LA- Napa need to fill in the middle!

Mar 26th, 2016, 11:00 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 1
LA- Napa need to fill in the middle!

I think that I bit off more then I can chew with planning this little get away! MY husband and I are flying in to LA for a family event. We decided to incorporate a road trip for our anniversary. Our plan is to rent a car departing LA on Monday morning. Is it doable to get to Napa by Thursday afternoon? And still have time to make some enjoyble stops along the way? We really want to drive on the coast and not on the highway.

Was thinking the following.... please help !

Depart LA Monday (picking up car at LAX)
Drive to Santa Barbara stop for Lunch (no clue where)

Drive to Carmel for two nights
Explore that area

Depart Carmel Wednesday

Should I do one night in San Fran? or am I squeezing too much in to a short trip?

San Fran to Nappa for two nights

My sister is planning the Napa part so i am not even going to think about that!

Any advise is greatly appreciated I am stressing out and not looking forward to this at all!
gina2121 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 11:16 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,235
Are you coming all the way back to LAX to return the car and fly home from there?
My advice would be to take a Surfliner train to Santa Barbra on Monday and eat lunch at one of the restaurants on the wooden pier. The train station is within walking distance of the pier.
Rent a car in Santa Barbara and drive up the coast to Carmel/Monterey.
Return the car to the SBA airport and fly to San Jose.
Rent another car from San Jose to go to Napa. Go into San Francisco on BART if you have extra time but don't spend the night in the city. Hotel rooms are quite expensive in San Francisco.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 12:00 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2,974
It is too far IMO to drive from LA to Carmel in one day, especially if you want to drive Highway 1. Santa Barbara is a great town, or you could have lunch there then drive to Cambria or Pismo Beach or Morro Bay. Stay the night there then drive to Carmel the next day.
Ignore tomfuller, he means well, but he has an obsession with trains and wants to put everyone on one, even though you said you wanted a Road Trip.
jamie99 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 12:17 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,235
I'd rather drive a rental car out of the Santa Barbara airport than LAX. The tracks south of Santa Barbara are between US 101 and the beach.
You get to see the ocean instead of the pavement in front of your rental car.
How many miles of the Pacific coastline do you want to see?
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 01:07 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,593
tom - how much does Amtrak pay you?

LAX > Union Station > train to SB > rental car SB to Carmel AND back (?) > fly to SJ > rental car to Napa > and then somehow get to SFO to take BART into the city??????

I'll give it to you, one of your more creative ideas . . .
janisj is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 02:28 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,960
Tom's train idea is a good one imo, although I don't understand his suggested itinerary from Santa Barbara forward. Take a train from LA to Santa Barbara, or San Luis Obispo, pick up a rental car and simply use it all the way to Napa or wherever else you want to go. Suggesting they fly from Santa Barbara to San Jose borders on ridiculous imo. It's about a 4-hour drive.

But at least in CA trains are king of low stress travel for us, and they're our preferred method of travel within the state. It absolves travelers of road closures, car troubles, nasty drivers and a dozen other stresses, and instead of one person being forced to watch the road at all times, all parties can enjoy the scenery and even a sitdown dinner and glass of wine while they do it. If this sounds like an Amtrak ad, I guess it is, but it's directed at train travel in general.
fdecarlo is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 02:49 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,593
>>Take a train from LA to Santa Barbara, or San Luis Obispo, pick up a rental car and simply use it all the way to Napa or wherever <<

But they will be AT LAX -- not downtown near Union Station. Much easier to just get a car when they arrive and head up the coast. plus the Surfliner only runs 5 or 6 times a day so they could be almost to SB before the next train departs.
janisj is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 03:06 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,960
janisj, if the intent is car travel, obviously your idea is simpler and faster. IMO a half-hour cab ride to get to Union Station is a small price to pay for not having to drive in LA, or from there to Santa Barbara. As tom mentioned, even the scenery is better on the train.
fdecarlo is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 03:16 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,593
Maybe I'm dense . . . but the OP said >> We decided to incorporate a road trip for our anniversary<< . . . not a train trip, not a tour of various train stations, not hopping around in loops via multiple modes of transport to avoid drop off fees . . . a road trip. You and tom don't like driving, and love trains. If someone asks for advice for a road trip, call me crazy, but I think they want to drive . . .
janisj is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 03:34 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,235
To get from LAX to Union Station use the FlyAway bus.
http://www.lawa.org/FlyAway/Default.aspx
Yes you can drive from LAX to Santa Barbara in 2 hours even (sometimes). It takes 2:40 on the train but you don't have to worry about a traffic jam usually.
I do have over 17000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points now which would be enough to get me from Chemult Oregon in a Roomette to Burbank where I can rent a car across the street at the Burbank airport.
Do you have a rental car from LAX for your family event on Sunday?
2 Surfliners get to Santa Barbara before noon and the Coast Starlight gets there at 12:35.
The Surfliners go as far north as SLO.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 03:37 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Ignoring all of the train nonsense - yes, you are trying to cover to much territory in limited time. I'm not an expert in that area but every time I have been anywhere near there the traffic has truly horrendous and travel times have been much longer than listed on google directions.

