Could you please review my California roadtrip itinerary? :)
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Dec 4, 2012 5:42 AM Last Post By: bzookaj
Dec 2, 2012 4:08 PM
Could you please review my California roadtrip itinerary? :)Fellow travellers,
I would appreciate your little help with my itinerary! I have read the FAQs and basically know what I want to do: 3-4 days San Francisco, from there the Coastal Route to LA, then Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, to San Diego over LA and back to LA.
Let me outline the preliminary plan:
12/14-17: San Francisco
12/18 Departure SF, check out Bay Area, end in Santa Cruz
12/19 Santa Cruz, Monterey
12/20 Carmel, Big Sur, Cambria, San Luis Obispo
12/21 Morro Bay, Santa Barbara
12/26 halfway drive to Grand Canyon
12/27-28 finish drive, stay in Flagstaff, visit Grand Canyon
12/29 Drive to LV, Hoover Dam
01/02 Drive back to LA, pick up a friend
01/03-01/05 San Diego, Tijuana!?
01/06 End in LA, Airport
Can you approve that? I'm especially unsure how much days it will take for the Coastal Route. I have the cities/hot spots out of my guidebook but I'm not sure how much time I should plan for that.
All in all, do you think it sounds doable? Where do I possibly plan too many or too less days? Any other recommendations for places on the road are appreciated as well!
Dec 2, 2012 4:27 PM
Where do I possibly plan too many or too less days?
However, it's impossible to say whether you should spend more or less time in a place when you don't tell us what you want to do (history, art, music, food, shopping, hikes, photography, night clubs, strip clubs, etc.). Could you please fill us in? Remember, we don't know you, and what we like may be what you hate.
Make sure you account for the holidays. Most attractions will be closed. Many restaurants will be closed. Many stores will be closed. Find out what is open where you'll be and plan accordingly.
Dec 2, 2012 4:38 PM
Dec 2, 2012 5:34 PM
Overall it looks good. Just a couple changes I'd make. You will need to get back to Los Angeles the day
BEFORE your flight to be certain you actually make your flight. Traffic can literally do anything at anytime
in LA including massive traffic jams-- so you don't want to be driving from 100 miles the day of your flight.
The traffic from San Diego to Los Angeles on a Sunday is really heavy.
As Bzookaj points out, you have 4 days given to the drive between the SF Bay Area and LA. Stop in Santa
Cruz for 1 night, then Big Sur (2.5hours) then Cambria (2.5 hours) only if you want to see Hearst Castle. If Hearst Castle is not on your list, just keep going southward. I personally would overnight in Avila Beach with
the hot springs in the winter, but Santa Barbara is fine also.
Know that traffic in LA will be extremely heavy in the four days before Christmas and plan sightseeing.accordingly. The LA to Vegas/Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam looks fine.
One final idea is if your friend can take the train from Downtown LA to San Diego you would not have to
return to LA at all. I'd suggest driving to San Diego and picking up your friend at the Amtrak Train Station
downtown- it will be much easier.
Dec 2, 2012 7:51 PM
4Hey, I appreciate your answers!
Sorry you're right I should have written about that at the beginning.
We are a group of 24 years old female, 33 year old male and me (23). As interests are always slightly different, we search for a good mix I think. The main sights, interesting cities, history, some party in the evening and I'm especially interested in the landscape of the coastal route.
Yeah the holidays really give me headaches concerning the planning. But it's our holiday time as well so we try to make the best out of it I guess.
@kenko: Yeah, my flight is in the morning of 1/7 and I planned to stay the night at the airport anyway, so that any traffic jams shouldn't bother me except of their natural annoyance.
But wow, I didn't know that LA traffic can be that bad!
Personally I would skip the Castle, as I know enough from Germany and Europe but I will see what my travel company will say about that.
I hear Avila Beach for the first time, thanks for mentioning it! That looks indeed quite cool, especially the cabin lodges wouldn't exceed our student budget: http://www.avilahotsprings.com/
Thanks for the advice on 1/2 but unfortunately we have to drive to LA, as one person will leave the trip there and the friend will join instead.
