California by car
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Jul 13, 2012 11:55 AM Last Post By: geo_nerd
Jul 9, 2012 7:44 PM
California by carDear all!
I am visiting California next September. I have a general idea of what to do although I do also have some doubts, for what any suggestion is welcome. I will arrive in SF in September 6th, and I will stay there 7th-8th-9th.10th as there are many things we would like to see there. We hope to do all the typical sightseeing (city, Alcatraz tour...). Apart from that... are there any other things we should consider to do around SF area?
After San Francisco, the only "fixed" destination is San Diego as we have to take a plane to NY on the 18th of September.
The preliminary plan would be:
6th-10th (just in the morning): San Francisco
10th : Drive towards Fresno and maybe stay there at a camping? (Is there any place we could stop on our way to Fresno for a couple of hours?)
11th : Our plan is to wake up really early in the morning and go to Yosemite just over the day (maybe from 7:30 to 17 or something like that). I am not planning to sleep over in Yosemite as It could be hard to get accommodation there and I have heard that with one day one can see some of the most important things of the park. Correct me if I am mistaken plase. After that, around 17-18 I would like to drive back to Fresno or for instance to San Luis Obispo or other village which is on the way to Santa Barbara.
Some questions... Is it really feasible to get a view of Yosemite in one day? To which part should we go? Is there any permission/fee one has to pay?
12th-13th: Stay in Santa Bárbara. I have heard that there are a lot of nice beaches and places to do hiking around there.
14th : In the morning drive from Santa Bárbara to LA and spend there just one day in order to do the typical tourist sightseeing things
15th-16th: Spend the last two days in villages in the coast: Oceanside? Huntington beach? What do you recommend? Just to enjoy the beaches and see some typical californian beach villages... Where are the best villages?
17th.18th : San Diego
I know the schedule is tight but... I want the best out if this so... I will give it a try.
I know that my questions are a bit general/difficult, but any suggestion is welcome!
Thank you very very much for your help and I am sorry for the bothers!!!
Jul 9, 2012 8:25 PM
1Fresno is (mostly) hot, boring, and ugly - there is no reason to camp there.
A daytrip to Yosemite is not recommended, by me at least.
A much much better plan is to drive down the coast from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo via Highway 1. It's one of the world's great road trips, and September is one of the nicest times of year to do it.
You have plenty of time for a nice trip down Highway 1.
Jul 9, 2012 8:29 PM
Jul 9, 2012 9:31 PM
3Santa Barbara is ridiculously expensive. Take the money and time that you would spend there and spend it in Yosemite. I've been to SB a few times and it's not much of a hiking destination. It is however pretty and worth maybe half a day of your time.
I wouldn't call SB, Huntington Beach, Oceanside or San Luis Obispo villages. They are medium sized cities and really don't have much in common beyond that (beach, suburbs, fancy hotels, etc). It's hard to recommend a city by the ocean without knowing what you want - surfing, shopping, relaxing?
I would also devote 2 days to Los Angeles. It's a large city and if you're not familiar with it, just getting around will take up a lot of your time.
Jul 9, 2012 11:27 PM
4First off, Fresno is out of the way if you're traveling from SF to YOS. Taking 140 from Merced is possibly the fastest way to get there, since 120 is slow and snarly.
Just camp in the National Forest somewhere along 120 or 140. There are also a number of developed campgrounds run by the forest service.
If you arrive in Yosemite early in the day, you'll have good chances of acquiring a first-come site at one of the campgrounds along 120. See http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/nrcamping.htm
Frankly, one day in Yosemite is a bit of a joke. (Although I suppose that hinges on what you mean by "important things"?) Instead of rushing off for more ugly, smoggy cities, why don't you spend 2 or three days in a place that's actually .... scenic and pretty? Get out of the damn car, smell the trees, listen to the birds, breathe clean air. Is that really so bad?
Jul 10, 2012 12:31 AM
5This is where I would spend each night, given your tight timeframe:
06-Sep - San Francisco
07-Sep - San Francisco
08-Sep - San Francisco
09-Sep - Yosemite NP
10-Sep - Yosemite NP
11-Sep - Monterey
12-Sep - San Luis Obispo
13-Sep - Santa Barbara
14-Sep - Los Angeles
15-Sep - Los Angeles
16-Sep - San Diego
17-Sep - San Diego
18-Sep - Fly New York
This is a busy time in these places - you would definitely need to pre-book anything near Yosemite NP.
Jul 10, 2012 7:22 AM
6I think by "a camping," the OP isn't really referring to a wilderness campground, but the European-style of campground, located in an urban area. Here is how Rick Steves describes it:
vagalume, as described above, Americans view camping as a way to experience wilderness, not as an inexpensive lodging option. European-style campings are not common.
Before you decide not to stay in Yosemite, try to see if you can get lodging. Book here For Sept. 9, I found tent cabins and regular cabins in Yosemite Valley, as well as rooms at the Wawona Hotel, about 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley (but still inside the park.) They also book the Tenya Lodge, which is outside the park.
Jul 10, 2012 7:39 AM
Jul 10, 2012 10:44 AM
Jul 11, 2012 3:15 PM
Jul 11, 2012 8:13 PM
10Thank you very much for the useful and helpful trips! I really appreciate it!
I have one more question. What do you guys think about going to Gran Canyon and Las Vegas?
I mean... San Francisco-Yosemite-Las Vegas-Gran Canyon (¿?)-One beach town near San Diego (just to enjoy the beach and relax).
What do you nice people reckon? Which plan do you like better? The one including LA & Sta Barbara or the other including Las Vegas&Gran Canyon (if possible)?
Thanks again once more in advance. As you see i am quite lost and any advice/suggestion is welcome!
Jul 11, 2012 8:21 PM
Jul 13, 2012 11:55 AM
12More is NOT better. Do you really want to spend more time in the car than at your destinations?
If you are willing to skip central California and L.A. altogether then, yes, a driving loop from SF to Yos to LV to GC to Sedona/Prescott to S.D. is not too absurd.
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