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San Francisco/LA

(40 Posts)
coffeecow Wed 01-Jan-20 22:18:32

We are looking to travel to San Francisco next Easter school holidays (2021) with our then 9 year old. We thought about 9 or 10 nights, hiring a car and doing San Fran, then LA/Hollywood, then San Diego zoo before driving back to San Francisco and flying home. Does this sound feasible?

We thought we could do air b&bs along the way?

Any advice on when/how best to book flights?

Thanks in advance wise ones!!

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jellybeanteaparty Wed 01-Jan-20 22:28:46

If possible fly into one and out of the other unless you do a loop taking highway one to LA then back to SF via Vegas/ grand canyon etc. A mix of air BnB and motels would work.

GooGoo52 Wed 01-Jan-20 22:33:45

That's a lot of driving, and traffic, especially in Southern California, is ridiculous. Can you get a flight from SF to LA? Would be a lot faster. You could drive from LA to SD, it's only about 2- 2.5 hours.

coffeecow Wed 01-Jan-20 22:36:43

Thanks @jellybeanteaparty stupid question but how do you book flights from two airports? Never see that option on the websites!

@GooGoo52 I am told that the drive from San Francisco to LA is one of the most beautiful drives in the world - I thought that could be part of the whole experience but very willing to be told it's not worth it!

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Quinceandmedlarsrule Wed 01-Jan-20 22:54:35

We did 18 days - 6 in San Fransisco, 8 in a motor home driving down to LA and back up to SF, then 4 in Las Vegas. Loved SF - loads to do and would love to go back. The coast road to LA is lovely but it's just single carriageway with a lot of traffic, so it's not a speedy drive. We stopped overnight at Monterey. LA is very built up so stayed outside, did a couple of theme parks and drives to coast.
We Airbnb-ed on the East Coast this year and all the places we used were wonderful - def go for it!

Quinceandmedlarsrule Wed 01-Jan-20 22:55:43

And we flew in to SF and out of Las Vegas with Virgin - we used an independent local travel agent to book it all for us.

GooGoo52 Wed 01-Jan-20 23:34:08

It's definitely beautiful. I was just thinking you might not want to drive down and then back again. The suggestion to fly into SFO and out from LAX is a good one. That way you can do the drive down, but not have to drive back to SF 😁

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 02-Jan-20 07:40:58

I would rethink this because of the driving distances involved, CA as a state is about the length of the UK. Many people do badly underestimate driving distances. Driving from SF to S D and back to SF in a couple of weeks is not feasible nor actually desirable. All you would see is the steering wheel, road and the holiday would be rushed. I would pick two cities to visit and spend a week in each flying between the two.

What sort of things would you like to see as a family?

The weather in SF late spring can be quite cool as well as variable, a better time to visit is actually September. LA and SD will be warmer overall.

MonsterKidz Thu 02-Jan-20 07:53:56

Agree with others, driving distances too much. Huge state. lots of traffic in SoCal.

Also agree that weather in SF could be variable that time of year. I’ve been to San Diego few times in April and very pleasant during the day, able to swim go to beach etc.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 02-Jan-20 09:38:29

SD to SF in terms of driving distance is about as far as driving from London to Wick in Caithness.

bruffin Thu 02-Jan-20 09:43:00

* I am told that the drive from San Francisco to LA is one of the most beautiful drives in the world - I thought that could be part of the whole experience but very willing to be told it's not worth it*

It is , we stopped off at Monterey for the night and Santa Barbara for a night , 2 nights in LA and finally 3 nights in San Diego, but that was part of a 3 week tour which started in Las Vegas, then Grand Canyon, Yosemite and SF

jellybeanteaparty Thu 02-Jan-20 13:13:34

I normally use Skyscanner and instead of a return flight you click the multi flight button allowing you to fly in and out of different airports and add in additional flights.

SmuggyMcKnobson Thu 02-Jan-20 15:57:11

That's a lot of driving. You also need to keep an eye on the PCH as it can be subject to (very long, and occasionally hairy!) diversions due to landslides. It's a fabulous drive but you only really need to do it in one direction.

Second what others have said about flying in and out from different airports.

BubblesBuddy Thu 02-Jan-20 19:50:40

You can do a perfectly great holiday in California driving down Highway 1 from SF to LA. You need around 12 days plus. Don’t bother with San Diego zoo. There are much better things to see and do between SF and LA. Give yourselves time to actually enjoy what you see and where you are.

Your 9 year old might love the cable cars, Alcatraz, fishermen’s wharf etc in SF. Drive down Highway 1 to Monterey and go whale watching. Staying in Carmel is very pleasant. Lots to see around Big Sur. Go and see Hearst Castle and enjoy the sea as you drive south to Santa Barbara. Visit the Missions.

