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Road trip in California! What about this itinerary?

Road trip in California! What about this itinerary?

Feb 20th, 2010, 07:16 PM
  #1  
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Road trip in California! What about this itinerary?

Hi, everyone! This is my first post here. Me and my wife are going to spend 11 days (March 6th to 17th) in California and we want to know what experienced travellers like you think about our itinerary. I would apreciate any commentary.

San Francisco
We will arrive at SFO from Brazil in the morning. For this first day we are planning to see Fisherman`s Wharf and Pier 39. Boat trip to Alcatraz (won`t step in the island) and Golden Gate and dinner in the Ferry Building Area. Next day, Coit Tower, Lombard Street and Exploratorium. Third day: morning in Chinatown, Berkeley for lunch and Union Square at night. Fourth day: Golden Gate Park and Legion of Honour.

Monterey/Pacific Grove
Next morning we will rent a car and cross the Golde Gate just for the experience. We will return and head to Monterey, where we will spend the afternoon at the aquarium. Then, we will get to know Pacific Grove and sleep over there.

Carmel/Big Sur
Early morning driving through the 17-mile Drive and lunch at Carmel. The rest of the day we will drive through the Pacific 1, stopping here and there. We will sleep at Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara
We will just have time to visit Mission Santa Barbara and, perhaps, drive through the downtown. We want to arrive in LA before noon.

Los Angeles
Before checking-in, we want to go to Getty Center. Check-in in West Hollywood and stroll by Hollywood Boulevard and around. The following day will be dedicated to Universal and Warner Bros. Studios.

Anaheim
We will leave LA early and go to Disneyland to spend the whole day. Sleep in Anaheim.

San Diego
We`ll wake up early and head to San Diego. Before reaching Downtown, we`ll go to Sea World. At night, we want to take a ferry to Coronado or walk around Gaslamp Quarter. Second day in SD will be at the Zoo and, if possible, oldtown or Coronado (if we couldn`t make it the previous day). Leaving SD the next morning.

So, considering the weather, the drive-time and another details that I may be forgetting, is this doable? I`m really looking forward to this trip and want it to be memorable. The hotels are already booked, so big changes are not possible.

Any help would be good.

Thanks!
ivankasahara is offline  
Feb 20th, 2010, 07:56 PM
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The drive from Carmel to Santa Barbara on Hwy. 1 will take 6 hours without any "stopping here and there." Sunset will be at 6:00 pm, so some of this beautiful drive will be in darkness. I'd take a day from San Francisco and drive the coast over two days.
Jean is online now  
Feb 20th, 2010, 10:21 PM
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"Monterey/Pacific Grove
Next morning we will rent a car and cross the Golde Gate just for the experience. We will return and head to Monterey, where we will spend the afternoon at the aquarium. Then, we will get to know Pacific Grove and sleep over there.


Going north from SF into Marin County before turning around to dive south to Carmel is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. It will add at least an hour to your drive time - and probably more.

Carmel/Big Sur
Early morning driving through the 17-mile Drive and lunch at Carmel. The rest of the day we will drive through the Pacific 1, stopping here and there. We will sleep at Santa Barbara.
"

I agree w/ Jean that this day is too long and you really don't have enough time. If you don't leave Carmel until after 17 mile drive and lunch - you won't have time to stop much along the way. Carmel to Santa Barbara is nearly 250 miles of twisty/turny road. You'll need another night enroute to be able to enjoy the coastal drive.

Either take a day from San Francisco or from LA and add it to the drive south of Carmel.

March can still be rainy - it could be beautiful, or it could be stormy - so you need some flexibility. If there is heavy rain, the coastal drive can be difficult.
janisj is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 01:15 AM
  #4  
 
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It looks like you have a day at Disneyland, followed by a day at Seaworld, then the next day at the zoo. All 3 of these parks require lots of walking. You will have sore feet by the third day. I'd suggest that you arrange the schedule so that you don't have 3 days in a row with so much walking (and standing in lines...don't forget that is the most tiring kind of walking...standing in lines at disneyland for example is hard on your feet.) Perhaps you'd like to spend some time sitting by the beach.

The weather could be rainy, sunny, or cloudy...can't tell in advance. I wish sunny weather for you!
Melissa5 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 06:57 AM
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Please pick up the book "Stairway Walks in San Francisco". I will greatly enchance your trip and focus your walking opportunities within the areas who want to be.

Don't miss Pt. Lobos State Preserve south of Carmel.

If your budget allows, stop for lunch at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. It is sublime and unique place unlike anything.
iamq is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 07:00 AM
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Should have read "It" will greatly enhance...LOL.
iamq is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 07:02 AM
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It looks like you'll be heading to San Diego from Anaheim on a Monday morning. When you say "leave early", how early is early to you?

Your itinerary looks busy but if you’re flexible and willing to let things go as you go, it should work. I always plan a lot of things to do and am willing to scratch things off the list as we move along.

