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California - any thoughts on our itinerary?

(17 Posts)
RosieLig Mon 15-Jun-15 13:18:01

Hi, we've got just under 3 weeks and will be going July/August next year.

Our children will be 14,11,9. We've done Disney at Orlando so not fussed about that. We love history and nature and hate shopping!

My thoughts so far are;

4 nights San Fran
1 night Santa Cruz
1 night Monteray
2 nights big sur
2 nights Santa barbara
2 nights Sequoia
2 nights Yosemite valley
3 nights guided backpack tour of Yosemite backcountry
1 night SF via Columbia gold country

Thanks! Any recommendations of accommodation would be very useful. I think we're going to airbnb in SF but the rest is unplanned as yet!

A couple of questions- do you think SB is worth 2 nights or would it be better to have an extra night elsewhere instead?

And, should we continue down to LA (Malibu/Venice Beach)- I thought not, given the traffic and the fact that we're not that keen on big cities!

Thank you, any input would be great.

specialsubject Mon 15-Jun-15 21:07:42

looks wonderful.

a quick look reveals you will need a private backpacking tour with kids that age. You should also book your Yosemite accommodation soon - i think there's a lottery system.

I'd forget LA, I'm also an outdoors type and found a day seeing the movie highlights plus a day at the Getty was plenty. Too far for your timescale. Spend more time in the parks!

BadgerFace Mon 15-Jun-15 21:23:58

We stayed at the Yosemite Lodge at The Falls a few years ago and it was by far my favourite part of the road trip.

I wasn't mad on Santa Barbara personally although there might be good kid activities there, we ant ore-DC.

RosieLig Mon 15-Jun-15 21:52:45

Thanks! Can I ask BadgerDace why you weren't keen on SB? That's thd one I'm tempted to leave out and spend more time in Monterey/Big Sur. Also what did you think of Santa Cruz? I liked the American Boardwalk kitsch idea- I think thd kids would love it!

Finally would you do it that way around or do the loop the other way, ie SF then Yosemite...


clam Mon 15-Jun-15 22:00:02

Have you not booked Yosemite yet, then? I mean if you're thinking of switching the itinerary?

RosieLig Mon 15-Jun-15 22:13:07

Hi clam, no this is for 2016.

clam Mon 15-Jun-15 22:34:21

Ah sorry - mis-read! blush Saw the "three weeks" bit and went off on the wrong tangent.

Even so, get booking quickly, as some prime places get full up to a year in advance.

BadgerFace Tue 16-Jun-15 14:26:18

I found SB a bit seedy in places to be honest, just not really my cup of tea. If I did it again I would stay longer in the Big Sur, it's so gorgeous. We didn't get as far as Santa Cruz.

Our itinerary the first time we went was slightly pinned down by my best friend's wedding in Vegas and then wanting to meet up with her halfway round her honeymoon for a few nights so we did some of her trip backwards so it might not make the most logical sense but we went:-

Vegas 3 nights (and saw the Grand Canyon - amazing!)
Carmel-by-sea 2 nights (lovely and quaint)
San Francisco - 2 nights
Sonoma (stayed at Indian Springs) - 2 nights
Yosemite - 2 nights
San Francisco - 1 night

We then went a year later for another friend's wedding and did:-

Vegas - 3 nights
Death Valley - 1 night
Somewhere between DV and SB which escapes me at the moment... It might have been around San Luis Obispo somewhere
Santa Barbara - 2 nights
LA - 2 nights - I didn't think I'd like LA as I don't really like big cities but we stayed in a fantastic hotel (Hollywood Roosevelt) and I really enjoyed going up to the Griffith Observatory, lovely and green and amazing views over the city

I am so jealous of you - I loved both our road trips in California and really want to go back but DD is 2.5 and we have No. 2 on the way so I think we've got another 10 years to wait!!

RosieLig Thu 18-Jun-15 22:52:22

Thank you so much BD! Yes we spent about 5 years going to Cornwall when the children were little - very happy memories!

I've rejigged the itinerary to 3 nights Pacific grove instead of Monteray, 1 night Big Sur and 2 nights Pismo beach.

Millymollymama Fri 19-Jun-15 17:38:42

I preferred Pacific Grove to Monterray and Carmel is lovely. We stayed in a B and B in Santa Barbara. The Mission is worth a visit. We liked Santa Brabara!!

However, Santa Monica is also a great place to stay. We also stayed in a B and B there. It has the old pier and attractive coastal areas. Malibu not that wonderful, by the way, but the Getty Villa there is lovely. However, don't dismiss LA - curate's egg - good in parts! The Getty Centre is one of the best new buildings we have ever been to. Fantastic hill top art gallery.

