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California Itinerary - what do you think?

(115 Posts)
Lovewhereilive Fri 14-Aug-15 20:43:19

Ok, next August we are hopefully going to make it out there. Here's what I was thinking:

Fly to Vancouver (Yes I know this isn't California but DH and I really really want to go there and its close (relative to the UK!)

3 nights Vancouver
Fly to San Francisco (2.5 hours)
3 nights San Francisco
1 night Monterey
1 night Pismo Beach
2 nights Santa Barbara
1 night Santa Monica (drive to Universal from here for the day)
1 night Huntington Beach (go to Knotts Soak City for the day)
2 nights Carlsbad
2 nights San Diego

Fly home from San Diego or Los Angeles (preferably SD)

Think this is ok? There are 5 of us (3 active boys who will be 13,12 and 8)

All advice/tips gratefully received!

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 14-Aug-15 21:57:29

Flying into one city and out of another may prove to be costly.

There's a lot of driving here along with packing up and unpacking bags during this trip.

Re this part of your proposed trip:-
"1 night Santa Monica (drive to Universal from here for the day)
1 night Huntington Beach (go to Knotts Soak City for the day)"

I would look into staying nearer both parks. At Universal there are hotels like the Sheraton and Hilton within easy walking distance to Universal (from Santa Monica you're probably looking at a 45 minute drive. That may not be an issue for you anyway but its worth further consideration).

Re Knotts this is located in the city of Buena Park. Lots of accommodation in Buena Park and you may also want to visit Knotts Berry Farm as well particularly if your children like rollercoasters.

AFAIK British Airways are the only carrier that fly directly back to the UK from San Diego. Other carriers like American and United that use this airport would fly indirect back to the UK. Its a very small airport compared to the other West Coast airports.

Lovewhereilive Fri 14-Aug-15 22:24:35

Thanks Attila, good tips there which is what I am after.

Flight is only £58 more each to add in the extra flight. We are looking at Lufthansa as flying to Manchester so would have to do 2 flights anyway so may as well fly via Frankfurt to Manchester as opposed to London.

Lovewhereilive Fri 14-Aug-15 22:26:45

I know its a lot of packing/unpacking bags but so much we want to do and have had to leave Yosemite out of it. If only we had another week!

Lovewhereilive Fri 14-Aug-15 22:27:50

Maybe we should do 4 nights San Diego or 4 nights Carlsbad instead of 2 and 2?

Effjay Fri 14-Aug-15 22:38:12

I've just returned from Oregon (my sis lives there). How about something really different and off the beaten track?
Fly to Vancouver.
Get boat to Port Angeles
Drive to Lake Quinalt. Stay at Otters Cove (just been there, fantastic!) go kayaking, walk in rainforest, swim in lake, visit Ruby beach
Drive to Portland, spend 5 days there
Spend long weekend in Bend, Oregon
Drive to Seattle (another fantastic city)
Fly home

Don't forget USA is huge! It takes 10 hours to drive from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco; 3 hours Portland to Seattle. You don't want to spend all your time in the car.

I can give you lots more recommendations if this appeals. I've been to San Francisco and loved all of the above more than my visit to SF.

LynetteScavo Fri 14-Aug-15 22:48:46

I would do 1 night Santa Barbara and 2 nights Santa Monica, just to do a bit more of LA, unless you've done it already.

Lovewhereilive Fri 14-Aug-15 22:53:58

Effjay - would love that but we also want to do california too - if only we had more time! Hopefully we can return and do some of Oregon.

Lynette, is there more going on in Santa Monica than Santa Barbara?

sheba2288 Sun 16-Aug-15 21:43:31

We got back from our Cali trip 10 days ago - truly was a trip of a lifetime! I agree with Attila in that there is a lot of packing/unpacking, when you are only staying in places for one night in each place. We did 6 stops, with only 1 night stop in Santa Barbara. We found that we didn't get enough time to explore SB as by the time we got there and we'd checked in, it was evening and we were setting off to our next stop the following morning.

We have 2 DCs, 18 & 13 - our favourite activities were cycling across the GG in SF, driving down the PCH, Pismo beach, whale watching, skateboarding from SM to Venice beach, & Warner Bros Tour. Was a bit disappointed with Monterey, and didn't do any theme parks at all!

Hope that helps! Also agree about staying longer in SM, we stayed 5 nights and still missed loads!

Lovewhereilive Mon 17-Aug-15 07:30:04

Thanks Sheba, that sounds amazing. If you want to see a lot of different places there's not a lot you can do about the packing /unpacking is there.
What did you do in Santa Monica? Apart from skateboarding?

Lovewhereilive Mon 17-Aug-15 07:30:59

Where did you whale watch?

tatumsfunkychicken Mon 17-Aug-15 07:37:35

Spend longer in Santa Monica over Santa Barbara. You can access Venice beach and visit Hollywood etc from there. Actually, it doesn't matter, either would be great. Santa Barbara is beautiful. But Santa Monica seems better with kids your age.

Don't worry about packing. Just live out of your cases, it's part of the adventure.

Have a brilliant time!

Lovewhereilive Mon 17-Aug-15 07:45:52

Thanks Tatum, do you recommend SM more because of the theme parks?

