2-3 weeks to do west coast- Aussie needs help!
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Sep 15, 2012 11:07 AM Last Post By: nrclibn
Sep 14, 2012 9:21 PM
2-3 weeks to do west coast- Aussie needs help!Hi everyone,
I'm going to be studying for 6 weeks in LA in a medical elective, followed by three weeks traveling with my boyfriend. I'm in my early 20's, he's late twenties, and its our first time to the US. I'll be there Jan-Feb next year.
We're traveling on mid-budget (I'm a student and he works fulltime) and will probably be staying in low-midrange hotels. We're quite happy to hire a car depending on cost. We love hiking and I'm a real nature buff. Also want to experience a bit of the culture in terms of restaurants/pubs/ shopping etc., plus do the usual toruisty things of seeing major sites. Things I'm not interested in include amusement parks, clubbing, Los Vegas.
I'd really like some advice for the following questions.
1. I'll be in LA for 6 weeks. Any good weekend/ daytrip ideas to do? Is it worthwhile visiting San Fransisco in a weekend flight? How about Catalina Island or Sequoia national park?
2 My boyfriend and I will then have 3 weeks to travel, except he wants to spend a week in Vancouver skiiing. Is it feasible to fly from LA to Vancouver, and then work our way down the coast back to LA in 2 weeks? Happy to do short flights.
3. Ideas for a 2 week itinerary? Really want to see San Fransisco and Yosemite, don't think we'll get a chance to see the Grand Canyon.
4. IF time permits, we could potentially stop off in Hawaii for a few days on our way back home. We'd only have three nights, and would use this time soley to relax. Wouldn't mind chilling on the beach if weather permits, but no intensive hiking at this point. Is this an ok time to visit Hawaii for this purpose, and any island in particular people would reccommend for complete chilling?
I'm generally a very fast paced traveler, my boyfriend prefers to take things slower, so we're going to try and find a compromise. :-P
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Sep 14, 2012 10:10 PM
1Sequoia National Park will be closed for the winter. Yosemite National Park will be open -- you will need advance reservations to stay at Yosemite Lodge or a motel outside of the park. There is beginner skiing at Badger Pass above Yosemite Valley. Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is a popular weekend trip from Los Angeles, straight up Highway #395, on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It will be too cool for sunbathing in Southern California. San Francisco for the weekend is nice -- about one hour flight from Los Angeles. San Diego and Palm Springs are warmer than Los Angeles in the winter.
Edited by: trekker502
Sep 15, 2012 12:11 AM
21- For skiing out of LA, people generally go to Big Bear or Mammoth. It is always worthwhile to visit San Francisco. The more time the better. Make it a 3 day weekend and try to get a flight/hotel deal. Catalina is nice for a couple of nights. Do you scuba dive?
You can also come up to Santa Barbara for a few days and enjoy some food, hiking, and city & wine tours.
2- yes it is possible. You can take the bus from Vancouver to Seattle and rent a car there for the trip south. Lot of driving though, do a google map and get an idea. Think about taking the train.
3- Remember it is the dead of winter so anything at altitude may be troublesome. Do some research around the CA desert parks or places closer to shore.
4- Kauai all the way for chillin'
Sep 15, 2012 12:25 AM
3LA area weekend trip options are endless.
Within a 4 hour drive:
Joshua Tree NP. Classic high desert geology and ecology.
Numerous wildlife reserves on the southern Colorado River, along the California/Arizona border.
Anza Borrego State Park
Mojave National Preserve. Lava tubes, stark landscape, old mines, etc.
Red Rock Canyon SP. Worth half a day if you're in the area.
Whitney Portal and Alabama Hills. Plenty of trails and scenic wonder.
Pismo Dunes, Montanya De Oro SP, Baywood Park and Morro Bay. (Rent a canoe in MB and paddle the estuary!)
Highway 1 north of Morro Bay is superb!
Carizzo Plains / Soda Lake. Pretty rolling grassland country.
Death Valley is a fantastic place to explore, with innumerable scenic canyons to hike. It's about a 5 hours away. Depending on your impression, you might even wind up adding DV to your main two week trip.
Yosemite is also 'only' ~5 hours away and is not out of the question. A long weekend will give you a day and a half in the valley. This isn't ideal, but it's better than nothing!
Drive 2~3 hours Friday night, spending the night somewhere along highway 99.
Short drive to Yosemite early next morning.
Spend the night there (book early!) and head back to LA around noon.
Grab a friend to help with the driving, chug some coffee and hit the road!
Regarding your 2 week tour.
Three states in two weeks is clearly Bark-at-the-Moon absurd :) You're going to have to carefully pick a few key destinations and make the most of what's in each area. There's no reason the Grand Canyon can't be one of those destinations.
