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Help Big Sur Closure

(46 Posts)
Belindabelle Fri 02-Jun-17 14:13:44

We (DH, DS age 12 and me) are off to California for 2 weeks in October. Flying in and out of San Francisco. The original plan was to spend 4/5 days in SF then drive down the PCH stopping off along the way. Then fly back from LA.

However the road is blocked and doesn't look like it will be open any time soon. They hope to reopen by late September but that might not happen. Flying back from LA was silly money so I have booked a return from SF

I think the plan now is to spend 4/5 days in SF then 2/3 days in Pacific Grove/ Monterey area then a further 2/3 days in Pismo. If the road remains closed it looks a fairly easy drive down the 101 from Monterey to Pismo. If by some miracle it re opens we could stick to the original plan and maybe try and book a few nights en route and just spend the one night in the Pismo area.

We then have the option of driving to Yosemite for our last 2/3 nights or we could head down to Santa Monica for some proper beach weather as Monterey/Pismo won't be that hot. If we did this we would fly back to San Fran from LA.

I have no idea what to do for the best. We have never been before and I don't want to try and squeeze too much in and then not remember it all. Then again I do want to make the most of the trip and I am worried that Monterey and Pismo won't be that exciting.

I had decided against Death Valley and Grand Canyon as we only have 14 nights. The big thing for us was driving down Highway 1. Now it looks like that may be closed should we do San Fran,Yosemite, Death Valley, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon then fly back to SF from Vegas.

You lot or always brilliant with the travel advice. I got some great tips here a few years ago when we went to New York. Please help me make our California adventure just as good.

OP’s posts: |
friskybivalves Fri 02-Jun-17 14:21:53

I liked northern Cal v much. Santa Monica quite meh after the first 'ooooooh' and the weather can be surprisingly hit and miss owing to a strip of sea mist that helpfully hangs over the California coast. What about a bit of winelands Sonoma and then Yosemite? If there is accommodation available in the park itself (does get v booked up...) your DCs will LOVE it. Can kayak down the river/amazing scenery/swimming/cycling etcwtc.

iseenodust Fri 02-Jun-17 20:28:46

We're going in August (same as you - , DH & DS age 12) & have just decided to forgot PCH because as far as I can work out you can do bits but will have to zig zag back to the motorway. However, we have done it before. Monterey has the aquarium, wildlife etc and Carmel is just lovely. We were not planning on revisiting Santa Monica, Venice Beach & LA as weren't impressed.

We've decided to head down to San Diego as there is lots to see and do, great beaches and a bit of a Mexican vibe. This is on the recommendation of a friend who lives in SF. Internal flights look cheap.

I really wouldn't take a 12 yr old to the the winelands.

jellybeanteaparty Fri 02-Jun-17 20:42:35

I think it depends on what you enjoy as a family. Dramatic walks, Beaches cities or just somewhere different from the UK!
We did lots more than most in 17 days and enjoyed it all. I would suggest adding at least one of the national parks with impressive natural features. Yosemite would fit that bill but other parks are available! Happy travels

iseenodust Fri 02-Jun-17 20:53:24

I've just remembered we went to Yosemite in November one year. It was dramatic and beautiful but that year the rivers were still very low and the waterfalls a trickle/dry so kayaking/rafting wouldn't have been an option. Grand Canyon is breath-taking.

ProfessorLayton1 Sat 03-Jun-17 07:36:21

I am planning on the same trip in October but haven't booked anything yet.
The latest land slide in mud creek last weekend would take a year to repair.
Have asked my friends in US will get back if I have any further information.
May I ask do you arrange all the flights/accomadation yourself?

ProfessorLayton1 Sat 03-Jun-17 07:38:40

Have a look at the Pacific coast highway going to Oregon-Avenue of giants, route is supposed to be very breath taking as big sur.

Rainshowers Sat 03-Jun-17 08:01:08

Can't help too much as we did it with a toddler last year so probably we're looking for different things to you.

ProfessorLayton - we had a quote from virgin & kuoni but found it cheaper to do it ourselves. We did a mixture of booking hotels directly and through We booked most of the hotels as flexible so we were able to shuffle the itinerary around right up until a few days before we went away

mummytime Sat 03-Jun-17 08:12:24

I'd look at going North, some great beaches, great scenery and a bit quieter. Medecino is the place I will buy a holiday home when I'm a multi-millionaire.

Belindabelle Sat 03-Jun-17 09:12:25

Thank you all for the input. The problem is there is just too much to do and too much distance to cover. In an ideal world we would go for 3-4 weeks.

I am gutted about the road closure. We were supposed to take this trip last Easter but it didn't happen. I know realistically it is not going to be fully open and I will just have to get over it. DH has promised we can go back on our own one day and do it along with Nappa etc.

I booked flights myself using Skyscanner to track the prices. Like Rainshowers I have been looking at various hotel sites and have made provisional bookings but these can be cancelled or changed right up until we go.

DH has now decided to show an interest and thinks we should head over to see the Hoover Dam then drive through Death Valley to Yosemite via Tioga. Just adding on a few thousand miles. Yosemite I agree looks amazing but I think Hoover dam is just too far. I have booked our last 3 nights at Evergreen Lodge in Yosemite. That will cost us money to cancel or change.

