Summer trip to the USA (West Coast)
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Jun 19, 2012 6:33 PM Last Post By: CascadeBob
Jun 18, 2012 3:18 PM
Summer trip to the USA (West Coast)Hi all,
My wife and me are going to go on a trip to the USA at the beginning of August. I don't want to bore you with the full details on my trip so I'll just ask a few questions about some particular spots we are visiting.
1.- San Diego: Some (American) friends recommended a visit here so we are staying for a couple of days. I've been searching the net for info and still don't have a clear idea of what's really worth visiting in this city. We are not great zoo or theme park funs, I must confess. Recommendations anyone?
2.- Yosemite: We'll be getting here from San Francisco. We are planning to drive our rental car to Oakhurst so we can visit the Sequoias at Mariposa Grove and then go on into the park (we booked a room at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls) . Thus, we will spend the rest of that day (Wednesday, August 15) and night in the park and will leave early the next morning, heading towards Tioga Pass and then spending the night in Mammoth Lakes.
What would you do if you were in my case? What would you visit in Yosemite and what would you not?
Is Yosemite as horribly crowded in August as they say?
3.- From Mammoth Lakes we'll be driving south on 395 to spend the night in Barstow. Is there anything worth visiting/doing on that route? Bishop, Big Pine, Lone Pine, anything?
Thanks a lot.
Jun 18, 2012 6:10 PM
1Some of the main draws of San Diegos are all those theme parks and zoo's. So if your not into that, San Diego is also well know for its beach culture. I like Ocean Beach, the main street hasnt been overtaken by corporate america, and is still somewhat a throwback to the old days when it was a biker hangout, with lots of casual bars. yet there are also several nice antiue stores. The beaches at Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are worth hanging out at. Many people also like going to Coronado beach, and visiting the famous Hotel Coronado. In the downtown area, the Gaslamp District is great for restaurants and bars. Also in the heart of downtown is the baseball stadium, very convenient if your interested in checking out a game. There is also an outdoor mall nearby. The Hillcrest district is also popular.
Jun 18, 2012 9:02 PM
2I find San Diego intolerably boring. People go for theme parks, zoo, beach, and military reasons.
The mountains and high deserts east of the city are nice in spots. The lowland deserts are oven-like in summer. Basically, I'd suggest getting far away as rapidly as possible--you'll find it necessary to either drive freeways through absurd traffic for many hours or traverse some of those aforementioned deserts.
Yosemite will be crowded and the waterfalls dry. On the other hand, it's a wonderful area, with weeks and weeks' worth of exploring available on both sides of the range--west side forests and valleys, east side high deserts and ghost towns, high country hiking and climbing, etc. etc. etc. Hard to give specific recommendations without knowing anything about who you are and what you like, but any guidebook (or a search on these forums) ought to give you some ideas. You're going to barely scratch the surface with such a quick trip.
Most people would stay almost anywhere BUT Barstow, but maybe you favor that sort of place. There's a reason why motel rooms there are so reasonably priced.
Jun 18, 2012 9:27 PM
3Welcome to Thorn Tree.
What would you visit in Yosemite? There are plenty of Ideas here. I don't know what you like to do. Start with the fact that many people would consider Yosemite Valley one of the most beautiful places on the face of the Earth. The valley is only a tiny part of the 1200 square miles that comprise the park. When people complain about the crowds in the park, they usually mean the crowds in the valley. As with all "crowded" national parks, if you walk half mile away from the road, it will seem as though you are there all by yourself most of the time. In any case, if you only plan to spend a half day there you will see most of the park through your windshield.
Tioga Pass is still part of Yosemite. You reach US-395 at the southern shore of Mono Lake. It is a weirdly beautiful place. US-395 south of Tioga Pass, Lake Mono, and the town of Lee Vining offers spectacular scenery in the form of the eastern front of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The towns of Bishop, Big Pine, Lone Pine, and Independence are all small-town America in a stunning setting. When you reach the junction of US-395 and CA-190 or CA- 136 you can turn left and drive into Death Valley National Park. It is another place of weird plants, animals, and animals. It also offers its own stark, desolate, otherworld beauty. You could spend days there too.
