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-   -   LA, Kings Canyon, Coastal trip - July (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/la-kings-canyon-coastal-trip-july-1664043/)

mtolar Feb 23rd, 2019 02:21 PM

LA, Kings Canyon, Coastal trip - July
 
Hello! Just beginning to plan this trip (pretty late) so I would greatly appreciate any suggestions and tips. I haven't booked or paid for anything yet, so we are wide open to ideas but would like to book by this weekend, if possible.

The 3 things we would like to try and do are:
1 - Kings Canyon / Sequoia National Park - 3 nights ?
2 - Fun in and around LA - 2-3 nights ?
3 - Coastal drive up Hwy 1 to somewhere cool and then back the next day ?? - 1 overnight ?

Trip dates: July 3 - 10
Flying into LAX (or other airport if $ reasonable) ****ALSO open to flying into FAT and out of LAX****
4 adults: mom, dad, 23 y/o son, and 16 y/o son
Budget for lodging: $200/night max
Rental car: $300/week for Kings Canyon and around LA
"Fun" rental car for coastal drive: $150 (I know that sounds ridiculous but we want a convertible for those 2 days! YOLO)
Interests & things we like: nature, wildlife, sightseeing, zip-lining, maybe a Broadway show (we love music/plays but can do that anywhere), beach, water activities, a few iconic sights, whale-watching, maybe a 1-day theme park but not sure (Disney??), maybe see an orchard, redwoods?, and lots of good eating experiences! And anything else that's a DON'T MISS!

DRAFT Plan so far:
July 3 - land in mid-afternoon and drive to Kings Canyon; stay 3 nights ?
July 6 - drive that afternoon back to LA and do something; stay 3 nights ?
July 8 - drive early that morning up the coast to Big Sur area? Take our time and stop along the way. Spend the night somewhere and then drive back the next day.; stay 1 night
July 9 - back in LA and fly out either that afternoon or either the next morning

Is this doable? Places to stay? Best airport, rental car, things to do? Want to make the most of it as best as we can.
Thanks for any help you can give!
MT

aliced Feb 23rd, 2019 02:33 PM

If you take the PCH/101, do you realize how long a drive it is up to Big Sur? I'd spend the night in Santa Barbara and explore Santa Ynez Valley and save Big Sur for "next time." Plenty to see/do in LA environs for your itinerary. Just too taxing a drive to/fro within a day IMO.

mtolar Feb 23rd, 2019 02:40 PM

Yes, thanks for your reply. I see that now... 5-1/2 hours if no stops! Yep that's a bit too far... I think our main goal is to see some of the coastal highway, and perhaps we don't need to go all the way up to Big Sur.

tomfuller Feb 23rd, 2019 03:11 PM

Check on flying to Santa Barbara or maybe Burbank. Cars may be a bit cheaper at either without the hassle of driving in and out of LAX. If you fly to Burbank, the Amtrak/Metro station is across the street from the airport. You could take a Surfliner or Coast Starlight up the coast to Santa Barbara or even SLO before renting a car.

mtolar5 Feb 24th, 2019 06:29 AM

Thank you. I will check other airports today and also call the lodges in the parks.

Also, perhaps we should drive from Kings Canyon straight to Monterey or (somewhere further south down the coast) and then sightsee from there on way to LA?

Gardyloo Feb 24th, 2019 07:10 AM

Let me ask how important LA is, and would the SF Bay area do as a substitute?

Why: Here's an alternate plan that might involve less long-distance driving and more time to visit places. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/qAbyzsSHjjn

This starts and ends at San Francicso airport, but could also be Oakland, San Jose or Sacramento. Instead of Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks (abbreviated for some reason as SEKI) you'd see giant sequoias at the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, which is located close to the fabulous gold rush country that extends the length of CA Hwy 49. There are numerous incredibly picturesque and historic towns in the area like the museum town of Columbia and the winery-intensive town of Murphys (the closest to the Big Trees.) You could even do a day trip into Yosemite Valley (staying there with no booking right now is probably off the table.) This is a fabulous region in relatively close driving range from the Bay Area, and certainly from Sacramento.

The route then swings out to the Monterey Bay area, for fabulous scenery along the Big Sur coast and Point Lobos, twee Carmel with its shops and historic Spanish mission, the fab Monterey aquarium and so much more. It then swings to the northern end of the bay, maybe with a visit to the cool old-time beachfront amusement park at Santa Cruz, then returns to the airport(s) via either the Henry Cowell or Big Basin redwoods just north of Santa Cruz. Google all these places.

This might be a bit less hectic than an LA-based itinerary, but no less scenic by half.


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