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Southern CA logistics/suggestions for brief trips

Southern CA logistics/suggestions for brief trips

Old May 31st, 2009, 07:08 PM
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Southern CA logistics/suggestions for brief trips

I am planning 2 weekend trips into LA as DH is there on extended business. I am trying to figure out some logistics and suggestions.

Trip 1) I will come in to LAX very late on a Friday and and leave Sunday. DH and I are looking to go to some wineries that would be a reasonable drive from LA in that time frame. I would love to go the Santa Barbara region, but it is graduation weekend and everything is very booked. We found something in Santa Maria, but I'm wondering if that is too far...? Would restaurants and traffic be a zoo due to graduation? How would the drive be back to LA on a Sunday?

I looked into Temecula, but it looks like that is also booked as well. I wondered if there would be any areas to stay that would make sense in our limited time (or drive back to LA?)

Trip 2) I am coming with the teenagers - staying 2 nights in La Jolla (that part is definite), and one night in LA. We will probably do some beach time (the kids want a surfing lesson) and go to the San Diego Zoo, do the trails at Torrey Pine Reserve. Any suggestions for that leg of the trip? Is La Jolla about a 2 hour drive from LAX? I'd like to stop at Laguna Beach - it looks like that is halfway?

I want to fit in what I can but also allow for getting from one point to another. It doesn't look too far when I googled the directions, but I have no idea how traffic will be (I haven't been to CA in over 20 years!)

Any suggestions would be appreciated!
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Old May 31st, 2009, 08:35 PM
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Trip 1 - Santa Maria is about 1.5 hours north of Santa Barbara, however. it is in the heart of the region's wine country. There are several within a 30 minutes or less drive, both north and south.
The Santa Maria Inn is a clean, comfortable and historic hotel.

Trip 2 - Some of the traffic issues will depend on day of the week and time of day. Lots of folks returning to LA basin from the beach on a Sunday afternoon & lots going on a Saturday morning. Avoid Friday afternoon aslo. As with any big city if you can arrange your schedule to be outbound from the center in the morning and inbound at evening rush you're better off. Traffic on I-5 down to La Jolla and San Diego area is frequently very heavy.
If you have time, include a visit to San Diego's "Old Town" and the Gaslamp District.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 08:54 PM
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Trip 1: I don't think Santa Maria is too far if you are planning on spending the night there. Late (and I do mean late) departure on Friday or early Saturday morning should not be too awful traffic-wise. And, yes, there are many really good wineries in the Santa Maria vacinity.

Trip 2: The only way to stop in Laguna will require a detour off I5 (on the 133)and will take at least 1/2 hour from the I5 to Laguna Beach, maybe more depending on the time of day. It is lovely, but you really don't have all that much time in San Diego/La Jolla as it is. (I am assuming - yes, I know - you would be traveling directly from LAX.)
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Old May 31st, 2009, 09:20 PM
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The weekend that you are going to La Jolla, are you also flying into LAX on a Friday late? If it's late, the traffic shouldn't be too bad into San Diego. What day are you driving back to LA from La Jolla? The reason I am asking is that once summer starts, traffic into San Diego on a Friday and out of San Diego on Sunday (back to LA) is really bad. Although it was just Memorial Day weekend, it's already starting. I was heading north on I5 and couldn't believe how backed up it was on I5 South already this early in the season. If you are trying to get back to LAX from San Diego on a Sunday evening, I can guarantee you it will take much more than 2 hours. I would think you'd be lucky to make it in 3 hours but it depends what time of the day you are making the trip.

For trip 1, as others have said is about 1.5 hours past Santa Barbara. Late in the evening it wouldn't be a bad drive but I don't know how tired you'd be. I love the Edna Valley wineries which are just outside San Luis Obispo. I like to to stay in the Pismo Beach area and visit the wineries from there. Pismo is about a 20 minute drive north from Santa Maria. If you are too tired to drive those extra miles, stay in Santa Maria and then visit those wineries the next day. To me, Santa Maria is just a bigger city but there is plenty to do in the surrounding areas.
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 01:11 PM
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Thank you for the feedback.

boom_boom, I wondered about the Santa Maria Inn -it had some iffy reviews, but I generally like historic inns. I will look into it.

paula1470, yes, both trips will bring me into LAX too late to drive anywhere, so we are staying at the Airport Marriott both Friday nights (I was back and forth between that and the Marriot Courtyard in case anyone has an opinion...?)

Trip 1 - Drive early Saturday into the Santa Maria area wine country - if we go early enough, that should be okay traffic-wise? How long would it take to go from LAX to Santa Maria?

Trip 1, I have to return to LAX on Sunday for an evening flight (hence my concern for having enough time to go up to Santa Maria...?) I'm hoping this still makes sense.

Trip 2, Also coming into LAX late on a Friday and staying at the airport. Can leave early for San Diego on Saturday. We won't be returning to LA until Monday for a flight out on Tuesday evening. We thought of doing a studio tour on Tuesday before we leave.

Linny1951, I'm still thinking about Laguna Beach. We stayed there on our honeymoon, and I'd love to see it, but...we really do have a short amount of time and I definitely don't want to spend it sitting in traffic.

Thanks again!
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 02:58 PM
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carol-You will be fine for trip2. Don't know when this trip is scheduled but just plan on having traffic into San Diego even if you leave early Saturday morning. That's just the way it is in the summertime. Returning to LA on Monday will be good just try to avoid rush hour times.

As far as trip1, it takes about 2.5 hours to get to Santa Maria from LAX without any traffic. It is very likely you will get traffic coming back into LA on Sunday and graduation weekend will make it worse. Seems like a long way to go for such a short time. When you were looking for hotels did you check Solvang and Buellton? Maybe there would be something there. Unfortunately most places have a 2 night minimum on the weekends.
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 04:29 PM
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It isn't romantic but you can also see the Santa Ynez Valley while staying in Lompoc. The Holiday Inn or Embassy Suites are the best options. There is even a "wine ghetto" in Lompoc with lots of small wineries. Be sure to make reservations at any restaurants you try on the weekends. Sissy's in Lompoc is quite good. I'd also recommend the Hitching Post in Casmalia (the down-home old-fashioned one).

Lompoc Wine Ghetto
http://www.saveur.com/article/Wine/T...of-Lompoc-Wine
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 05:32 PM
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paula1470, you are correct that hotels in Solvang are either booked or have 2 night minimums (there were some very nice looking places I noticed). I may check back to see if anything opens at the last minute.

mlgb, would Lompoc save much time on our trip over Santa Maria? Would one place be prettier to see? Have you seen the Best Western?

We would like a nice anniversary dinner (thanks for the reservation reminder!) - I recall Hitching Post in Sideways - we only eat vegetarian/seafood, so I'm not sure if that would fit the bill...? (although I like all the local wines on the list). Any suggestions in the wine area (I don't mind eating while we are out and about tasting if it saves driving back and forth).

I really appreciate the input. Thanks again.
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