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Any California aficionados?

(48 Posts)
Scarydinosaurs Sun 04-Sep-16 16:58:57


After years of listening to songs about California, reading books set there, and watching re-runs of Veronica Mars, I am finally going to visit!

Looking at California for either next summer or October. Ideally we'd love to spend some time in LA (and do Disney for one day) and then San Fransico.

Any reccomendations for a beach house near San Fransisco? Is it ok to drive between the two, or is a flight better?

Flight-wise, is there a better airport to fly into, or is it much of a muchness?

Thank you! All wisdom gratefully received!

Pootlebug Sun 04-Sep-16 17:16:36

For driving - do you want to see stuff on the way, and go the coastal more scenic route? Or just get there as fast as possible? I guess it also depends on how long you have got.

Bear in mind that San Francisco gets pretty foggy and cold in summer. You might be better off in a beach house a bit further down the coast.

It was a long time ago when I went though - can't remember specifics about airports.

Scarydinosaurs Sun 04-Sep-16 18:51:17

That is really helpful, pootle thank you, I hadn't even considered the difference in weather!

Ok so I have revised plan to be: fly into LA, and go to Santa Monica and stay (do Disney etc) then drive to Monterery, spend the day, then drive on to San Fran and finish there? Sound ok?

barkingfly Sun 04-Sep-16 19:02:54

October should be nice and a bit less crowded. You definitely want to drive north on Highway One, rather than south. It is a beautiful drive.

bigTillyMint Sun 04-Sep-16 19:06:02

Why is it better driving north?

Asking because I am dying to do a Cali road-trip!

Scarydinosaurs Sun 04-Sep-16 19:13:06

Also intrigued as to why North is better than south? I am only planning that direction as we would have to start with Disney or my daughters would explode.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sun 04-Sep-16 19:14:20

You need to drive south surely. So your car is ocean side.

CMOTDibbler Sun 04-Sep-16 19:31:29

I'd spend at least a night in Monterey - you have to go out on a kayak tour to see the sea otters close up, and a whale watching tour as the sheer variety of sealife there is amazing.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 04-Sep-16 20:15:03


re your comment:-
"go to Santa Monica and stay (do Disney etc)"

If you stay in Santa Monica bear in mind that its around 40 miles from there to Disney via the freeways. How confident are you about driving in traffic akin to the M25?. In traffic it could take at least an hour each way. LA is made up of around 100 separate cities all linked together, its a sprawl of a place. You need a decent map and a proper idea of distances between cities. Many people seriously underestimate the amount of driving. Its around 300 miles from Santa Monica to Monterey.

SF in August can be foggy, the weather is better there generally later on in the year. If you are planning on going to CA for say two weeks I would seriously consider flying between the two cities and visiting Monteray as a day visit from SF.

Scarydinosaurs Sun 04-Sep-16 20:54:24

Atilla the stop in Monterey would be to break up the drive. I will now check the Santa Monica/Disney thing. I think Santa Ana is closer to Disney and I've seen some lovely rentals there. It may be better to stay in Santa Ana and then visit Disney and Santa Monica?

Driving isn't a huge problem- but I want to minimise time in the car.

JWIM Sun 04-Sep-16 22:07:44

Not sure about LA places to stay but anywhere on the coast will mean a drive of minimum 30-60 mins to get to Disney. We have stayed at the Disney hotel (?Grand California) and it was lovely and convenient.

There is a big (international) car rally in the Monterey/Carmel area usually mid way through August and accommodation can be difficult to find. Check out 'Speed Week' and Pebble Beach Concours D'elegance to find out dates. Although if cars are your thing it is fab.

We rented a beach house along the bay north of Monterey - lovely but a bit remote.

SF is great - would spend more time here than in LA unless you want time on the beach which is not our thing. In SF Alcatraz a must but book before you go to ensure tickets.

SF in July/August can be like summer in the UK and with the added fog just make sure you have some warmer clothes.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 05-Sep-16 07:27:23

"It may be better to stay in Santa Ana and then visit Disney and Santa Monica?"

Santa Ana is indeed closer to the Disney parks (its about 8 miles away via the I-5N). The Disney parks are located in the city of Anaheim; I would look into accommodations there too.

Why not spend a few days in say Santa Ana then moving on to an accommodation in Santa Monica and spending some days there?. Then you could explore both places easier with less time spent in the car.

BearPear Mon 05-Sep-16 21:57:17

We go soon, San Francisco, Napa, Yosemite, Monterey and back to San Francisco. Never been to the west coast & we are really looking forward to it smile

JWIM Mon 05-Sep-16 22:09:39

V jealous. You will have a wonderful trip.

