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Need help with San Francisco to Los Angeles 2 Week Family Trip

Need help with San Francisco to Los Angeles 2 Week Family Trip

Jan 13th, 2009, 05:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 161
Need help with San Francisco to Los Angeles 2 Week Family Trip

My family (husband, daughter (14) and son (13) and I will be going to San Francisco June 6th and leaving LA June 20th. I am about to purchase the tickets, but I wanted to know if this is too much time for this area? Quick background: we are celebrating my 50th and my husband's and my 20th anniversary. I had wanted to go to Europe, but it is financially not possible at this point. I have been looking at various 2 week trips in the US, and decided on this one. We have been to San Francisco before when the kids were a lot younger, and I have been there 2 times before that. I certainly haven't seen all there is to see, and can omit many of the tourist attractions this time. Since I feel cheated out of Europe, I want to make this very special so places and areas we stay is very important. I thought 5 days in San Francisco (with one day up to Sausalito and Muir Woods), 3 days in Monterery/Carmel, 3 days I need help with, and 4 days (one of them flying back) in Laguna Beach.

I am far from setting my itinerary (and have spent hours reading posts from this forum), but I need to buy these tickets since they are a good price. Is this a reasonable schedule where we certainly aren't rushed, and time for a day of golf here and there besides the typical sightseeing? I thought this trip would apppeal to all - the city, ocean, beach, golf, fantastic scenery for me. I think there is a lot that will interest my kids, too.

So, too much time or enough for a relaxing, yet active vacation? Also, I looked at Santa Barbara for the 3 days above, but it seems like you pay a lot for what I would consider so so accomodations. I figured I want to splurge a little on where I stay to make this extra special. Any suggestions where a good spot to base for three days between Monterey and Laguna Beach that offers golf, quaint town, great accomodations, great scenery and fun activities for teens?

Oh, and is the fog going to be a huge issue at this time? I cannot move the trip any earlier.

Thank you!
mosey is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 06:29 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
Book the plane if it is a deal that will go away, then worry about how to fill in the time. There is no shortage of great things to do and places to visit.

Yes, fog can be a nuisance, so you have a plan B - with your own wheels that's easy.

Cruising down the coast is only one option, and for every place like Santa Barbara there is a lesser known and cheaper one that will feel just as nice. The area near SLO (San Luis Obispo) with Pismo Beach etc., and a bit inland the Santa Ynez wine country with Danish Solvang - lots of fun to be had.

Also consider doing an inland trip - Yosemite is absolutely awesome, and the gold-digging country between Sacramento and Yosemite has a lot to offer also. Then there is Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon N.P.

So book your bargain flights, then get a good book about CA and read up on the many options, also get a few travel DVDs from your local library and from Netflix - watch them with your family and take a vote on where people will want to go.

Google maps or mapquest will keep your plans realistic.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 04:01 AM
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Posts: 161
Thank you Dalail_lama! I guess I am not being very flexible here. I realize that Yosemite is beautiful. We have been to Grand Tetons NP and Glacier NP and those are some of my favorite vacations; however, I was hoping for coastal scenery for this trip. Does the fog stay all day or burn off? Maybe I need to rethink this if the timing is off.
mosey is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 05:41 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 550
Hi mosey!

The fog usually burns off by noon... for sure by 2 PM. Last year, during the dates you will be here, the weather on the central coast was sunny and freakishly hot... 105*... with wonderfully warm evenings. You just never know...

Pacific Grove has a great municipal golf course or of course, if it's in your budget, Pebble Beach would be a golf memory of a lifetime!

Santa Barbara is a beautiful city and there is lots to do. I would let your kids hang at the beach, do a kayak tour one day, see the museums downtown one day and just enjoy the view.

We can try to help with hotel recommendations... I like being able to walk to downtown rather than staying on the water. Are you trying to find suites with two rooms?

Enjoy your trip planning!
onemoneygirl is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 10:13 AM
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I agree with both other posters - make the reservations and plan your itinerary later. Nobody ever got bored spending two weeks in California!!
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 04:55 PM
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Okay, I bought the tickets today. I will start to put together an itinerary and post it for your review. If you have any suggestions on hotels or where we should base ourselves at certain points throughout the trip, let me know.

