California Itinerary Advice

Old Apr 13th, 2021, 06:04 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
California Itinerary Advice

Hello Fellow Travelers

I am seeking advice for a driving trip my wife and I have planned for California. We are crossing the country at the end of May 2021, starting in PA and heading west. We would be entering CA from above after leaving Oregon. I have pasted my itinerary below. We probably have about 1 week max in California before we need to move on to Nevada. Any frank thoughts/opinions/critiques about the destinations on my itinerary, as well as their visitation order, would be very helpful. We have crossed the country before and do well with long distances, but we have never crossed through CA. Some things we will drive to or around, get out and look at a little, perhaps take a rest and take some pictures, and then move on - so not everything needs to be an extended visitation or entry. I think I have too much planned and am willing to remove things. I guess I am looking for someone who knows the destinations on my itinerary and can give me their opinion on what is worth seeing and what can be skipped.
Thank you,
Roberta. Redwood National and State Park Forest:

b. Lake Tahoe:

c. Yosemite National Park/Mariposa Grove:

d. El Capitan:

e. Waterford Nut Company:

f. Alcatraz Island:

g. Lombard Street:

h. Golden Gate Bridge:

i. 17 Mile Drive:

j. Pebble Beach Golf Links:

k. Carmel by the Sea:

l. Big Sur:

m. Hearst Castle:

n. Sequoia National Park/Trail of a Hundred Giants:

o. Manzanar National Historic Site:

p. Ubehebe Crater:

q. Death Valley National Park:

r. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:

s. Pepperdine University:

t. Mulholland Drive and Hollywood Sign:

u. Petersen Automotive Museum:

v. Richard Nixon Presidential Library:

w. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway:

x. Cholla Cactus Garden and Joshua Tree National Park:
robertdilliplane4459 is offline  
Old Apr 13th, 2021, 06:44 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,782
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Welcome to Fodors. Now for the bad news . . . Starting from Oregon that would take much MUCH more than a week. Closer to a month than a week.

With a week and using your list doable would be something like Southern Oregon into the Redwoods, San Francisco and Lake Tahoe or Yosemite. That's about it - and even that would be a little rushed. I do hope the rest of your cross country itinerary isn't at this pace.
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 13th, 2021, 06:45 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,782
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
. . . BTW just curious - whyWaterford Nut Company?
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 13th, 2021, 07:03 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,782
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
OK was curious so did a rough calculation of the drive time for your list, At bare minimum not counting any sightseeing detours or driving around IN San Francisco or Tahoe or Yosemite or the Monterey Peninsula or the LA basin - just the straight point to point mileage would would take at least 50 hours butts in seats. That's 7+ hours per day every day without a single break or stop.

(Some places on your list are closed - Mariposa Grove, Hearst Castle, Manzanar visitors center and exhibits - maybe others too.)
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 14th, 2021, 08:36 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,093
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Simply impossible in a week. You've listed 20+ places/attractions. Plot the driving route on maps.google.com... You're looping back and forth between the western and eastern sides of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Manzanar and Death Valley are huge diversions between Sequoia N.P. and Los Angeles.

But as a side note, I was very happy to see Manzanar on your list. It doesn't make sense in your one-week itinerary, but it is a very important historical site. Unfortunately, as janisj mentioned, the visitor center and exhibits are closed, but the grounds are open to drive and explore until sunset.

