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LA to San Francisco (detour to Yosemite) - advice needed

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Nov 30th, 2017, 01:04 AM
  #1
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LA to San Francisco (detour to Yosemite) - advice needed

Hi everyone,

We're planning a family trip in October next year. We have 3 children who will be aged 8, 6 and 2. We're coming from Sydney, Australia. Our trip will be around 12 days.

The current plan is to arrive in LA and spend 2-3 days in Disneyland. After this, we will drive to Yosemite and spend 3 days (?) there. After that, drive to Monterey to see the aquarium and maybe spend 2 nights there. After that, on to San Francisco and spend another 3 days there and fly home.

I guess we need advice on whether the time we are allocating for Yosemite is enough or too much. Are there any other sightseeing spots along the route that we should stop at? Any recommendations for accommodation would also be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your responses.

Sarah
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Nov 30th, 2017, 02:02 AM
  #2
 
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It is a looooong drive from Anaheim to Yosemite, so in effect you will only have two days there. There is NOTHING to see/do in between (at least not in the time you have) so just bite the bullet and drive straight through. Don't cut any time there.

OR you can fly from LAX or Orange County to San Jose, SFO or Sacramento and pick up a car for touring Monterey and Yosemite then drive to San Francisco, drop the car, visit the city, and fly home.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 06:37 AM
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Changing the order of the trip might make more sense.
Land at LAX. Drive north along the coast taking 4-5 days getting to San Francisco including Monterey on the way.
Yosemite is closer to San Francisco than LA.
Leave Yosemite and head straight for Disney/Anaheim.
Return the car at LAX and fly home from there.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 08:09 AM
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If Tioga Pass is open (it should be) I'd recommend driving up via US 395 (the back way) which should still be open in October.

The route through the Owens Valley is beautiful.

Red Rock Canyon
Visitor Center for Eastern Sierra (395 at 136) just before Lone Pine
Alabama Hills
Mt. Whitney view (good view from McDonalds in Lone Pine)
Manzanar National Historic Site
Tinemaha herd Tule Elk viewing (can be hit or miss, we got lucky off of Fish Springs Road)
Bishop (Schat's Bakkery, gas, and groceries
Mono Lake and Visitor center in Lee Vining
Of course Tioga Pass itself and Tuolumne Meadows..then you wont need to do the long drive from the Valley and back track.

I prefer to route via Lancaster/etc and bypass Barstow.
Since I have friend in Bishop, we often spend the night before or after Yosemite there, but you could also do a night in Mammoth or June Lake.

You can take 57 from Anaheim to 210 which will put you on that route, but avoid the am rush into Pasadena.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 08:15 AM
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As you can see, I vehemently disagree with janisj that there is nothing to see between the two places.. just a matter of allocating your time.

Bear in mind that in most years Yosemite Falls is dry in October and Mirror Lakes is also not worth doing if there is no water. No way to know if there will be a good snowpack or not at this point.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 09:20 AM
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You don't disagree with me in any way. I said here was nothing to see in the time they have. My suggestion was re using long/ugly I-5.

Going up 395 is AMAZING and if Tioga pass is open it would be he way to go. But not if they keep the other destinations the length they plan. Sooooo, IF they are willing to cut somewhere else, then absolutely head up the back side of the Sierra.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 09:48 AM
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Didn't they ask if the amount of time in each place was okay? didn't they ask if there was anything along the way?

I prefer to answer the question and not make assumptions about routes or whether their desires are the same as mine/yours.

That said, I think 3 days inside Yosemite Valley in fall is too many.

I would allocate a half-day for Tioga Pass/Tuolumne coming in from the east, a full day for Yosemite Valley, and a half day for the Glacier Point and Mariposa Grove sites which are outside of the Valley.

Note that most of the lodging in the Valley doesn't allow check in until 4pm. Be sure to read up about traffic congestion inside the Valley when planning your day to day itinerary and lodging choices.

I don't find staying inside the Valley especially pleasant any more due to congestion, so I try to have the nights before and after outside of the park. (eg Mammoth and Oakhurst).

If you need to end in SF, I would come in thru the east and leave thru the south (to get to Monterey via Los Banos).
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Nov 30th, 2017, 12:12 PM
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With children that young, I wouldn’t go the 395 route. Yes it is beautiful, but a very long drive. I would take the quickest rout to Yosemite. If the OP hits Yosemite midweek, there shouldn’t be any congestion. We were there this last October, mid-week. It was wonderful.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 12:25 PM
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It takes the same amount of time to get from Anaheim to Lee Vining as it does to Oakhurst/south enry. The Route via 99 is far more boring IMO.

I am assuming that they want to see both entrances and are okay with the mountain driving bit thru Tioga Pass (less scary going uphill on the way in). If 6 hours is too long they should spend the first night in either Lee Vining/Mammoth or Oakhurst/Wawona (Big Pines) depending on the route.