Fly to Phoenix, rent a car, drive for a little over 4 hours, and you're there! Since you're big on hiking, spend at least two full days. On a 4 day, 3 night detour, you can spend half a day checking out Flagstaff and Sedona on the travel days to/from Phx. Or invest one more day and see much more of the Sedona backcountry. (Between GC, Flag, and Sedona, you could spend an entire week hiking and exploring without even trying.)
So many people on this forum dash madly from one destination to another, anxious to avoid missing some 'must see!' destination. The trouble is that they wind up spending all their time traveling. They get back home feeling oddly frustrated, with only vague memories of the places they visited. Slow down and take the time to immerse yourself in the local scenery you've just invested many hours in reaching. IMO, 'proper' travel is about experiencing the destination, not just checking it off a 'to do' list. I'm partial to scheduling big drives/flights every few days, then hanging around a 'base camp' and making a series of short day-trips to local destinations.
Sep 15, 2012 6:12 AM
4In answer to your questions:
1) A weekend trip to San Francisco would be good. Allegiance Airlnes often runs specials between west coast cities making th etrip affordable. A day trip to Catalina Island is also a good idea. Sequoia may be snowy and cold in Jan/Feb
2) To do a week in Vancouver skiing I'd recommend this http://www.whistler.com/train/ Whistler is one of hte premier ski destinations in North America.
3) Considering you interests (nature/hiking, Grand Canyon, San Francisco) and the time of year (Jan/Feb) you could do a two week driving loop trip dtarting and ending in Los Angeles by driving to Death Valley National Park and staying there for two to three days, then off to Grand Canyon for another two - three days, then circling back to San Francisco for another two- three days and driving back to L.A. along the coast using up your last few days. That should make a nice 2-week trip and hit most of your high points (perfect time of year for visiting Death Valley too).
4) Hawaii - don't know about it - only state I havent' visited.
Sep 15, 2012 7:02 AM
1. Yes, definitely go to xSF for a weekend. A long weekend. Or two weekends.
Catalina is a day trip. xSan Diego is a weekend. xSanta Barbara is a day trip. Driving the coast is a weekend. xSequoia is a weekend. xYosemite is a long weekend. Be prepared for snow in the latter two.
2. It's easy to fly to xVancouver. However, you'll likely find it much cheaper to fly to xSeattle and making your way overland from there.
Since you (should) have done most of the coast from xSF south by then, you should be able to travel from xVancouver to LA in two weeks. However, expect rain (coast) and snow (inland).
3. Instead of xVancouver, try this rough route. Great outdoor opportunities, even for winter, plus your bf's skiing.
(This route, of course, assumes you have already made it to xSF and xYosemite at some point in your 6 weeks in xLA.)
4. Skip Hawaii.
Sep 15, 2012 8:10 AM
6Simple suggestion about flights to the Bay Area. Leave from Burbank and take the Nonstop flight to Oakland. I take this flight nearly every month. Easy peasy. Then hop on a bus to BART and take it under the Bay into San Francisco. If you try to fly from Burbank directly to SFO there aren't any direct flights. You could fly from LAX directly to SFO on Southwest but that means having to visit LAX, which I consider, Hell on Earth! You can also fly JetBlue from Long Beach directly to SFO. Both airfares are good if you book a minimum of 3 weeks in advance. I just booked $78 each way fare on SouthWest, Burbank to Oakland so I can attend Big Game. Sorry CAL vs. Stanford. College football tradition. Big stuff here in the states, college football rivalries. Here are links.
Santa Barbara is an hour's drive. Lovely town to explore. You can also enjoy the St. Ynez Mountains and a hike like this if you wish. http://www.santabarbarahikes.com/hikes/frontcountry/3pools.shtml
Morro Bay is a lovely sojourn. Montana Del Oro State Park is very nice. Walk along the coast trail and you are bound to see sea otters.
You can kayak in the Lagoon. Nice spot to eat is Bayside Cafe. Kayaks rental there as well. SLO roasted coffee is made in near by Los Osos.
Fabulous stuff. Place is only open M-F 8am-5pm BUT you can get some of their coffee at Celia's Garden Cafe.
Cayucos is a good day trip. Funky beach town.
Ojai is a day trip. Great bookstore in Ojai. Matilija Canyon trail as well.
Other places to see in a weekend jaunt for the City of Angels, Tronna Pinnacles, Randsburg, Palm Springs, Anza Borrego State Park, Joshua Tree, Vegas,
San Diego, The Channel Islands, Julian, Idllywild, the quirkyness of the Salton Sea, Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear.
DEFINITELY, visit the City By The Bay. Once you've seen San Francisco and the Bay Area, The Land of La will fail to compare in ANY way.
Sep 15, 2012 11:07 AM
7There are all sorts of state, county, and municipal parks in the greater L.A. area good for stretching your legs. Take a look at this PDF and this one to get some ideas. (Yes, those are focused on wildflowers and include cultivated gardens, but if you read between the lines, you'll find lots of places with hiking trails.)
Visit the northern elephant seals near Hearst Castle. You'll be near the area at peak mating and pupping time.
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