Fly drive California

(21 Posts)
JeanSeberg Sun 27-Apr-14 18:12:10

Looking for tips and best places to find good deals. Family of 4 - 3 adults and one 16 year old. Fly to San Francisco, stay 3/4 nights there then hire a car for a week or so to drive to Los Angeles and fly back from there. So around 14 nights in total.

Thanks in advance.

Tinkerball Sun 27-Apr-14 21:52:15

We did this last September and booked everything through Trail-finders - cant fault them. Didn't have the money upfront to book flights independently so booking through them meant only a £700 deposit for me , DH and 2 DSs. We stayed in San Francisco Holiday Inn Golden gateway for 4 nights , we had a small car when there for a day so we could drive over the Golden Gate Bridge up to Bodega Bay where Hitchcocks The Birds was filmed.

Then we had our main car and did our road trip - 1 night in Monterey, 1 night in Santa Barbara, 4 nights in Hollywood and then drove further down for our last 4 nights in Laguna Beach, driving back to fly home from LA. Beautiful drive driving down the coast, will never forget it, I'm very jealous!!

JeanSeberg Sun 27-Apr-14 22:49:06

Thanks for the reply, would you mind telling me the approximate cost?

homebythesea Mon 28-Apr-14 12:38:33

Do you have any side trips in mind? SF to LA is not going to take you 2 weeks! Do you want to go to Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon? Or further south along the coast to San Diego? What do you want to do in LA? All these decisions will enable you to plan a route, hotels, excursions etc.

I would budget at least 10k (including flights - 4 adult fares, and accomodation) for a busy road trip.

JeanSeberg Mon 28-Apr-14 15:12:26

Yes it will be one week by car - stopping off at Yosemite, sequoia, Grand Canyon etc etc. That's kind of what I was expecting budget wise.

specialsubject Mon 28-Apr-14 17:09:02

what time of year is this?

that is a LOT of driving.

CA is truly a vast state and driving distances should not be under estimated. You do not want to spend all of your holiday time behind the wheel of a car, you need a break too!.

That is indeed one hell of a lot of driving!. I would buy myself a decent scale map of CA and, re-examine the route (I'd cross off Grand Canyon).

homebythesea Mon 28-Apr-14 17:26:22

I have done something similar in a 2 week holiday

SF - Monterey - Yosemite - Death Valley - Las Vegas (we then went south but you could then go back towards LA). Staying 2-3 nights in most places, a couple of 1 night stopovers. Yes it was a long trip but really enjoyable. However you need to really think about what each member of your party wants to get out of the trip. Will they all revel in the amazing scenery or prefer theme parks and shopping? We achieved a fair mix for our then younger kids

SilverShadows Mon 28-Apr-14 18:34:44

Virgin do a planned tour called Kings of the Road, we did last year.

Start at LA for 3 days, then Palm Springs for 2 days, Grand Canyon for 1 day, Las Vegas for 2 days, Lake Havasu for 1 day, Yosemite for 2 days, then San Francisco for 2 days.

We were 4 adults and it cost us about £6k for flights, car and hotels. We did stay in fairly budget hotels though - Mainly holiday inns and in Vegas we stayed in Ballys. That was in September.

Tinkerball Mon 28-Apr-14 20:36:59

We were 2 adults and 2 children and altogether for flights, accommodation and car hire we were £6200, that included 2 nights at a hotel in New York to, San Francisco 72 bus hop on hop off pass plus tickets for Alcatraz. We found all the driving fine, longest was Monterey to Santa Barbara but because it was down the Big Sur it was gorgeous.

clam Sun 04-May-14 11:30:58

There's no way you would fit in all that including the Grand Canyon.
We did a similar trip the summer before last and took 2.2 weeks. Didn't even attempt to put in GC and Las Vegas - August and far too hot for us. Even so, I underestimated the driving time. Don't forget, for instance, that even once you arrive at these places, you're still in the car. Yosemite is around the size of Derbyshire I think, and the sights are quite spread out.
We started in SF, drove to Yosemite, then Mammoth Mt (friends with a condo there and we did sportsy stuff there), then Monterey (whale-watching etc..) and down the PCH to LA (stayed with friends). Flew back to SF for 3 days and then home.
Was about 7.5K all-in for 4 of us (teens counted as adults really) in August - and that was less than it could have been, bearing in mind 6 nights were staying with friends for free, as opposed to paying for hotels.

