LA and San Francisco both in a 2 week trip??

Feb 4th, 2009, 03:38 PM
  #1  
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LA and San Francisco both in a 2 week trip??

I could really use advice from those of you who know California well. We have 2 weeks this July and I definitely want to see Yosemite (thanks to great tips from fellow fodorites!) and San Francisco. My indecision concerns whether or not to fly into LA and see the whole LA scene for 4 nights or so and then drive north making a stop or two along the way and then flying out of San Francisco, or just spending the entire time in the San Francisco area. Our kids are 15, 13 and 10 and although they love Disney, they would not be heart broken if we missed it this trip. However, we usually travel to Europe and this may be our only trip to California for a long time so I want to try to see as much of it as we can. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
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Feb 4th, 2009, 05:05 PM
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There is more to do in LA than Disneyland--Hollywood, Warner Bros. Tour, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Getty Museum for starters.

If you fly into LA, you can drive up Highway 1, stopping in Cambria to visit the Hearst Castle, bop over to Yosemite and then on to San Francisco.


happytrailstoyou is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 05:18 PM
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You can totally do this, starting in L.A., driving north via Yosemite, and ending up in S.F. to fly home from there.

You need a car all the time, of course, and if you search this board you'll find lots and lots of recent postings with things to see and do in L.A., and suggestions on where to stay, to satisfy the different tastes and needs of the different posters.

Realize that Anaheim is not in L.A., and a boring place to stay at, so if Disney appeals, drive there one morning.

The drive to Yosemite will take a good five hours plus stops, so leave early, don't rush it, book lodgings and stay two nights. Book early, like right now!

So as to have some time in Yosemite valley the day of heading out, and also because it is nice to stay there, look into spending a night in a town of the nearby gold-rush area, Sonora (not to be confused with Sonoma), or Columbia, or Jamestown,.

Then head to SF from there.

Maybe do it like this:
Day 1 arrive in L.A., get wheels, settle in.
Days 2-3-4-5 in and around L.A.
Day 6 drive to Yosemite, stay the night.
Day 7 hike/drive/explore Yosemite and Tioga Pass etc., stay another night.
Day 8 late, drive to gold-rush country nearby and stay the night.
Day 9 drive to S.F.
Days 10-11-12-13 stay in S.F.
Day 14 head home.

An alternative would be to make the L.A. stay shorter and drive up the coast in two or three days, there have been many detailed posts about just that itinerary very recently.

Then head east from the Monterey area to Yosemite, and west again to S.F., it will be worth the zig and zag.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 06:09 PM
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You know - I would really want to spend as much time as possible on the Big Sur coast (Hearst Castle to Carmel), Yosemite, and San Francisco. The thing about LA is that you'll spend so much time on the freeways (during rush hour??) getting from A to B, that you'll eat up a lot of precious vacation time just sitting in the car & seeing/doing nothing. In San Francisco, you could ignore your car for 5 days, just walking, biking, or taking the 3 wheeled scooters (Can't remember the official name of the yellow things) everywhere you wan to go.

Will your teens really appreciate the Getty Museum??

I would fly to Santa Barbara & spend the night there. Then head up the fantastic Hwy 1 to San Simeon & visit Hearst Castle (I'm not as enamoured with Cambria as others are - especially if you have spent a lot of time in Europe). Then SLOWLY up to Big Sur, stay there 2 nights, & let the kids explore all the hidden beaches & state parks. Then to Point Lobos (see my recent post), and spend 2-3 nights in Carmel. Then over to Yosemite for 3 nights. Back to San Francisco, dump the car, get multi day Muni passes so the kids can hop on the cable cars, and spend the remaing time in San Francisco. Depart from SFO.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 5th, 2009, 05:48 AM
  #5  
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Thank you for the comments. I now have more information and have decided to skip LA this trip (although I am sure there is a lot to do!), because we would prefer a slower paced trip and don't want to waste any time at all in traffic!! Stu - I am taking your advice because I know you are an expert on Provence, which is where we were going to go, but in light of the economy, we have decided to keep our money in the US this year! Provence will have to wait!
Thanks again!
azh111 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 05:49 AM
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Hum. The kids 15, 13 and 10 I know are fascinated by Hollywood, movie and television studio tours, Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, etc.