Dec 3, 2012 5:35 AM
For your half way point to the canyon, I'd consider the detour to Death Valley. It's a great time of year for it.
xMonterey and xCarmel are practically the same place.
You could spend some time at Elkhorn Slough (weather dependent).
Here is a link for the xSpanish missions along the coast. Some are open to the public.
Book in advance.
Btw, your profile says you are from xGhana. If that's not the case, you may want to fix that.
Dec 3, 2012 6:26 AM
6vua, your plan looks good and I agree with the other comments. You wrote "check out Bay Area" on your departure day. I would just head directly south towards Santa Cruz. Heading over to the East Bay will take you in the wrong direction and there isn't much of interest in the South Bay (i.e., San Jose).
When in Santa Cruz, try and go to Mystery Spot (http://www.mysteryspot.com/). One of the more entertaining things I've done. You see people in California driving around with the yellow bumper sticker everywhere. It's touristy, but definitely fun.
Dec 3, 2012 9:03 AM
7Agree with Dabraham above. I'd drive south out of the Bay Area on the 280 or 101 toward San Jose then
take the scenic Highway 17 to Santa Cruz. This route winds through Redwood-forested . mountains. Be sure not to miss Point Lobos State Reserve just south of Carmel. It is an incredibly beautiful bit of rugged
California Coast with otters and sea lions. Allow about 1-2 hours. Elephant Seals- large marine mammals-
can be seen farther south on the coast at Piedras Blancas, just a few miles north of San Simeon. If there's
any chance of swimming in the Pacific Ocean, it will be at Avila Bay. The hot springs you saw, drain into the
bay- making it one of the warmest spots in California for ocean swimming especially during December.
Finally, if you wanted to go to Tijuana, you can take San Diego's Red Trolley Car from downtown San Diego
all the way to the border. From here, you just cross on foot. (Bring your passport.) Have a great trip!
Dec 3, 2012 1:34 PM
8Thank you guys for your answers!
One question that came up to my mind last night about parking situations: I guess it shouldn't be a big problem in the smaller cities along the coast but what about LA and LV? Is the parking situation horrible there, should I make sure to get accomodation that provides parking?
@bzookaj: Thanks for the recommendations. Many things I haven't considered yet. I will hiw big a detour to the Death Valley would be. Someone else recommended me to do the drive from LA to the Canyon in one day, but as I will be the only driver I probably won't do that..
Oh, Ghana is wrong indeed. I'm from Germany, which one just one country up in the drop-down menu so I just selected the wrong one. Fixed it, thanks.
@dabraham001: Yep, the mystery spot is on my list! :)
Still wondering if the Aquarium in Monterey is worth the price. I like aquariums and it seems to be quite unique..
@kenko: Thanks for mentioning Point Lobos I definitely want to see that.
Dec 3, 2012 7:38 PM
9The Monterey Aquarium is well worth it. It is really remarkable and not just a tourist trap. That said,
if you're into Oceanography and Marine Science you might want to hit the Steinhart Aquarium in San
Francisco's Golden Gate Park as it is amazing also. In Las Vegas, the Mandalay Bay Resort (at the
south end of the strip-Las Vegas Boulevard) has a shark aquarium (admission) that is essentially a glass
tunnel with sharks swimming all around you. Just don't watch the movie "Jaws" before going!
Speaking of Las Vegas- parking is no problem. Just pull your car into any hotel's entrance and have
the valet park it for you. At most hotels, this service is free. It's just expected that you tip the valet a couple
dollars when you retrieve the car. Hotels also have free self-parking garages with a rather lengthy walk
from the building. I go the valet route. In LA, you will want to check and make sure your lodging offers
free parking. If they don't, ask what parking is usually available and what the cost is. In San Francisco,
parking is very expensive, which is why we always advise travellers to go for a motel which offers free
parking (ii.e. The Marina Motel or the Capri Motel or the Cow Hollow Motel) Hostels will not offer any
parking at all, to my knowledge. At some hotels, parking can cost $45. Street parking laws are strictly
so read (all) the signs and if in doubt, ask. I find it easier to take public transit and walk while in SF.
Have a great trip!
Dec 4, 2012 5:42 AM
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