We are off to California!!

(222 Posts)
shesariver Mon 05-Nov-12 09:26:01

After many hours research and lots of help from fellow Mumsnetters on my previous thread now cant quite believe that we are all booked up (through Trailfinders) so thanks again!

Final Itinerary worked out - we fly out from Glasgow next August 31st and spend 2 nights in New York, and then fly onto California.

4 nights San Francisco, then pick up a car - 1 night Monterey - 1 night in Santa Barbara (at a lovely hotel right across from the beach) - 4 nights Los Angeles - and last but not least 4 nights in an ocean front room in a hotel on Laguna Beach!

Now we can start planning all we want to do!

triplets Wed 07-Nov-12 23:32:29

Don`t forget to take a tour of Hirst Castle its amazing. Also The Madonna Inn, 17 mile drive, Solvang..............oh lucky you smile

shesariver Sat 17-Nov-12 21:01:29

Thanks for that triplets will add it to my wee notebook, cant wait! grin

lljkk Sat 17-Nov-12 21:04:01

I know it's rude, but I'll ask anyway, what are you budgeting for hotels?

JudeFawley Sat 17-Nov-12 21:07:01

My sis has just been to hirst castle and raved about it.

I love California, spent 5 happy months there.

Lucky you!

shesariver Sun 18-Nov-12 22:35:23

Its not rude smile. Anyway no idea what budget for hotels was as we have booked everything as a package through Trailfinders - flights, hotels, car hire. So for 16 nights its working out at £5500 roughly I think, thats for me, DH and DS2 and DS3. Includes a ticket for a trip to Alcatraz as well I think. We had to have a biggish car though a smaller one would have been cheaper as we will have all our luggage. Plus we paid extra for the hotel in Laguna Beach to have an ocean view.

lljkk Mon 19-Nov-12 08:08:34

Sounds reasonable. I'm thinking if you broke it down I'd expect to spend:

£1.8-2.4k flights
£400-£600 car hire (it will be a sodding automatic, I suppose you realise, I loathe them)
£120 Alcatraz
min. $220/night for hotels (2 rooms for 4 people in better quality hotels, all in Desirable/high tourist places.. so that's $3420, or £2.2k-ish.

If you travel in a conventional way, eating out every meal, I guess that adds up to $100/day.

Sorry to be so nosy, have my own budgets to figure out!! No idea what is reasonable to spend, sometimes.

How old are your DSs? Coz I would have thought most people under 30 would find Hirst Castle deathly dull (I have been there... as bored teenager).

onyx72 Mon 19-Nov-12 08:31:05

This thread brings back happy memories of my honeymoon in 2003! That part of California is simply beautiful. Definitely go to Hurst Castle - and don't forget to hug a giant redwood tree at Big Sur!

shesariver Mon 19-Nov-12 13:07:09

Yep car hire was about £600 as it had to be amended and we saw how much it was but the rest hasnt been itemised. I think when we initially enquired about flights they were about £700 each for adults and £600 for children. Hotels were all individually priced, some more expensive than others - the hotel in New York for 2 nights is also more expensive than California ones. Boys will be 5 and 11, yes I would love to see Hearst castle but not sure about boys! DS2 is a big film fan like my DH who is already planning a few sightseeing trips to movie locations. They are both excited about going to see Marty McFlys house from Back to the Future, and their excitement is infectious!

Not sure about budgeting for meals as we usually self cater in France in a cottage so this will be completely different, will obviously have to eat out every night but planning on making up picnics for lunch.

Your honeymoon would have been my ideal one onyx, where would you recommend stopping at Big Sur?

homebythesea Fri 23-Nov-12 12:40:56

for cheap eating out look out for Whole Foods supermarkets wherever you are - they do take out hot food at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant and a whole lot tastier in many cases!

bekind Sat 24-Nov-12 07:36:28

Totally agree with homebythesea comment on whole foods market, and there is one in Monterey - we had brunch there most days! Must see is Monterey Bay Aquarium, absolutely the best in the world.

shesariver Tue 27-Nov-12 22:58:13

Thanks home and bekind, one more thing to keep a note of!

Chopstheduck Wed 28-Nov-12 14:16:46

How exciting!

We are doing that next year too! Our itineracy starts LA (4 nights), san Diego (2n), Las Vegas (3n), then going to Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, (with various stop overs) and then San francisco for 3 nights.