When my friend's boy was little they would just stay in Oakhurst and day trip from there.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 03:41 PM
  #10
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Oh wow, thank you so much for the replies. I'll need some time to check out the suggestions on the map but your helpful suggestions are much appreciated.
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Nov 30th, 2017, 05:51 PM
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Two full days in Yosemite will be sufficient for a good taste--one day for the valley and one day to Glacier Point and Wawona Grove for the giant sequoias.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 11:55 AM
  #12
 
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I agree that you will do well to have 3 nights in Yosemite. The major falls may be mostly dry in October but there is plenty to do there, and Bridal Veil falls will still be flowing. Mirror lakes is a lovely walk in the valley, perfect for small children, even when the "lakes" are mere ponds--the reflections and the view of Half Dome are stunning. Mariposa Grove will be reopening in 2018, and Glacier Point has more wondrous views. Ranger talks and other activities--spotting deer, exploring--can keep your family happily busy the whole time.

The drive from Anaheim will take more time than you'd like, but the destination is worth it. I like your time allocation for the rest of the trip as well. I predict you will have a wonderful time.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 11:02 PM
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Despite mlgb's 'vehemence' (tends just to disagree with certain fodorites - you can guess who) her suggestion of 395 is good, but just not in the very limited time you have. If you want time IN Yosemite, staying in either Lee Vining, or Oakhurst makes no sense. Stay IN Yosemite Valley 3 nights, or if you can't find accomodations there, stay in Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal. Every place else including oakhurst, is between 90 minutes and 2 hours from the Valley floor.

Re two full days in Yosemite - that's true, but that does require three nights since it will take most of a day to get here from Anaheim.
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Dec 5th, 2017, 10:05 AM
  #14
 
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wow ya, lots of driving and zig zagging. And wait until you see the traffic!

I think you need to check out google maps and see traffic times for your travel. I like your destinations, just the time constraints. I'd be tempted to fly to San Jose from LAX instead of driving. Get a car in San Jose and drop it at your last destination, usually no drop fee in that region.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 08:06 PM
  #15
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Hi everyone,
So I just wanted to give an update as to what we're doing:
Day 1-4: Anaheim (mostly disneyland)
Day 5: Solvang (hearst castle? hans christian andersen museum?)
Day 6-8: Monterey (Monterey aquarium, butterfly place)
Day 9-11: Yosemite (staying at Half Dome village)
Day 12-14: San Francisco

We'll probably pick up a rental car from Anaheim and start our road trip. We changed up where we journeyed from to Yosemite as it's closer to get there from Monterey.

Thanks again for everyone's advice. We're so excited for our trip now. If there's any other recommendations of must see/must do sights, please let me know.
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Jun 11th, 2018, 09:12 PM
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Looks nice . . . Just a quick comment re: >>Day 5: Solvang (hearst castle? hans christian andersen museum?)<<.

Driving Anaheim to Solvang will take at least 3 hours -- and much longer if it is a weekday morning. Then it is another 4 hour round trip to San Simeon and back to Solvang. No way you could squeeze in a Hearst Castle tour that day. And visiting the next day really isn't practical because Solvang > San Simeon > Monterey is nearly a 5 hour drive with no stops.
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Jun 12th, 2018, 04:06 AM
  #17
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Good point, thanks for pointing that out. I'm wondering if we should bypass solvang and just stay at hearst castle surrounds for that one night instead....
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Jun 12th, 2018, 04:45 AM
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satorah,
You could drive the 4 + hours from Anaheim to Solvang, visit Hans Anederson museum for a couple of hours and then drive to Cambria or nearby for the night before heading up to Monterey.

Or you could drive to Herst Castle and do a tour then stay in Cambria or near by for the night before heading up to Monterey.

Which would be more fun for you and your kids? The elephant seals laze on the beaches in the Cambria area so the kids would have a good look at them. Expect to make lots of stops along the way to Monterey and stop at some of the state parks to stretch your legs and see the sights.
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Jun 12th, 2018, 11:56 AM
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Hearst Castle is in San Simeon, just north of Cambria, either would be fine as a place to stay. Cambria probably has more lodging choices and restaurants. The elephant seal rookery is just north of the Castle so an easy drive.
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Jun 13th, 2018, 05:17 AM
  #20
 
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It may just be me, but I don't find Hearst Castle remotely child-friendly (particularly for your two-year-old), so I don't think that's worth your time since a visit takes several hours, but you should definitely go see the elephant seals north of there. If you do decide to go, you need to buy your tickets in advance and remember that strollers are not allowed.

I recently did the drive from LA up to SF (most of it on Highway 1), and I particularly enjoyed Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, one of the loveliest of the missions. It's well worth the stop, and your kids might like to walk around Danish Solvang for an hour; I'd definitely drive there from Anaheim and have lunch, but then move on after you've seen the mission. I stayed in Morro Bay and liked it; most of the activities there are outdoors, and they may enjoy a boat trip, but you can do that from other places. There's a lot of beautiful scenery around Monterey Bay; be sure to drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur. It's breathtaking. Just remember that by October, it's going to be dark fairly early ... by 6:15 or so.
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