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California itinerary- what do you think?(25 Posts)
We are planning on going to SF next June with ds then 7 and dd then 5. We are planning on going for three weeks and going down the coast to LA.
This is our supposed itinerary;
SF, 30th June, 1/2 July. Staying with my dsis so dates can't change.
3rd to Yosemite, 3/4th. Leave 5th
5th/6th Monterey leave 7th
7/8th Carmel leave 9th
9/10/11/12/13/14th/15th July- Santa Barbara leave 16th
Fly home 21st July.
What do you think? About right? We are spending a long time in SB as was planning to see friends of dh.
Should we leave the two nights at Monterey and stay at Santa Cruz instead? Do Monterey as a day trip from Carmel instead? They look close together.
I would do Carmel or Monterey and to be honest I would head south after 2 days as they can be cool and foggy. Definitely go whale watching and do 17 mile drive. We loved Santa Barbara and you can easily spend a week there. Didn’t and universal are great but hard work so give yourself time to relax there too.
You can’t do 3 days at Disney and universal on the trot as they are miles away from each other.
To do Disney and universal you need st least 5 nights. One day universal 2 nights and 2 days didn’t needs at least 3 nights but 4 would be better. We stayed at Howard Johnson at Disney and Hilton universal. Both have pools so can come back in the afternoon for a break. My kids are 7 and 10 but the parks can be brutal-despite being amazing. Buy fast passes for universal and the app for the free Disney apps-eyewsteringly expensive but worth it.
Ah ok, thanks for the info. Don't really want to spend 5 days doing theme parks as kids are only young. Don't think they would manage. So for a 5 and 7 yo is Disney better then? Just thought ds7 might like universal.
Perhaps we should stay in Santa Cruz instead of Monterey and then Carmel and go to Monterey for the whale watching as a day trip. What is there to do in Santa Cruz?
If we re only doing Disney with have four spare days at the end of our trip before we fly home. What else could we put in? If we did a helicopter ride to Grand Canyon where can you get it from?
you can easily do disney in anaheim in 2 days, and universal in 1 days, they arent as big as the parks in florida but they are miles away from each other
You may well be making the time honoured mistake of trying to pack in too much via the car. There is also quite a bit of zigzagging across the state which is also time consuming.
I think your children are going to get sick of being in the car and some of these journeys are well over 100 miles long too (namely the drives between Yosemite and Monterey and between Santa Barbara and Anaheim). Carmel and Monterey are only about 4 miles apart from each other and these could be combined into a visit over two days.
www.scarymommy.com/10-things-to-do-in-santa-cruz-with-kids/ could be useful to you.
Anaheim is near the city of Buena Park which is home to Knotts Berry Farm and water park. This is an ideal place to visit for families with young children. I would save Universal for when they are both that bit older.
As for a proposed helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon, save that for another time (those flights usually start in Las Vegas in any event).
You could add San Diego on to the end if you are skipping Universal. Its a beautiful city and the zoo is fab. I did sea world too but wouldn't now I know more about how they treat the whales. San Fran to Yosemite and then back to Monterey is a big detour, it's a great place though so I wouldn't advise you skip it, just be prepared for a long windy journey there and back. You might appreciate the short hop to Carmel and Santa Barbara after that.
Thanks Attila and mrsT. I will look into SD and Santa Cruz looks lovely. Think we might stay in SC instead on Monterey and visit there from Carmel.
I think the drive to Yosemite from SF and then to Monterey will be ok. Says just over 4 hours and it's the only really long drive we will do. Unfortunate it will be one after another though so that's why thought could chill in SB. My dcs are used to a regular 3 hr drive we do here so think they will be ok.
Any recommendations for places to stay in Yosemite please? place we were looking for was 1 hr drive, would prefer somewhere right there as not there that long, plus dcs young but expect further you go in the more $!
SB please? Was thinking self catering apartment/house/villa with shared pool close to beach would be best. Expect we will be eating out mostly with dh friends.
and near Disney please? Short drive to DL or within complex but not super $
Any ideas of budget for this please? Have paid for flights and was thinking £10-12k including hire car and accommodation.
kings inn in anaheim is just round the corner from disney about a 15 mins walk - motel and basic but decent
We stayed in Curry Village in Yosemite and it was great. It's the right sort of location within the park for you coming from San Fran. Doesn't seem to add too much time to the drive. I did a 3 week california fly drive in 2013 which involved international flights with Virgin, an internal flight from New York at the start of the trip, car hire and 22 nights accommodation and it was about 2.5/3k per adult. All booked independently with lots of hours of research.
