California Trip

Mar 28th, 2011, 12:24 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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California Trip

My intended husband and I are planning our first trip to the U.S.in late August/ September - it's our honeymoon.

After five days/six nights in New York we'll fly to California.
We'll have another 12 nights to explore California.
The only thing which is sure is that our plane home (to Austria) starts in San Francisco.

It's so difficult for us to decide on a good trip.

1st suggestion is:

Flight to LA
3 nights LA
3 nights Big Sur
2 nights Sonoma
4 nights San Francisco

2nd suggestion is:

Flight to Las Vegas
1 night Las Vegas
2 nights Yosemite
3 nights Big sur
--> option 1:
6 nights San Francisco -- visits to Sonoma/Napa valley from San F.
--> option 2:
2 nights Sonoma
4 nights San F.

3rd suggestion is:

Flight to San Francisco
3-4 nights north of San F.
3-4 nights south of San F.
4-5 nights San F.

It would be nice to get some feedback or even other route suggestions!

Many thanks in advance!
dinda is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 04:09 AM
  #2  
 
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One general comment is that rental car companies now charge significant premiums for one ways. You will have to shop extensively to get a reasonable price for your itineraries where you travel in one direction. Hertz and Avis are most likely to be unaffordable. Check Budget, Dollar and Thrifty for better pricing.

The scenery is beautiful at Big Sur and the coast has some great sea side hikes, but 3 nights is a lot in an area with few restaurants and not much else. You can stay in Carmel or Monterey and drive down to Big Sur for lunch and have more to do at your base.

Options 1 and 2 involve a lot of driving.

If you decide to include Yosemite, you need to book hotels as soon as possible. This area books full every night.

This is a great area and you will enjoy your honemoon. Minimize your windshield time and minimize hotel changes.
stumpworks73 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 04:12 AM
  #3  
 
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I would suggest the following:
3 nights N.York
2 " L.A.
2 " Santa Barbara following the coast line
1 " Monterrey
4 " S? Francisco
tovarich is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 06:40 AM
  #4  
 
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Where is N.York in California??

Here are some ideas for the San Francisco Bay area.
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...mendations.cfm

I agree with stump about the driving in 1 & 2. Also, I think I would spend 2 nights in Carmal & 1 in Big Sur (less than 45 mins apart).

Stay in the town of Healdsburg instead of Sonoma. Healdsburg is more interesting and is better located (IMO). You'll have better access to the coast from Healdsburg also.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 06:45 AM
  #5  
 
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Stu,
The OP says they are flying to California after a few days in NY.
spirobulldog is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 06:59 AM
  #6  
 
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stump....the one way car rates for foreigners are much lower than for U.S. Citizens.

dinda...I would fly to Los Angeles, stay 3 nights, 4th day I would drive in the evening as far north as Santa Barbara, 2 nights, then drive to Big Sur/Carmel area for 2 nights, then San Francisco for 5 nights with day trips north of San Francisco.

You wouldn't see much of Las Vegas or surroundings with just a one night detour, and Vegas is 105degrees plus at that time of year, not very pleasant for walking/exploring. Los Angeles may also be quite hot then so stay west near the ocean. Note that the first Friday of September begins a holiday weekend (Monday holiday) so you will have to book accomodation in advance, especially near the ocean. Yosemite may already be booked up.
joesorce is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 07:56 AM
  #7  
 
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Fodor's California 2011 is an invaluable resource for planning the trip you have in mind. My suggestions for a really great California experience that avoids drop-off fees:

Las Vegas (1)
Los Angeles (2)
Highway 1 to Monterey--Big Sur (3)
San Francisco--Napa and Sonoma Valley (3)
Yosemite NP (1)
Tioga Pass to Death Valley (1)
Las Vegas (1)

HTTY
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 08:11 AM
  #8  
 
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HTTY

That's a lot of time in the car. Most Europeans don't realize how far apart destinations are in California (we were in Austria last Sept). Why don't you use mapquest (or anything you like) to estimate anticipated driving times between all the locations. Also specify how much time the OP can expect to spend "seeing" the sites in LA, SF, Yosemite, Death Valley, and Las Vegas. Also, the OP has reservations to fly home from San Francisco.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 09:08 AM
  #9  
 
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3rd suggestion makes the most sense: Fly NY to San Francisco, (or San Jose or Oakland) and rent your car there (downtown cheaper than at the airport). Yosemite is easier to get to from the Bay area than from LA. If you really want to see LA and Las Vegas, fly from SFO to either and rent another car to be returned where you rent it. Then return to SFO for your flight home. It is possible to ride the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Emeryville with a bus into San Francisco if you didn't want to fly back to San Francisco.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 11:00 AM
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Dinda,

I love all the drives I'm suggesting, and I am confident you will enjoy them too (with the possible exception of Yosemite to the coast).

I missed the detail about the return flight from San Francisco.

