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AIBU to ask for California travel top tips?

(60 Posts)
QueenArnica Sun 18-Mar-18 10:01:15

Have posted in travel and had some great replies but feeling a but overwhelmed with where to start hence posting for traffic.

We are doing a road trip of Californina in August, me dh, dd (14) and ds (11).

Car and accommodation are booked, just want to make sure that we see the best sights, eat at the best places so any top tips or suggestions gratefully received.

We are in San Francisco for 4 days and will do the obvious (Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, trams maybe cycle across Golden Gate Bridge)

We then drive to Yosemite for 3 days, then on to Monterey/Carmel for 2 days (maybe whale watching), then on to Santa Barbara for 4 days, Hollywood for 3 days (booked VIP tour of Universal) and then last stop Newport Beach for some R and R.

Thanks in advance! smile

munqch Sun 18-Mar-18 10:02:45

Go to Big Sur! Amazing place, beautiful nature, great walks.

RibCageEngage Sun 18-Mar-18 10:03:14

Wow 'really doing practically the same trip in August! Starting with San Fran, onto Yosemite and then down to LA so watching with interest!

LagunaBubbles Sun 18-Mar-18 10:07:07

I've been lucky enough to visit California twice, in 2013 and 2015. It really was my dream holiday. For me driving down the Pacific Coast Highway was always going to be my highlight; it was such a surreal experience. Just wish we had longer, if I ever did it again I would actually stay over night somewhere to get the most out of it.

IanRushesInadequateFlushes Sun 18-Mar-18 10:10:59

Ah I am so jealous! We had some fab holidays in California when I was the same age as your DC.

We got Fodors, which had lots of cool recommendations as well as the unmissable stuff - you can check it out online these days!

www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/california

But basically, pretty much anything you do will be amazing grin

BlondeB83 Sun 18-Mar-18 10:14:30

Highway 1 is awesome, take your time! So it Yosemite!

DoneDisappeared Sun 18-Mar-18 10:17:05

Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and stay out of the miday sun. 😉

Yosemite is going to be very busy. Do your research to try to minimise the worst of the crowds.

Sophiesdog11 Sun 18-Mar-18 10:17:45

Make sure you book Alcatraz in advance - booking opens 3 months ahead of time.

We read advice to go for a morning tour, as you already awake with jet lag, but decided to do evening as you get to see more. Wished we had gone for morning as by the time we were heading for boat back at 9/9.30 we were all flagging and ready for bed! (DH, myself, Kids 19 and 17).

We cycled across GG bridge but didnt have a full day so only did return trip on bridge. You can cycle across and get ferry back, but needs more time.

We also did an open top bus tour of SF, which was worth it as we saw a wider area than we could have walked.

Also second big sur, it was closed last year but we managed to do return trip from Monterey of 20+ miles at top end and was worth it. Then did some at bottom end from Cambria, which was also spectacular.

Do one of the hikes in Yosemite, and we also canoed on the river, which was good, gave us another view.

Bubblysqueak Sun 18-Mar-18 10:20:52

We did a very similar trip a few years ago in August.
Tip tip - if you cycle across the golden gate bridge wear sun cream! I didn't as I didn't think because it wasn't particularly hot as it was windy. Big mistake!
Yosemite is amazing, take comfy shoes.

Also a trip to Santa Monica when you are in L.A. is definetly worth it.

Canwejustrelaxnow Sun 18-Mar-18 10:25:06

I know your accommodation is already booked but when in L.A. stay in Santa Monica. Hollywood is a real dive.

KimmySchmidt1 Sun 18-Mar-18 10:27:15

Go to sonoma which is idyllic and less crowded than napa.

Carmel is full of baby boomers and we felt a bit out of place. Monterrey is way better for a family as they have a giant aquarium and loads of sealions and otters out and about which you can see from the shore or go out and see on a boat. Plus lots of other fun things. Canary row is there if you want to learn about John Steinbeck.

Avoid LA it is a sprawling traffic filled polluted mess.

SleepOhHowIMissYou Sun 18-Mar-18 10:28:19

Would recommend the Griffith Observatory, LA Farmers Market for lunch, Disneyland (the original 50's park plus Adventureland opposite) and Venice Beach (described as Camden by the sea) which has the Muscle Beach workout area.

Are you aware that cannabis is legal there? There's an 'Amsterdam Vibe' to the place.

