San Fran - Yosemite - Coast - LAX - San Diego

Jan 26th, 2011, 08:22 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 33
San Fran - Yosemite - Coast - LAX - San Diego

Hi everyone,

I posted our itinerary for our first "leg" of the trip on the Arizona/Utah forums, and got such good feedback! I am hoping to get the same for the second half of our trip, a 7-10 day trip down the coast of California from San Francisco to San Diego! Here is our plan:

Day 1: Fly into SFO early AM, explore San Fran sites in the afternoon/night
Day 2: Alcatraz tour in the morning, drive to Yosemite (approx. 4 hour drive)
Day 3: Yosemite until mid-afternoon, drive to Monterrey (approx. 4 hour drive)
Day 4: Drive down the coast, stopping somewhere mid-coast, perhaps Cambria?
Day 5: Keep exploring the coast, down to LA
Day 6: Explore Los Angeles
Day 7: More LAX sites, drive to San Diego (approx. 2 hours)
Day 8: Explore San Diego
Day 9: afternoon flight home

That is our plan so far. I am looking for hotel recommendations in San Francisco, Yosemite, and along the coast, as well as a place to stop between Monterrey and LA. We have family in LA and San Diego, so luckily, no need for hotels there!

Is this plan a good one? Not too rushed? I know we could spend days upon days in Yosemite, and I would love to, but we would really like to just get an idea of what the area has to offer and move forward. I have been doing a lot of research and it seems like I can see most of the highlights from the Valley.

Also, we are going in late May/early June. Will that be a problem in terms of what we can see and do in Yosemite?

Any suggestions would be helpful!

Thanks
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 08:37 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,403
Since you will have a car, your best bet for San Francisco hotels are those that offer free parking (parking downtown in better hotels will run around $50 a night). There's the Columbus Motor Inn, Hotel del Sol, Cow Hollow Suites and others. The latter two are in the same neighborhood. All of them are near loads of excellent restaurants (the Columbus Motor Inn is in North Beach - the Italian area, and right next to Chinatown, and the Hotel del Sol and Cow Hollow Suites are in between Union Street and Chestnut Street, both of which are very vibrant and fairly upscale residential neighborhoods).
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 08:57 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,587
There really is a problem w/ your Yosemite/Monterey plan IMO. Assuming you are on the very first boat to Alcatraz -- you will get back to the Wharf a bit after noon. Collecting your car and hitting the road --12:30 if you are lucky. That means getting to Yosemite Valley around 5PM. Due to the high valley walls - the sun will already be either very low or completely down by then. The next day after about 4 hours free in the Valley you head out to Monterey and won't arrive there until about 6 or 7PM and turn around and leave first thing the next morning.

You'll have very little time in YNP and essentially no time in Monterey/Carmel.
janisj is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 09:30 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
I agree with janisj. You are covering alot ground in a short period of time. I think you need to give up something. If it was me, I'd skip Yosemeite. It doesn't make sense to do all that driving to Yosemite for such a short visit. The best itinerary would be to just drive down the coast when you leave San Francisco.
paula1470 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 09:32 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
Another thing to keep in mind is driving time. It is possible to drive from LAX to San Diego in 2 hours but it's not likely to happen. Depending on where you are staying in LA and what time you leave, with traffic it could take you more than 3 hours.
paula1470 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 10:28 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 927
It sounds kind of ridiculous to drive all the way to Yosemite for basically an overnight (and if you don't already have a reservation, don't expect to stay inside the park) and a half day, then turn around and go back to the coast again. And if you are staying outside of the Valley, traffic going into the park in the morning can really back up from the entry point.

As for SF, there are far more interesting sites to see than Alcatraz, given your extremely limited time in the city. Be prepared for a cold, foggy (especially in the morning) and windy excursion.
hazel1 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 11:58 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 12,620
I am going to jump on the bandwagon and suggest skipping Yosemite as well. It is a wonderful place, but by having it in the itinerary, you are really short changing everything.

I'd probably stay in SF on Day 2 and then head straight to Monterey on the morning of Day 3. SF to Monterey is a 2-2.5 hour drive if you leave after the commute. You could arrive in Monterey late morning and have the rest of the day to sightsee.

Alternatively, if you want to spend more time along the coast rather than in SF, head to Monterey in the afternoon of Day 2 and spend all of Day 3 in the Monterey area before heading south through Big Sur.

