Eight days in So-cal (30th ann)

Old Nov 11th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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Eight days in So-cal (30th ann)

We're planning on spending our 30th anniversary in Southern California. We'll land in LA and try to take in Santa Barbara then move down the coast stopping along the coast to San Diego. We don't have any reservation anywhere except Rancho Bernardo the last two nights of our trip. I was hoping I could get advise/ideas as to where to stay and dine starting with La, Sanata Barbara, then open down the coast...
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Old Nov 11th, 2005, 03:06 PM
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Too many possibilities. Maybe a few parameters are in order:

-- How much do you want to spend for lodging? I know of a couple of stupendous hotels in LA and Orange County, but the rates are stupefying.

-- Do you want to stay on the coast every night? When is your trip going to be?

-- What kinds of food do you like/dislike? How much do you want to spend? Where will you be for your anniversary? Do you want to go "all out" that night?
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Old Nov 12th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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thanks for responding jrw...I was hoping you'd respond. I've enjoyed your previous advise to people coming to your area. We'll arrive in LA on the 25th of Nov. leaving Dec 4th out of San Diego. It was suggested to drive to Santa Barbara (2hrs north)and then make our way down the coast to San Diego. I'm hoping to keep things upscale without having to take out a mortgage to pay for the trip. The two nights we're in Ranco Bernardo(2-3rd of Dec)are $300+.per night, the last night is our anniversary so I'm covered for that date. What I would love to hear is a seven day itinary of must stay's and do's, such as, forget Santa Barbara but don't miss Catalina or the opposite. Or must stay at abc resort in Lajolla or Laguna beach for romantic dinners with sunsets overlooking the ocean ....
Vacations are usually in a very controlled enviroment (2wks at this resort etc) so, I'm really out of my element here... Help.

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Old Nov 12th, 2005, 09:16 AM
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I will try to jump in with my two-cents:

If I calculate correctly you will have nine nights to fill, two of which you already have reservations in Rancho Bernardo (i.e. Greater San Diego).

With this in mind, I would allow two nights in Santa Barbara , giving you time to explore the town of S.B. on one day including some R&R at either the beach or your pool. The other day might consist of a small sidetrip into the wine country.

For lodging, a gorgeous but very pricy option is the Biltmore Four Seasons in Montecito. Maybe you can get a deal. It is an older property, so it may have a few drawbacks, but still well worth it. The beach from which it is seperated by a small road is nothing spectacular, though.

I'd strongly recommend a daytrip (or even half a day) across San Marcos Pass into Santa Ynez Valley, the wine region where "Sideways" was filmed. Many pretty wineries that you can visit and where you can taste their wines. The little town of Los Olivos is quite nice and offers a couple of tasting rooms, too.
For a hearty and rustic lunch, I'd recommend "Coldsprings Tavern" right off San Marcos Pass - a wooden inn hidden under trees.
For something more refined check out "Mattei's Tavern" in Los Olivos (aka as Brothers' Restaurant) or the "Los Olivos Café".
A casual dining option right on the beautiful beach of Goleta, slightly North of S.B. near UCSB would be "Beachside Café".

L.A.: I would account for three days (i.e.) maybe four nights in L.A. On day one, you might venture into downtown and stroll a little bit around the area of Bunker Hill taking in some of the architecture (i.e. Walt Disney Concert Hall). I would then head to Union Station and take a short glimpse at the (cheesy) Olvera St. before idling down Sunset Blvd. towards B.H. Stop in Hollywood, take a look at Hollywood Blvd. and the area around Grauman's Chinese Theatre, then head on into B.H. Walk and shop on Rodeo Drive. Continue on Sunset towards Pacific Palisades and enjoy a sundowner (probably on the deck of Gladstone's, where Sunset Blvd. merges into PCH, but only have drinks there- the food is nothing special).

On day two, you might want to visit the Getty (at least half a day). After that, probably drive over to Rodeo if you schedule of Day 1 should have been a bit too tight (which it may well be).

Day 3 might include a small bike tour down the boardwalk from Santa Monica to Venice Beach (don't start before 10.00 a.m. as Venice will only come to life by the late a.m.) and back. On the other side of the city, there is Huntington Library in San Marino (displaying a Gutenberg Bible) located on attractive grounds, or the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, which might be worth two hours.

As a tourist, I guess it is advisable to stay somewhere in the Western parts of the city (West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica) as most tourist attractions are located there. Personally, I also like Pasadena with its beautifully revived Old Town area along Colorado Blvd., which even invites for an evening stroll (rare in L.A., but to be found particularly in B.H. and S.M., too).

Dining options in L.A. are manifold. A lot would depend on where you stay, as traffic in L.A. is horrendous at times (instead of staying on congested Freeways, you often might be better off to venture on one of the various major boulevards, that are easy to sort out and in many cases will take you through the whole conglomerate of cities forming L.A.).
rjw should have various suggestions particularly for the S.M. area.

So depending on how many nights you would allow for L.A. (three or four) there are only one or two left for in between L.A. and S.D.

Laguna Beach is lovely (as is the neighbouring Dana Point, if you would indeed enjoy another stop along the coast.

If you'd be willing to take the backroad to S.D. (although I really do enjoy idling down PCH from L.A. South as those towns have such a relaxing air about them), a stop in the desert (Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, all of which form basically one small metropolitan area) might be an option.

One last suggestion for San Diego : Do have dinner at "George's at the Cove" on Propect St. Gorgeous gourmet dining (pricey) or -to spend a little less - their rooftop terrace (may well be closed, at least it was 10 days ago when I was there) or Bar upstairs serve pretty good food, too, in a relaxed environment at more reasonable prices.
"Nine Ten" at the neighbouring "La Grande Colonial Hotel" is also an option for good food.
Nightlife can be enjoyed in downtown S.D's Gaslamp district, particularly on 5th Avenue. "Croce's is a bar cum restaurant featuring live Jazz almost every night and serves more than decent food, too.

Hope this helps a bit and happy anniversary!
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Old Nov 12th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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Well, if you can swing WEEKNIGHTS for your stays in Santa Barbara and Laguna, you can probably save fifty bucks a night, and if you can weekend around L.A., the traffic will be quite a bit easier to handle.

Harbor View Inn in Santa Barbara would be my recommendation, but since its Thanksgiving weekend you'd probably have to break the bank. We love the Laguna Riviera Inn but would consider it 3 star, not 4.
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