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  1. Default First time in California

    Hi everyone,
    I'm after some advice, I've searched the forum here and people seem to get some great advice.
    Myself and my wife have to book our first trip to America for our honeymoon and can't wait (coming from the UK)
    We are flying to New York 4th August for 3 nights then flying over to San Francisco (this is were the fun begins). We are planning on staying in San Francisco for 3 nights then picking up a car for 13 days, the plan was as follows and just wanted to know what people thought obviously going down route 101.

    San Francisco (3 nights)
    Yosemite (1 night) - travel back to San Francisco earlier next morning.
    Santa Cruz (1 night)
    Moneteray (1 night)
    Carmel (1 night)
    Morro Bay (1 night)
    Santa Barbara (1 night)
    Santa Monica (1 night)
    Long Beach (1 night)
    Los Angeles (3 nights) - plan on spending one day at universal studios
    San Diego (1 night)
    Las Vegas (3 nights)

    Just a couple of extra questions, we were planning on booking the accomdation for San Francisco, Yosemite, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas but were just going to try and find places to stay at all the rest. Is this a good idea or pre-book everything (Just if we did this doesn't give you any freedom to stay places longer or shorter). Also we travel back 25th August, will it be busy around this time as not sure if the schools are off.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I've been waiting for 8 years for this trip and want it to be one to remember.
    Many thanks in advance
    David

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default The 1

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    A few things:

    From Yosemite, you might as well head straight for Monterey. There's no reason to go all the way back to San Francisco.

    Then, you'll actually want CA-1 for the coastal route, not US-101.

    Long Beach and Santa Monica are both part of the greater LA area, so you can probably just find one hotel to use as a home base for this part of your trip.

    Finally, read this article for the pros and cons of prebooking your hotels.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply, after some research and advice I've come up with the revised route and wondered what people thought of it.

    San Francisco (3 nights)
    Yosemite (2 nights)
    Santa Cruz (1 night)
    Monteray (2 nights) Visit Carmel while here.
    Morro Bay – Visit here during day
    Santa Barbara (1 nights)
    Santa Monica(3 nights)
    San Diego (2 nights)
    Las Vegas (4 nights)

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

  4. Default Where in LA are you interested in visiting?

    Hello DavB93,

    If I may ask -- where in LA are you interested in visiting? The reason I'm asking is the LA area is geographically huge, and compared to many other cities is spread out over a lot more square km. (As a point of comparison, the metropolitan in LA is roughly a triangle 100 miles east-west and 100 miles north south, bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the hypotheuse, and with 10,000' mountains on the north and east. From a UK perspective think of the area as wide as from Bristol to London and as long as from London to Sheffield. ).

    What I'm a little bit concerned about is that Santa Monica is towards the western end of this triangle. To go to other parts of the city (such as Anaheim, where Disneyland is located), it can take 60 minutes or more in rush hour traffic, particularly if you're going through the center of the city. Your original listing showed Santa Monica and Long Beach, which are at least 45 minutes apart at freeway speeds. Other parts of the region, including Orange County (Disneyland, Knotts, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach/ Surf City, etc) are at least 30 minutes beyond that.

  5. Default

    Hi Larrison,

    Thanks for your reply, the places we are interested in LA visiting are Universal Studios, Disney World, Beverly Hills. Open to more ideas on what there is in LA, I picked Santa Monica as out of the centre and read loads of bad reports about hotels in the centre unless you pay a fortune. I've revised the route and it's as follows:

    San Francisco
    Yosemite
    Santa Cruz
    Monterey
    San Simeon
    Santa Barbara
    Santa Monica
    San Diego
    Las Vegas

  6. #6
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DavB93 View Post
    Hi Larrison,

    Thanks for your reply, the places we are interested in LA visiting are Universal Studios, Disney World, Beverly Hills. Open to more ideas on what there is in LA, I picked Santa Monica as out of the centre and read loads of bad reports about hotels in the centre unless you pay a fortune. I've revised the route and it's as follows:

    San Francisco
    Yosemite
    Santa Cruz
    Monterey
    San Simeon
    Santa Barbara
    Santa Monica
    San Diego
    Las Vegas

    Ditto here too, perhaps consider the above.
    We travel around alot and have come to meet travelers who are disappointed because they were enticed by Long Beach's travel magazine ads to visit there.
    Great place for a convention,, but that's about it. Not a destination.
    Long Beach "vacation" ads are very mis-leading.
    Just my 2 cents.