With that in mind: Las Vegas, Death Valley, Bodie Ghost Town, Tioga Pass, Yosemite NP, Pismo Beach, and then Highway 1 to San Francisco and the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

HTTY
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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Recently a big chunk of Highway 1 at Big Sur fell into the ocean after our long month of rain. It could be quite a while before that road is opened; you might want to check the California Highway Patrol roads site between now and your trip.
Underhill is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 11:50 AM
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>> I love all the drives I'm suggesting, and I am confident you will enjoy them too<<

We'll be making almost that identical trip from Las Vegas (actually Kingman, Az), to Death Valley (stay 2 nights), then Mammouth for 1 night, Bodie, then Yosemite. I agree with HTTY that it is a "drive" - but with very little time to get out of the car to see anything from Death Valley to Yosemite Valley.

Dinda - here are some time estimates from Mapquest.com

- Death Valley Furnace Creek directly to Curry Village in Yosemite Valley...6.5 hrs with no getting out if the car for lunch, walks, pottie breaks, etc.

- With a side trip to Bodie along the way - 8 hrs with no getting out of the car

So if you leave Death Valley at 9am after breakfast, you get to Yosemite Valley at 6PM if you visit Bodie for 1 hr and that's the only stop. I would add at least 1 hr for "other" stops. You won't have much time to visit Yosemite that day. I suggest that you stay 2 nights if you follow HTTY's itinerary.

- Yosemite to Pismo Beach... 5 hrs without getting out of the car for lunch, pottie, etc - and this is an Ugly drive.

Too much driving for me - but you can decide for yourself.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 12:17 PM
  #13  
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Thanks a lot for your responses!!!

Stu Dudley: I hope you enjoyed your stay in Austria

I think we may redesign our trip a little bit.

Maybe we'll even fly from NY to Las Vegas and see Monument Valley and Grand Canyon for a few days --> yes, we know that this is a lot to drive and fly from Las Vegas to LA.

Then we'll take Highway no 1 to San Francisco with a stop at Big Sur and spend the rest of our holiday in San Francisco - maybe with a trip to Napa valley...

For us, it's really difficult to decide... there's too much to see (and too little time...).
dinda is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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>>Stu Dudley: I hope you enjoyed your stay in Austria <,

We did - stayed in Melk on the Danube for 5 nights. We've visited Vienna and Salzburg several times on past trips.

Use mapquest.com to calculate driving times. Destinations are far apart here. I also suggest that you spend at least 2 nights in the Big Sur Carmel area - not just 1 night.

Yosemite Valley and the Sierras are beautiful - but so are the Alps. When we visit Europe (2 months every year), we like to see things we don't have at home. In your case, I think the Big Sur coast from San Simeon to Carmel would be the very enjoyable. Grand Canyon is nice also. Not sure the Napa or Sonoma wine regions would be that different from the Wachau (no river here - but lots of vineyards). San Francisco, of course, is very interesting, and the setting with the bay, ocean, and hills north/south/east is fantastic. Follow the link to the recommendations I mentioned earlier in this thread.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 02:14 PM
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Death Valley in late August? Ugh...not for me, there's a reason they call it Furnace Creek!
tracys2cents is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 03:42 PM
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Joesorce,
Does it really cost american citizens more for one way car rentals(renting with the US)? and what is the logic to that if so?
spirobulldog is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 04:05 PM
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This has become extremely disagreeable.

Goodbye, HTTY
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 09:02 PM
  #18  
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Thanks to all for your input - as our trip is in August we maybe will post some requests again. But this forum is very helpful.

... htty ... thank you, but in your last statement I really can't follow your thoughts...

... Stu Dudley ... For us, it's like you mentioned: We'd like to see things which are totally different to Europe. And either Grand Canyon or the coast at Big Sur will be so (not speaking of course about NY or San Francisco which I'm sure are exciting cities).

See you!
dinda is offline  
Mar 29th, 2011, 07:05 AM
  #19  
 
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Thanks, Dinda. I like to drive; some others don’t. Let me take this opportunity to explain the itinerary I suggested. It takes you to places in California we never tire of revisiting.

*Las Vegas is a unique destination, and it was on your list. The Grand Canyon can be visited by helicopter from Las Vegas. (I’ve had it with Las Vegas, but if you’re curious about it, you won’t be disappointed.)

*Death Valley is an unforgettable experience. It is hot in the summer—very hot. I find extreme heat exotic; others find it unbearable.

*The drive from Death Valley to Tioga Pass follows the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. It is beautiful.

*Bodie State Historic Park is a 25-mile detour (each way) and it is worth your time if you would like to walk around one of our most extensive ghost towns: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509

*The drive over Tioga Pass is beautiful and possible for only a few months of the year.

*Yosemite is one of our most popular and beautiful National Parks.

*Highway 1 between LA and SF is one of the most scenic drives in the USA.

The other places are on all the itineraries you outlined.

HTTY
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Mar 29th, 2011, 07:12 AM
  #20  
 
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Spiro....yes it's true, click on my name and see my topic on Car Rentals, from July 22, 2010....
joesorce is offline  

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