It's now looking like first 5 nights in San Fran. 2 nights in Monterey. 4 nights to be decided and finally 3 nights in Yosemite.

OP’s posts: |
ProfessorLayton1 Sat 03-Jun-17 09:16:58

Fly to LV from SF Oakland and do the Grand Canyon.
Can you fly back from LV.. worthwhile asking Virgin if it is possible without any increase in the flight tickets
Just a thought...

MiladyThesaurus Sat 03-Jun-17 09:27:34

DH and I did a day trip to big basin state park from San Francisco, to see the oversized trees. It was lovely - and much quieter than going to see the redwoods just north of the city (we tried but there was no way to park within miles). It's not the avenue of the giants, but it was great and some of the trees are absurdly large. The drive in was very scenic (although I was glad DH was driving). You could stay there on the way to Monterey.

NewYearsAoibhe Sat 03-Jun-17 09:34:27

We did a road trip from Portland, Oregon to LA once, all along the coast highway. Big Sur was fun to see, but it was the Northern Coast that blew us away. If you loved the idea of a roadtrip with unplanned stops, I think you should still do that, on the northern part of the highway. The Redwoods are truly amazing .

Belindabelle Sat 03-Jun-17 09:43:15

Now looking at going north after San Fran them Monterey followed by Yosemite.

I tell you no wonder people just go to a travel agent and pay. Planning this trip is taking over my life at the moment.

OP’s posts: |
ProfessorLayton1 Sat 03-Jun-17 09:46:10

It is part of the fun as well..
We are planning to go to Portland and drive down to SF and then Yosemite.
Trying to get some deals with flights. When are you going in October?

illegitimateMortificadospawn Sat 03-Jun-17 09:56:36

DH has now decided to show an interest and thinks we should head over to see the Hoover Dam then drive through Death Valley to Yosemite via Tioga.

I would advise checking when the Tioga pass is open. We visited in early June & they had only just reopened the Tioga pass a few days before. There was still a lot of snow on the ground at the pass. I'm not sure when the snowfall starts, but you could find yourselves stranded in the wrong side of the Sierra Nevadas in October and it is a loooong way around (we drove up to the Sierras from SF via Kings Beach/Lake Tahoe).

Belindabelle Sat 03-Jun-17 09:57:13

We fly out on 30th September for 2 weeks. We are in Scotland so have to do a connection. The best times are going via Heathrow which I hate but the stop overs in Dublin, Newark and Pittsburg were just too long.

Thats another thing. We are going BA. I always fly Virgin to the states but the BA flights were much cheaper. Flights were booked before the latest debacle!

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illegitimateMortificadospawn Sat 03-Jun-17 09:59:04

Yosemite is amazing, though, so its good to see you've planned a few nights there. grin

Belindabelle Sat 03-Jun-17 10:00:24

Yes Tioga is still closed at the moment. We would be in that area around the 9/10 of October. I think it was already closed by then once in the past 20 years. But knowing our luck there would be a snow dump the day before we were due to go.

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CiderwithBuda Sat 03-Jun-17 10:08:40

We did a similar trip four years ago with a 12 year old DS. We flew into and out of Vegas - were using air miles and managed to get seats on that route.

I think you are doing the right thing going to Yosemite. It's lovely. We didn't manage to get accommodation in the park last time but did about 20 years ago and really liked it.

Last trip we did the PCH - sorry to hear it's closed. We stayed at Pismo. Was distinctly underwhelmed! Highlight for me was finding a laundromat and doing our laundry!

Belindabelle Sat 03-Jun-17 11:25:25

To be honest I think it was more the fact I had found a lovely hotel in Pismo that was attracting me to that area. Now PCH is not open there really doesn't seem much point in going there.

Thinking of flying from San Jose to Vegas for 2 nights then driving to Death Valley. DH is crazy and things we should drive it! See the real country whatever that means. 7 hours 41 mins according to google but we all know that with traffic and stops that will be 10-12 hours. He says its all part of the holiday and by the time we get to and from airports deal with luggage etc it won't save that much time. I think he is totally deluded.

To those that have done it, it is possible to drive from Furnace Creek to Evergreen Lodge (Mather) via Tioga in one day? Would we be better to spend one night in Mammoth/June Lake area first.

Thanks again for the replies.

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mummytime Sat 03-Jun-17 13:03:21

Evergreen lodge is great so I envy you that.

Teds77 Sat 03-Jun-17 18:21:41

You should be able to see the more impressive bit of Big Sur from the north - before the road closure. I think you can get to Pfeiffer Beach for example.

So if wanted to see Big Sur I'd drive as far as you can, possibly stay overnight and then head back north and then on to Yosemite. We had an afternoon at Pismo as we drove south and although it was a nice beach for a few hours it really wouldn't be worth it in your case.

Teds77 Sat 03-Jun-17 18:23:40

We stayed here and there are a few other cabin places nearby that are accessible from the north.

StarCrossdSkys Sat 03-Jun-17 19:05:26

Personally I wouldn't stay so long in San Fran. It's a great city but a couple of days will give you time to see all the main sights and get a feel for it. Most big cities are pretty similar in a lot of respects. I think you'll be itching to get on the road and explore.

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