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  1. #1

    Default Nervous Ozzies LA to San Francisco and Vegas

    we are a family of four. kids aged 18 and 14.
    we plan to drive from LA to San francisco and Las Vegas and San Diego.
    we need to start in LA and end off in San Dieog
    i cant decide which way to go.

    i plan to hire a car

    i have my own navman and am looking for a memory card for california to use in the navman.

    i am "concerned about" about driving on the ''wrong'' side of the road.

    any tips

    [Trip to be December 2006] Added by Editor
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-31-2006 at 11:04 PM. Reason: Edited for good neighbor language

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Plenty of Choices

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Nervous Ozzie
    we are a family of four. kids aged 18 and 14.
    we plan to drive from LA to San francisco and Las Vegas and San Diego.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    we need to start in LA and end off in San Diegoi cant decide which way to go.
    How long a trip will this be? What kinds of things are you interested in seeing?


  3. #3

    Default colin nervous ozzie


    the plan is to have about 3 nights each in san fran, LA and vegas.

    i dont mind spending a night on the road if there is a long stretch.

    interests are food wine for adults - for kids daugher is an OC fan and son is sports mad.

    anything really interesting (unusual) would be good to see


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Furnace Creek Inn

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Nervous Ozzie
    interests are food wine for adults
    Colin, one night in between Las Vegas and San Francisco should be at the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley-- they have a great selection of Single Malts and Wines and the food is excellent.


  5. Default Going clock wise..

    If I may offer some comments?

    To Start in LA and end up San Diego, I'm going to suggest clockwise trip from LA through these places.. I live right near the "OC" so this may be a bit heavy on that...

    After landing in LAX, head north up US 101. That will take up up through Santa Barbara towards San Francisco. You'll go through the San Ynez/ Solvang wine country (where the recent movie Sideways was set), and through the winery area around Paso Robles. You have the option of swinging west at San Luis Obispo to Hearst Castle and either swinging back to Paso Robles to continue north, or continuing up Coast 1 through the Big Sur to Monterey area. There are excellent restaurants in Monterey. You can take 1 or 2 nights to get to SF, or drive through in a day. There are also reasonable wineries near Monterey/ Santa Cruz before SF.

    SF has a number of very good restaurants, although I always like to eat at one of the traditional SF seafood places on Fisherman's wharf. After a couple of days in SF, head slightly north of the bay to Napa or Sonoma -- very good wine, good restaurants, and some nice small hotels. Then swing south down through the central valley of California. You have the option of stopping at a lot of agricultural spots along there (everything from Plums to Cashews to Raisins), and possibly Yosemite.

    From Yosemite you can head east over the Sierras at Tioga Pass (it does close in the winter due to snow, so this is a summer/ early fall route), coming into Death Valley from the west. There are excellent hiking trails ranging from easy to VERY challenging day hikes around Yosemite, which will make your son happy -- he'll also be hiking in the Sierras which are definitely different mountains than you have at home. If you don't go to Yosemite, you will swing around the southern end of the Sierras and head NW for Vegas -- which also takes you pretty close to the south end of Death Valley. IF you have to time, a visit (or at least a drive through) of Death Valley shouldn't be missed.

    That will take you to Vegas. From Vegas I'd recommend a return south to the OC -- head down the I-15 back to consider staying in the Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, or Laguna Beach areas. These are the center of the "OC", which will make your daughter happy. There is good surfing along the coast starting in Huntington Beach (the "Surf City", including the Surfing Hall of Fame), or he can do snorkling in the coves along the coast where it is rocky starting in Corona del Mar (just south of Newport) and down through Laguna Beach. There's also kite surfing, windsurfing and sailing all along the coast, as well as world-class golf and tennis if you're so inclined. There is also good mountain biking in Crystal Cove, or more inland in the coastal mountains, but you'd have to rent a bike for that. There are excellent restaurants in Huntington Beach (Dukes at the Pier, for eample), Newport Beach (several), and in Laguna Beach -- I'd recommend one specializing in California Sea Food, or one of the better Mexican restaurants to give you a local flair for the food, but there are a number of very good places (including in other local communities like Costa Mesa). You'll also be about 30 minutes from Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm, as well -- but somewhat farther from Hollywood (about an hour, not including any rush hour traffic).