Your itinerary appeals to me. Don't forget to have lunch at Nepenthe cafe near Big Sur. Views to die for!

roseteapot101 Fri 19-Jun-15 18:03:26

Hiya just been to the bay area in between Santa Cruz and San Francisco there's great america theme park with water parks the kids/teens will love spend a day =)

yosemite lovely theres a $30 dollar entrance fee though

you will also want too check out Monterey aquarium and golden gate park

this expensive but a must see

you may also like this in San Francisco near pier 39 very close to in out burger thats a good but cheap eat

and this

and by Monterey

La is big the traffic is really bad we decided not to go northan California had so much to do need any more ideas just ask =)

nicecomfymat Fri 19-Jun-15 18:03:42

The Monterey bay aquarium is incredible.

We did a similar trip a few years back (though without Yosemite and more time in LA as had friends there). Sequoia is fantastic. I am very jealous.

The other place you might want to look at it Palm Springs. It's really cool. Like a mid century time warp. But if you just want to focus on nature and beaches then maybe not?

ragged Fri 19-Jun-15 18:58:23

If you love history then you should consider Hearst Castle. It's en route.

There's the Winchester haunted house in San Jose, too, I think that might also be en route.

Big Basin state park (on 101) is as nice as any Redwood park I've been to. You could consider Kings Canyon NP, too, for redwoods & mountains (& bears, never forget about the bears). I would choose Kings over Yosemite, myself.

RosieLig Sat 20-Jun-15 00:32:47

Wow, thank you all so much. So excited now- wish it was this summer! I'm thinking now

4 nights SF
3 nights Pacific Grove
1 (or 2 nights) Big Sur
2 nights Pismo Beach
2 (or 3 nights) Sequioa
2 nights Yosemite
3 nights guided backpack tour
1 night gold country

Just need to see if my husband can get the full 3 weeks off.

Where would you have the extra night? Also, anyone been to Pismo Beach?

I would love to go to Palm Springs but I fancy a second California trip at some point.


WorriedMutha Sat 20-Jun-15 00:49:54

You will need to book Alcatraz soon if you haven't done so already. You could probably give LA a miss as you seem inclined to do but the Getty really is a gem. Loved it and fab views from all around.

AcrossthePond55 Sat 20-Jun-15 06:20:23

I'm a native Californian, have lived here all my life. I think your second itinerary is the better of the two. I'd leave Santa Barbara and south for another trip.

SF-California Academy of Sciences, the de Young, Alcatraz, Walt Disney Family Museum, the Exploratorium (more for kids but it can be a blast are all entertaining and educational. For plain, old sightseeing; Coit Tower, walking or biking across the GG Bridge, Pier 39 or Fisherman's Wharf (touristy), Lombard St, the farmer's market at the Ferry Bldg. Offbeat; the wave organ near the Yacht Club, the SF Columbarium, the Musee Mechanique. Seriously, you could spend a month in SF and not see it all.

Pacific Grove- Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach for lunch or drinks, Carmel-by-the-Sea for shops

Big Sur-many beautiful hikes (not a hiker myself, but DH says so)

Pismo is fun & has cute shops. I'd use it for a relaxing 'beach days' mid-point since you'll want to do a lot of hiking in Big Sur.

Sequoia and Yosemite are both beautiful, but you do need to make reservations early. Be sure you make any 'in park' reservations via the National Parks websites or their concessionaires rather than through a third party (unless you have a trusted one). Those parks are so popular that there can be a brisk business in bogus campsite and hotel reservations 'for sale' on places like Craigs List.

Gold Country-Columbia is worth a visit and there are some cute towns along Hwy 49. Most of them have a few nice hotels/motels and usually an 'old downtown' with antique, curio, and souvenir shops. I like Angels Camp (home of the Calaveras Co Frog Jumping Contest, if you're familiar with the Mark Twain story) and Sutter Creek.

If you end up nearby, consider spending your extra night in Sacramento, our state capital. Plenty to do and see and since you'll be there during the season you can catch a Rivercats baseball game for about 1/3 what you'd pay to see the SF Giants. Sacramento is about a 2 1/2 or 3 hour drive to SF Airport, if you're flying home from there.

Have a wonderful trip!

ragged Sat 20-Jun-15 08:07:38

I love the desert but wouldn't plan anything there in August. Joshua, Death Valley, the cable car from Palm Springs; another trip.

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