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  1. Default California in 2.5 weeks? Any Thoughts?!!

    First of all can I say what am amazing site. Brilliant advice and real sense community.

    Secondly I wanted to check this planned road trip with you. If anyone has any thoughts or sugestions please reply!

    Arrive in L.A from UK on Wednesday September 27.
    Thursday 28th. Sights in LA
    Friday 29th Visit Six Flags Magic Mountain.

    Sat 30th Drive to Sandiego and see some sights.
    Sunday 30st Visit Tijuana
    Monday 1st Drive to Vegas (Anything worth seing on the way?)
    Tues 2nd and Weds 3rd in Vegas.

    Thursday 4th Drive to Yosemite (Any suggestions of the best way to go?)Is it worth going via Death Valley if we've got a standard hire car? will tioga pass be open? is that the best way to go?

    Frday and Saturday Yosemite (is this enough time/too long just to se the main sights?

    Sunday Drive to San Fran (Again best way to go?)
    Monday and tuesday in San Fran

    Wednesday and Thursday the Pacific Coast Highway and things on that road. (How long will we need for this, what is good to see)

    Friday and saturday in LA.
    Fly to back rainy London!

    If this is going to be too much we're considering dropping the trip to mexico to get more time everywhere else.

    Does sound realistic, we know there's no chance of seing everything on a trip like this but just want to catch the main bit and pieces.

    Thanks for any advice in Advance!


  2. Default

    hi baconbacon, and welcome to the RoadtripAmerica forum..

    You've got an interesting trip laid out, but if I may make a few comments?

    The first part of your trip is you arrive in the LA area, spend a day sightseeing, them up to Magic Mountain (Valencia area), then to San Diego. You might want to consider where in the LA area you want to stay for this... The LA metropolitan area is rather sizable (in distance), so you can end up spending a goodly time getting from near the airport to Disneyland or from near Disneyland to Magic Mountain. What places did you want to see in the LA area? Depending upon how you travel (light, or fully loaded with tons of gear, etc.) you might want to spend the time in LA in two different places -- one day near your LA sightseeing areas, then that night near Magic Mountain, or similarly.

    For visiting San Diego and then into Tijuana, you might want to take the San Diego "Trolly" (light rail) down to the border and walk across. A lot of rental car companies do not allow their cars to cross the border, and you would need (at a minimum) new insurance to drive in Mexico. You also avoid the sometimes long traffic jams at the border.

    Depending upon the route you take to Vegas, there are some potentially interesting stops. One option is to go through the San Diego back country via Julian and down the steep back slope of the San Diego mountains to the desert at Anza Borrego, and then north via Palm Springs, Joshua Tree national park, Amboy, and through the Mojave National Preserve. But that's a long day's drive, versus the 7 hours or so on the interstate. That will show you the real Mojave desert via some lesser traveled routes (but all on good quality 2 lane paved roads).

    From Las Vegas to Yosemite, its very possible to via Death Valley and Tioga Pass. All the routes are good quality roads, but it would be again a veryyyy long day to go that route. You might want to stay somewhere around Bishop or even Mammouth Lakes, before heading over the Sierras at Tioga Pass. Tioga Pass should be open, unless there is a very unusual early fall snow storm in the Sierras (usually thats a month or so later). That is the most spectacular way to go -- but longer in time than the route south around the end of the Sierras and up through Bakersfield.

    You will want to spend at least a full day in Yosemite. You can spend a week if you want to see it all, but at least a full day is needed, particularly if you wish to do one of the spectacular day hikes in the area.

    Heading south from SF to LA via Coast Highway is a doable trip in 2 days. You won't be stopping for long at places like Monterey, but its a days drive to somewhere like San Simeon/ Morro Bay/ San Luis Obispo. And then another day down to the LA area. Good places to see along here are: Monterey (cannery row, aquarium), Carmel (17 mile drive), Big Sur (several places), Petros Blancos (Elephant Seals), San Simeon (Hearst Castle), Solvang/ San Ynez (wineries and food -- where the recent movie "Sideways" was set), Santa Barbara (the Mission, other places), and (Malibu (just to say you were there with the stars :P )

  3. #3

    Default San Diego comments

    I forgot about the trolley and agree its a great way to ride down to the border.

    Larrison's comments about insurance are right-on, the rental contract will likely become void if you cross into Mexico, and many companies have GPS tracking devices in their cars. But other reasons to be cautious driving in Mexico are (a) the justice system does not operate under presumed innocence, (b) a traffic accident without having proper insurance is treated as as a criminal offense. There were once worse reasons, but that was many years ago, and (only) perhaps no longer applicable.

