California Road Trip with Teens

Mar 17th, 2012, 04:58 PM
  #1  
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California Road Trip with Teens

April road trip with 11 yr old girl/13 yr old boy. Flying into San Fran. Flying out of San Diego. 5 nights.

Air: Southwest
Car rental: carrental8.com - this is a site for UK/Aus customers, so there was no drop fee and huge discounts and allowed me to rent convertible and drop off in different location. Hope it's not a bust.
Lodging: Nights 1 and 2 - Holiday Inn, Fisherman's Wharf. Night 3 - Big Sur Lodge. Night 4 - ??? (LA?) . Night 5 - God willing...staying with a friend in La Jolla.

San Fran - we will have a friend who I trust as a tour guide, but if anyone has any suggestions, that would be great. Since we'll have a car, we should be able to do Golden Gate, Lombard St. but I'm wondering about Alcatraz or any other areas.

Big Sur - Where are best hikes to do with teens? I went to Pfeiffer many years ago and that was great.

Los Angeles - This is where I have no idea what to do. There is a Women's Pro Beach Volleyball tourney going on at Huntington Beach that could be fun. I was initially thinking staying in Santa Monica and biking down the beach path - if that's even the right lingo. Suggestions very welcome here - and I haven't planned lodging for this stop either.

San Diego - will be with a friend. Will be interesting for kids to get a taste of So Cal suburbia in contrast to Boston suburbia.

Any thoughts on anything are welcome, but please don't harsh on my plan too much as much of it is non-refundable!

Thanks.
Keepswimming1 is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 06:16 PM
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I would for sure stop at the Aquarium in Monterey. Point Lobos is great for hiking. I would see McWay Falls for sure-it's easy and virtually right on the hwy. Hearst Castle is a great stop too. Consider kayaking at Elkhorn Slough(just a few miles north of Montery). Big Basin Redwoods State Park has some nice hikes too.
spirobulldog is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 06:19 PM
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Maybe a Segway Tour in San Francisco. Alcatraz is a very interesting place. I think you would enjoy it more if you have watched one of the movies about it-perhaps.
Of course, see China Town and ride the street cars.
spirobulldog is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 07:01 PM
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The falls sound very interesting and the kayaking idea is fantastic. Thanks so much.
Keepswimming1 is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 07:35 PM
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I'm astounded. One day in Los Angeles, the second largest US city, the entertainment capital of the world, a metropolitan area of about 13 million people, and the list goes on. Might as well just drive on through. But if you really want to stop, here are some things that could be more interesting than a volleyball game or a bike ride. Sorry for being abrasive, but you really would benefit by some hard thinking about this portion of the trip. Check out:

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/...city-guide.htm

With regard to suburbia comparisons, La Jolla is about as far from typical as you can get. It's a very wealthy enclave right on the edge of the Pacific. Average income is out of sight.
dbdurand is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 07:43 PM
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There are lots of great threads on what do do in san francisco and some recent ideas on monterey and big sur.
Try a search and see what comes up.
Looks like you may do a lot of driving for a couple of days but get an early start with an espresso, take mid day breaks for a walk, and you should do fine. Definitely do not drive the big sur coast when you are tired...the road is very curvey with not much shoulder in places. I like to use the safe pull outs and get out and look for otters and condors with binoculars. If you end up not having time to drive hwy 1 through big sur, you can opt to go inland at Montery (south through the Salinas valley) and hit the coast again near hearst castle or morro bay or san luis obispo. Not as stunning as big sur, but a good option if you need to make up time.
suz24 is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 09:02 PM
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I'm sorry --but you are trying to cover way too much in very little time.

San Francisco to Big Sur to LA to San Diego is approx 600 miles - much of it slow going. And you want to cover it in 3 days including sightseeing.

You simply won't have time for the aquarium, kayaking, or much else other than driving and eating.