Have done European adventures with the kids where we stay in a few places, although probably not as many, so the packing thing doesn't bother me really.

Want to go now never mind waiting till next year! grin

juneau Mon 17-Aug-15 07:51:56

I've been to most of those places and tbh I'd ditch Vancouver. Yes, its nice, but you're 'wasting' three or four precious days out of 14 to visit Vancouver and I can't honestly remember anything that we did there apart from going to my friend's wedding! Plus, it can be rainy and grey even in summer. Stick to California. There is so much to do there that you'll only scratch the surface in two weeks and by ditching Vancouver you can spend more time in each place. We did a 7-state, 3-week trip to the west coast US when I was 17 (siblings were 20, 17 and 14), and while it was amazing and we saw tons of stuff what I remember most is the endless days spent in the car driving hundreds of miles. I'd advise you to spend that time having fun, not strapped in the car.

Lovewhereilive Mon 17-Aug-15 07:56:16

Suppose it does seem the obvious one to ditch, just heard so many great things about it and if we were flying from there then it's no different to a 2 1/2 hour car journey. But yes that's an idea.


LadyCybilCrawley Mon 17-Aug-15 08:04:49

There's naught to do in Carlsbad but Lego land - and you do better to drive there early from la, do legoland, and then continue to San Diego afterwards

juneau Mon 17-Aug-15 08:11:12

I've just pulled out my Vancouver guidebook to try and remind me what we did while we were there (because, seriously, its a complete blank). It lists 'the most unforgettable travel experiences' to be had in Vancouver.

Here they are:
- Taking a carriage ride through Stanley Park
- Wandering the West End (i.e. shopping)
- Dining out on local seafood
- Visiting the Vancouver Aquarium
- Exploring Chinatown
- Marveling at First Nations artwork in the Museum of Anthropology
- Going to the market on Granville Island
- Kayaking on Indian Arm
- Discovering the paintings of Emily Carr at the Vancouver Art Gallery
- Crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Watching the sun set over the water

Does that list excite you? It looks pretty dull to me, and you can do all those things in San Francisco, which is a MUCH more interesting, vibrant and varied city and you're pretty much guaranteed sunshine too. I think British people love Vancouver and British Columbia in general because it reminds them of home. Personally, I wouldn't waste my time flying 8,000 miles to go somewhere that reminded me of home!

juneau Mon 17-Aug-15 08:13:03

Disclaimer: it can sometimes be foggy in SF in summer, but SoCal is always sunny.

dingit Mon 17-Aug-15 08:13:28

We returned from our trip on Saturday, I type this with bleary eyes, as I am still jet lagged.
We did 3 nights SF, 3 nights yosemite, 1 monterey, 2 pismo, 3 Santa Monica, 2 San Diego.

We could have spent a week in San Diego, it's fabulous, and if you are going there, fly home from there, the traffic is horrendous to LA, and Carlsbad!

My least favourite was probably monterey, but I enjoyed it all. Even the drive from LA to universal will take you over an hour in traffic. I don't know how dh drove it, the roads are scary!

babymouse Mon 17-Aug-15 08:13:44

I would pick somewhere in San Diego County to stay for for days rather than two days in Carlsbad and two in SD. Carlsbad and San Diego are not that far from each other at all. Re pp there is a ton to do in North County, lots of great beaches, lagoons to do other water sports, hiking in local mountains, shopping...

HolidayHeidi Mon 17-Aug-15 08:18:54

I agree I would ditch Vancouver and spend more time in California. San Diego is a beautiful city with a really nice atmosphere. San Fran worth 3-4 days. Drive down PCH with one overnight stop. Then LA etc then onto San Diego. Lookat flying to us with a U.S. Airline which has a hub city with good connections. I used to know this off the top of my head but one big hub is Chicago,

Crosbybeach Mon 17-Aug-15 08:20:39

I loved Vancouver, visited family there, but really loved Vancouver Island, huge place, Tofino is fab, the ferry ride there is beautiful etc. I think what I'm trying to say is it's a place where three days is good but longer is better.

San Francisco on the other hand is a fab 3 day stop, bridge cycling, ferry back from Sausalito, great food, and you could probably then fit in Yosemite or a longer stop further down the coast. Don't underestimate the driving, Santa Monica trip for us was an absolute crawl and quite tiring, a down day on a beach, or even hotel pool can be a lifesaver (and I don't like pools or beaches!'.

CotedePablo Mon 17-Aug-15 08:24:04

To help with the living out of a suitcase lifestyle, we used packing cubes. You can get them on Amazon.

juneau Mon 17-Aug-15 09:00:26

Fly to San Francisco
4 nights San Francisco
1 night Monterey
1 night Pismo Beach
2 nights Santa Barbara
3 nights Santa Monica (drive to Universal from here for the day)
1 night Huntington Beach (go to Knotts Soak City for the day)
1 night Carlsbad
3 nights San Diego
Fly home from San Diego

Lovewhereilive Mon 17-Aug-15 21:20:07

Aah thanks everyone for the tips - think we may do as suggested and ditch Vancouver and spend the whole time in California.

So where's the best place to see whales then?

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