    From LA, head south the 90 minute drive to San Diego. You'll go very near San Diego Wild Animal Park, and in San Diego be near the San Diego Zoo and Sea World. Coronado beach is always listed as one of the best in the US, although I'm not that familiar with it. There are wineries in the Temecula area, but you've hit 3 other winery areas in the state.

    As for driving "on the wrong side of the road", I've done the same in the UK/ Ireland. My suggestion is to take it slow, particularly when turning out or across traffic. Your trained instinct is to look the wrong way first. Just take it easy, and look both ways before proceeding. I found it most easy to drive on the large motorways in the UK, as they were divided highways and you couldn't drift into the wrong lane -- but after a day or so, you didn't think about what you were doing (until your instinct had you look the wrong way first at a turn!) You shouldn't have a problem if you're careful, and in particular if you have another adult navigating for you so you can pay full attention to the road.

  6. #6

    Default Driving on the "wrong" side

    Larrison had some great ideas , very throrough. I found the instinct to look the wrong way very strong for me when I visited Australia and GB. I adapt more slowly than some -- but by 3 weeks I had forgotten what it felt like to drive on the same side I did back home. On a shorter visit to Scotland, we rented after being with a tour group the first week, thus getting aclimated safely. Worked for me, I know your situation is different.

    One surprise during acclimation week ... looking out the tour bus window, I first thought the drivers of the cars below the bus windows weren't looking where they were turning while the signal was on. Then I realized, I was looking at the passenger !!! yes wrong side of the car.

    Who ever is riding in the front passenger seat will have the most "terror". The first days, its like being on a roller coaster -- your brain tells you - you should be in control (because at home you'd have a steering wheel in that position) but your eyes tell you there's nothing you can do. (I had my introduction to that phenomenum about 2 a.m. in deserted streets of Brisbane as my host sped home.) Great fun.

    But back to your comment abour the "wrong side" -- adding to all the good info from Larrison ... I'm not a Calif. native, was back for a vist last month. On the controlled access roads, California has large signs placed at all entrances announcing "Wrong Way".

  7. #7

    Default thank you so much from nervous ozzie

    To Larrison, Mark and Taco Monster.

    guys thank you so much for your input. this is my first experience with a forum and i am so impressed with how useful it is.

    Larrison i omitted to say that our trip is going to take place in December 06 so the mountain drive may not be do'able.

    any tips on the use of a USA navman.

    thanks again guys.


  8. Default December? Bring a windbreaker and sweater for the coast..

    December? It'll be cool in California, particularly if you go up into the mountains, and foggy during the mornings on the coast, and possibily windy and cool to cold in SF. (If you want to look at historical weather information, www.weatherunderground has a weather almanac, which allows you to look at historical weather data for different places in the US).

    But yes, you should assume the Tioga Pass will be closed. On the other hand, its the perfect time of year to go through Death Valley and the desert.

    You have a Navman? They're supposed to be cool devices, but I don't have any real experience with one. (I use a small Garmin Vista Legend GPS unit.)

  9. #9

    Default thanks again Larisson

    yes i use a navman but need the memory card with california maps for the trip.

    thanks again for your input.


  10. #10

    Default car hire december california

    One thing i do need guidance on is car rental.

    i know there will be a multitude of companies and i know there is a very wide selection. i also know that the insurance component is used as the up sell for profit BUT please if anyone can point me to a reputable and budget car rental company with tips on what to ask for i would be most appreciative.

    we need a four seater.

    i am half thinking of the idea of a convertible but i think its the wrong time of the year (December).


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