Mar 24th, 2003, 09:35 AM
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I am also planning a coastal trip but unlike fellow travelers, from South to North. Comments on choices will help. 3nites/2 days in LA (My husband and I are dropping our daughter at USC for a week program). Still have not confirmed a hotel, debate over in town or staying in Santa Monica.We do want to see as much as 2 full days will allow. "Must see" suggestions? From there,(Sunday) we will drive to Santa Barbara (again hotel to be determined...San Ysidro Ranch or again, something in town? After two nights, we will drive to Cambria on Tuesday am (Cambria Pines Lodge or Pelican Suites)for one night. After this, we continue to Monterey and are staying at the Old Monterey Inn ( 2nites wed/Thurs)On Friday morning, we will drive to SF and stay in Union Square or at the Mandarin Oriental. Help, please.
pd is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 10:18 AM
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Sounds like you have a good itinerary planned out. While in Cambria do visit Hearst Castle ( where reservations are a must. In Monterey ( I'd recommend the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17 Mile Drive, Fisherman's Wharf, and visiting the quaint town of Carmel. The most scenic part of the California coast is from Big Sur to Monterey. North of Monterey on Highway 1 stop for lunch/dinner at Phil's Fish Market for some great seafood. They are known for their excellent clam chowder. Once in Santa Cruz, take 17 north and visit the redwoods in Big Basin ( In San Jose ( some of the must sees would be the Tech Museum, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, and the Winchester Mystery House. There are a number of great restaurants in the downtown/Center City area. From San Jose you can take the scenic 280 freeway to SF. If you have time, stop off in teh town of Woodside for a tour of the Filoli Estate ( As with Hearst Castle, you should make reservations.

Have a great trip.
DavidDJ is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 10:27 AM
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You'll like the Old Monterey Inn. While in Monterey also check out the aquarium and take a walk around Point Lobos State Park on Hwy. 1. You will get some amazing views along easy to travel paths. Eat at Monterey Fish House. We've been to Monterey and Carmel alot over the years. Other restaurants come and go for the tasting..but this is a long time favorite. It's a locals place, fairly casual with great fish every way you could imagine and then some. Reservations are essential. Can't say much about your SF choices as I have not stayed there but The Mandarin seems to get good reviews from folks on this site. (Check out rants and raves as well) Depending on your tastes you will get lots of recommendations on places to eat in SF. Your trip sounds like a great coastal one.
PamSF is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 10:32 AM
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Thanks for all of the helpful information. My largest issue seems to be with LA, where my husband does not want to be. Our 16 year daughter, although, wnats to see Rodeo Drive, some celebs, and, I am sure, the beach. A lot to expect for Thursday night, all day Friday and Saturday. So, all you experienced travelers and California folk, where should we stay in LA? THANKS!
pd is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 10:49 AM
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Your LA experience will depend on your budget. If central location (close to USC/Beverly Hills/Westside) is your thing, the Mondrian (très expensive) or the Standard are great choices on the Strip (the Standard for its new-hipster scene, the Mondrian for snooty chic). You might see some famous faces here and there. If you want to be closer to the ocean and have freeway access to points of interest, there's also the Viceroy in Santa Monica, a long block from the Santa Monica Pier and a short jaunt to pretty good shopping and dining on the Third Street Promenade. I don't know if you'll get any deals on hotel rooms, but....

You could also save money on the hotel, get a cheap rental car, and hit some of the tonier restos on the Westside (for example, the Ivy is still an Industry hangout, from what I hear), if you want to see some Beautiful People.

LA's a tough tourist town-- there are some great things to see, but they're scattered in a huge metropolitan area. If you can get a day to go to the Getty Center, do-- it's a must-see.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 10:59 AM
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Thanks for response. Any comments about the Avalon Hotel?
pd is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 11:08 AM
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I'm not familiar with it, but it's on Condé Nast's Hot List of US hotels, and it's centrally located to where you need to be (on Olympic Blvd., a bit south of the center of Beverly Hills), so it looks like a good choice. You will be close to pretty much everything.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 12:56 PM
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Good itinerary. I think most people will tell you to go north instead of South, so that you are farther away from the water when driving through Big Sur.

Don't have much to say about L.A. We leave as quickly as we can.

What do you want to do on your road trip?

There are many interesting wineries along the Central Coast. We really like Wild Horse in the Paso Robles region.

Since you will be in Santa Barbara on Sunday, be sure to go to the beach for the art show. Not much good art, but the atmosphere is wonderful. There are several outstanding restaurants in Santa Barbara. We ate at the Wine Cask and really enjoyed it.

Cambria is one of my favorite beach towns. It is not as touristy or as developed. The Pelican Suites were okay. Make sure to get a beach view.

Concur with seeing Hearst Castle. Pretty amazing place. Make sure to get reservations. One tour should be plenty.

The drive from Hearst Castle to Monterrey is about 2.5 to 3 hours.

Although I prefer Santa Barbara as a town over Carmel/Monterrey, I think they are much more interesting cities as a visitor. Definitely go to the Aquarium and do 17 mile drive. Watch the sunset from the beach in Carmel. Carmel is an interesting place to stroll throuogh, although a little too "quaint" and pricey for my taste. I wish we had visited one of the parks in the Big Sur area.

The Exploratorium in San Francisco is much more interesting and fun than the Tech Museum in San Jose. Stay away from Fisherman's Wharf. There are so many interesting things to do in San Francisco that a tourist trap is not worth your time. Beach Blanket Babylon is an entertaining show if you like musical cabaret revues.

Enjoy your trip. Be sure to rent a convertible.
LDLee is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 01:12 PM
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I think it much better to do the drive from south to north as already has been pointed out. Going the other way you get white knuckle syndrome grabbing onto the steering wheel. I can't stress enough the necessity to make reservations for Hearst Castle.

I have been to both the Exploratorium in SF and the Tech Museum in San Jose. There is really no comparison between the two. The Exploratorium is more for kids while the Tech is good fot both kids and adults. For those that are not interested in technology, you can buy a separate ticket just to see an IMAX movie.
kam is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 06:02 PM
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Check out the Carlyle Inn at . Small place with personal service. They'll give you directions, helpful hints etc. Decent location close to Rodeo Drive. LA is easiest to navigate on Sats and Suns.

In Santa Barbara check out the Harbor View Inn, you can't go wrong there.
joesorce is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 08:02 PM
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Ah, the Mandarin Oriental in SF is fabulous. Definitely dine at Silks while there and have the watercress salad! I don't understand why people without children would go to The Tech in San Jose or the Exploratorium in SF, but to each his own.

I'd love to have a chance to stay at San Ysidro Ranch. Be sure to post a trip report when you return!

Have a look at for some hotel deals in the Los Angeles area. They often have good deals on some of the best hotels.
Spike is offline  
Mar 24th, 2003, 09:17 PM
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When driving north from Santa Barbara, take the 154 "the pass" instead of staying on the 101. You'll drive through the charming town of Los Olivos it's a quick detour to Ballard or Santa Ynez. Great winetasting and star (movie star)watching! Have lunch at Brothers at Mattei's Tavern! Another great lunch or dinnerstop is Chef Rick's in Santa Maria, about a hour north of SB.
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