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-   -   LA, San Diego and San Francisco in 8 days -- can/should we try? (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/la-san-diego-and-san-francisco-in-8-days-can-should-we-try-1020782/)

gracie Jul 22nd, 2014 07:09 PM

LA, San Diego and San Francisco in 8 days -- can/should we try?
 
Due to DH's job, we can only travel December 26 -January 3. DH has never been to California. We would fly from Atlanta. Originally, I had thought we would only go for four days and only visit one part of the state - either So Cal OR the SF area. However, now I am thinking that we may want to go for 7 or 8 days and try to visit both areas. Are we crazy? Would we be too exhausted?

About us - we are in our mid 50's. We are not foodies nor interested in shopping or trendy restaurants.

If we did attempt to go to both So Cal and SF, should we fly between the cities, take a train, or rent a car?

All suggestions appreciated.

Tabernash2 Jul 22nd, 2014 07:33 PM

I would choose San Francisco and one of the other cities.
Definitely not three in 8 days.
Fly to SFO, stay 3 or 4 nights, fly to LAX or SAN, stay 3 or 4 nights, fly home from there.

Maybe check air fare and see if it matters much in price, which city you fly into and out of.

Rent cars as needed. If you want to stay in San Francisco, you might not want a car. In LA, definitely need one. Probably in San Doego, too.

You could drive from SAN Francisco to soCal, if you want to take the scenic route and maybe stay one night at Pismo Beach or nearby.

Alternate plan: fly to LAX, spend 3 or 4 nights, drive to San Diego or take the Surfliner train, stay in San Diego 3 or 4 nights, fly home from there.

janisj Jul 22nd, 2014 07:45 PM

>>However, now I am thinking that we may want to go for 7 or 8 days and try to visit both areas. <<

Nope -- W. just a week what you want to do is EITHER San Diego/LA . . . OR . . . SF and <i>maybe</i> Monterey/Carmel

elizzie4000 Jul 22nd, 2014 07:56 PM

For only 7 or 8 days I would only do 2 cities. I would fly either to SF or SD and fly home from the other. So if you fy to SF spend 3 or 4 days there and then Fly to San Diego. There's a lot to do here. New Year's Eve is fairly low key here. The big hotels have parties that you pay $$ for but I've never been to one. All the boats will still be decorated in the Harbor & Marina.

The Hotel del Coronado will have a ice skating rink on the beach. There's another one downtown outside. I don't ice skate but it's fun to watch and it's a festive atmosphere.

The weather is usally nice here year round so you can usually spend a lot of time outside walking or hiking, renting bikes or do a segway tour. Take a harbor cruise or brunch cruise. It's also whale watching season.

mlgb Jul 23rd, 2014 06:24 AM

You can drive between LA and San Diego in a few hours so I don't see the big deal in doing all three. It really depends on what you want to see.

Jean Jul 23rd, 2014 08:25 AM

"We are not foodies nor interested in shopping or trendy restaurants."

Then, what are you interested in seeing/doing in these three destinations? Rose Parade? Museums? SD Zoo? Historical sights? Architecture? Concerts/plays? Beach/ocean activities? Does weather/rain matter?

Depending on your answers, you should check what things will be open/closed around New Year's Eve/Day.

mlgb Jul 23rd, 2014 08:33 AM

RE the question re train, car, or fly between cities. I would have a car, actually for the whole time. You could do San Francisco without a car, at least for a few days, depending on what you want to see there. Often there is a discount for a week's rental vs 6 days.

Flying during around the holidays can be stressful if there is bad weather flights are often delayed and cancelled. By the time you add in delays and time needed to get to an airport, you could be there already.

Also if you drive, you could stop in Monterey for a night, then take the 101 Freeway which is fairly scenic, about 5 hours drive to LA.

Tabernash2 Jul 23rd, 2014 09:58 AM

Just check the one-way fee for the rental car. It can be murder to your budget.

janisj Jul 23rd, 2014 10:08 AM

I personally would NOT plan on driving 3/4 the length of the state at that time of year. Sure -- you might luck out and get "Rose Parade" Weather :)

But it also could be stormy - and in SF -- very foggy. I'd stick to the south or up north and not try to squeeze in all three in such a short time.

mlgb Jul 23rd, 2014 10:47 AM

Check the one way fee for all combinations of in and out.

Flying in to LAX and leaving from San Francisco you might be pleasantly surprised.

Kayak works for cars also.

Of course, weather cannot be predicted. Maybe it will be like last year, when it didn't rain at all between Dec 8 & Jan 8!

If it does rain, the car also gives you flexibility to modify your itinerary, as long as you find a clear day to drive to SFO.

jamie99 Jul 23rd, 2014 11:35 AM

Nope, stick to either SF and the Bay area, or SoCal (LA and San Diego), you do not have enough time to do justice to all those locations.

taos23 Jul 23rd, 2014 11:42 AM

Parts of Highway 1 can be closed at that time of the year due to mud slides.

mlgb Jul 23rd, 2014 12:49 PM

And if Hwy 1 is closed, they can take 101 or 5. Very often we have excellent weather in December, no fog and if so it can be a great time to do the coast.

Whether you have time "to do justice" depends on what you want to see and do, and whether you think you will be able to return.

tenthumbs Jul 23rd, 2014 02:20 PM

Agree with janisj and jamie~if you try to do all of that in 7-8 days, you'll spend a lot of time just getting from destination to destination and less time enjoying them. My personal choice would be for SoCal for the mild weather.......but I live in an area where December is COLD!! :)

bigtyke Jul 23rd, 2014 02:27 PM

I don't see anything wrong with all three. It just depends on what you want to do. You could easily spend 8 days in any one of the places. I would drive.

mlgb Jul 23rd, 2014 02:36 PM

"You'll spend a lot of time getting from destination to destination"...

2-3 hours between LA and San Diego
7 hours (allowing for traffic) from LA to SFO, give or take, via an inland routing. If they go down the coast, and spend one night in Monterey (about 3 hours), it's 5 hours from Monterey to LA via 101. If the weather is good, it's worth taking Hwy 1 and taking the whole day, with stops along the way. I think all can agree that is 'sightseeing' time.

I don't think that is an unreasonable amount of travel time, at all.

gracie Jul 23rd, 2014 02:48 PM

RE Jean: "Then, what are you interested in seeing/doing in these three destinations? Rose Parade? Museums? SD Zoo? Historical sights? Architecture? Concerts/plays? Beach/ocean activities? Does weather/rain matter?"

DH has never been to California. He has only seen the Pacific Ocean from a cruise to Alaska. His first choice is the San Francisco area. He would like to see, in no particular order, the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Telegraph Hill, ride a cable car, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Carmel.

If we go to LA, he would like to see the usual tourist sites, such as the Rose Bowl, but he nor I want to be there any time near the parade. He would like to see one of the beaches near LA, visit a studio, see Hollywood Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills.

If we go to San Diego, he would like to go to Coronado Island, La Jolla, Sea World and the Zoo.

HappyTrvlr Jul 23rd, 2014 02:54 PM

Spend the whole time in Bay Area, add on a trip to Napa.

Tabernash2 Jul 23rd, 2014 02:55 PM

Since you have such an interest in SF, and a good list of things to do, I change my suggestion.

Stay in NoCal the entire time. SF for your first 4 or 5 nights, then get a car and go for a night or two to Napa, Carmel, Point Reyes, Sausalito, etc.

Jean Jul 23rd, 2014 02:56 PM

If it rains, even a little, expect driving times in SoCal to increase dramatically. We don't like getting wet here.


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