You don't say where you want to go after Barstow. It is a stopping point. To the south is the inland end of the Los Angeles basin. The Los Padres and Angeles National Forests are to the southwest. West is legendary Edwards Air Force Base. East is hundreds of miles of the Mojave Desert. If you continue down I-15 from Barstow, the San Bernardino National Forest is on the left side as you travel the Cajon Pass. Where do you want to go?
Have a great time.
Jun 19, 2012 4:05 AM
4There's plenty in San Diego besides the theme parks. It all depends on what you like. Besides Congochris's recs here are some more. . . .
Museums: In Balboa Park(which is an interesting site to stroll through) is filled with museums of all types. Old Town San Diego is a living history state park that recreates life when San Diego was settled by Europeans. Along the coast there are Torrey Pines State Park and Cabrillo National Monument. Torrey Pines preserves the habitat of the Torrey Pine and some beautiful seaside cliffs that you can walk down to the beach. Since the state park makes the beach harder to get to there are less people (not empty, just not crowded) so you'll sometimes have seals sunbathing beside people. My favorite thing about Cabrillo was exploring the tidal pools along the rocky coast with their otherworldly creatures.
FYI: all deserts in SoCal are oven like in the summer. Just hike in the morning and evening and bring lots of water and you'll be fine.
Jun 19, 2012 7:38 AM
5Thank you all for your replies.
I should have mentioned I am only stopping at Barstow for the night as I needed to break the long trip from Mammoth Lakes (along route 66) to the Flagstaff/Grand Canyon/Sedona area. I chose Barstow because it seems to be at about half the way.
I am doing this route because I wanted to avoid Death Valley and leave Las Vegas for the final days of my trip.
So, my route will be:
Yosemite > Mammoth Lakes > Barstow (night only) > (some of) Route 66 > Sedona > Gand Canyon > Monument Valley > Page > Bryce Canyon > Las Vegas > Home
Now I have a lot of notes about new interesting places to visit ;-)
Jun 19, 2012 8:24 AM
Jun 19, 2012 9:32 AM
7iN MY OPINION San Diego
Excellent roads and transportation
Excellent. beaches -33 of them
Excellent. Zoo because of the layout ,folliage and animals
Midway aircraft carrier-very interesting
Excellent scenery along shoreline and La Jolla area
Excellent Balboa Park and museums
Very Good hiking-short hikes at Torrey Pines.
And Much More
Jun 19, 2012 11:22 AM
8Briefly: Yosemite is always worth a visit. It's incredible, even if it is crowded in the summer. I won't go into details as there are guidebooks and other helpful tips as listed above. And, I agree that Zion should also not be missed.
Jun 19, 2012 12:02 PM
Either another day along 395 or in the Tioga area of Yosemite.
Zion is superb. Along 395, choose from a few of these: Whitney Portal,Convict Lake, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Mono Lake, Bodie.
A day in SD and Monument Valley.
IMO SD is, indeed, boring as heck!
MV will be hot, dry and remote. Zion is a much better use of your time, IMO.
Jun 19, 2012 6:33 PM
10Around San Diego: I agree San Diego is boring, but there are some things to see. Anza Borrego Desert Park, Sea World, Wild Animal Park, and some decent beaches northwest of town.
Yosemite: Yes, it will be horribly corwded in August, but you can escape some of the crowds by hiking a mile or more into the backcountry. Be sure to spend some time checking out Mono Lake east of Yosemite and some of the interesting volcanic geology surrounding it.
395 south: One of America's most scenic highways. Barstow isn't antything to write home about - I'd skip it. But 395 travels the valley between the eastern Sierra Nevada and the Inyo & White Mountains. Bishop is worth a stop for the bakery there if nothing else. Side trips into the White Mountains to see the bristlecone pines (up to 4,000 years old) or up to Whitney Portal.
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