Be prepared for the grottiness of LA, so many homeless people, not just in the centre. You get hawkers dressed as Disney characters and superheroes around the Chinese Theatre (where the handprints are) who want you to pay for a photo with them, they can be persistent.

The good outweighs the bad though, it's a brilliant holiday destination.

KimmySchmidt1 Sun 18-Mar-18 10:28:24

If you do sonoma head for ravenswood winery - they are very fun and not corporate but you can get their wine here so it’s nice to continue back home

pineapplecrush Sun 18-Mar-18 10:32:29

We did a similar trip in July 2015. Really loved Santa Monica, the climate and vibe, beach, shops,
restaurants (although the food was great everywhere). We had 1 night in Pismo Beach - about 80 miles from Santa Barbara I think - would have liked to stay longer. Beautiful beach, real old style American town, quite different from anywhere else, was misty when we were there which added to the atmosphere. Dream holiday, the sight of mother seals and their pups along the coast, will never forget.

DoneAdulting Sun 18-Mar-18 10:45:40

Yes yes to Disneyland if you have time, it's wonderful smile

Also you must try an In n Out burger at some point in your trip, they are delicious and so cheap!

sadeyedladyofthelowlands63 Sun 18-Mar-18 10:54:59

Santa Monica is wonderful! I have to say LA was my least favourite of the places we went though, quite grotty as pp said. It was also the only place we went in the US where I didn't always feel safe.

FrancisCrawford Sun 18-Mar-18 10:57:10

Monterey Bay aquarium is amazing.
Carmel - beautiful beach to walk on, lovely town centre, fabulous house to gawp at
There are loads of small wineries to visit, my favourite is Satui brothers
Stay outside of Napa/sonoma - try Calistoga, which is a spa town with naturally heated geyser waters and brilliant restaurants
Yosemite was so busy when we visited, as in heaving with people. Which ruined it for US. Death Valley is much quieter and is fascinating. Watching the sun set from the top of Dante’s View is an amazing memory, as is seeing the coyotes come out at night to lick the water droplets from the sprinklers on the gold course
SF - be sure to take a cable car down to the Warf - it’s like a roller coaster ride! Buy seafood and curly fries from one of the stall. The Pampanito is worth a visit too.

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 18-Mar-18 10:58:54

The Griffith Observatory's already been mentioned, but not the view of the lights of the entire LA basin you get from here at night. If you don't do anything else, please just go ... the phenomenal vista truly is one of the sights of the world

If you're doing Big Sur/Highway 1 in August, be prepared for it all to be socked in with fog (ditto San Francisco's famous bridge) but if you have time William Randolph Hearst's castle at San Simeon is definitely worth visiting

Also please note the importance of booking the amazing Alcatraz before you go ... if you don't, you won't be visiting it at all as the boat tour sells out early and fast

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 18-Mar-18 11:01:55

Also while in LA, don't be tempted into a "tour of the stars' homes" ... you'll see absolutely nothing for all the vast hedges and walls as such folk really don't want to be gawped at while at home

Much better to visit Rodeo Drive and then have a drive round the parallel residential roads just south of here; granted the homes aren't quite as big but they're definitely worth seeing

Ginorchoc Sun 18-Mar-18 11:05:43

If you get a chance go on Santa Monica pier so many things you’ll recognise from movies. We went whale Watching from Balboa Island which in itself if really nice, tiny little car ferry across to it and really great fish restaurant, we saw at least 20 wild Dolphins who chased our boat and two whales.

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 18-Mar-18 11:07:38

Oh, and if you're driving towards Santa Monica from LA, don't miss Shakeys Pizza for lunch at 7001 Santa Monica Boulevard

There's a reason it's been going for 60 years grin

Peachesandcream15 Sun 18-Mar-18 11:10:24

4 words - in and out burger.

kyrenialady Sun 18-Mar-18 11:12:56

Following this thread we are off to California in August and there are some brilliant tips on this thread.

Canwejustrelaxnow Sun 18-Mar-18 11:15:17

Also while in LA, don't be tempted into a "tour of the stars' homes" ... you'll see absolutely nothing for all the vast hedges and walls as such folk really don't want to be gawped at while at home

Couldn't disagree more! I LOVED it and I'm not a celeb person at all.

DakotaFanny Sun 18-Mar-18 11:15:48

Call in (stay?) at the Madonna Inn near SAN Louis Obispo. It is a themed hotel, each room is different and it has to be seen to be believed!

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