We looked at trailfinders, but managed to get a slightly cheaper quote with a local travel agents, and jsut booked one hotel so we've been able to book others independently as we see good deals. Got the Bellagio for Vegas! grin

We usually do self catering too, but we'e starting signing up to all the emails from the cheapy chain restaurants for breakfasts/lunches, so we know what discounts will be on, and where the kids can eat for free! grin

I want to do Alcatraz too - did you go for the evening tour? And where is the Back to the Future house?

Chopstheduck Wed 28-Nov-12 14:18:46

Hate automatic cars too. But do like big American 4 x 4s, especially on american roads where there is actually proper room for them! We went for a big one too, for the luggage and 4x4 for the Tioga pass - I have a habit of ending up off the beaten track hanging off a ravine!

shesariver Wed 28-Nov-12 21:42:10

Chops, cant wait! There are a few houses but the most recognisable is the McFly house which is in Pasedena

My DH has spent hours on that website looking up stuff!

Would loved to have did Alcatraz at night but probably too much for DS3 so day time it is, so excited about that. What emails have you signed up for if you dont mind me asking?

Chopstheduck Thu 29-Nov-12 07:36:38

ooh have bookmarked that thank you!

Dennys (love their breakfasts!), Waffle House, HOP, Subway, Buffalo Wings, Olive Garden - not all very healthy eating, but it's a holiday!
Nearly all places seem to have a day where kids eat for free, plus there various other offers. That Whole Foods supermarket looks good though, that someone mentioned.

Chopstheduck Thu 29-Nov-12 07:41:21

how old are your children btw? The dts are only 7, but not particularly nervous, so hopefully will be ok! tbh I hadn't really thought about it that much.

legojunkie Thu 29-Nov-12 07:42:40

Monterey to LA is a very long drive for one day.

Chopstheduck Thu 29-Nov-12 07:46:34

only 6 hours though from Monterey to Santa Barbara.

We have some very long drives planned. I think longest is probably san diego to vegas. We're looking into getting some covers for the ipads that clip onto the back of the headrests, then the dts can watch films or play games.

SittingBull Thu 29-Nov-12 07:49:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bunbaker Thu 29-Nov-12 08:00:22

Lucky, lucky you. Our first big holiday was California and I loved it. One thing we weren't prepared for was how chilly San Francisco can be in the middle of summer. We went from the searing heat of Death Valley to a chilly 19 degrees in SF - well it felt chilly after Death Valley anyway. Also, we could never get on any of the trams as they were all packed. We took a guided tour of SF to see all of it and then went back on foot on subsequent days to the bits we wanted to see more of. Lunch in Chinatown is a must as well. And don't miss out on Alcatraz.

The Madonna Inn is just so interesting. We stayed in the motel next door and ate there in the evening.

SittingBull Thu 29-Nov-12 09:09:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SittingBull Thu 29-Nov-12 09:14:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chopstheduck Thu 29-Nov-12 10:12:37

Don't want to hijack but that list is fab, sittingbull, will be taking notes, thanks!

Any other restaurant ideas? Anywhere particularly good for Mexican/Chinese?

clam Thu 29-Nov-12 23:07:43

Can recommend the Academy of Science museum in Golden Gate Park. And if your itinerary in SF is flexible, do the GG bridge the very first day you see sunshine. It may be shrouded in fog the rest of your stay.

You don't need a 4x4 for the Tioga Pass (even though we had one). It's a wiggly road, sure, but much wider than in Europe with a generous hard shoulder and when there's snow it's closed anyway - usually around six months of the year. You do, however, need a car with a large boot for you luggage. We only just managed to squeeze in 4 suitcases plus extra bits and pieces.

Check out availability for Alcatraz tours before you go - I happened to look online 3 weeks before we went (August) and the tours were almost full. Only just managed to book. I think they keep some back for people who turn up in person, but saying that, the day we went to pick up our tickets for the tour, there was a billboard saying there were no more trips free for 8 days.

Don't underestimate the distances involved. California is just HUGE. It may say 6 hours from a to b, but in practice it is always longer. For example, if you're taking the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to LA, it's stunning but a slow road. And you'll want to stop regularly to take in the scenery. There's a quicker route in-land, but it's much more dull.

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