Melissa5, has a good point about walking. If you’re active naturally it shouldn’t be a problem but if you’re not, you may be tired. Not to worry, there is a bus that takes you around the San Diego Zoo, if you just want to see the highlights. I don’t really recommend the bus as the Zoo is incredible as a walk.

Old Town San Diego is not as fun anymore. There’s some historical houses but imo, it’s rather a snore these days. I think the Spanish Village near the Zoo is a little more interesting and Balboa Park itself is gorgeous. In fact, if you are planning to stay at the Zoo all day, forget eating an overpriced, blah meal at the park. Get your hand stamped and head for the Prado restaurant in the park. The food is much better as is the atmosphere and the walk is very nice. (You can walk through the Spanish Village, it’s a little short cut.) Even eating in the Sculpture Garden outside of the Museum of Art is more interesting than having lunch in the Zoo, and again, cheaper than the cardboard food at the Zoo.
Enjoy.
LSky is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 07:13 AM
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Your Southern Calif itinerary consists of almost entirely theme parks, zoos, & a museum - with a short walk on Hollywood Blvd. Is that OK with you??

Also agree with others that you won't be able to accomplish the Hwy 1 portion of your trip in March. This is a drive you'll want to take SLOWLY. And as iamg mentioned, don't miss Pt Lobos.

There are sooooooooooo many more interesting things to do & see in San Francisco than the Wharf & Pier 39 (both pretty tacky, IMO). Also, the exploriorium is more geared towards those under 16 than those over 16. Here are my suggestions:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...1&tid=35129049

Note the drive over the GG Bridge up into the (GGNRA) for the best view in the Bay Area.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 09:35 AM
  #9  
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Thanks everybody for the answers! I know there`s a lot more things to do in California, but unfortunately time is short. I wanted to do many more, but I know it`s impossible, we just have to choose.

Jean, maybe we leave Carmel before lunch. We want to see Point Lobos, Julia Pfeiffer State Park and Morro Rock. I want to reach San Luis Obispo before dark. Is this possible? I don`t mind driving to Santa Barbara at night. I`ll probably take 101 to Santa Barbara.

Janisj, cross the Golde Gate just for the experience may seem a tourist thing, but, well, I`m a tourist! =) I gladly add this hour to my drive time. As I said, I don`t mind to drive SLO to Santa Barbara after sunset. Thanks for the weather advice. We`ll check the road conditions before leave Pacific Grove.

Melissa5, walking a lot is not a big deal for us, but thanks for the tip. We are aware that it will be tiring. And thanks for your sunny weather wish. Fingers crossed!

Iamq, Point Lobos is in our plans! I`ll take a look at this book. And I`ve visited the Post Ranch Inn website. It`s gorgeous, but a little pricey for us...

LSky, "early" means 7-8 AM. Is that early actually late? Thanks for the SD tips. Instead of oldtown we will focus on Balboa Park, Coronado and Downtown.

Stu, I`m OK with the itinerary in South Cal. The Exploratorium is for my inner child. Thanks for your suggestions, I`ll read it!

Thanks again! The more comentaries, the merrier!
ivankasahara is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 10:45 AM
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I was not suggesting you drop the Golden Gate -- just not do it that day. If you wait until that morning to pick up your car, then cross the bridge, then turn around and drive down to Carmel -- you will run out of time. You will have to wait until mid morning to get started -- you do not want to drive in SF and the Bay area during the morning commute. That would add more than an hour to your drive -- MUCH more.

So pick up the car the afternoon before - sure, that means paying for a night's parking - but it is a must IMO if your plan is to work. Then cross the bridge around 2 or 2:30 PM and come back into the city before the worst traffic.

Then you can get an EARLY start out of SF the next morning and be in Carmel by mid-morning. This will give you at least a chance to see/do what you want.

You seem to want to ignore our suggestions about the drive from Carmel to Santa Barbara and other parts of your itinerary. It is your trip and you will do what you want, but most everyone trying to help you lives here and is giving you good advice
janisj is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 11:02 AM
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Ignore? I`m sorry if I sounded rude, janisj, it really wasn`t my intention. The thing is that, as I`ve said in the beginning, my hotels are already booked. If I have misplanned my itinerary, I`ll have to do with it.

I know that I`ll miss a lot of things (like Hearst Castle). But other than weather issues, driving Carmel to San Luis Obispo with daylight and SLO to Santa Barbara after sunset is highly not-recommended?

Again, sorry if I gave the impression to be ignoring your suggestions. I`m really enjoying your comments. Thanks for the traffic tips. I`ll try to review this.
ivankasahara is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 11:25 AM
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On the San Francisco part, I suggest that if you want to go to Berkeley, move it to the fourth day and rent a car on the fourth (rather than 5th day). Is that March 10th? If you rent on the fourth day, you can drive the car across the Golden Gate bridge and back, and then coming back, take in Golden Gate park (which is HUGE and you will be happy to have the car), Legion of Honor, then cross the Oakland Bay bridge and head over to Berkeley for mid-afternoon, having dinner there, before heading back across the bridge to your abode in San Francisco. That way, you can tour the Berkeley campus (it is gorgeous!), walk down Telegraph and snag a few interesting Berkeley presents (the street is lined with stalls selling everything from cheap jewelrey to protest bumper stickers), then dinner somewhere on Shattuck or even Skates at the Marina on a pretty day to see the sun set behind the Golden Gate bridge, which can be seen from that restaurant.