SF to Big Sur will take about 3.5 hours, the aquarium - maybe 2 hours, Kayaking at least 2 hours, Carmel - 2 or 3 hours. These are all minimums. So the entire day is spent getting to Big Sur, and not seeing Big Sur itself..

Leaving first thing in the AM, Big Sur to LA takes 6 hours 'behind the wheel time' w/o ANY stops so you'd be lucky to get to LA by nightfall.

And the next morning . . . immediately on to SD. You really won't have time to see/do much anywhere except San Francisco and maybe Monterey
janisj is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 03:26 AM
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Whew! Thanks for all the feedback. I did peruse forum before posting and am aware of te Amazing Race pace of the trip. Lots of good stuff but I'm glad I posted or I never would've gotten the pointed input I think I need! I've done similar in Italy (Rome/Amalfi Coast) and survived and thrived. My approach is not necessarily to hit the typical attractions.

dbdurand - to your point, I am considering skipping LA entirely as it is indeed a lot to bite off. And touché on La Jolla...you're right, it's not typical.

While the gist of the trip is the coastal drive, not necessarily tourist attractions, I will let the overwhelming consensus sink of your feedback sink in and take another look.

Thanks again. Will report back.
Keepswimming1 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 06:57 AM
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>>SF to Big Sur will take about 3.5 hours<<

It depends on when you go & what route you take. If you take the fastest route (101/156) and don't hit commute traffic, it is about 2 1/4 hrs. If you take the coast all the way down or hit heavy commute traffic it could be 3 1/2 hrs.

Good idea to skip LA and concentrate on activities/sites that don't involve a lot if wasted driving time on ugly freeways. You're still going to spend a high percent of this trip in a car. The drive from Carmel to San Louis Obispo is breathtaking. About 90% of the drive from SLO to San Diego will be extremely boring. I agree with janisj, that you won't have time for the aquarium, Alcatraz, kayaking, beach volleyball. Hwy 1 will take a lot longer to rive than the Amalfi coast.

Did you encounter my long post about things to do & see in the SF area??
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...mendations.cfm


Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 07:15 AM
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Oops - janisj said SF to Big Sur is 3 1/2 hrs & I was thinking SF to Carmel. She's correct - it's about 3 1/2 hrs to Big Sur - unless you get stuck in commute traffic in SF or San Jose - which will be almost impossible to avoid unless you drive this on a weekend or mid-day on a work day (latter won't give you much time in Big Sur).

Stu Dudley
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Mar 18th, 2012, 08:27 AM
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Hey - if you get up early - you have more time to do things. So Coffee up and hit the road and the kids can sleep part of the way.

From SF - you could just shoot down the 101 to the Monterrey/Carmel area (2 and a half hour drive or so) and would suggest you definitely drive Cannery Row and if time - see the Aquarium.

And depending on how much time you have and where you will spend your night on the road between Big Sur and San Diego - you might consider getting an inexpensive room somewhere in LA by Hollywood and let the kids walk around there a bit and see the sights. For just decent food - but a fun breakfast - try the Mel's Drive In on Sunset - which has a lot of Hollywood history on the wall. http://www.melsdrive-in.com/hoursand...hollywood.html

BTW - did you ever see the classic movie about America/California - American Graffiti - showing the 60's - centered around hot rods - and Drive In's and the like? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069704/

We wuz wild and drove hot cars.
Tomsd is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 08:28 AM
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Uno Mas - if you leave SF early - you can probably get ahead of the commute heading south - but if not - right after that you can make good time. Just ask around when you get there.
Tomsd is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 09:29 AM
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"My approach is not necessarily to hit the typical attractions. "

Except for a few highlights (the Aquarium, San Simeon, certain State Parks) there are relatively few 'attractions' on the coast. The coast IS the attraction. So skipping 'attractions' does not significantly reduce the travel time. One can't dash down hwy 1. Just isn't possible. It is a winding, in places mountainous, road w/ amazing scenery. But IMO your kids could be bored spitless sitting in the back of the car seeing miles of scenery through the windows. (BTW, are the kids subject to car sickness?? )

You won't have time to drive through Hollywood or anything much else in LA -- unless you skip Big Sur and take an inland route, which I don't recommend.