Hearst Castle is closed indefinitely. The Reagan and Nixon Presidential Libraries are currently closed. The Petersen Museum is currently open, but tickets are required. Campus tours of Pepperdine are limited and require reservations. Open/closed status of anything (except Hearst) could change in the coming month.
Jean is online now  
Old Apr 14th, 2021, 08:56 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,205
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Whatever else you omit, don't miss Yosemite.
Barbara is online now  
Old Apr 14th, 2021, 11:22 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 11,124
Likes: 0
Received 17 Likes on 4 Posts
Are you planning on driving your own car/vehicle all the way from Pennsylvania? My best plan to see as much as you can would be to take the Amtrak Capitol Limited from Pittsburgh (overnight) to Chicago. Or the Lake Shore Limited from Erie. From Chicago your choices are the Empire Builder to Portland OR or the California Zephyr to either Reno NV or Sacramento CA and then renting a car.
There is just too much fly-over or train-over country between PA and the west coast. Believe me. I have driven the length of Nebraska (and Kansas)(and Montana). I really prefer the trains to spending nights in motels in the middle of the country.
You do not have to go to the northern end of California to see big Coast Redwoods. If you get off the Zephyr in Reno, you can see Lake Tahoe on the way to Placerville. From Placerville, take CA 49 south through the gold country to Mariposa. If you can't get lodging inside Yosemite, try for something in El Portal.
Although I now live in Oregon, I lived 55+ years of my life in Pennsylvania.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2021, 12:38 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 3,138
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Do you have reservations for Yosemite? If so, do SF, Yosemite and Monterey (drive down into Big Sur - Highway 1 is currently closed but may reopen April 30 per Caltrans).
jamie99 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2021, 02:05 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, Janis! Please see my response below. I will address all comments in one answer.
Robert
robertdilliplane4459 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2021, 02:06 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, Jean! Please see my response below. I will address all comments in one answer.
Robert
robertdilliplane4459 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2021, 02:06 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, Barbara! Please see my response below. I will address all comments in one answer.
Robert
robertdilliplane4459 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2021, 02:07 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, Tom! Please see my response below. I will address all comments in one answer.
Robert
robertdilliplane4459 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 10:30 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 12,902
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It might depend on where you can find reservations. Californians have been cooped up for a year and are already taking to the freeways, Easter week was an absolute mess in several coastal locations. The memorial day holiday weekend is probably already sold out at many destinations so you'd better make some hard decisions very soon.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 12:21 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, Jamie! Please see my response below. I will address everyone's input in one answer.
Robert


Thank you to EVERYONE for replying and giving us their thoughts. We really appreciate your time! (Tom - where did you live in PA, if you don't mind sharing?)

We realize that we put way too much on the itinerary. We would prefer having too much to not having enough. We have taken trains in the past to San Diego, Chicago, and Minnesota. Nice experiences, but we prefer to drive a rental car. (These trips are hard on cars and we don't want to wreck ours.) We have crossed the country before in a rental car, so this is not a new endeavor for us. We don't mind long trips. We enjoy seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, experiencing, etc., everything we visit. Last time we went from PA out to Idaho and Montana (and all points in-between) and back. This time we are doing a different trip, but it will be even longer. We prefer to drive and we are not crazy about visitor centers and tourist traps. Our trip will actually begin with a drive to the Indy 500 and from there we will head westward.

We enjoy working hard on our trips. I know it sounds crazy. What can I say - we are weird. We don't seek out relaxation on a trip like this - it will be a ton of work - but what we LEARN along the way, and the photos we take, will be absolutely priceless.

We will be eliminating a number of items, including but not limited to:
  • Alcatraz Island (don't really want to deal with taking a boat on this trip)
  • Hearst Castle (I called them and spoke with someone - closed now, but may open later - but I am getting the impression that this place gets packed and we don't enjoy it when people are on top of us)
  • Petersen Automotive Museum (not super important)

Other notes:
  • Waterford Nut Company (just wanted to see an almond farm - not enter the company - we do not have almond farms in PA)
  • Pepperdine University (just an excuse to travel through Malibu quickly - not planning on visiting the university per se)
  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (not necessary - just used it as an address point for Palm Springs)
**Several things on this trip will be things that we drive by or around, but will not be hiking or climbing. For example - El Capitan. Just want to get a look at it and ponder it. We will hopefully be able to do that when we are at Yosemite.

**Manzanar is a must for us. I read the book and am fascinated by this site. Don't need a welcome center or visitor center. We just want to walk around the grounds. This place we cannot miss due to the tragic and abominable behavior we subjected the poor Japanese American people to decades ago. Again - we really soak in the history of places and that is why we drive so far.

Two Questions
1. Is one redwood forest better than the other? (Redwood or Sequoia)
2. In terms of my itinerary, I know we are weaving around - but does it at least look logical so that we are not duplicating anything?

