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  1. #1

    Default San Fran to LA via Las Vegas if possible

    Hello All,

    A freind and I are planning a road trip from San Fran to LA (staying in Long Beach as we aren't particularly bothered about seeing too much of LA itself) in May. We Plan to leave San Fran on May 19th and arrive in Long Beach on May 26th.

    We would like experience Highway 1 and the wonderful coastline but think that we could spend some of our days slightly better as it doesn't take too long to do. We are contemplating a trip via Vegas through Yosemite/Grand Canyon and was wondering if this is possible or is it just worth doing the coastline for the full 6 days.

    I would really appreciate any advice you can give me.

    Mark

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,492

    Default A world of choices

    Quote Originally Posted by Magpie15 View Post
    A freind and I are planning a road trip from San Fran to LA (staying in Long Beach as we aren't particularly bothered about seeing too much of LA itself) in May.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum -- Los Angeles is one of the great cites of the world -- it is hard for me to fathom how it could be so easily dismissed.
    We Plan to leave San Fran on May 19th and arrive in Long Beach on May 26th.
    I could easily spend six days exploring the Pacific Coast Highway, but that stretch between San Francisco and Long Beach can be driven in as few as 11 hours. It really comes down to what you want to see and do.
    We are contemplating a trip via Vegas through Yosemite/Grand Canyon and was wondering if this is possible or is it just worth doing the coastline for the full 6 days.
    Again, most of this is possible, but you will be on the road for at least 10 hours each day and be zooming past some of the most engaging scenery in the western world.

    I would suggest you read the threads and ideas on this page and then come back with any specific questions you might have.

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default places to relax

    Thanks for getting back to me!

    As this is our first time in America, naturally we want to get in as much as we can however 'putting my sensible hat on' I know that isn't necessarily the best way of approaching the trip. We orginally wanted to visit a few cities for the first week and then relax on a beach for the second week, potentially going to Mexico or Miami. After much debate and a recommendation we decided on the trip from SF to LA.

    We are starting our trip in New York for 4 nights before we fly to San Fran (May 16th), where we plan to spend 2/3 nights. We can then do as we please as long as we are in LA for the flight which leaves on May 27th.

    The more I read posts, the more I would like to fit into our trip and the further away we get from having a relaxing week on the beach.

    I guess my first question is what are the beaches like between SF and LA? Are there resorts that are lively? I am going with a mate so we will want to go out on an evening with the opportunity of meeting other people.

    The desire to party and the pull of Vegas, I think is distracting me from what we originally set out to do.

    The thought of driving for many hours in the final week is the one factor that is putting me off and the one thing I know we will have to do if we go via Vegas plus see the sites. For this reaon I am prepared to miss this out if their is enough activity and entertainment along the coast.

    Your advice would be very much appreciated.

    Mark

  4. #4
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest

    Default

    Funny thing about Southern California is their aren't many beach resorts, compaired relatively speaking to the rest of the sunbelt.

    A good one is Mandelay Beach resort in Oxnard Calif, just North of Los Angeles (no connection to the Mandelay in Las Vegas), another is the Hotel Del Coronado in Sand Diego Calif, a bit more pricy bit a goody!!

    Santa Catalina Island offers excellent beach front, & just off the beach Hotels
    a short inexpensive cruise away.
    They offer reasonable priced Golf Cart rentals to putt around parts of the town of Avalon, and the beaches are excellent if that's what ya fancy.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    By the way, how and what did you hear about Long Beach Ca.?

    Have a good trip, raise a glass for us!!
    Last edited by RoadTrippers A & R; 04-23-2007 at 03:39 PM. Reason: Typos & accuracy

  5. #5

    Default A couple of options..

    Most of the beaches in the area with "layout" type or active beaches are in three areas between SF and LA.

    The first is in the Santa Cruz/ Monterey area. There are some nice beaches in that area. But south of there, the coastline gets pretty rocky and even though there are some good beaches, there isn't much developed around there and the beaches aren't really considered "layout in the day, party in the evening" type beaches.

    The next area is in the Santa Barbara to Oxnard/ Ventura area. The big beaches are up around Santa Barbara down to Carpenteria, and there are some very nice beaches and some nice little beachfront communities but aren't known for a lot of night life. Ventura has a nice beach, but its not that big.

    Next are the LA beaches themselves..

    The next set are on the west side of LA, starting about Malibu and continuing down through Santa Monica and going down to Manhatten Beach/ Torrance areas. Very nice long sandy beaches, but can be busy in the summer, but not a lot of developed resorts along the way from my experience. The Malibu area beaches are sometimes tried to be kept as "private" by some of the owners of the expensive houses there, and the public beaches can be quite busy. Some excellent areas for night life along from Malibu to Manhatten Beach/ Torrance though, giving rise to the saying "There's no life east of Sepulvedua!" (One of the major streets in the are)

    Along the southern side of the LA area are the Long Beach and Orange County beaches. The Long Beach beaches are inside the breakwater and don't see much surf, but usually have a fair number of sunbathers in the summer. Long Beach has several parts of town with significant night life -- with the Belmont Shores/ 2nd Street area in eastern Long Beach being probably the best bet.

