San Diego & LA in Feb. -- Where else???

Aug 24th, 2010, 06:44 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 274
San Diego & LA in Feb. -- Where else???

As often happens with me, my first posted question about an upcoming trip has lead me to another question. =) It was discussed a little bit in that thread but I wanted to ask the question seperately to get some focused responses as I plan an itinerary.

So, my wife and I are spending a week in Southern CA in February (19-27). Most of this will be split between LA and San Diego. However, since we live in Boston and only travel to CA every so often (1st time for her) we are very willing and open to adding a side trip to another location for one or two nights. As much as I love the Bay Area and Monterey I have realized now that is a bit too long or possibly treacherous a drive (if taking scenic route) from LA for a side trip.

So far, we have considered going to Vegas for a night or two. I love it there and she has never been. Santa Barbara was also recommended and we are considering that. Are there other spots that people would recommend? Palm Springs was brought up but I keep reading about golf and spas there, neither of which we do. We don't mind driving up to about 4 hours since this is something we are used to. We'd most likely be leaving from LA for this side trip.

Info about us: We are both 32. No kids yet, so it is just us traveling. We'll be leaving the snow and ice of Boston so contrast is great. We like moderately active destinations. We are not the type to sit and relax on a beach or enjoy the scenery all day long, but we also don't want the daredevil extreme stuff. Active coastal towns, boat rides or short cruises, nature parks and wildlife or marine life, interesting landmarks, and historical areas are all things we enjoyed in the past. The redwoods or sequoias would be great to see, for example, but it seems there are none near Southern CA. Death Valley appealed to me and my desert interest but it also seems like a very long trip from LA and possibly boring for her?

So, we are open to your suggestions and ideas. Whether you second the idea of Vegas or Santa Barbara, give Palm Springs fresh life, or provide a new suggestion. I really, really appreciate the thought and effort... Thanks!
Shandy1977 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 07:51 AM
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Hi again~
Scratch Palm Springs- it's not for you.
Scratch Death Valley- not for your wife.
Scratch Redwoods- too far.
Try and decide what your must see list is for you and your wife in the LA and San Diego area. Since you've been here before- you know it's a sprawl. Block those days out and how many days are left?
What have you seen before while you were here? Maybe we can suggest some places that would be new for both of you.
I am not big on Las Vegas but I think it's a must see at least once. You said you love it- I like the idea of you sharing that with your wife. She'll probably enjoy Las Vegas too. The question is- do you feel like you have the 48 hours for it? That's up to you.
My impression is that you're energetic and up to pounding the pavement a little on this trip. Santa Barbara is one of my favorite places due to being laid back. It might not meet your needs as an overnight destination. Although, you could do a FULL day trip from LA.
SOCALOC is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:11 AM
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I would reconsider Palm Springs. My Bostonian relatives are usually very disappointed with the February climate here along the Southern California coast. A couple of days in Palm Springs will give you some desert climate without having to drive all the way to Vegas or Death Valley. You won't see redwooods or sequoias, but there is Joshua Tree National Park: The Living Desert Zoo and Botanical gardens might also be worth a look:

You could also do some wine tasting along the way in Temecula:
lvk is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:11 AM
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While you were reading about golf and spas in Palm Springs, perhaps you skimmed over the parts about hiking the Indian Canyons, Joshua Tree National Park, the Living Desert zoo/Reserve, Smoketree stables, jeep/hummer tours, Moorten cactus garden, Coachella Valley preserve, etc. Oh, they have casinos too.

Might be worth another look.
mlgb is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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Thanks, as always.

As for "must-sees"...

San Diego: I definitely want to visit Old Town again and feel confident my wife will enjoy it. I could not make it to the zoo last time and would like to check that experience off my list. I'm also thinking we want to spend a little time seeing La Jolla while we are there. Those would be the "sites", but I also just really enjoyed walking around on the waterfront and Gaslamp District so I am sure we'd enjoy that too.

LA: We're actually not keen on spending a long time in LA. We want to be in a place where it is laid back and nice to walk around and explore a bit. Our impression of LA is that we will probably see a fair bit of traffic, many crowds, and a bit of a "hectic" feel to it. I am good with San Diego because I have been there and know it will work for us.... LA seems like it would have more of that NYC feel to it, though, when we want laid back. We DO want to see the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area. Busy or not, that is just something we want to see and experience and we will likely stay in that area. We both feel like we do not want to spend a long time in LA though... but also know our impressions of what we'll find there could be wrong.

Right now, our theoretical itinerary had us going to Vegas Saturday after we land and coming back on Monday afternoon... 2 nights. Then 3 nights in San Diego and 2 in LA. We are just thinking we might want to replace Vegas with another destination and your suggestions are SUPER helpful.

Thanks again...
I'd actually type more but I am being kicked out of my office now.... lol.... time to head home. =)
Shandy1977 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 11:12 AM
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I'm with the skip Palm Springs crowd. While I love the desert, I do not go for the sightseeing, I go to relax at the pool, eat and sometimes shop a little, maybe hit a few golf balls. It just wouldn't be worth it to me to go there for the sightseeing (and I'm not interested in either wine tasting nor casinos) and before I get flamed, please know that I have been in Palm Springs at least 20 times, so this is a well-thought-through opinion!)
sf7307 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 12:59 PM
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sf7307... thanks, and I hope and feel confident you won't get flamed for your opinion. Obviously, we all have varied tastes and likes/dislikes. A perfect example here in my home Boston is the North End. People love going in there for amazing dishes of Italian food and pastries or coffees at the cafes and bakeries. I can't stand Italian food, pastries, or any coffee drink. But, I love the North End because I find great pizza there and, to me, the best place to eat in that neighborhood is Pizzeria Regina. I don't criticize the folks who go for pasta and pastries, and they typically don't criticize me. I think most of us have that understanding that two people can love or hate the exact same place for entirely different reasons. So, thanks for adding your 2 cents and don't worry about being flamed... =)
Shandy1977 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 01:20 PM
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A bit of info on our "likes" that I meant to point out earlier...