NicknameUsed Mon 05-Sep-16 22:27:26

I would stay in Anaheim for Disney. We stayed at the Sheraton and used the free shuttle bus to get to Disneyland.

LA is huuuge - about 60 miles from north to south, and has loads of traffic jams. Never under-estimate how long driving will take there.

barkingfly Tue 06-Sep-16 03:44:53

Because it is definitely better to drive on the mountain side-remember you will be driving on the right side with a steering wheel on the 'wrong' side.

WhittlingIhopMonkey Tue 06-Sep-16 06:37:12

I'd break up the drive with a night or 2 staying over.

LA to SF is a 6 hour drive with no stops. Long day in the car and means rushing past beautiful places like Carmel

Lovewhereilive Thu 08-Sep-16 10:15:09

We have just done it. Monterey is a great place to stop between the two. I would drive from SF to LA just so you are in the ocean side for the drive.

We didn't do Disney.

Santa Barbara lovely too. Preferred it to Santa Monica.

Am very jealous, you will have a great time!

roseteapot101 Thu 08-Sep-16 10:46:45

San fransico nice ,i stayed with a relative in san carlos when visiting its a nice area.In san fransico use a multi storey to park then use public transport to get around.I think there was a cheaper car park near china town.Cant remember the name though but look up online before visiting to get best deal on all day parking.Preferably you dont drive in san fransico.I went to san fran in june its quite nippy like a cool British summer.I liked the academy of sciences thats also something to see.

santa cruz near by thats nice to visit and if your taking any children theres the great america theme park/water park near san fransico.

LagunaBubbles Fri 09-Sep-16 11:04:08

We,ve did this twice, our dream trips. October will be lovely weather still. We went in September and had fab weather in San Francisco. But for a beach house I would recommend somewhere further south, we stayed in one in Oceanside, between Laguna Beach and San Diego.We drove south both times, definitely think its better being beside the ocean. Its the most stunning drive Ive ever been on and just wish I had broken the journey up more each times. First time we stopped in Monterey and Santa Barbara before getting to LA, second time Pismo Beach.

slalomsuki Fri 09-Sep-16 19:31:43

Very interested in this thread as we have just booked flights for next summer(August) to do a road trip possibly in a RV.

Flying in to LA and have 3 weeks to plan with SF and LV in the plan and everything in between.

Is there anything not to miss? Have Alcatraz and Grand Canyon on the list but just working on it this weekend to see what we should do. Have allowed 21 days.

Scarydinosaurs Fri 09-Sep-16 20:23:36

This is all brilliant! Saving it all to go over again with my mum when we're planning this weekend!

JWIM Fri 09-Sep-16 21:16:49

slalomsuki possibly consider driving to Yosemite.

We love Lake Tahoe - go north from the Nevada gate to Yosemite and then head west to the lake. South side is busy whilst north is a bit quieter. You can then drive back to SF via Sacramento and the Napa/Sonoma valleys.

Crispbutty Fri 09-Sep-16 21:23:23

oooooooh!!! my favourite state in the USA!

I have been a few times and loved every minute of every trip.

My favourite was landing in San Francisco, spending 3 days there, loads to do.. and a beautiful city.

then I drove through Yosemite, stayed in Bishop, and then drove on to Vegas. Spent three days there (midweek, when the most amazing hotels are dirt cheap...), I didnt even really go in the casinos, there is so much more to Vegas than just that. Went to a couple of shows, went to the Hoover Dam, saw the Bellagio Fountains, and all the other casino attractions..

Then drove on to LA as I have friends who live there. Went to Universal Studios and Magic Mountain, did Rodeo Drive, and the Chinese Theatre.

Drove back to San Francisco after 6 days in LA area, up the Pacific Coast Highway which is beautifully scenic. Called in at Malibu, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Ventura... stopped at a couple of Motels along the way.

Amazing food, fabulous beaches and scenery. Friendly people.

Not too expensive at all apart from the flights. Car hire is very reasonable, petrol dirt cheap, food is fantastic (the buffets in Vegas are out of this world).

Crispbutty Fri 09-Sep-16 21:28:16

I also found that the attractions are a hell of a lot cheaper than expected. Alcatraz was one of the most interesting things I did and that was about £20 which included the boat trip out there and the full tour of the island with the option to stay on it as long as you wanted and catch any boat back the same day. I did the twilight tour though which was eerie and spooky, and got the last boat back, so missed out on the extra bits.

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