You do have time to make the drive . . . You don't have time to stop/see/do much along the way.
janisj is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 09:45 AM
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Having done a similar trip a couple of years ago with teens, I think they will find Alcatraz really interesting. Also, hitting an iconic LA street like Hollywood & Vine, seeing the walk of stars, and letting them put their feet in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre will be very memorable for them. We only stayed there one hour, parking was nearby and the kids loved it. Not too far away is the La Brea Tar Pits. If you don't want to go in to see what has been found, you can see the pits for free outside of the museum. We parked on the street nearby and again spent an hour there. We also hiked up to the Hollywood sign which was kinda fun with the reward of a spectacular view of the area. My kids also enjoyed seeing the Getty Museum as well.

We found reasonably priced accommodation for LA through www.airbnb.com.
GoSeeIt is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 09:51 AM
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Janisj above has a point. We also drove Hwy. 1 through Big Sur and my teens mostly slept or read their books. They did like San Simeon though. The drive can be quite slow depending on how many slow drivers are in front of you.
GoSeeIt is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 10:38 AM
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>>I've done similar in Italy (Rome/Amalfi Coast)<<

We all have different tastes - but if you've spent time in Italy or elsewhere in Europe, you might find Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, Hollywood & Vine, and Grauman's Theater pretty tacky.

Make sure you spend at least 1 1/2 hrs at Pt Lobos wandering around.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 18th, 2012, 11:00 AM
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Since we'll have a car, we should be able to do Golden Gate, Lombard St

You do NOT need a car to see or do anything in SF proper and parking is $40 a day at the Holiday Inn!! I would not get the car until I was leaving SF for parts south.
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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And Yo Stu: I think the Castro is pretty tacky - so to each their own.

For first timers who have heard all about say Hollywood or Cannery Row - I think it's well worth the while. Fisherman's Wharf will agree - is much more touristy than it used to be.
Tomsd is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 03:47 PM
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And no idea what Janis means about not having time to drive through LA? You have to go through there some way if you are heading to San Diego.

You can easily come down the coast road/Hiway 1 into say Solvang - and then essentially stay on 101 all the way to Hollywood. And you could either stay around there overnight - or after dinner - pop back on the freeway and go two more hours to San Diego/La Holla - taking say the 5 south (non-rush hour of course). From Solvang to Hollywood - what - 2 hours?

see: http://tinyurl.com/85bvbsk
Tomsd is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 03:56 PM
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Also check this webpage. From Big Sur to Hollywood - is under 300 miles and this webpage says it can be done in about 5 and a half hours. The slowest - most scenic part is from Big Sur to San Simeon/Hearst Castle - and from there on - you can make good time.

see: http://www.distancebetweencities.net...ywood_ca/route

Again - if you left early - you could enjoy the drive down to San Simeon/Hearst Castle (look for the big Elephant Seals at the beach about 2 miles before you come to the entrance to Hearst Castle) - and you might also take some time to at least stop and see the visitor center in Hearst Castle - and then be back on the road and into Hollywood.

Or - if you took the 3 hours to take a tour of Hearst Castle http://www.hearstcastle.org/ - you might stop for dinner at Danish themed Solvang - and go into Santa Barbara and then on into LA after the evening rush hour. Or - if you were beat or it was too late - stop at Solvang for the evening and the next morning - after some tasty Danish pastries http://www.solvangusa.com/ - and after the morning commute hour (say leave Solvang after 8 AM? - drive the two hours into Hollywood - tour around a bit/maybe have lunch - and then on the freeway before 3 PM and then head down to La Jolla - getting there in a couple of hours.
Tomsd is offline  

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