Thank you!
robertdilliplane4459 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 12:48 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 3,138
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Per their website, non-essential visitors to Pepperdine are restricted due to Covid and requests must be submitted 24 hours ahead of time and will be evaluated on a case by case basis. In other words you cannot just "rock on up" and expect to be able to wander around.

You have gotten good advice from others, and think you do not understand the size and driving distance in California (you can't drive most of Highway 1 at 55mph, sections of Big Sur are posted at 25mph). Here is a map comparing UK with the entire UK:

https://www.mylifeelsewhere.com/coun...california-usa
jamie99 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 02:47 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,782
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
I honestly think I won't be able to help you much more - this isn't a slam, just a gut feeling. AFAIK every person responding so far, except one, lives in California and the 'odd man out' lives in Oregon (hi tom ) and we know your plan is impossible (even cutting the destinations in half)

"We enjoy seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, experiencing, etc., everything we visit." That is great but how can you hear, smell, feel anything from the inside of your car?

If Manzanar is the one true must and you will be starting in Oregon - that complicates everything. Where will you finish up in OR -- on the coast, more central (I-5 corridor) or eastern? Just using Brookings (far SW Oregon) as a starting point, the drive to Manzanar takes two full days without any detours or stops other than food and gas. If you spend say 1.5 days to dash through the Redwoods in NW CA, then you have spent 3.5 days to hit just two of the sites on your list.

• Sequoias and Coastal redwoods are entirely different animals. Coastal are the 'tall' ones, and Sequoias are the 'big/fat' ones. Their habitats are totally different, both are fabulous and one doesn't substitute for the other.

• There are almond farms all over central and northern California - but trust me -- there is nothing to see unless you are there in Feb/March when the gorgeous blossoms are in bloom. After that almond orchards look like any other orchard - except without the added color of peaches or apples or apricots or oranges.

I do wish you luck.
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 02:49 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 11,124
Likes: 0
Received 17 Likes on 4 Posts
I was born in northern PA, went to college in Williamsport and then worked for 36 years for the PA Bureau of Forestry in the Bald Eagle State Forest east of State College. I retired from the BOF 16 years ago.
If I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere, I ride trains instead of flying.
Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoias are entirely different species of big trees. You can see the Coast Redwoods in Muir Woods just north of San Francisco or south of San Francisco at Big Basin and other places. You can see Joshua trees in the Mojave National Preserve without going into Joshua Tree NP. You can see a grove of Sequoias in the south end of Yosemite (Mariposa Grove) if they are now allowing visitors.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 03:26 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Janis - honestly - I appreciated your input, but now feel like you are attacking me. Trust me - I know what I am doing and have traveled the world. You do not know me. I guarantee you that I will be seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, experiencing, etc., everything we visit - more than you will ever understand. I have more stamina than most people I know. At this point I am signing off permanently. Thanks for your contributions thus far, but criticism I do not need.
robertdilliplane4459 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 03:30 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Tom
I've been in Williamsport many times. Pretty area for sure. I greatly appreciate your advice and suggestions. I am a great lover of trains - I wish our country did more with them. If we did, I would take them all the time. I did several trips on Amtrak. Unfortunately, the airplane has won out. But I do love traveling by train. I appreciate you pointing out the difference between the two forests. We'll figure it all out. May need a little more than a week - I can adjust some things in other states - I think California has a ton worth seeing. Much appreciated.
Thanks!
Robert
robertdilliplane4459 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 05:18 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,782
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Originally Posted by robertdilliplane4459 View Post
Janis - honestly - I appreciated your input, but now feel like you are attacking me. Trust me - I know what I am doing and have traveled the world. You do not know me. I guarantee you that I will be seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, experiencing, etc., everything we visit - more than you will ever understand. I have more stamina than most people I know. At this point I am signing off permanently. Thanks for your contributions thus far, but criticism I do not need.

I'm truly sorry you feel that way. I did not criticize you in any way. I tried to explain (with very specific examples) why the plan isn't realistic. I wished you well.

janisj is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:31 PM.