We like history, scenery, great food, activities like golf, biking, hiking, art (but the kids will only take small doses)and of course, just being able to relax. One of the criteria for a hotel will be that it is in a vicinity where we can easily walk to good restaurants. We, of course, will go to the Monterey Aquarium. Anyway, I will start working on my itinerary.

Thanks for your advice!
mosey is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 07:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
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OK, let me start with an obvious one -- if you interested in the tour of Alcatraz, make advance reservations as it does sell out, particularly during high-tourism times like June. They take reservations approximately 60 days in advance (that's their word, not mine). Do a search on here for advice about the day tour vs. the night tour. In fact, my husband has never been, so I marked my calendar for March to buy tickets for a night tour in May.


The other thing you might want to consider is Beach Blanket Babylon, but under-21s are only permitted during Sunday afternoon matinees:


Then, take some time to read Stu Dudley's "what to do in San Francisco":


sf7307 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 05:34 PM
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Thank you all for your advice. Well, I am now working on where we should stay in San Francisco. I read Stu Dudley's recommendations, and I am going to use a lot of his suggestions. As for hotels, he basically suggests areas versus specific hotels. What I am looking for is a clean, nice hotel located in a safe place in which we can pick up public transportation fairly easily, but the most important aspect is that it is located fairly close to good restaurants. I have found that my family and I do better if we have a neighborhood to walk around in at evening time and be able to walk to good restaurants. Which hotels would you suggest based on my criteria? At this point in my itinerary, I think we will be in San Francisco for 5 to 6 days.

mosey is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 05:57 PM
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I have only been to SF once and that was just a few years ago. We stayed at the Stanford Court (marriott brand on marriott points) in Knob hill area. It is quiet at night.It had the trolley stop right on our corner.
One of the best areas to walk around and get food was the italian section. Friends of mine rented and apartment there for a month one summer. (I think it is called North beach).
I really liked our tour of chinatown. It was a walking tour called Wok Wiz tours. We had dorothy who was older and grew up in chinatown. She told great stories and it ended with a dim sum lunch. My kids liked shopping there because everything was cheap and it was unusual stuff. (They were around 12 when we went).
We took them to see Beach Blanket Babylon and it was a very funny show. It is sans liquor on Sundays and they allow kids in to see it.
We also did alcatraz and took the boat to sausalito. You can rent bikes and ride them across the golden gate bridge and ferry back from sausilito. We saw a lot of people doing this. It looked like fun.
We also did a day trip to Muir woods. The trees were incredible and the kids thought they were neat.
WE also did the drive down the coast to Monterey and Carmel and then back again. The weather was so-so that day, but it was neat to see the different towns. Those towns are more adult oriented and a picturesque ride was rather boring for the girls at the time. Anyway, the did love SF and would go back. I am sure your kids will want to shop Union square. We did not go there, and they may have the same stores as every mall in america, I am not sure, but my kids at 14 and 16 like shopping more now!
girlonthego is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 07:00 PM
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Regarding hotels, are you looking for more of a "downtown" hotel, or a motel? Rooms or suites?

There are a group of motels with free parking, and near two excellent streets (Union, Chesnut) for strolling, shopping and eating, often recommended on this board. Look at this website:


If you want a downtown hotel, different story altogether! Keep in mind that downtown hotel parking can run $45 a night.

sf7307 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
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Oh, and if you want to be able to walk to restaurants, DO NOT stay on Nob Hill. The hotels are very nice, and the area is lovely, but it's a walk down a steep hill (and back up) every time you walk out the door. And in San Francisco, hills are HILLS!
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 10:01 AM
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I thought that we wouldn't rent a car until we were ready to leave San Francisco since I had planned to use public transportation. While Stu gives wonderful driving directions around the city, I just don't know if that will be too much for my teens with the driving that we will be doing down the coast. I had read about Cow Hollow Motel yesterday after perusing the posts here, but my concern was that the restaurants were Fisherman Wharf restaurants, and that's not what I wanted. So, you say Chestnut and Union have good restaurants so Cow Hollow would be just fine. Anywhere I can save money will be good and the motel doesn't seem too expensive. I would rather spend money on food, attractions, etc. Do you know the difference between the motel and the suites? One better than the other?
mosey is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 10:53 AM
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Sorry, but I live here, so I don't stay in local hotels! But yes, there is plenty of excellent eating on Union Street (example: Betelnut) and Chestnut Street (example A16).
sf7307 is offline  
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