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Week Long Trip North-South California- Complete Novice

Week Long Trip North-South California- Complete Novice

Old Jun 18th, 2012, 08:01 AM
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Week Long Trip North-South California- Complete Novice

Hey guys so I'm planning a trip for my family: middle aged parents, and two younger brothers (11 and 18). My dad basically asked me to plan a trip in california and I figured it would be cool to see as much as possible. However, having lived on the East Coast my whole life, and venturing only to the west for snowboarding trips, I have very little knowledge of California in the summer/fall. After perusing the forums for a while, I decided there's definitely enough helpful people here to assist in educating me. So here we go.

The trip is going to be 7-9 days, flexible, but starting on August 1st. My family enjoys hiking, nature, sightseeing, etc, not so interested in wineries because of the little brothers. We definitely want to see yosemite or redwood, and aquariums, things like that. Not really sure if it's feasible but we'd like to drive up the coast and see LA too.

I think we would need to get a rental car since we want to drive down the coast, but I was reading alot on the forums about drop-fees etc, so information on the best idea in terms of driving the coast would be appreciated. Actually, information about where we might want to stay, where to fly into/leave, what to see and how long to stay, pretty much anything to help me plan this would be super. Any advice will be a help. Thanks!
jonathanlim90 is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2012, 11:16 AM
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That is not a lot of time to see all that you want to see (also you need advance reservations for Yosemite, places book up to a year in advance. You might get lucky and get a cancellation but you would have to keep calling every day). You could do:

3 nights San Francisco (redwoods in several places)
1 night Monterey or Carmel
1 night Cambria or Pismo Beach (did you want to see Hearst Castle?)
Possibly another night in Santa Barbara
2 nights Los Angeles
1-2 nights in Anaheim for Disneyland (if interested)
jamie99 is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2012, 01:26 PM
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I would skip southern California given the amount of time you have. Spend some time in San Francisco, a couple of days in Yosemite, head down to Monterey for the aquarium, then fly home from one of the Bay Area airports.

As jamie99 said, it's difficult to get a reservation in Yosemite. Call them every day and you may find something. There are motels and hotels outside Yosemite if you need to stay there.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2012, 01:46 PM
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Can you fly into San Francisco, pick up your rental car at teh airport agency and head first to Yosemite, you can enter through the south entrance to see the giant redwoods at the Mariposa Grove. If you get in late simply stay at the Tenaya Lodge. We loved it there. Very resorty. Then try to stay a couple of nights in Yosemite Valley or close by in El Portal. (total 3 nights)

Head west to Monterey. You can visit the Aquarium and the coast including Santa Cruz and the famous Boardwalk with it's really old timey roller coasters. Also visit Big Basin for coastal redwoods, Point Lobos and if you have tiem Big Sur (2-3 nights)


On the way to SF turn in your rental car and take BART or a shuttle into the city. You won't need a car and it's too expensive to pay for parking. You can see all the city sites, like Alcatraz and GG, check out Muir Woods and the SF Aquarium. (3 nights)
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 02:17 PM
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I agree that you don't have enough time to do Northern and Southern CA. I would pick Northern as it is the most beautiful part of CA. Yosemite is awesome so try to get reservations ASAP. The coastal drive between San Simeon and Carmel is a must do for spectacular scenery. A not to be missed gem is Point Lobos. Also the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best in the world. I would fly into San Francisco to spend 2 days seeing the sights there. Then drive south to the Monterey/Carmel/Pacific grove area for 2-3 nights. Pacific Grove has a scenic hike/bike trail along the rugged coast. Then take the round trip coastal drive from Carmel to Big Sur if you only have a day for this. If you have 2 days, you can go all the way to San Simeon or Cambria and spend a night there. You can loop to Yosemite from SF then go to Monterey or vice versa. Or you can drive from Yosemite to Cambria or vice versa. Depending on where you are at the end of your trip you can fly home from Monterey, Fresno, San Jose or SF.
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Old Jul 13th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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California is much larger than most people think it is! I agree with the posters who recommend either Northern or Southern! San Fransisco has a lot to offer~sight-seeing, great restaurants, and there is an aquarium in Golden Gate Park. San Francisco is within a few hours' drive of Monterey and Santa Cruz. Henry Cowell State Park in Felton, and Big Basin Redwoods State Park, both near Santa Cruz, have beautiful redwoods. Santa Cruz has the Boardwalk and some wonderful tidepools at Natural Bridges State Park. Monterey has a fabulous acquarium. Another thought would be Lake Tahoe~lots of hiking and nature!
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Old Jul 13th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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tenthumbs: Unfortunately, the OP hasn't been back since this (his first) post. The thread was topped by an advertiser.
janisj is online now  
Old Jul 13th, 2012, 05:52 PM
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Paging jonathan-where are you?
Coming from the east coast you have a choice of several airports other than SFO. Oakland or Sacramento would be my chioce. Drive over the Golden Gate bridge and go to see Muir Woods and Point Reyes. Head south from SF and be sure to see the aquarium in Monterey. Santa Barbara is worth seeing.
I suppose someone has to go see the Mouse (Disney). From the LA area, Try to do at least a drive through of Yosemite.
Return the car where you rented it if possible.
The Capitol grounds and the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento are worth a few hours of your time before you return the car to fly home.
tomfuller is online now  
Old Jul 13th, 2012, 09:02 PM
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We are just winding up an 11-day trip from the redwoods to LA. It's doable. I have three kids -- 16, 14, 9. We had two sort-of long days in the car, but it was great. We saw some cool, kitschy tourist stuff those days right on the road.

We actually flew into Sacramento and drove north to Redding, then struck out west through the Trinity-Shasta forest. Stopped and saw the Bigfoot stuff in Willow Creek. Beautiful, curvy drive.

Spent two nights at the Best Western in Garberville, which is nice. Great breakfast and wine and cheese in the evenings. Nice pool for the kids. Spent time in the Humboldt Redwood State Park.

Then drove to Santa Rosa. That day, we went to Fort Bragg and Mendocino (by way of the drive-through tree), then to Healdsburg and Santa Rosa. Spent the night.

Then took off for a winery on the way to San Francisco. Three nights there. Did all kinds of stuff. Then left for Monterey. Saw stuff on the way, got there in time to spend three hours in the aquarium, which was enough for us. Dinner on the waterfornt.

Next day was long -- saw Carmel and 17-mile drive. Opted not to go to Big Sur because kids decided wanted to go to Santa Barbara. Could have gone either way, but we were having some car sickness issues. SB was great. Spent time on the harbor.

Then drove today to LA for a college tour and time at Santa Monica. Again, we had several things planned but let our kids figure out what they wanted to do.

Tomorrow, we're going to the beach with family members who live in SoCal. Then home on Sunday.

We live in the Midwest, so this was a real overview for our kids. We couldn't do anything indepth, but it was a good survey trip. It's been awesome.

Also, we just parked our car at our suburban hotel in SF and took BART into the city. Awesome.
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Old Jul 14th, 2012, 09:24 PM
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Thanks, janisj.....I didn't notice one from an advertiser, but I'm not very observant sometimes! #-o

Too bad he hasn't been back~there is some darn good advice here!
tenthumbs is offline  
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