My family is planning a road trip in a rented VW bus along the California coast this August.
We had initially planned to drive to California and then travel up the coast, staying at hotels, but we just decided to camp in the bus instead. I think it's a good decision for us: We have three kids, we love adventure and road tripping, it will potentially save some money on hotels and dining, and flying will allow us to spend more time at our destination (California).
However, I'm a little worried we're late in the game for reserving campsites. We'll be taking about 12 days to drive from LA up to at least Napa Valley and Sebastopol (though we could go as far north as Mendocino), and back. Our pace and attitude will be leisurely.
We're in the very initial stages of planning and not asking anyone to plan our trip for us. :) We just would love some insight into:
- Best campgrounds/parks along or near the coast between LA and Napa Valley. We basically just want our Midwest kids to get to spend a bunch of time near the ocean.
- How far in advance you need to make reservations, and if we're too late.
- Any free places to camp along or near that route.
- Any must-see coastal towns or attractions. We'll be stopping at obvious places like Big Sur, just want to know if there are any little-known gems or places a little off the beaten path that might be fun.
Thank you in advance for any insights! I lurked on this forum quite a bit before our road trip to Florida last year and it was a huge help. :)