Need planning help - 2 weeks seattle to la?

Nov 1st, 2017, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Just FYI, orcas are pretty hit or miss in Monterey Bay especially in July. You can see a sighting lists by month here to get an idea Humpback viewing is great in July.

Kayaking is possible in Monterey Bay or Elkhorn Slough (half way between Monterey and Santa Cruz).

Monterey and Carmel are only minutes from each other. There's a Marriott in Monterey. You could transfer your Starpoints to Marriott Rewards.
Patty is online now  
Nov 1st, 2017, 01:36 PM
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Awesome - thanks Patty!
Yes, the Orca thing is bumming me out a bit, we see Humpback whales and occasionally Right whales where we live but seeing Orcas in the wild is a dream of mine.
capecod73 is offline  
Nov 1st, 2017, 01:51 PM
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I prefer FW. But SF is really compact, so what hotel it is would matter more.

It's fine to base yourself in SM the entire time. LA is so spread out that you end up driving everywhere anyway, and SM is very pedestrian friendly, so it's a good place to return to in the evening.

You don't want a car in SF. Maybe if you had day trips planned. But usually it's more of a liability than anything else.
marvelousmouse is offline  
Nov 5th, 2017, 01:35 AM
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Hey, sorry I have been away from the boards. Glad your trip is moving forward.

Some thoughts:

1. Amusement Parks. Your boys are teens and this is the prime time of their lives for this activity. My instinct would be 2 or maybe 3 days but that is really your call.

Which ones? Universal, I'm sure you know. Knotts Berryland may not have as good of a theme going, but they are great if you like roller coasters. 6 Flags is may be better. I liked California Adventure and could see this going either way. But this is a perfect opportunity to put your boys in front of a screen and let them research it and vote on which parks. There are whole websites comparing roller coasters alone.

2. I had you drive down the coast from San Francisco because you won't be seeing the more rugged landscape of the far north coast or the Big Sur (since it's closed). That was my thought on that. Also, as mentioned, Big Basin is along the way. Gardyloo is suggesting you not take I-5 south after leaving Yosemite, but go back over to the coast. In the interests of time, you don't need to do both sections of the coast.

3. Drive time from El Portal/Yosemite to Pasadena was in the 5 hour range.

If you want to go to Reagan's library, then you should take Gardyloo's suggestion of going back over to the coast Hwy 1.
If you take the whole route, El Portal by Yosemite, cutting over to Paso Roble, down the coast and then to the museum doors, Google thinks that would take 7 hours, with no stops.

I am not sure if you want to spend the night near there or what. I don't know which town would be best. Maybe others can weigh in.

3. Gardyloo's idea of Sacramento is a good one. After my inlaws many trips to this area, it's on my must do's. The train museum looked especially cool.

But it is all about tradeoffs and mapping out your days to see what adds up. I think the big reason not to detour to Sacramento is that maybe there's other things you might want to do more. And specifically, no one has given you a complete list of everything available to do in San Francisco, including a lot of history there too. You did get some tips on Los Angeles. Dig into the Destination tab on Fodor's. If you like history are the San Francisco City Guides, which Stu Dudley on this board clued me into. I have been on 3-4 of them and loved ALL of them. The Chinatown was my favorite but the Coit Tower murals were a close second.

4. Why I chose Carmel for you--Gardyloo nailed it on the reasoning. Especially because something like whale watching could take most of a day. With the whale watching, there is at least one company the aquarium is affiliated with/discusses. Also, I thought you'd like to make some stops on the way down to Carmel so you wouldn't actually see much of Monterey/Carmel until the next day.

Monterey and Carmel are right next to each other. I thought it would be more fun to stay in Carmel if you can find a place. It seemed smaller and more relaxing if you want to let the kids wander the town or down to the beach on their own.

5. Lodgings in the Bay Area. If you can use Marriott with your Starwood points, I have two very different suggestions for you:

--In the City, the Marriott Marquis. We stayed here a while back. I remember a pretty large pool on one of the top floors that would be great with a family. It is reasonably central and the building is really cool. Like most city hotels, the big downside is the parking costs.

--Or, if you don't need to stay downtown, we stayed at this Courtyard Marriott at Larkspur Landing about 4 years ago. This is across the Bay but not in Berkeley. Near San Rafael. Has an outdoor pool.

What was fun was that we took the ferry into the city one of the days. Hotel is just behind the ferry complex. Oh--and in the small set of shops by the ferry there is a casual restaurant called Bel Campo. They raise all their own meat. One of the best burgers I've ever tasted.

6. Lodgings Southland area--Picking what you want to do in Los Angeles and Orange County will determine where you want to stay and how many nights. Especially the amusement parks.
5alive is offline  
Nov 5th, 2017, 10:15 AM
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Right now you can drive Hwy 1 for 60 miles south of Carmel into Big Sur. The current highway closure isn't until Gorda so you'll be able to see the best stretch of the Big Sur coastline from the north and could easily spend a full day visiting the beaches and hiking in the state parks. What you can't do is drive all the way through from Carmel to Cambria. This won't likely change by July.
Patty is online now  
Feb 11th, 2019, 03:13 PM
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Resurrecting this because it is now our 2019 family trip! So you don't have to go through the entire strand, we are a family of four including two teen boys who will be 17 and 16 for this trip. One loves hiking and adventure. The other loves history, some adventure, and complaining about being with us for 13 day straight. We are following Gardyloo's itinerary that brings us from SF to LA. I recently found two nights in park lodging at Yosemite, so now it's time for me to figure out flights around those dates.

