don't know where to start really. We have a wedding next year in California so thinking of doing trip of a lifetime and taking in California and Hawaii. Kind of want to avoid the real tourist places, and find somewhere off the beaten track
I know you say you want to avoid the obvious but the drive down highway one through Big Sur is utterly fantastic and I could not recommend it highly enough. I remember stopping at a viewing point and just bursting into tears at how beautiful it was. I cried again in Las Vegas as couldn't believe we'd left all that wild beauty behind for that!
Stopping on Maui which is less touristy than Ohau. Although we will visit there to go and see Pearl Harbour etc. Also some English friends who moved out to the US about 13 years ago are staying on Ohau at the same time so we are meeting up with them too.
Yosemite NP is incredibly beautiful and majestic enough to not be overwhelmed by big tour groups - doable as a longish day-trip from a San Francisco base, but probably nice to stay overnight at one of the camps, with a booking. We did a day-trip with a small group and found quiet spots in August. Sonoma Valley (parallel to Napa Valley) very nice and chilled, was quite taken with Santa Rosa due to the lovely Charles Schultz museum.
San Francisco can be surprisingly chilly/foggy in summer months.
The island of Kauai is wonderful too - a very tranquil, beautiful place.
On Maui I really recommend going up Haleakala at sunrise (highest peak/extinct volcano) and taking the road to Hana. The latter is an amazing drive along a twisting coast road, past beaches, waterfalls, tropical jungle, fab road side cafes. It is really unforgettable.
yes you lucky thing! Hawaii is my all time favourite dream amazing place Oahu is very crowded but the North Shore of Oahu (Haleiwa) is lovely, and Honolulu has great shopping and restaurants. Maui is heaven. Do you surf at all? if not do try when you are there, small summer waves and very easy to learn on them.
We're off to California in two days and I've done q a bit of research, only hope I got it right!
We're having 8 days in Sonoma county, in a house right on the river with boats etc, planning hiring fishing rods to catch supper from the jetty, a zip wire excursion through the canopy of the redwoods, trips to Santa Rosa, maybe airsofting, then Highway 1 stopping at Carmel, through Big Sur to Santa Barbara for 8 nights then 4 nights in San Francisco.
Can't wait! DH has booked business class which is great as it's an 11 hour trip.
Hanalei in Kauai is beautiful, as is the whole of the north shore there tbh, generally all the hotels there are on the south shore, a completely different experience.
One thing to note though, is that in the summer, the North shore of Kauai has v v calm still water, whilst the South shore has the big surfers waves (reverses in winter), so in terms of swimming, and your DC's the north shore might be a better bet.