happytrailstoyou is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 06:22 AM
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I'm with happytrailstoyou, I think your kids would love the Hollywood stuff and Venice. Drop the 2-3 days in Carmel into an overnight and see a bit of LA. Besides, your options for flights into LAX and rental cars will be greater, and cheaper than starting in Santa Barbara. One last thing, June is usually foggy along the coast, so if you can come a little later in the summer you will probably hit better weather. Have fun!
Barblab is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 06:59 AM
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>>Drop the 2-3 days in Carmel into an overnight and see a bit of LA<,

What can you really see in LA for only 1 or 2 days (besides the freeways). I think LA is a minimum of 4 days - longer if you visit Disneyland and have to drive through LA during the work week to get to the start of the Big Sur coast.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 5th, 2009, 07:16 AM
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LA is a huge place, and you will spend hours on the freeways if you do not pare down a list of sights to geographically similar areas.

Yeah, Getty Museum would be a waste.
Placename is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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It really depends on what you, as a family, is mostly interested in doing.

Admittedly Yosemite is quite beautiful, but if it were a choice between Yosemite and Big Sur, I'd opt for Big Sur.

In addition, if it were me (and this choice of destinations is so much a personal choice thing), if I cut out Yosemite, I'd add in San Diego for the kids.

You could easily do a loop trip Southern California to Northern California and back (via Big Sur) in two weeks. Budget about a week for Southern California and a week for Northern California -driving between the two, no need to fly.

Flight between LAX and SFO is a little over an hour, but factor in travel to the airport, return car time, check in time, arrival airport time, getting another car time and you'll looking at about 4 hours via air between LA and SF.

OTOH, if you drive, it'll take you about 7 hours - but you can leave when you want to , stop when you want to, just toss the luggage into the car and take off - that 3 hours that you are saving by flying really becomes a bit meaningless.

So I'd advice driving and not flying between LA and SF.
easytraveler is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 08:13 AM
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One day for the Hollywood sights and biking Venice to Santa Monica and one day for Universal Studios. Plan around driving morning and evening rush hours. The OP said they did not need to do Disney, and yes I agree there is tons to see in LA and the area is vast, and no to Getty for this trip. I just think they would have more fun doing that then 2-3 days in Carmel if they spend time on Hwy. 1,in Big Sur and end up in SF. Really, as the last poster said it is personel preferences. You just need to make a list of what appeals to you and your family and connect the dots.
Barblab is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 08:21 AM
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I agree Big SUr coast could be lovely. I would also recommend you consider Monterey(the aquarium) the sea path between Pacific Grove and Monterey, and a trip to Pt Lobos. Your kids are all old enough to enjoy all three. Point Lobos(Carmel) is a state park (small admission fee) and the walks are divine. You will see Sea Otters, there are tide pools to explore and an old whaler's shack. The sea path also is easily walked and will provide you lots of viewing of creatures.
The aquarium is really quite amazing.
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Feb 5th, 2009, 08:29 AM
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When I suggested Carmel, I meant the entire Monterey Peninsula - from Pt Lobos to PG/Monterey - not just Carmel. We bicycled the 17 mile drive once. I could easily spend 3/4 of a day at Pt Lobos. See this recent post:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...1&tid=35180865

Stu Dudley
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Feb 5th, 2009, 09:50 AM
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I'm from L.A. area and have been going to S.F. since I was a small child, so since the early 60s. You can definitely do both in 2 weeks. Just be very organized.

And do Disney if the kids want to go. Plus, it's the original Disneyland. I've been going since the late 50s and still love the place. Plus, we also have California Adventure on the same land. I still haven't done that one yet.

I would definitely do the Getty. I took my Parisian friend there, early November, and he said that he was really impressed. I go for the architecture, gardens, and magnificent views. As far as the art, I've seen lots of European art for 3-plus decades in Europe. The Getty is free. You only pay for the parking.

I'd also do Santa Monica and Venice Beach and have lunch at Gladstones on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway).