Yosemite - also recommend Curry Camp (Half Dome Village). You are right in the valley. They have cabins with bathrooms. Pretty basic but do the job. With the driving there and back you will only have one day there really. We did three nights and two full days but we are keen hikers (and drag the kids along!)
I would just do Monterey or Carmel and worth working out exactly what you plan to do there. The aquarium is fab but the whale watching might be a bit too long for the kids - worth researching if that’s definitely your plan. It’s lovely there but the weather can be cool so if it’s beach you fancy then one night in one of the places might be enough.
There are various cabin options further south in Big Sur which might work well with the kids - we did a long day in Monterey and then headed south and stayed at Big Sur Cabins and Campground for two nights and enjoyed that.
Also - in terms of driving, it will be 4-5 hours from Carmel/Monterey to Santa Barbara without stops. It’s fine to do but it’s a long day.
We liked Santa Barbara but I’m not sure I would stay so long - though in terms of rest/beach/swimming I can see it would have appeal!
Two days in Disney (maybe three nights) would be fine - I would stay in one of the hotels South Harbor Boulevard and then you’ll just be 5 mins walk from the entrance. There are a couple of Marriotts - Marriott Courtyard and Marriott Fairfield Inn I think. It might be worth doing a day at Universal but like others have said LA is big and a pain to drive across.
We have just got back! Factor in longer than you expect for the drives - some of those Yosemite bends, you won't feel happy going at the speed Google thinks you will do! Carmel and Monterey are so close together, stay in one and visit the other if you want. Agree I would give Universal a miss - we did the whole park in one day and although I liked the studio tour, generally I found all the rides too reliant on motion simulators. The HP area is good but at that age I would stick to Disney. (Like a PP, we stayed at the Howard Johnson less than 10 min walk away and it was great esp popping back to the pool mid-pm for everyone to cool down. You WILL need it.) If you only have three days for parks, spend them at Disney. We also stayed at Camp Curry - would definitely recommend staying in the park if you can to avoid the traffic getting in and out but book in plenty of time - work out your dates even if you haven't finalised the rest of it. Go rafting if you can on the river!
Thanks so much for suggestions. Looked into curry village but we really need two rooms or a sectioned off area for dc otherwise they wake us up super early or don't go to sleep and it's a nightmare.
Now wondering about adding an extra day at Yosemite as we would only get one full day really after drives and then going back with dsis and spending those two/three extra days in SF rather than cramming SF into two days. Plus we might not want to do much after getting off the flight. It's the longest dcs would have done. I was thinking GG bridge, Alcatraz and baseball game in SF so not loads.
Whenever I have done America, the flight going there has never been too taxing or messed with my body clock too much. Just had an early night the first night to catch up. Obviously it might be different with young DC. Alcatraz is a must and Pier 39 was good.
I would add another day in Yosemite and take it off Santa Barbara.
Thanks. Yes think we are going to do Yosemite first for three or four nights, then back to SF and then down the coast. Going to stay in either Monterey or Carmel rather than both to get the extra days back
I am thinking of doing something similar this time next year! Hoping to get early starts and get the driving out of the way in the morning.
My very tentative itinerary
San Francisco and Point Reyes - 7 days
Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey - 1 day
Pacific Coast Highway Monterey to San Luis Obispo?? - 1 day
San Luis Obispo to Palm Springs - 1 day
Palm Springs & Joshua tree - 3 days
Palm Springs to Death Valley - 1 day
Day in Death Valley
Death Valley to Big Pine - 1 day
Big Pine to Yosemite - 1 day
Yosemite - 4 days
Back to San Francisco - 1 day
Comments v welcome!!
I've been to Monterey a couple of times, and I wouldn't miss staying there for the world. Sitting on the deck outside the hotel watching the sea lions/ seals/sea otters messing about and the pelicans swooping in is magical and you can do kayak tours to get really close up to the sea otters. We even saw an orca last time I was there, and that was still without leaving the hotel deck.
I have had dinner at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands which has an amazing view from the restaurant, and you can whale watch all day
Sea otters are on my list of things I would absolutely love to see @CMOTDibbler. Your description sounds absolutely delightful.
TBH, every break during the meetings I've been there for we were all hanging onto the edge of the deck watching the otters. Seeing them wrapping themselves in kelp made me go all squeaky with excitement
I am super jealous of you being able to go there for work! Otters are just fascinating. I read that because they are such efficient predators, they have loads of spare time for play, which is why they are so intelligent.
Trouble is with going somewhere lovely for work is you are sat in meetings seething that you could be out kayaking. I get up super early when we are there to run down by the beach, but it isn't the same at all.
But it is one of my very favourite places to go, closely followed by San Diego which I really like for lots of reasons, but also as swimming in the ocean there is lovely.
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