w/i a few miles of Plymouth), a couple of rivers w/ white water rafting, antique shops, a day trip into Yosemite, Columbia State Historic Park. May is a perfect time in Gold Rush country - I'd probably base myself in Amador county (Plymouth/Sutter Creek/Amador City or there abouts)
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Jan 12th, 2007, 06:38 AM
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Hi April,

Anywhere along the coast will still be cool and could be foggy, including Big Sur and Santa Barbara.

If you really mean heat - April would be a great time to visit Death Valley, seriously! The wildflowers will be blooming and it will be nice and dry, but not really hot. Check out the Furnace Creek Inn.

Palm Springs was my first thought. It's really nice in April, just don't go during Easter week! Also, it's fairly close to Joshua Tree Park. Or, maybe a nice B&B nearly Joshua Tree for a couple of days?

As another mentioned, inland from Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley could also be very nice. Check out The Ballard Inn in Ballard, nearby Solvang and Los Olivos. Great wine country!

Have fun!
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Jan 12th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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Palm Springs doesn't have wild night life. I would try to avoid it when the White Party is there (April 22-24). Thats about the only time it is noticably wild.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 09:15 AM
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Thanks janisj, you've given me lots of ideas to check out!

Dayle, I've actually always wanted to visit Death Valley. The Furnace Creek Inn looks ideal. Ballard Inn looks good too. Thanks for the heads up about Easter. I hadn't thought of that.

RBCal, what is the White Party?
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Jan 12th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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All of the high desert areas (Mojave)just north of Los Angeles county will be abloom with the most beautiful flowers in April! They don't last long, however, so check to be sure the timing is right if you are interested in seeing them.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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Indeed, we would love to see the flowers. What do you mean by not long - about a week or so? From the information received so far, we have two vague route possibilities in mind. 1) Leaving from around Sacramento and driving down to Death Valley. Also, spending some time in San Francisco which we adore. 2) Taking the train right down to Santa Barbara and driving to Death Valley, and spending some time in Santa Barbara where we have never been. Is there anything we need to know about routes to Death Valley?

I have the impression that if we left it until May we not only would miss the flowers but it would be too darned hot in the desert. Correct?

By the way, we wouldn't have longer than three weeks for the entire trip.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 08:50 PM
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Hi April -
This info is from the Auto Club's website re Mojave desert wildflowers:

MOJAVE DESERT: Normal blooming period: March to May. Best viewing spots: SR 58 between Mojave and Boron, SR 14 between Mojave and US 395, Red Rock-Randsburg Road, Garlock Road.

SOUTHERN SIERRA: Normal blooming period: April to May. Best viewing spots: Brecenridge Mountain Road, Burlando Road from Kernville to Lake Isabella, Famosos-Woody Road, SR 178 between Bakersfield and Lake Isabella, Rancheria Road between SR 178 and Oak Flat, Glennville area.

TECHACHAPI MOUNTAINS: Normal blooming period: April and May. Best viewing spots: Bear Mountain Boulevard (SR 233) between Arvin and Bealville, SR 58 between Bealville and Tehachapi, Caliente Bodfish Road, Caliente Creek Road, Highline Road, Banducci Road.

I would consult a good map of California, but from what I see, much of this would work nicely as a road trip from Santa Barbara to Death Valley or as a drive down Hwy 395. I'm not sure how you could fit in San Francisco, though, without feeling like you are driving pretty much over the entire state of California.

Santa Barbara is a beautiful, relaxing place. However, it will not be warm in a normal April, and probably not even in May. I have not been to Death Valley so can't tell you much about May there. You could check the averages on www.weather.com.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 10:52 PM
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"Normal blooming period: March to May" doesn't mean they are in bloom March, April and May. It means the normal blooming period will be sometime between March and May. It is different every year depending on the weather and the main show is pretty short.

Depends a lot on how much lead time you need for the trip since you won't know what the flowers are like until close to the time.
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Jan 13th, 2007, 12:13 AM
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Thanks for all that info, LCBoniti! If we did the Santa Barbara to Death Valley route, we would probably skip San Francisco this trip... unless we went back up by train.

I suppose if Santa Barbara wasn't warm we could have a short visit, then rent the car and drive inland until we reached a suitable temperature. I have notoriously bad luck in finding heat on holidays. The heat wave just finishes, clouds roll in, a freak cold spell occurs - something.

Yes, I understand the flowers would not be blooming over all those months, janisj. I'd have to book time off work and transportation so we'd just have to make our best guess and hope for the best.

You folks are great.
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Jan 13th, 2007, 06:44 AM
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Actual blooming depends entirely on weather - really difficult to predict. And it doesn't last too long when they are blooming. So scheduling a vacation around them may be difficult.

However, Death Valley is itself an interesting destination, especially since you say you like the desert. It should be quite warm in both April and May. Any you just may see flowers on the way!

Have a fantastic trip!
Linda

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Jan 13th, 2007, 10:32 AM
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"janisj" has some really good ideas...You could fly into Sacramento and drive into "Gold Country" 2-3 hours or to San Francisco about one hour.
Yosemite should be beautiful with all the waterfalls in full force...
good luck...
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Jan 13th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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Yes, now I can't decide which way to go! Flying is out except for low altitude short hops because of husband's health concerns, so that is the reason for all the train and car travel.

Now that I have some ideas, I'm going to go out and buy a guide book on California. Even though I may plan this trip to the nth degree, we may wing a certain portion of it.

Any Santa Barbara and inland accommodation recommendations appreciated. Would like to keep under $300 a night where possible.
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Jan 13th, 2007, 02:45 PM
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April,

I think you have the makings of a wonderful, and rather unique, spring trip!

I love the idea of training to SF, then down to SB. Picking up the car, drive inland and stay at the Ballard Inn. Spend a day or two wine tasting!

Then head to Death Valley for a few days. Loop back through Gold Country and see Yosemite. Train back from SF.

You could easily do this in 3 weeks. If you happen to hit the wildflower, that will be the icing on the cake.

Buon viaggio!
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