MillyMollyMama Mon 05-May-14 19:39:05

We spent 10 days in the San Francisco Area and, on another holiday, 10 days in the LA area. We had a good look around SF, art galleries, cable cars, Alcatraz etc and went to the wine growing area and over the Golden Gate Bridge. We then had 5 nights in Carmel and Big Sur. Post Ranch In for lunch highly recommended. So beautiful. Took in Monterey and a whale watching trip too. Lazed on Carmel beach for a day!

There is also Hurst Castle, Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara on the way to LA. In LA there is the amazing Getty Centre, Santa Monica, Malibu and the Getty Villa, Paramount Studios and plenty of shopping! Pasadena is fantastic with the fabulous Huntington Library, Gardens and Art a Gallery. There is a great car museum there too. You do not need side trips and you don't want to spend all your time in a car. There is SO much to do you really will not be bored.

SquirrelledAway Sat 10-May-14 09:46:10

We did a three week trip to SF a good while ago - a couple of days in SF (Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, Chinatown) then headed north to Eureka, across to Lassen Volcanic Park, then to Lake Tahoe, down to Yosemite and Kings Canyon, through Death Valley to Vegas. Took a flight over the Grand Canyon. We then headed back to SF via Sequoia, the Big Sur and Monterey, and ended by getting married in SF (we had abandoned the idea of getting married in Vegas en route).

The Getty Centre in LA is amazing, and DH recommends San Diego for a visit too. I would recommend the area to the north of SF if you can work it in - Lassen is well worth a trip.

JeanSeberg Wed 14-May-14 14:11:40

Hi all, thanks for the input and sorry for the delay in replying, I've been having a good think about this trip and the amount of driving involved.

I've decided it's too much for one trip to go from San Francisco to Las Vegas so Death Valley/Grand Canyon will have to wait for another trip.

What do you think about the following itinerary:

San Francisco - 4 nights
Sacramento area - 2 nights (for white water rafting)
Yosemite - 2 nights
Sequoia - 2 nights
Over to the coast and back to San Francisco - 4 nights

SquirrelledAway Thu 15-May-14 14:52:36

Sounds sensible, I know we covered a lot if miles on our trip.

If you're thinking of a second trip for Vegas, have a look at combining it with Utah - the national parks there are amazing.

JeanSeberg Sat 17-May-14 13:06:27

Thanks for everyone's input - I booked it today:

San Francisco 4 nights
Sacramento 1 night
Yosemite 2 nights
Sequoia 2 nights
Pismo Beach 2 nights
Monterey 3 nights

MillyMollyMama Sat 17-May-14 16:38:07

I think the itinerary is good as before you had 8 nights in SF. Monterey is a great base for Big Sur and Carmel too. We saw lots of whales in September. Have a great time .

Nancy66 Mon 19-May-14 10:37:24

LA is just about the worst place to drive in the world. I found it even more stressful than Rome or Paris (and that's saying something.)

JeanSeberg Mon 19-May-14 12:06:40

Sounds like it was a good plan to change my itinerary Nancy. Did you go to any of the other places we'll be visiting?

MillyMollyMama Mon 19-May-14 21:23:46

I drove in LA!!! No problems with sat nav! You can use quieter side roads to keep off the major roads. In fact we loved Mulholland Drive. The views are fabulous. Getting to the Getty Centre was easy with a car so I think it is not that bad! Now driving in India - who would actually dare!!!

Tinkerball Tue 20-May-14 08:22:55

My DH didnt mind doing all the driving, it was a surreal experience for him driving down Hollywood Boulevard, hes a big film fan! We also drove up to Griffith Observatory and had a great view of the Hollywood sign. Im so jealous, we are thinking of going back 2016.

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