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  1. Default The Great California Road Trip

    Hi, everyone. I wanted to see if I could get some feedback and tips on a cross-California trip we are planning for late September and early October. It would be a 14-day trek across the entire state, so we'd be constantly moving for the most part. Let me just list the places we have on the itinerary, and the approximate route, and maybe you can suggest some ways to improve the trip. Basically, are we missing anything essential that would make this road trip complete. Also, since we've never been to California, I'd love it if anyone could suggest places to see along the route.

    Day 1: San Diego & Anaheim
    Day 2: Long Beach & Pasadena
    Days 3-4: Hollywood & Los Angeles
    Day 5: Santa Monica, Ventura & Santa Barbara
    Day 6-7: Bakersfield & Sequoia National Park
    Day 8-9: Death Valley & Yosemite National Park
    Day 10: Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley & Redding
    Day 11: Sacramento & Napa Valley
    Day 12-13: San Francisco
    Day 14: Berkley, Oakland & San Jose

    As you can see, this covers a lot of ground. Approximately 2,000 miles. Is this a realistic schedule? We want to see as much as possible. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You are missing the coast highway. Obviously with only 2 weeks you can't see everything, but you should add that to your list for consideration.

  3. Default

    Well, we could drive the Pacific Coast Highway between San Diego & Anaheim, and between Santa Monica and Ventura.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Pablo View Post
    Well, we could drive the Pacific Coast Highway between San Diego & Anaheim, and between Santa Monica and Ventura.
    Hello Pablo,

    Based solely on a single trip from Monterey to Santa Monica on the PCH, I'd have to say the section from Santa Monica to Ventura isn't much to get excited about. Yes, you pass through Malibu, and up to Point Mugu the undeveloped coast is nice for all of about 15 miles, but then the PCH enters an urbanized area of Oxnard, Port Hueneme, and Ventura, and scenic it is not. For my money, I'd find some way to take in the segment from Morro Bay to Monterey.

    I'm also quick to advise taking CA 33 from Ventura through Ojai, over the +5,000' mountains to the Carrizo Plain National Monument area. The CPNM is an undeveloped patch of desert with several places the San Andreas Fault can be plainly seen, for those earth science geeks in your group. You could drop back down to Ventura from Santa Barbara (25 miles?) and take CA 33 over the hump enroute to Bakersfield, and cut through the CPNM along the way.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default tis the details

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Your trip is generally workable with a few issues and flaws.

    First, I really don't know what you're planning to "see" in a lot of these places. Day 1 in San Diego and Anaheim for example - those are 2 huge places to see in 1 day. However, you've got 4 other days dedicated to the Greater LA area. There are a few other cases like this.

    Day 10 is probably not feasable as you're just trying to "see" too much to really "see" anything.

    6-7, There's not a ton to see in Bakersfield, and I wouldn't spend a day there on this schedule, but I would try to add another day to Yosemite and Death Valley, as you're looking at basically a full day drive between the two parks, including the trip over Tioga Pass.

    You've also completely left out both Big Sur/Monterey sections of the central coast, and while its also a long way away from the rest of your stops, you also have left out the redwoods and northern california coast.

  6. Default

    Thanks for your feedback, Foy and Michael! I'll certainly take that into consideration. I'd definitely like to fit Monterey, maybe when we're around San Francisco? The Redwoods Forest is not that far away from Redding, so maybe I could do some reshuffling. Thanks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Redwoods aren't that far from Redding, relatively speaking, but Redding is a very very long way away from Death Valley. That's 600 miles - and none of it is freeway. You're looking at a minimum of 14 hours of driving - with zero time to see Tahoe/Squaw Valley. The trip down the coast from Redwoods back to San Francisco. is also a very full day drive. Just Redding to the Redwoods and back is 7-8 hours of driving alone, if you wanted to get back to I-5 to head to Sacramento.

  8. Default

    How would you suggest we amend the schedule, Michael? Eliminate Redding entirely?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Well, again, without knowing what you are hoping to see - other than a list of cities - its a bit of a challenge to say what would work best for you.

    However, based on what you've listed, I'd say the easiest thing to do would be more of a loop.
    Starting in San Diego, go up to Death Valley, then across Tioga Pass to Yosemite, continue to Napa and the Bay Area, then work your way down the coast back to SoCal. You could possibly go from Napa/Sacramento up to Redding, over to the Redwoods, and down the coast to San Francisco, but I'm not sure if you'd really have time for that much of a detour. You could also consider going through Palm Springs/Joshua Tree and/or Las Vegas as you go from San Diego to Death Valley.

  10. Default

    Michael, that's pretty much the half-loop (question mark) route I've been thinking about, except without Las Vegas. That detour to the Redwoods via Redding, while tempting, is probably a little too out of the way to be doable, though, but I'd love to at least ride the Avenue of the Giants.

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