    The first beaches south of that with some surf are some of my favorites -- Seal Beach and Sunset Beach. Seal Beach is a small beach town that hasn't really grown too big, and has a nice pier, a nice small main street to walk and some pretty good surf. Not a lot of night life, but 10 minutes from the larger, more active, after-dark areas of 2nd Street/ Belmont shores in Long Beach , and Main Street in Huntington Beach.

    Sunset Beach, just south of Seal Beach, is pretty much a private beach, although there are numerous access points for public access. Not usually too busy since you have to walk to get into the northern parts so it's pretty private and not too crowded, but with good surf. This area seems to be very popular with kite surfers -- I've seen up to a dozen of them there. Sunset Beach is also a funky smaller town with a bit of a small town feel, but no major hotels, but a bunch of smaller ones and a couple of B&B's. And again, it's 10 minutes from some areas with significant after dark night life.

    Huntington Beach, which is about the next major beach area south is nicknamed "Surf City" from the old surf song by Jan & Dean about the city. A long sandy beach which stretches 5-7 miles from Sunset Beach to Newport Beach. There are also a couple of built up "resort" type hotels along this -- the Waterfront Hilton and newer, larger Marriot beach hotel -- both just across the street from the beach. HB also has a good night life along Main Street-- clubs, bars, a brew pub or two, restaurants, etc. Main Street is walking distance from the Hilton and Marriot.

    Newport Beach is just south of Huntington Beach and is another long sandy beach, with pretty good surf. No major built up hotels along the beach, but lots of smaller ones a block or two from the beach, running down along the Balboa Pennisula, and quite a few hotels (including some major ones) a few minutes drive away. On Balboa Pennisula there there's a nice little community with resturants and stores, with some night life. However, most of the real night life in Newport Beach is somewhat inland, either around the huge high-end "Fashion Island" shopping complex (several world class resturants and high end clubs), or up through the corridor from there past John Wayne Aiport to South Coast Plaza (another quite high end shopping complex with restaurants, hotels and stores). This is pretty much the social center of the "OC", if you like. But not a lot of beach resorts. There is world class body surfing though at the Wedge at the end of the Balboa Penninsula. This is about 20-30 minutes from Huntington Beach Main Street.

    The next area south I would recommmend would be Laguna -- several major resorts have gone in here in the last several years (but can be expensive -- Montage and 4 Seasons are a couple of them), and there is an active night life in Laguna Beach town (about 10 minutes up PCH from some of the resorts) as well as an artists community of scupltors and painters and their galleries in town. Lots of little coves along the beach to lay out on, so it never feels long and crowded unless you're on a busy public beach next to Laguna's main street -- and several of the hotels have a 'semi-private' cove next to the hotel (public access, but you have to walk in a ways along the beaches or down some big flights of stairs to the cove -- so not many folks do). I have to confess, Laguna is one of my favorite places to hang out in the area.

    There are several other options farther south as well -- down to Coronado in San Diego, but also including La Jolla/ Del Mar. (I'll echo Ross & Alice's recommendation of Hotel Del Corando as a world class place on a great beach in San Diego area).

    They also mentioned Catalina Island, and the hotels on the beach in Avalon. Very good beach, although it's small with little surf, and a small but good night life in Avalon along the beachfront walking street. About a 90 minute boat ride from Long Beach. If you want to do snorkling, there are some wonderful places near Avalon to do so (but in cold water).

    And as a wild card -- for just beach time, the California State Parks department has just opened up some cabins at Crystal Cove State Beach between Newport Beach and Laguna. This are restorations of some older beach-front cabins right on one of the nicest beaches in the area.... Out of the way, right on the beach, a very nice white sandy beach with some tide pools to visit, and not very populated, even in the summers. Not sure of their availability, but always been tempted to try to reserve one for a few days...
    Last edited by W. Larrison; 04-23-2007 at 09:53 PM.

  6. #6

    Default On the hoof

    That's excellent thank you very much for all your advice.

    We would like to stay as spontaneous as possible to allow us more time in areas we like. For this reason we would prefer to book hotels as we travel as opposed to in advance.

    Is this advisable?

    The only place we have booked in advance is the Hyatt Regency Long Beach on our last night before we go to the airport.

    That then gives us 6 full days and two half days which we have given to travel.

    For that reason I think going to San Diego might be too far.

    I plan to travel to Santa Cruz/Monterey moving onto Santa Barbara/Malibu and Santa Monica finshing around Huntington Beach and Laguna before heading back up.

    Do you think this is possible in 6 days with time spent at each if we get the correct vibe when we arrive and moving on if otherwise.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,492

    Default You should be fine

    Quote Originally Posted by Magpie15 View Post
    That's excellent thank you very much for all your advice.
    I agree, Larrison's overview of the beach situation along your route of travel was superb.
    We would like to stay as spontaneous as possible to allow us more time in areas we like. For this reason we would prefer to book hotels as we travel as opposed to in advance
    It is early enough in the year, that I think you will be fine.
    I plan to travel to Santa Cruz/Monterey moving onto Santa Barbara/Malibu and Santa Monica finshing around Huntington Beach and Laguna before heading back up.
    Back up? to Long Beach?

    I think you will have a wonderful trip.

    Mark

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