    All that said, I've done it, but in a POV, and having bought proper special short-term insurance before crossing the border. My last time there I ran over an engine part in the middle of the toll road between TJ and Ensenada, shortly after dark.

  4. Default WOW Thanks.

    Thanks Larison and Taco Monster.

    Really useful info. On the first day in LA we were going to se holywood and generally take it easy maybe at venice beach and deal with any jet lag.
    Really not very bothered about disneyland area so will be giving that a miss. Understand that Hollywood to Valencia is only about 45 miles so we would stay close to Magic Mountain on Thursday evening.

    We were certain not to drive in mexico, enough movies have shown that crossing to be a nightmare for us to have already investigated the Trolly!

    Useful comments re the drive from Vegas - Yosemite, we really were'nt sure if that was a doable drive in a day.

    If we do spen 2 days going from vegas to Yosemite whats worth stopping for in Death Valley?

    Also useful re pacific Highway, agai nweren't really sure how long this would take.


    Thanks a load, if you're around when we're over I'd be very happy to buy you a beer or 2!


  5. #5

    Default PAC Coast Highway.

    You can see it in less than 90 minutes, or take your time for pictures, etc. and double that. Its quiet, peacful, breathtaking at times. The key parts are between San Simeon and Carmel. S.S. has a grand Hearst Castle (reduced touring hours in winter); Just N. of there is California Sea Otter State Game Refuge where you can sometimes get close, but ask a ranger whether they'll be in heat that time of year -- not a good time to get that close; and 10 miles further North is Ragged Point on the Left side. You can stop and walk out to a mini peninsula, and to the N.E. view the ribbon of scenic highway you'll be on later. Sometimes clouds cover Ragged Point, and you can barely see the highway, but from the highway further North barely see Ragged Point. There's an inn there with food and of course a gift shop. :-) And so it goes -- mostly scenery, plenty of places to stop.

    Yosemite in the Winter ? The interior is always open, but not all roads into it are. Someone from Vegas can add to this thought. Yosesmite weather notes. If you get into Yosemite, you'll be tempted to stay longer than planned. :-) I personally don't know enough about D.V. to recommend anything, but I imagine passing through it will be a worthwhile memorable experince.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Um.... What?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Taco Monster View Post
    You can see it in less than 90 minutes, or take your time for pictures, etc. and double that. Its quiet, peacful, breathtaking at times.
    Maybe I lost the thread somewhere -- but did you just suggest that Chris can drive the entire PCH from San Francisco to LA in ninety minutes? Driving at (or above the posted speed limit) it can be done in seven hours. Very, very few people can cover this distance in less than ten hours.


  7. Default california road trip in winter

    Hi All, I am new here as well. This is a great forum!

    I am planning a similar trip as the OP here, except We're thinking of doing LA-Joshua Tree-Mojave desert-San Francisco in December. We're hoping to do this on the cheap, meaning camping in Joshua Tree and the Mojave, and not spending any time sightseeing in LA (just using it as a departure point). We have friends to stay with in LA and SF so, the bulk of the $$ would be on motels along the PCH

    1. Is it worth going to SF (via PCH) in the winter?

    2. Is it too far to try to drive from Mojave across the state to the PCH to continue up to SF, or is it better to drive from Mojave to SF inland, and then drive south from SF back to LA (so we could get in some of the PCH)?

    Our timeline is Dec 16-Dec 31st (two weeks)

    Thanks in advance! This seems like such a good resource considering my husband and I have been having trouble finding opinions on this trip!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Options

    Welcome to the RTA Forum, redhead!

    For your trip, I think you might find it more efficient to drive from the Mojave (death valley too?) straight to San Francisco through the central valley - possibly with a stop at Yosemite. Then you could drive back down the PCH on your way to LA.

    You could head north on the PCH, but going to SF first would cut some of the miles out of your traveling. Either way, you should have plenty of time for this trip.

  9. Default

    Thanks for your reply, Michael!

    So, if we do that itinerary...

    How long would it take to drive from Mojave/Death Valley to SF?

    Also, is it worth doing SF and the PCH in December? If it's going to be crappy weather the whole way, is it better to save for another time, when it's sunnier?

    Thanks for all the input!


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default More sun in December than Summer!

    Quote Originally Posted by redhead View Post
    Also, is it worth doing SF and the PCH in December? If it's going to be crappy weather the whole way, is it better to save for another time, when it's sunnier?
    The best chance for sun along the PCH and in San Francisco is the month of October. But even with winter storms, December the chances of seeing sunny weather along the PCH and in San Francisco are about much more likely in December than in the traditional summer months. The way the central valley heating cycle works, the hotter it gets inland, the more persistent the fog bank is along the coast -- so with generally cooler temps in the winter, there is better than a 70% chance it will be mostly clear on the coast.


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