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Suggestions for 14 days family trip to California. Early stage in planning

Suggestions for 14 days family trip to California. Early stage in planning

Old Feb 26th, 2018, 12:57 PM
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Suggestions for 14 days family trip to California. Early stage in planning

We are a family with 2 kids, 12 and 15 years old who will be travelling to the US from Sweden in the summer. First week of travel will be spent in Denver with relatives and then we plan to fly to California to travel around for around 14 Days. The state is so large and with so much to see and do and we feel confused. What are there not to be missed? We are aware that late-June/early July will be peak holiday season and that may affect where we choose to go. We are an active family who have visited a number of the NP before, Yellowstone/Arches/Zion/GC to do hiking and we would like to maybe visit Yosemite but have heard that is is overcrowded in summer so we hesitate. San Fransisco is one option of course, and Los Angeles or San Diego or any other suggestions someone might have. We are interested in visiting one of the film studios but, once again, have heard that they too get overcrowded in summer and that you have to stand in line for 3-4 hours.
That would drive us mad so we might skip those places but need advice on other fun activities.
I do realise that it may be hard to give us advice when we have not set an itinerary yet but I thought we wil do that after we have had input from a lot of other travellers who have visited Caifornia who can give us all the inside information we need to plan the perfect 14 day family trip. We have not booked flight from Denver yet but we will fly in either to San Fran or Los Angeles.
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Old Feb 26th, 2018, 03:30 PM
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You might be thinking of Universal Studios which often has long lines and is really more of a theme park than working studio at least as far as movies go these days.
Instead, consider Warner Bros or maybe Paramount both of which are small group tours, you get to stop and get off the extended golf cart and visit the sets, ask questions of your guides, etc. Both run frequent tours, Warner Bros tour takes about 2 hours plus getting there 20 minutes in advance, and costs $65pp vs Universal at around $100 plus.
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Old Feb 26th, 2018, 03:35 PM
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Are you planning on renting a car once you reach California? If so, you might want to fly to Las Vegas or Reno and renting a cheaper car. The flight might be cheaper as well. If you go with Las Vegas, go through Death Valley NP on the way to Yosemite. The Tioga Pass (east side) should be open by then. The problem with Yosemite as I see it (others disagree) is that 98% of the people in the park are in 2% of the most beautiful part of the park.
If you go through Reno, you can go straight to Yosemite.
Do you want to see San Francisco or just go straight to LA and the studio(s) and Disney etc?
Another more time consuming but fun way to get from Denver to California is on the Amtrak California Zephyr. When it is running on time (sometimes) it leaves Denver Union Station shortly after 8AM. It goes through the Glenwood Canyon in the early afternoon and should be in the Ruby Canyon before dark. It arrives in Sacramento mid to late afternoon (about 31 hours).
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Old Feb 26th, 2018, 05:51 PM
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If you click on my user name you will see my trip report from last year for San Francisco and Monterey with teens. It was a great week. This year we are going to the central CA coast. In the past we have done Los Angeles and on other trips, San Diego. You can do some amazing nature activities by kayaking in the bays or taking a boat out to one of the islands.

The amusement parks--Universal, Disney, etc are lots of fun. I am not a repeat Disney person though. I have been to Disneyland twice--once was enough San Diego has awesome museums and the Scripps Aquarium in La Jolla is amazing.

I think if I wanted something really unique, i would stick with Northern California. San Francisco, Monterey and then if you really want a drive--go up to the Redwoods.

You need to get the Fodors Guidebook on California and read it. That is the only way to figure out what you want to see and do. I have used it to plan many trips to California--each to a different area or a different emphasis. Start there, figure out what are some must sees, and put together some ideas. That way you can ask specific questions. You still have a lot of narrowing down to do!
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Old Feb 26th, 2018, 08:30 PM
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My Danish cousin & his 10 YO daughter loved San Francisco when they visited is 2 years ago. Here are some suggestions:


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Old Feb 27th, 2018, 09:02 AM
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You're right, of course; California is so big and so diverse that whatever you do, you're going to miss more than you can see.