To recap: Flying into San Fran - 3 days there
Driving to Murphy's CA - and here's where my first question arises. How many nights here? I see that it's pretty much the halfway point between SF and Yosemite. I see options for cave spelunking and possibly redwood trees (which leads to a really important question - where do we need to go to see the trees, knowing that we won't be driving north to Redwood?).

Monterey Area - one day for whale watch, one day for ?, do we need a third day here?

I need to incorporate Ronald Reagan Presidential Library which is in Simi. Do we visit here during a "travel day"? Or is it a decent drive for a day trip from Santa Monica area (which I think will be our semi-final stopping point if I can talk my teens out of Disneyland).

capecod73 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2019, 06:03 PM
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Do you really "need" 3 days/nights in San Francisco? There are a couple of airports that are easier to get out of with a rental car than SFO. (San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento).
There is a way to get to Yosemite without a rental car from Oakland and Sacramento. Take a San Joaquin train to Merced and from there either rent a car or take the YARTS bus into Yosemite Valley.Are you still OK with a drop fee if you leave the car in Los Angeles?
I did look at Murphys. There is a company that owns several properties. The Church St. property might meet your needs. If you don't find what you want in Murphys, try for Angels Camp.
Two days should be enough for the Monterey/Big Sur area. From there drive down to Santa Barbara. They have a nice zoo and the mission on top of the hill is interesting.
There is a museum exhibit of King Tut artifacts in LA now. After they leave they will never be out of Egypt again.
tomfuller is online now  
Feb 11th, 2019, 06:37 PM
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Thank you Tom! I love that youíre the unofficial train expert of Fodors...I love train travel!

But this will be our 3rd ďwest coast multi-weekĒ trip. And some of the most special moments of out trips have occurred when itís the four of us, bonded by the new scenery, the random song on the radio, and the forced time together in a rental car lol. Thatís worth every penny of drop off fees to me. 😀

We are flying to SF from the east coast, so day(night one) is a travel/jet lag recovery day. Alcatraz is non negotiable for my kids. So I added a day 3 for the city itself. Iíve never been, so Iím not sure how we will fill that time but I feel like itís probably necessary.

Looking into king king tut now! This is one of the reasons I adore these forums - info is never have without them!
capecod73 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2019, 06:44 PM
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>>Driving to Murphy's CA - . . .I see that it's pretty much the halfway point between SF and Yosemite. <<

Sort of 'half way' when talking about drive time, but mileage-wise Murphys is a lot closer to Yosemite. San Francisco to Murphys takes about 3 hours but on highways. Murphys to YNP takes about 2.5 hours - on winding mountain roads. Sonora would be another option for the nights before YNP.

One night would be enough to see the basics - 2 nights would be better. You could arrive by lunch time and leave the next afternoon for YNP. Where are you staying in the Park?

I would stay 3 nights for sure in Monterey/Carmel -- it will take about 4 hours from YNP to Carmel so you would need 3 nights to even see the basics. Your Whale watching trip won't take all day. Just a few hours unless you book one of the 'extended' trips that go 6 hours or more. The regular trips are ample. At minimum I'd plan on the whale boat, Point Lobos and the Aquarium. You would need 2 full days for just those plus maybe the Mission, a wander around downtown Carmel, and some beach time. Kayaking in either Monterey Bay or Elkhorn Slough would also be fun.
janisj is online now  
Feb 12th, 2019, 06:12 AM
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You don't indicate in what month this might take place, but be aware of some external things, such as "car week" on the Monterey Peninsula (Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach etc.) This is the second week of August, and during that time accommodations in area are completely booked up, and prices skyrocket.

Of course if you're car lovers, it's heaven.
Gardyloo is offline  
Feb 12th, 2019, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by capecod73 View Post
Awesome - thanks Patty!
Yes, the Orca thing is bumming me out a bit, we see Humpback whales and occasionally Right whales where we live but seeing Orcas in the wild is a dream of mine.
Something to read and then re-assess your orca obsession....whale watching tours are contributing to the die-off of the southern resident pod.

Whale watching moratorium called vital part of recovery
Bobmrg is offline  
Feb 12th, 2019, 10:47 AM
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The trip is in July. In Yosemite I have us at the Yosemite Valley Lodge. I love the Monterey schedule JanisJ suggested.

The boys have informed me that we cannot possibly not visit Disneyland while in southern CA. So I'm adding a day for that...I still need some advice on Sequoias...or Redwoods...or hiking in general lol!
capecod73 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2019, 11:11 AM
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Calaveras Big Trees State Park is near Murphys and you can see giant sequoias there. There's also Mariposa and some other smaller groves in Yosemite (I've never been to the sequoia groves there) but I'm guessing they'll be more crowded.

It's possible to see some smaller coastal redwood groves in the state parks in Big Sur like Garrapata and Pfeiffer Big Sur. Also do not miss Point Lobos but get there early as it gets crowded in summer and has limited parking. At that time of year the reserve is open from 8am to 7pm. Where are you headed after the Monterey Peninsula? The highway has reopened so you could possibly spend time in the Big Sur parks on your way south if you're planning to take Hwy 1.
Patty is online now  

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