Cambria is a nice place to break up the drive. Morro Bay and Pismo Beach are other good choices. Enroute from Cambria to LA, you can stop in Santa Barbara for lunch and some sightseeing.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 12:10 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 33
Would it be more worthwhile if we spend another night in Yosemite? I have been to San Fran, LA and San Diego, but I have never been to Yosemite and am REALLY looking forward to it. From the research I have done, it looks absolutely spectacular and if I am within a few hours of the park, I really would love to make my way over there. I do appreciate the feedback and agree with the concerns expressed, I just would love to find a way to make it all work.

Thanks!
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 01:51 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 12,620
If you are willing to skip SF then go straight to Yosemite - if you haven't bought your airline tickets yet, consider Sacramento or Fresno as possibilities.

Spend nights 1 and 2 in Yosemite and then continue with your plan - that will give you all of Day 2 there. On Day 3, leave Yosemite in the morning so that you will have some time to see Monterey.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 03:36 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,587
"Would it be more worthwhile if we spend another night in Yosemite?"

YES ! !. No question. I was going to suggest taking the LA days and add one to the coast and one to Yosemite.

That is, IF you are flying home from San Diego. If you are flying out of LAX instead, then I'd drop SD and add those days to the coast and YNP.
janisj is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 07:15 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 927
I agree with janisj - that's just what i was going to suggest.
hazel1 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 08:07 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,240
Yes, you need an absolute minimum of two nights in Yosemite. You need to allow 5 hrs for the drive from SF - maybe even longer if you need to make stops - and I would definitely plan to arrive before dusk. Since your visit is so short, you might as well make sure you can enjoy those spectacular views as you drive down or in to the Yosemite Valley (depending on your route). Try to spend 2 full days in Yosemite. You can leave late in the evening on your last day there and stop somewhere like Merced (or further) along your route toward Monterey.
elnap29 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 09:03 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
I would definitely add another day to Yosemite and then skip either Los Angeles or San Diego. Sounds like you are flying home from San Diego so I'd skip LA. I was going to suggest that earlier but then I saw you had family in both LA and San Diego and wasn't sure how much time you needed to spend with them.
paula1470 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 10:28 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 33
Sooo... after much time and thought, we have decided to alter our plans a bit. Instead of doing 2 legs of this trip, one in Arizona/Utah/Nevada and one in California, we have decided to spend the whole time in California. Although I will miss seeing tons of the canyons, I am excited to spread out my time a little more for this trip.

So, if I could add 4 or so days to the above itinerary, how would I do it? Definitely an extra day in Yosemite. We are thinking about flying into Sacramento instead of San Fran and heading up to Napa Valley for 2 nights or so. We aren't sure. Maybe an extra night in San Francisco (2 instead of 1)

What are your suggestions?

Thanks!
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 10:32 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,403
How many days will you have in all (not including arrival and departure day)?
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 10:44 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 33
Total? 10-12, give or take
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 11:55 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,587
The way I'd go about planning your itinerary is -- first nail down accommodations in Yosemite Valley. Preferably at Yosemite Lodge. It books up months and months in advance so book your 2 nights there and and then build the rest of your route around that.

It does no good if you work out a plan and then find out you can't get in to YNP - but could have 2 days earlier (or later)
janisj is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 12:13 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 33
Yeah unfortunately all of the in-park lodging is pretty much booked through all of May and June. Yosemite Lodge definitely is - the Ahwahnee is wayyy out of budget. The only one that might be do-able is Wawona Hotel. Does anyone know anything about that one? Is it close to Yosemite Valley? Any other recommendations?

Definitely a good idea to plan the trip around Yosemite availability, thanks janisj.
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 12:34 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,167
If you can not get a reservation in Yosemite, consider places in El Portal. My DW and I stayed at the "BUG" Hostel in a cabin type room just east of Midpines. The "bug" is a metal sculpture, not anything crawling around the rooms. We would both stay there again rather than an expensive room in El Portal or a more expensive room in Yosemite.
The hostel also has a small restaurant onsite if you don't want to use their kitchen facilities.
tomfuller is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 01:54 PM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 33
Thanks for the recommendation... we actually came across that hotel and thought it was a bit poorly named!!

We were now thinking of flying into Sacramento rather then San Fran, heading to Napa for a day or 2, then down to San Francisco - Yosemite - PCH - LA - San Diego.

Does that sound like something that can be done in 12-14 days? I'm sure this is a common route that others take.

Thanks!!
AMT6 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:44 AM.