  7. Default Things to do..

    Quote Originally Posted by Ross & Alice View Post
    Ditto here too, perhaps consider the above.
    We travel around alot and have come to meet travelers who are disappointed because they were enticed by Long Beach's travel magazine ads to visit there.
    Great place for a convention,, but that's about it. Not a destination.
    Long Beach "vacation" ads are very mis-leading.
    Just my 2 cents.
    Oh... Long Beach isn't that bad. But just like most places in the LA area, its diffuse -- the places are somewhat scattered and not next to each other. Aquarium of the Pacific and Queen Mary are the big two things to do in Long Beach. The beach is pretty nice, but its inside the breakwater, so you don't get any surf :(. And there's always the boat to Catalina, the (smallish) Long Beach Art Museum on the bluffs, and good nightlife on 2nd Street or at Pine Street. It's a nice day or weekend, but I wouldn't spend a week there..

    If you're staying in the LA area to go to DisneyLand (and "California Adventure"), I'd recommend staying in one of the hotels right next to the park. There are dozens within a mile or two.

    But if you want to go to Universal Studios/ Beverly Hills, I'd recommend a hotel in the Glendale to Universal City area. That would put you right near Universal Studios (and near some other major studios, but they don't usually have tours), and keeps you out of the mob of folks in Hollywood. I've also not been impressed with the hotels in the center of LA, and tend to avoid that area since its always crowded -- but there are some which are supposed to be world class (and world class expensive).

    Beverly Hills is about 30-40 minutes away by surface street -- particularly Rodeo Drive. There's not a lot of tourist stuff in that area, but supposed to be very high end shopping.

    For other things to do.. if you're in the OC area, some of the other things to do might be..

    - Knotts Berry Farm (in Buena Park, not too far from Disneyland).
    - Laguna Beach (about 30-40 minutes from Anaheim), which is an artists community in the OC.
    - Huntington Beach (go to main street and walk around, including walking out on the pier. There are some reasonable restaurants along there as well.)

    If you're in the Universal Studios area, some places you might visit include:

    - Mt Wilson. This would be about an hours drive to get up into the mountains, to a 5000' tall ridge overlooking the LA area. Home of the leading astronomical observatory in the world from about 1900-1950 or so, with lots of hiking trails and the like.
    - La Brea Tar Pits, including the Page Museum. It's sometimes hard to believe that around 35,000 barrells a day of oil are taken out from under downtown LA -- then you see pools of it at the Tar Pits.
    - Peterson Automotive Musuem (almost across the street from the La Brea Tar Pits)
    - LA Museum of Modern Art (next door to the La Brea Tar Pits)
    - Getty Museum. Probably one of the top 5 world art musuems, in a specially built huge new musuem west of Beverly Hills. Amazing collection.
    - Hollywood Bowl. This is about 5 miles(?) from Universal Studios, but you'd need to check to see what is playing there. Huge open air concert venue.
    - LA Natural History Museum complex. The LA Natural History Musuem is pretty good, plus there is an Air & Space Musuem, Science & Technology Musuem, and Art Musuem right next to it, surrounding the LA Rose Garden. Not the best neighborhood, but right next to the University of Southen California (USC). This is just south of downtown LA.
    - Dinner at the Yamashiro Sky Room. This is a Japanese-temple styled restaurant on a hilltop overlooking Hollywood (the entrance is pretty much right behind Grauman's Chinese Theatre if memory serves). Very good food, amazing view, excellent service -- but expensive.
    - Dinner & the show at the Magic Castle. LA is home to one of the world's largest magician's clubs. This is a private club, but I've noted that a lot of hotel Conceirge's can get you an invitation. The restaurant isn't bad (but not amazing) -- but the shows! In the evenings they typically have 3 simultaneously running shows ranging from spectacular close up sleight of hand right in front of you, to large Las Vegas-Style stage shows. On Saturday and Sunday they supposedly open at brunch and have 3 full cycles of shows. The magic is just amazing. Not cheap either, but simply amazing.

  8. #8
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest

    Default

    We boat to Catalina a lot.

    Socializing with travelers we meet in Avalon on the beach, in the clubs and having a drink at the cozy bars we meet visitors that booked a vacation in Long Beach on the strength of the TV and print ads. These people were so disappointed, they left their room and came over to Catalina instead.

    The Long Beach visitors ads are a bit exaggerated is our point.
    They really gloss & talk the place up.

    We didn't notice this until we came upon a good number of unhappy travelers.

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