We are a couple that enjoys boats. I know it is a tough time of year and we don't *expect* to be 'on the water' in San Diego or LA but if you know of a great boat ride we are all ears on that too. So far, we've really looked at the idea of a whale watch since it seems like a good time for wildlife spotting. Thought about Catalina for a night but we assume it is not much fun in February. Channel islands? I know many boat rides do not count as a "day trip" but anything from a 2 hour scenic cruise to something overnight would grab our interest too... out of San Diego, LA, or any other town we can get to.

I know. Interested in boat rides AND the desert. Looking for 1 OR 2 night trips. I am not easy to deal with =) But I DO appreciate all the expert advice since it IS on the other side of the country for us and we can only learn so much from the books and web sites. Many, many thanks...
Shandy1977 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 02:36 PM
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I am merely pointing out that there are a lot of pleasant activities in the Palm Springs area beyond sitting by the pool and hitting golf balls. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I would not plan an excursion to the Channel Islands in February, if we are having stormy weather. You can find whalewatch tours out of Orange County and probably San Diego as well.
mlgb is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 03:47 PM
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Go to Laguna Beach. I live in Orange County and it is my favorite beach town. An artsy kind of place. Newport Beach next door to party plus you could rent a duffy boat and go out in the Newport Harbor. It has the most privately-owned yachts in the world. I went to San Tropez and I like Newport better.
wonderer is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 04:35 PM
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LA seems like it would have more of that NYC feel to it, though, when we want laid back.
__________________________________________________ ___________
Sounds like I read you wrong.

In San Diego-
add these if you haven't seen them
Coronado Island- Hotel Del Coronado
Cabrillo National Monument
Mission/Pacific Beach for the young vibe
Balboa Park/along with the zoo
and of course La Jolla

In LA-
a little secret- you have to drive to places to walk.
Have you been to Santa Monica/Venice/Manhattan/Redondo beaches? You can walk around there.
Does the Farmer's Market & The Grove shopping center interest you?
Museums? The Getty?
Have you been to Griffith Observatory?

This is my last comment on the desert topic- I think Las Vegas is your answer BUT you could do an overnight in Palm Springs from either LA or San Diego if you must. You'll definitely find it laid back there.

Agree planning a boat ride is out. I can remember some ridiculously gorgeous days on Valentine's but you'll just have to wait until you get here. If the weather is bad and rough seas, they won't take you out. If it's nice, you can do a day trip to Catalina Island or whale watching. Channel Islands can be done if you plan on heading north of LA but expect it to be a lot cooler, especially at sea.

Have you considered maybe spending some time exploring Orange County's coast? Laguna, Del Mar, Newport, Huntington beaches etc. are all nice areas.

Random itineraries-
19- arrive LA- head to Vegas
20- Vegas
21- Vegas/OC coast
22- nice weather take the Catalina Express from Dana Point Harbor- if not- site see more of the area- stay OC
23-San Diego
24-San Diego
25-San Diego
26-Palm Springs overnight
27- LA

19-LA/San Diego
20-San Diego
21-San Diego
22-San Diego
23-San Diego/Palm Springs
24-Palm Springs
25-Palm Springs/ Santa Barbara
26- Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez or whale watching
27-Santa Barbara/LA
29-LA depart

19 LA
20 Santa Barbara day/ stay in LA
21 LA
22 LA
23 Vegas or Palm Springs
24 Vegas or Palm Springs
25 San Diego
26 San Diego
27 San Diego
28 San Diego/OC Coast overnight
29 depart

19 LA/ Santa Barbara
20 Santa Barbara
21 LA
22 LA
23 Las Vegas
24 Las Vegas
25 San Diego
26 San Diego
27 San Diego
28 San Diego/LA
29 depart

Your possibilities are endless...
SOCALOC is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 04:40 PM
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I didn't see wonderer's rec before I posted. blush.
SOCALOC is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 06:01 PM
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Wow... can't thank everyone enough for the detailed, thorough recommendations.

Re: reading me wrong...
I think you had me read fairly well, actually. I like a more laid back city, but I like to be active in it. Hopefully that makes sense. Probably not, though. lol

In the last couple hours I have been getting text messages from my wife about how interesting Palm Springs sounds now... after it had no appeal yesterday. Gotta love the married life. =) =)

A thousand more thank yous to everyone!
Shandy1977 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 07:32 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
I did a 2 hour Harbor Tour in SD and it was great. Check under my user name for my trip report for more info. Highly reommend it
tchoiniere is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,271
You might fly to Las Vegas for a couple of nights then continue on to San Diego and LA or try that in reverse order. It will save you 4+ hours on the road and the possibility of the Cajon Pass being closed by snow in February (it happens).

Someone else mentioned the Grove/Farmers Market which I like because it has a taste of old Hollywood and the new. Try Le Parc Suites Hotel nearby in West Hollywood for a comfy stay with kitchen, balcony and great rooftop views of the Hollywood Hills. I've stayed there twice even though I live in So Cal and have enjoyed it.

You can't go wrong with Laguna as your beach town.

Some years ago friends dragged me to Death Valley in March (122 degrees predicted there tomorrow!). I thought I would hate it but ended up having a great time hiking, horseback riding and swimming at the hotel in Furnace Creek. You can drive there between Vegas and LA.
Scootoir is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 02:57 AM
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Just thought I would add a quick note that we really enjoyed our whale watching trip with San Diego Harbor Excursions. You also get a great tour of the bay. I would definitely recommend it.
travelerfromtx is offline  

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