End up at Santa Monica. Spend a few days in and around LA. The Getty Villa at Malibu is interesting and the Getty Centre in LA is fantastic. Visit Venice beach and Santa Monica pier. LA can be very tacky but there are some gems!

San Diego isn’t that great. A zoo is a zoo is a zoo! They are everywhere! Live wonderful whales at Monterey are not everywhere. They provide a much more exciting opportunity.

Keep the driving down by just going from SF to LA. Fly home from LA. Obviously you need an airline with flights to both. Aa/BA do. Have fun. And Easter is just fine! September is term time so ignore that.

coffeecow Thu 02-Jan-20 19:51:24

Hmmm good food for thought thank you all.

I think flying in to SF and out of LAX is a good idea. We are limited to either those Easter holidays or a summer holiday (which seems too far away, can't do this year as other commitments!) as I work in a school. Not worried about cool weather although I see it could rain quite a bit in SF.

It's mainly sight seeing we are interested in, some day tours etc. Not bothered about relaxing on beaches etc so hoping we could fit a lot in? I do always overestimate our time though!

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coffeecow Thu 02-Jan-20 19:52:48

Thank you @BubblesBuddy that's all very useful advice!

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bruffin Thu 02-Jan-20 19:59:08

San Diego Zoo was great we spent a whole day there and only left because of closing.
I forget the elephant seals outside Santa Barbara of the side of the road at sunset well worth seeing.
We did the behind the scenes tour of Alcatraz , which was worth paying extra for

coffeecow Thu 02-Jan-20 20:04:14

Wow the difference in prices on Skyscanner if you are prepared to stop over is crazy! Although not sure my 9 year old would appreciate the even longer journey.

Any advice on how the jet lag is? When we went to Canada I was surprised how much it affected me! Day time was fine but we weren't up-to much in the evenings for the first few days.

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BigHazelnuts Thu 02-Jan-20 22:53:46

I can highly recommend BA multi trip facility on their website. You can add in cars flights hotels etc. We've done several of these and they're incredibly good value. It's often been barely any extra to add in a hotel than just the flights. Also if you add in hotels it then counts as a package and you get ATOL protection. You don't have to book hotels for every night within the flights.

Also there is a brilliant USA specialist travel agent called Bon Voyage we've used before.

mepan Thu 02-Jan-20 22:55:47

We did San Fran to San Diego last July over 12 nights and wish we had longer. We booked via skyscanner multi flight and yes it was a bit more expensive than a return from same airport. Alcatraz a must in SF. We also did Yosemite, Monterey, Pismo beach and ended up with 3 nights in Sam Diego. Yosemite and San Diego the highlights of our trip. Did not know what to expect in San Diego but whole family loved it as so much to see and do and we never even made it to the zoo. Thoroughly recommend it

CointreauVersial Thu 02-Jan-20 22:58:09

Try Trailfinders. They find excellent flight deals, often with car hire thrown in, particularly if you are looking for something open-ended.

Strictly1972 Thu 02-Jan-20 23:03:13

We are doing this trip in May 3 nights in San Fran, 2 in Monterey, 2 in Santa Barbara, 3 in San Diego then flying out from la to Miami. I think it’s going to be quite intense but our kids are good travellers & we will do plenty of stops. I’m a bit nervous though! I wouldn’t drive both ways & we aren’t planning on stopping in LA or Yosemite just pretty much sticking to the PCH

Strictly1972 Thu 02-Jan-20 23:09:32

We booked through trailfinders too. I did compare it to doing it myself & it was cheaper. I also asked a local travel agent & they couldn’t get near the cost. It’s still expensive though!

Ginger1982 Thu 02-Jan-20 23:22:58

We flew Glasgow to SF for part of our honeymoon. By the time we got to SF I was fit to be tied. Desperate to get off the plane and to bed but because they are 8 hours behind you basically have to redo a good portion of the same day. We tried to stick to the time zone as best we could but the first couple of days were a bit disorienting.

GooGoo52 Thu 02-Jan-20 23:45:24

San Diego is definitely worth doing. The zoo is good, and La Jolla is beautiful as are the cliffs at Ocean Beach. Santa Barbara, Monterey, and Santa Cruz are also worth visiting. Venice Beach and Santa Monica are touristy, but fun places to go. Huntington and Laguna Beach are beautiful as well, if you plan to be in Orange County. I know you mentioned not lazing around on the beach, but they are great places. As others have mentioned, the Griffith Observatory and both Getty museums are nice. If you go to LA, be sure to visit Olvera Street.

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