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West Coast Road Trip

Old Mar 20th, 2007, 03:22 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 284
West Coast Road Trip

Hi we live in England and are considering flying to San Francisco renting a car and travelling down the coast to San Diego staying overnight at hotels /Motels, can anybody advise a car hire company that do not put a very large surcharge on their prices for leaving the car elsewhere.

What are the must see things.

How many days to do the journey comfortably etc
john44 is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 03:33 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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We usually book a rental car here in Belgium because it's much cheaper than on site. Since you will be staying in California there's no extra charge to leave the rental in another Californian town as per our info.I would take 4 days in S.F. Then drive to Monterrey-Carmel visiting the Winchester mystery house along the way in San Jose.Then on to Santa Barbara 2 days(lovely place)-then on to LA(stay in Santa Monica(we dont like LA prefer S.Diego)-then on to San Diego visiting the mission of San Juan Capistrano along the way.In S.Diego the best thing to do is neave the car and take the Old town trolley.You can get on/off all day, see all the interesting things, the driver is a great guide. THe next days of your stay you can use for seeing the things you liked in depth.Paul
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 05:38 AM
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Thanks Paul for the info, which car rental company do you use, and would I need a car for the 4 days in SF or should I pick it up on the 4th day ?
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 07:52 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Since I live in CA I don't rent a car in the state so I can't speak to the rental surcharge. I have used National Car Rental before in other states and dropped the car off at a different location without a surcharge.

You do not need a car in San Francisco. Rent a car once you are ready to leave.

When do you plan to come? Summer? I will assume so and thus the beach recommendations.

Fly into San Francisco and stay in the city for 4 days as tovarich suggested.
See the golden gate bridge, alcatraz, chinatown, fisherman's wharf, lombard, golden gate park, marina, embarcadero, coit tower, filbert steps, etc, etc, etc

Rent a car and head down to Carmel and Monterey and spend 2 days there. Visit the Aquarium, Cannary Row, Pebble Beach, 17 mile drive, downtown Carmel, etc

Drive down coastal CA-1 through Big Sur and visit Hearst Castle. Continue on to Santa Barbara and spend a day or so there.

Continue on to LA (do yo have kids that want to see Disney?) and stay in Santa Monica. Visit the Getty, Disney, Santa Monica Beach, Hollywood, etc. If you do Disney plan on 3-4 days.

Head down to San Diego and just relax on the beaches of La Jolla, Torrey Pines. Visit the Zoo, Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado, Balboa Park, La Jolla Cove, and spend 3 - 4 days.

Total trip of about 14 days.

If you want to shorten it I would take a day off of LA and SD and skip Santa Barbara.

saps is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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saps has given you a very good plan.

On car rentals, be very careful when you rent, whether in Europe or here.

Always ask if there is a "drop off" charge, which means picking up the car in one city and dropping it off in another city. Drop off charges can run into the hundreds of dollars.

No one car company has a consistent "no/little" drop-off charge policy, so you have to shop around.

I've rented numerous times in Northern California and dropped off the car in Southern California. I've rented from Avis, National, Budget, and a couple of others - not Enterprise nor Hertz.

I would usually go into a travel website such as Travelocity and put in the relevant information. If something good pops up, I'd book it then and there (car rentals are always cancellable).

If nothing good pops up,then I visit the individual car rental company websites and something usually comes up that fits into my schedule. The drop off charge that I've paid has ranged from zero to $10.

Good luck!
easytraveler is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 08:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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to follow up on what easytraveler said...sometimes the "surcharge" might just be added into the daily rate so do shop around to find the best deal.
saps is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Don't bother with the Winchester House. In fact, you should take the coastal road starting in Pacifica.

Near Santa Cruz you might want to visit the Henry Cowell State Park for its redwoods, if you have not visited them before getting there.

You might want to go to La Purisima Mission State Historical Park (west of Solvang and Buellton). It was reconstructed during the 30s and is an interesting representation of what the missions were like. Most of the ones that are currently visited (Carmel, Santa Barbara, etc.) are in populated area and no longer give the feel of being an outpost.

Between the Monterey peninsula and Big Sur you should visit the Point Lobos State Reserve.
Michael is offline  
Old May 10th, 2007, 05:34 PM
Join Date: May 2007
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The Winchester Mystery House is a unique and interesting place to see, however, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is also a good alternative.

Pick up the coast route in Santa Cruz by taking highway 17 from San Jose over to highway 1 and head down from there. The most breathtaking coastal scenery starts just south of Santa Cruz down to Big Sur. One or two nights should be reserved for Monterey or Carmel. On the way down the coast I would consider a Hearst Castle tour.

In LA if you only see one thing I think the Getty Center would be near the top of the list.

San Diego has plenty of things to see including Balboa park and the San Diego Zoo (especially if you have kids).

You should plan on at least 10-12 days. 2 days in SF should be enough, 1 day each in San Jose and Monterey area, another 1 day in the town of Cambria before your Hearst Castle visit, 2 days in Santa Moncia, and 3 days in San Diego.
Omr is offline  
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