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  1. Default SF to Palm Springs...3 days!

    This is a great site for information. Thank you all.

    I'm going to a dear friend's wedding in Malibu, Saturday, Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving weekend) and we decided to make it a family (wife and 2 kids; 9,15) vacation as well. I want to take the kids along the coast drive so we're flying into SF on the 19th, and plan to work our way south on the 20th. I want to spend two nights out (20th and 21st), before arriving in Palm Desert late Thanksgiving Day (10/22) where we'll have dinner with my wife's aunt. We'll spend the night in Palm Desert and head out to L.A. on the 23rd.

    We'd like to see the 'basics'; as much as you can in three days without rushing the experience. Where would you recommend staying nights 1 & 2? Any lodging recommendations would be appreciated.

    I'm the only driver, so I'd also appreciate taking a more direct route where applicable, as long as it doesn't compromise the 'experience'...


  2. Default 2 days to Palm Desert

    Sounds like an interesting trip.. The only problem with this is you have to go once through (or around) the LA area west to east from the coast to get to Palm Dessert, and then again east to west to get back to Malibu.

    However.. one route for an interesting trip would be to

    19th -- into SFO and then south to Monterey area. This is possible to drive in a couple of hours, and you can have dinner on the wharf in Monterey and possibly even visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium or Cannery Row. Since we don't know when you're flying in, or how long it might take to get through the airport, I'd recommend doing not a lot of driving this day.

    20th -- Drive south through Big Sur, stopping for scenery, the Elephant Seal Colony at Pedros Blancos and Hearst Castle tour. Spend the night in the San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara area. If you and your wife are into wineries, there's about a hundred inland from the Hearst Castle area around Paso Robles. There are several hotels to stay at along the beach, if you want to show the kids the beach. Or you can head south towards San Ynez/ Solvang area for more wineries, a quaint Danish community and somewhere to stay short of Santa Barbara. I'd recommend the Hearst Castle to SLO to make an easy drive, give you the option of doing the Hearst Castle tour, and/or the kids a chance to poke around the beach.

    21st -- This is the interesting day. You can make it from SLO to Palm Springs in a long day, but you've got to go through LA traffic to get there. You do have another option -- which you may want to pursue. That is to drive south to Santa Barbara (beautiful mission, nice town to visit), and then cut east just south of that to come through the coast range at Santa Clarita. That's where 6 Flags Magic Mountain is -- its also really close to where Gold was first offically discovered in California (Placerita Canyon, in 1842), and Vasquez Rocks Park where they film a LOT of TV and movies. If you make it south to the Santa Barbara area, you could probably spend a half day at Magic Mountain and still make it to Palm Dessert for dinner. If not, there are other things to do here. From here I'd take the I-5 south to the 210, and then the 210 east towards Palm Dessert to avoid going through the middle of LA metropolitan area.

    If you start closer to San Louis Obispo (SLO), you'll probably want to just head straight for Palm Desert via the freeways, and take your chances getting through the 101/134 interchange just north of downtown LA. That route does take you right past Universal Studios, and given a start in Santa Barbara you might get a half day at Universal Studios, but you'll be heading out of the downtown area instead of from north of the city. SLO to Palm Desert is about a 5-6 hour drive (depending upon traffic, and in a really bad day you might add an hour). SLO to Santa Barbara is about 90 minutes. Six Flags Magic Mountain to Palm Desert is about 3 hours. Universal Studios to Palm Desert is about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

    But both of these basic options put you in Palm Desert the night of the 22nd.

    Then on the 23rd, you'll backtrack back to Malibu area.

    There is another option as well -- you could do the SF to Yosemite to 29 Palms through Joshua Tree National Park route to Palm Desert. That's doable as well in 2 nights, although you'd want to head for Yosemite in the morning of the 19th (if possible) to spend the night in or near Yosmite that night. Then the next day to spend some time in Yosemite and cut south to somewhere like Barstow, and then come into Palm Desert from the north and east, via Joshua Tree National Park. A totally different route, and avoids the coast I'm afraid.

  3. Default

    I'm leaving SF on the morning of the 20th, not the 19th, so my road trip begins Tues. morning not my arrival day, Monday. I thought about Yosemite as side trip, but it's just too much at one time and not enough time at that. I'd rather keep this trip coast specific and the aquarium and Hearst Mansion will be big draws with the kids. I was also thinking of ducking into either Julia Pfeiffer Burns, or Pfeiffer Big Sur State parks on the way down since they're right off of Route 1.

    Your thoughts?

    Since I'm not flying back to NY till 9:40 Monday am (11/26), we've got most of the day Saturday (wedding is afternoon into evening), or most likely all day Sunday to check out L.A. attractions. I'm tempted to drive down to San Diego (If I'm not totally wiped out by then) and go to the zoo or do something interesting down there ...


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Nice trip


    Seems like you could see the Monterey Bay Aquarium on the 20th and continue on, seeing Hearst Castle on the 21st. If you get further down the road, heading east on the 21st, you could swing through Joshua Tree so the kids could burn up some energy on the rocks before an evening and following day of having to behave.

    Accommodations along the coast south of Carmel are rather sparse so a little research is probably necessary to see what is available. I'm sure there people on this forum with more experience than I with motels in the area. I know that there is at least one in San Simeon (across from Hearst Castle) but there may be more.

    Happy Thanksgiving,

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

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