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Adding a beach holiday to a trip to San Francisco - where to go?

28 replies

SW1amp · 29/05/2022 16:54

We will be going to San Francisco next summer for a family event for around 3 days, and I’m looking at options for what else we do

Realistically, we want to be away for 2 weeks to justify the flight time and jetlag so have 7-10 days to ourselves once we’ve seen family and seen a few things in the city that we want to do

We will have a 5 and nearly 2yo, and will need a few days of ‘sit and flop’ somewhere warm

Hawaii seemed like an option but all the hotels seem to be huge resorts, which aren’t really our bag so we’ve ruled that out

DH has suggested flying to Miami for a few days, then onto the Caribbean and then home from there, which is also an option

But are we missing another option?

Priorities would be somewhere with excellent food, small and food hotel (not a huge AI resort) and fairly easy travel connections

budget isn’t a huge consideration but we want somewhere child friendly rather than ‘children tolerated’

Am I asking too much?!

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SFisnotsimple · 31/05/2022 06:23

Santa Barbara?

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PermanentTemporary · 31/05/2022 06:26

I'd say Santa Barbara too, or Santa Monica.

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RubricEnemy · 31/05/2022 06:30

California beach cities seem your best bet.

Posh: Carmel

Sea kayaking with otters: Monterey (also the aquarium)

Santa Barbara for young children (a mission and an excellent, child- friendly natural history museum, good beach for young ones)

Fun fair on beach: Santa Cruz

Wild and beautiful/hiking: Big Sur

And lots in between. And beyond.

San Diego: beach + zoo

Newport/Balboa: beach + Disneyland

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FlowerArranger · 31/05/2022 06:30

Santa Cruz/Monterey/Half Moon Bay?
Close to SF, so no need to fly.
There's even an old fashioned Boardwalk and one of the world's greatest aquariums.
Plus the drive along Big Sur, down to Santa Barbara, where there are more (and better) beaches.

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bert3400 · 31/05/2022 06:36

San Diego...beautiful beaches and a great Zoo for the kids ( it's very into conservation) . I would just say that whole coast line is stunning . I would meander down the PCH in a car and do a few stops , Then fly back from San Diego . Great Road trip

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DSGR · 31/05/2022 06:51

Stay in California, it’s a fabulous holiday with children. Santa Cruz boardwalk and beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, San Diego if you fancy the drive. Other options are smaller - Carmel and Monterey.

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underneathleaf · 31/05/2022 06:54

Agree with all the above - southern california. We looked at going to Hawaii from SF and it was incredibly expensive and a fair old flight.

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PermanentTemporary · 31/05/2022 06:55

We loved Monterey so much. Santa Barbara prettier overall to me.

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Twizbe · 31/05/2022 06:58

Go to Mexico? Cabo San Lucas is a popular tourist spot and down the coast (quite a long way) from California.

There are no direct flights to the UK from there so you have to book direct with the airlines and change.

We did it after a wedding in Mexico City the flew home via LA and NYC.

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SW1amp · 31/05/2022 07:02

You are all amazing!
Thanks so much, I’ll get researching today…

if anyone has any recommendations of specific hotels, I would love to hear them also…

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CoverYourselfInChocolateGlory · 31/05/2022 07:03

Santa Barbara is lovely.

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bert3400 · 31/05/2022 07:35

I would first look at Airbnb along the coast, you maybe get a beach front property. Decide on your stops, then look at the properties in that location. Car hire is so simple in the US and very easy to pick up and drop off in a different location.

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Perfectlystill · 31/05/2022 07:42

Stay in California. I'd add in a couple of days in wine country eg Sonoma too.

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Divebar2021 · 31/05/2022 07:46

We stayed in Carmel 3 years ago and i would loved to have driven further down the coast and explored further south. Loved the Big Sur - it all had a boho vibe although expensive boho.

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motogirl · 31/05/2022 08:28

Road trip up the coast, see a bit of CA and end up at a beach hotel. The giant redwoods are definitely worth seeing and the Oregon coast is lovely too, lots of sealions. Alternatively there's plenty of beaches south of San Francisco

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motogirl · 31/05/2022 08:30

Oh and don't forget the vineyards. I wouldn't bother with Hawaii, it's quite a long flight and it's full of resort hotels, no tropical paradise (unless you are in a remote spot)

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underneathleaf · 31/05/2022 12:36

Sonoma was beautiful if you've time. In fact, I'd skip SF if I went again! Everywhere else we visited in Cal we preferred.

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Ferngreen · 31/05/2022 13:13

I lived in Calif and didn't go in the sea once - the water is not that warm, surfers wear wetsuits.
I would say Florida.
SB is a nice town, SM is quite busy/ touristy.

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MonkeysandParrots · 31/05/2022 13:20

Hawaii being full of big resort hotels and nothing else is such a misconception. They are a beautiful chain of islands with many different options for tourists, Waikiki is one town not THE town …

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partystress · 31/05/2022 13:25

We stayed at Imperial Beach, south San Diego for a week at the end of a California road trip. Found a house through VRBO which was perfect. Could walk barefoot to the beach. Safe, lots of lifeguards, saw dolphins. Plenty of child friendly places to eat. Loved it.

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viktoria · 31/05/2022 13:38

We stayed in Cayucos in an Airbnb place, with wooden steps directly down to the beach. It was glorious.

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SFisnotsimple · 31/05/2022 13:52

It was many many many years ago I went to Santa Barbara - we lived in CA for a year when I was a child. We stayed at the San Ysidro Ranch in a cottage and it was absolute heaven. I also remember the incredibly delicious and healthy food and smoothies etc!

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TizerorFizz · 31/05/2022 14:12

Carmel has a fantastic beach. Not too big. Then go down to Santa Barbara and home from LA.

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Honeyroar · 31/05/2022 14:20

San Fran can be quite cold in summer. Go further south for beaches - LA area beaches (can’t really go wrong) or San Diego. Florida is a long way away and incredibly humid. I much prefer the west coast climate.

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friskybivalves · 31/05/2022 14:32

There's a great bit of LA itself that everyone ignores as it looks close to LAX (but has no airplane noise as they all take off in totally the other direction). It's called manhattan beach. Very family oriented, proper sidewalks so you can walk to places, a great beach with a cool pier, villagey shops, close enough to Santa Monica etc to drive there for a gawp but without the totally insane prices. Reliable weather as you don't get the San Fran sea mist at all.

Otherwise, Newport beach and Laguna are also lovely. Santa Barbara is achingly sleb and up itself, and the one way system is a right pain. (Santa Monica and malibu also have the PCH cutting town off from beach which is a big no-no in my book.) If you do go, the Getty Roman villa and the arts centre are both great to visit. Free entry - you just pay for parking and the architecture for both and the views over Santa Monica bay are wonderful. Get booked up quite a long way in advance though.

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