You can go down Highway 1 to SLO, then take the 101 to Santa Barbara and continue on the 101 to L.A. My suggestion with getting to L.A. from Santa Barbara is that if you want to be there by noon, you'll need to leave around 9:30 a.m., since it takes (under normal circumstances) a little under 2 hours from SB to LA, and they've been doing extensive road construction work on the 101 in the southerly part of Santa Barbara, making that part of the drive horribly slow.

By the way, if English isn't your first language, you have an absolutely magical grasp of it -- congratulations!
Surfergirl is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 11:29 AM
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One more thing -- if the SB Mission is open that early, it's nice, but you might instead want to go to the mission in Carmel, in which Father Serra, the father of the missions, is entombed in their chapel. They have an awesome museum and the grounds are quite spectacular!
Surfergirl is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 12:31 PM
  #14  
 
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Obviously I don't know what hotels/B&Bs you have reserved, but most can probably be cancelled/revised - which I would do for portions of your trip.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 21st, 2010, 12:38 PM
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Hi, I would either leave earlier than 7 or 8 or wait until until after 8:30. I dont' live in Anaheim but I live in San Diego. I can't say how bad the traffic will be but think parking lot.

If you leave earlier, you can stop for a nice breakfast here in San Diego before the Zoo. If you leave closer to 9 you can probably be down here in about 90 minutes.
LSky is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 02:39 PM
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I still think driving any part of the California coast between Carmel and Santa Barbara in the dark is a shame.

Here's something else to add to your "stopping here and there" list. It's one of my favorite things about driving Hwy. 1.

http://www.elephantseal.org/index.htm

http://www.amwest-travel.com/awt_pbseal.html

Most of the adult seals will have left, but there should be lots of pups on the beach in mid-March, playing and teaching themselves to swim.
Jean is online now  
Feb 21st, 2010, 04:20 PM
  #17  
 
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Good advice from knowledgable California travelers.
iamq is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 04:42 PM
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Carmel to Santa Barbara is about 5.5 to 6 hours w/o any stops. That means no meals, no walking on a beach, no exploring any state parks. So realistically - w/ any sightseeing at all you are talking 8-9 hours.

PLUS - you will be winding in and out of direct sun off the ocean all afternoon. After mid afternoon, driving on hwy 1 can be difficult - if you are lucky enough to have sun. And if it is stormy, add even more time.

So - we aren't trying to mess up your plan, but you'll have a much easier/more enjoyable time if you drive half way and then on to Santa Barbara the next morning.
janisj is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 05:16 PM
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>>you'll have a much easier/more enjoyable time if you drive half way and then on to Santa Barbara the next morning.<<

I agree with janisj.

Here is a time schedule:

From SF

8am - pick up car downtown (plan to get lost, or wait in line to get car)

8:30-9:30 - drive across GG bridge, take a "sniff" at the views, & return. Add 45 mins if you want to really enjoy the setting of SF & do the GGNRA trip I suggested

9:30-12:30 - Drive to Carmel (drive time from GG Bridge via 19th ave/280/101). This is probably an optomistic time schedule since you will hit some city traffic

1:00 - 4:00 - visit aquarium in Monterey

4:30-5 - check into hotel

5:00 - 7:00 visit PG (dark after 6:30)

7:00-8:00 clean up for dinner

8:30 - dinner & bed

Next day

9:00 - 10:30 17 mile drive

10:30-11:30 brunch in Carmel

12:00-2:30 Pt Lobos

2:30-3:30 drive to Big Sur

3:30 - 4:30 Pfeiffer beach (allocate 15 mins to get lost finding it)

5:00-6:30 Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park - last 15 mins in the dark.

6:30 - 10:30PM drive the longest, most winding section of Hwy 1 at nightime to Santa Barbara - no views. Make sure the hotel does not cancel the reservation if you don't arrive by 6PM. Grab a McDonalds somewhere before Santa Barbara.

Next day

8:30 - 10:30 Drive to LA (I'm less famaliar with this drive - except to expect heave commute traffic in LA)


This is not a trip I would ever make. Sure - you could skip some stuff between SF & LA - but why???? You're here to experience California. The coast between LA & SLO is one of our most beautiful features. LA freeways are our worst.

replan

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 05:38 PM
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"6:30 - 10:30PM drive the longest, most winding section of Hwy 1 at nightime to Santa Barbara - no views. Make sure the hotel does not cancel the reservation if you don't arrive by 6PM. Grab a McDonalds somewhere before Santa Barbara."

Read that, and then repeat. Then repeat again. It is not just the bit of coast between SLO and SB that you'll miss -- it will be a loooong slog in the dark on an unfamiliar road . . . .

And the thing is you don't have to rush - you have plenty of time to take 2 days for that drive
janisj is offline  

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