West Coast Trip Advice

Jun 11th, 2019, 05:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 1
West Coast Trip Advice

Planning bucket list trip to West Coast. 12 days. Flying into San Francisco (ticket purchased). Flying out of Sacramento (near family).
Want to spend 2-3 days in San Francisco. We don't tend to linger...see what we want then go.
Tentative schedule open to advice:
Half Moon Bay 1 night
Santa Cruz
Monterey 1 night
Big Sur
San Simeon 1 night
San Luis Obispo
Santa Barbara
Ventura 1 night
LA 1 night
Long Beach 1 night
San Diego

Planned to fly from SD to Medford Ore, (1 night in Arcata)/drive down to Redwood Natl Park then near Sacramento to see family (1-2 days).

Fly in mid-day Day 1. Plan 2-3 nights in San Francisco (#1 on bucket list).
Want to stay on Pacific Coast Hwy (v. I-5).
Current plan is 5-6 nights between San Francisco and San Diego (too many?)

Should we forego Redwoods and go to Yosemite? Would like to see the Redwoods, but....some reviews say we can see some redwoods in San Fran and the Sequoias and rest of Yosemite trump. Also read may not like the crowds in Yosemite in Summer and to make reservations early. What reservations if we are not staying overnight?

Thanks for the insights.

Last edited by grelder; Jun 11th, 2019 at 05:46 PM.
grelder is offline  
Jun 11th, 2019, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,167
There are a couple of places to see big Coast Redwoods south of San Francisco and north of Monterey. Henry Cowell SP is among the best. You do not have to go to northern California to see them.
What is it that you want to see in SLO and Ventura? After San Simeon, you might want to take the rental car back to where you rented it and then take the Coast Starlight train from Oakland to Santa Barbara. After you see what you want to see in Santa Barbara, rent a car to go see SLO and/or Ventura.
If you do want to go all the way to San Diego, you can take an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner from Santa Barbara much easier than driving through the LA basin.
Save Oregon and northern California for another trip when you have more time to explore.
tomfuller is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 10:40 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Forget the train....your plan is already difficult enough. Forget flying up to Oregon just to see redwoods. Instead, go to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park just outside Santa Cruz. After San Francisco, go directly to the park and then spend the next two nights in Monterey. Forget Half Moon Bay. Instead of staying in San Simeon (just a bunch of motels), choose Cambria or Morro Bay. After that stay in Santa Barbara, not Ventura. And why Long Beach??? It's a port not a beach destination. Consider Santa Monica or San Clemente instead.

How long in San Diego? Technically, you could drive from there to Yosemite, but it's a long drive. Yosemite is not a drive-through kind of place. You need reservations for lodging. And to clarify, there are two types of redwoods. The ones you see near the coast (and in Redwoods NP) are the very tall trees. The ones you see in Yosemite (and Sequoia) are the very wide ones. Look up the different types: Sequoia sempervirens and Sequoiadendrom giganteum.

Or, you can enjoy more time in some of these places along the coast and actually see something by skipping Yosemite and flying to Sacramento from San Diego. Your trip is really nothing but driving to a place and staying overnight and then off to the next destination. Not my idea of fun but to each his own.
AustinTraveler is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,787
Yup, forget the train advice.

I might double up some nights..eg 2 Santa Cruz and drop Half Moon Bay, 2 in Malibu and drop Ventura, 2 in LA or San Diego and drop Long Beach .

I'd focus more on what you actually plan to see, rather than where you are going to stay, for the next cut.

Side note..I like Pacific Grove in the Monterey Bay Area, and Morro Bay in the Central Coast (vs SLO). Look into Montana de Oro State Park there. Cayucos instead of Cambria or San Simeon.

mlgb is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2,937
I agree, skip Long Beach, it is a port town, with a very large harbor and almost all the beaches (except Belmont Shore) are behind the breakwater. Stay instead in Santa Monica or maybe Manhattan Beach, or if you want further south, maybe Huntington Beach.
Santa Barbara is a prettier town IMO than Ventura, and has a lovely California mission.
jamie99 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,641
I'd rip up the entire plan and ditch most if not all the 1 night stands. Driving along hwy 1 is slow and there is a LOT to see and do - moving on every night means you don't have any time almost anywhere.

And flying from SD to Medford and driving on to the redwoods and on to Sacramento is an awful use of time.

There are two GREAT redwood parks between SF and Monterey Bay -- Big Basin and Henry Cowell. Visit one or both of those plus see redwoods in Big Sur.

You do not have time to add Yosemite UNLESS you drop everything south of Santa Barbara.

Fly from San Diego to SMF to visit the family, fly home.
janisj is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 02:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,790
This entire trip sounds like one big "drive by"!!!

What is it you want to see in each of the various places? I'd back up and start with making that list insead.

To me it is completely pointless to go to Los Angeles for one night. Why Ventura? Why Long Beach?

Since you have to return to Sacramento for your flight home, why not cross off the bottom half of the list and just spend your time in northern California this trip?
suze is offline  
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