I'd throw in Universal Studios,too. I personally am not into Universal Studios, but my European friends who come love to go there so I send them on their way either in a rental car or on public transportation. My Parisian friend loved it. He stayed with me for 12 days and had a blast here. He said he'll be back. He went to S.F. on a trip a few years ago and of course loved it,too. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 10:24 AM
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Thanks again to everyone for the additional info.
Easytraveler - can I ask why you would choose Big Sur over Yosemite? Having never been to a state park, I really have no idea what to expect, but I did think from reading guide books and talking to people, that Yosemite was not to be missed.
Thanks again!
azh111 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 11:03 AM
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azh111: it's hard to say why.

I enjoy Yosemite and the views are quite spectacular and the hikes are good.

But it's just one pearl in a string of pearls for me: there's also Kings Canyon and Sequoia - even the drive along Interstate 395 in the easternmost part of California is wonderful and Mammoth is great too. The Sierra Mountains have plenty of vistas and great mountains to offer.

OTOH, Big Sur is a bit unique. There's a lot of coastline along the Western US, but Big Sur is in a category by itself, which is why local Northern Californians like Stu and PamSF have advised you to go drive through Big Sur (Monterey/Carmel). The vistas are breathtaking and the hikes are mostly easy but fun. They are good for kids. Pt Lobos is a must if you drive Big Sur. There are tidepools along the South Shore Trail where kids and adults can spend an entire day. There's also other hikes in Pt Lobos which are fairly easy to do. You should go to Pt Lobos when the weather is good and you can see clearly across the immense blue horizon.

Away from the ocean and inland you can hike among the redwoods in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. You can even overnight in one of their rustic cabins. But Pfeiffer Big Sur is just one park where you can hike the redwoods. My favorite is Limekiln State Park, which is almost at the south end of Big Sur.

Hope this answers your questions. Not a very good answer, I'm afraid, but here are some links:

http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/

http://www.pelicannetwork.net/

http://bigsur-coastline.com/
easytraveler is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 11:17 AM
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I have to agree with easytraveler that big sur is more spectacular than yosemite in the summer, but I am an ocean person. we went to yosemite in april and the waterfalls were wonderful but they dry up in summer and there were too many people in the valley to really enjoy the beauty. The mariposa woods area was neat especially if you haven't seen big trees.
emalloy is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 11:23 AM
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It's hard to compare Big Sur and that coastline with Yosemite, let alone predict how one person whom you don't even know will like one over the other. So take these personal opinions about one or the other with a lump of salt, they are certainly not objective.

Yosemite is not so much a "park" as a huge wilderness area, you drive down into a valley and you marvel up at many rock formations and peaks and the famous waterfall - the roads are nicely kept, traffic flows slowly, walkways are easy to manage on the valley floor, but it's all about the trees and brooks and the surrounding mountains. You can go on serious hikes where the trails are not as manicured as they are down in the valley.

Big Sur is mainly a well-travelled narrow road, a real highway (Pacific Coast Highway 1 or PCH), mostly one lane in each direction, it curves and goes up and down and the driver has to watch the road while the passengers ooh and aah about what they see, which is ocean views and more ocean view, and cliffs, then the road drops back from the ocean into forests and you see trees and more trees.

But it is not an enclosed "park", not like the enclosed Yosemite Valley, even though Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is called just that (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=570)

From some points you can take an unpaved little road down to the beach, even without a four-wheeler on a good day - the rangers will tell you what's possible, it all depends on how the recent weather has been.

Will your kids prefer one over the other? That's hard to say. Some adults never stop swooning over the Big Sur coast line, others drive through, see the ocean and cliffs during the few hours of driving and have had enough.

To stay and plan daily outings, the Yosemite has more to offer, more varied drives and more varied hikes.

But if your kids get more of a buzz out of big-city stuff, their patience at ocean-gazing from the backseat may soon wilt.

You know your kids best - choose according to their whims, the adult oh-so-healthy and oh-so-pretty nature stuff may or may not turn the kids on, and if they get grumpy about yet another cliff and tree and vista, you'll hear about it.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 11:31 AM
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Does anyone in your family suffer from carsickness? I have had more than one friend complain about it on the drive down the coast.
sf7307 is online now  
Feb 5th, 2009, 12:12 PM
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>>Big Sur is mainly a well-travelled narrow road, a real highway (Pacific Coast Highway 1 or PCH),<<

I think PCH ends somewhere in Southern Calif - maybe Santa Barbara. North of there to SF it is the Cabrillo Highway.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Stu Dudley
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