I think you just don't have time for SF and should probably save that for another trip. (I would do SF and bag Napa - but it sounds like you are meeting people in Napa sodoesn't sound like that would work.)
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 03:54 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,960
> Maybe I'm dense . . . but the OP said >> We decided to incorporate a road trip for our anniversary<< . . . not a train trip, not a tour of various train stations, not hopping around in loops via multiple modes of transport to avoid drop off fees . . . a road trip. You and tom don't like driving, and love trains. If someone asks for advice for a road trip, call me crazy, but I think they want to drive . . .

If sitting stressed in bumper to bumper traffic on LA freeways qualifies as a road trip to you, that's great imo. It doesn't to everyone. The "train nonsense" is simply an alternative to it, or to get visitors beyond the LA zoo to a point where driving is actually enjoyable.

The larger question imo is why members can't even suggest train travel as an alternative, without being hounded for it. Stress-wise it's night and day compared to driving in LA and SoCal.
fdecarlo is offline  
Mar 26th, 2016, 05:13 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,001
>> I am stressing out and not looking forward to this at all! <<

Then slow down the pace. "Less is more".

- Monday drive to Cambria & stay two nights. Have your sister plan winery stuff in the Paso Robles wine growing area instead of Napa. Visit Hearst Castle if you like.

- Wednesday drive up the Big Sur coast. Visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park. Then have lunch at Nepenthe
http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/
Continue on to Carmel & stay 2 nights.

- Drive to San Francisco, return the car, & spend your remaining time there.
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...mendations.cfm

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 27th, 2016, 07:32 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,682
L.A. native here, living close to LAX. I have family in Santa Barbara as well as north of San Francisco, so I'm probably more familiar than some here with driving LAX to SB and points north.

If trying to avoid as much L.A. traffic as possible and making the most of your limited time, taking the train to SB makes no sense at all. You have to cross the entire city to get from LAX to Union Station in DTLA, and then the train ride to SB takes as long as if you had driven LAX to SB in the first place. And the train idea doesn't take into account possible traffic delays in getting to Union Station, waiting for the train (there are only three Monday morning departures at 7:30, 9:10, 10:10, nor the fact that Amtrak doesn't always run on time.

Just rent the car and point it towards SB. The traffic for the first hour or so just is what it is. Use the car pool lane and don't gnash your teeth over this small part of a much longer drive.

I wouldn't stop in San Francisco, but I hope you're flying home from SF, Oakland or Sacramento.
Jean is offline  
Mar 27th, 2016, 08:56 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,593
>>The larger question imo is why members can't even suggest train travel as an alternative, without being hounded for it.<<

LOTS of us recommend train travel when it makes sense. Others recommend train travel for every situation . . . which is more helpful?

In this situation, for this OP, train travel doesn't make much sense. And for any OP train/car/plane/car/BART would not make sense . . sorry if you think that is hounding someone . . .
janisj is offline  
Mar 27th, 2016, 09:59 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 11,786
Did I miss this detail: where are you flying home from? Maybe you should fly LAX to SFO, San Jose or Oakland, and begin your road trip from there. Otherwise, it's a lot of ground to cover without rushing. I hope you don't have to drive back to LAX.
Tabernash2 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2016, 10:10 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,960
> LOTS of us recommend train travel when it makes sense. Others recommend train travel for every situation . . . which is more helpful?

Not sure who that's directed to, but it does make sense in this situation, Jean's claim about "crossing the entire city" notwithstanding. It's a half-hour cab ride, with traffic. And it's only because I've done both routes personally that I make the train suggestion in the first place. Have YOU done both? Same question to Jean.

A discussion board is about getting DIFFERENT opinions from DIFFERENT people, but one wouldn't know it on Fodor's, at least recently. Honestly from what we know and the symptoms, it sounds like a major troublemaker was recently booted from the Lounge and is trying to make yet more trouble for me and us on this site. Hostility levels have been off the chart the last few days and we have no clue why.
fdecarlo is offline  
Mar 27th, 2016, 11:22 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2,974
I kind of like Stu Dudley's suggestion of doing the wine tasting in the Paso Robles area if Napa is not set in stone. The tasting fees are less expensive as well. Or you could visit some of the Santa Ynez Valley wineries near Santa Barbara. I like the Paso wines better but like the countryside in Santa Ynez area more with the rolling hills and live oaks.
jamie99 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2016, 05:17 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,235
Tabernash2 asked the same question I asked in my original post. It has now been 30 hours since gina2121 asked our opinions. She has not come back to answer any questions.
We have no idea where the Sunday event is or if Gina is committed to renting a car from LAX.
If there is a way around it, I tend to avoid renting a car from an airport. If there is a way to get to an Amtrak station to ride a train or bus to my destination I use it.
I have taken trains south of Santa Barbara several times.
I have only driven as far south as Ventura.
The view from the train is much better than it is from US 101 IMO.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 27th, 2016, 08:20 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,001
Gina is a first time poster on Fodors.

I put minimal effort into providing suggestions to first-timers until they provide some feedback.

I picked up a rental car at LAX for my 50th High School reunion last Sept - and it was very confusing & time consuming.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:25 AM.