Let me throw out some ideas...

Yes, Yosemite Valley is quite crowded in the summer, but it's also stunningly beautiful, so even a long day at Yosemite would, in my view, be worth the annoyance of the crowds. But there's a solution that can help moderate the negative. Yosemite Valley extends deep into the Sierras, but the western end of the valley is quite close to California Hwy 49, a north-south road that extends through the length of the "gold rush" country along the Sierra foothills. The little towns along Hwy 49 (numbered for the 1849 gold rush) are wonderfully picturesque and historic. You and your family could pan for gold, ride in a stagecoach, explore places that come pretty close to qualifying as ghost towns, and all of it in some of the most beautiful country imaginable - rushing rivers, wildflowers, forests, etc. The area is also an up-and-coming wine producing area; for example the pretty little town of Murphys has numerous wineries, but is also a short drive from the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where you can see giant sequoias - nothing short of awesome.

So what if you flew into San Francisco, got a car, and did a loop through the gold country, with a day spent in Yosemite Valley (just a day but a long one, using one of the Hwy 49 towns as your base)? Then what if you headed back across the Central Valley to the Monterey Bay area, then south toward LA?

Here's an imaginary map showing the first part of this plan - https://goo.gl/maps/eaoq7St81DC2 . After Yosemite and the gold country, you'd return to see some coast redwoods (the sequoias are bigger, the redwoods taller) near the beach town of Santa Cruz (with its terrific old-time beachfront amusement park.) You'd then circle Monterey Bay, with visits to Cannery Row in Monterey, maybe some whale watching, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (fab.) Visit the old Spanish mission in Carmel, then explore Point Lobos, a stunning state park on the oceanfront, with rocky coves and hidden beaches, lots of marine wildlife, hiking trails, you name it. Just down the road is Big Sur, and while CA Hwy 1 down the coast from there will probably still be closed for reconstruction, the scenery at the north end of Big Sur is nothing to sneeze at. Point Lobos and the Big Sur coast can easily be done as a day trip from a base in Monterey/Carmel.

I'd finish the trip by traveling south on US 101 to the LA area, with a short "backtrack" detour to the Hearst Castle on CA 1, and definitely with a stop in Santa Barbara, for my money the most beautiful town in California, home to another gorgeous Spanish mission.

In LA I'd look at the Paramount studio tour; less touristy than the Universal tour. You might also take the kids to some of the more historic (but still terrific) sights such as Olvera Street and the Pueblo, the old LA Farmers Market, the Griffith Park observatory, maybe a Dodgers or Angels baseball game, and a day on the beach at Santa Monica or one of the "south bay" beaches - Manhattan, Hermosa or Redondo Beaches. Fly out of LAX. Map of the second part of the trip - https://goo.gl/maps/ddrpCuqJvHu

This would give you some of California's most interesting and historic places, and while there will be plenty of people about, you won't feel crowded, and the variety of experiences you'll have is very wide indeed.

Examples of things you'd see -

Gold rush towns (Mokelumne Hill)

Yosemite Valley

Big Sur coast

Mission Santa Barbara

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Old Mar 1st, 2018, 05:15 AM
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My husband and I visited Sweden a few years ago and loved it!
Welcome to California. I would recommend spending some time in San Diego as it is a great city for active teens. We have some of the best beaches, surfing, diving, kayaking, snorkeling (and you can go to shops that have guides that can take you out), hiking trails, biking, etc. We are a very outdoors city with lots of fun activities. Our weather is always warm and sunny and perfect in August. Check out some of these webs sites to get a visual view of the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, USS Midway, Coronado, La Jolla, Pacific Beach. But there are many more things to explore and see (Point Loma Lighthouse - the spot were the Spanish first landed in San Diego), and we have wonderful Mexican restaurants. I can recommend many!


Home | Coronado Visitor Center


Discover Pacific Beach



San Diego Zoo


Last edited by nanabee; Mar 1st, 2018 at 05:20 AM.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2018, 09:35 AM
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>>California is so big and so diverse that whatever you do, you're going to miss more than you can see.
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