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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Oxford, United Kingdom
    Posts
    4

    Default California road trip - advice please

    We are flying from the UK to San Francisco in 5 weeks time to begin a 37 day fall road trip in California. After spending the first night in an airport hotel and picking up our hire car the following morning, our current outline plan is as follows:-

    Days 1 to 5 Sonoma Valley and Coast ( finding our feet, enjoying the vineyards and generally mooching about)
    Days 6 & 7. Mendocino (Scunk Train, Redwoods, Avenue of The Giants, retail therapy)
    Days 8 & 9 Arcata (more mooching)

    We then haven't decided whether to continue up the coast to Trinidad or to start to make our way east to Lake Tahoe. I would really like some advice on that. As that decision will have a bearing on our schedule, things become a little fluid at this point so I will just list the places we want to go to.

    Lake Tahoe (about 4 nights). We like hiking, a bit of bicycling, and will also want to take to the lake a couple of times.

    Yosemite (about 4 nights). More hiking and perhaps a zip wire if we can find one.

    Kings Canyon and Sequoia ( or will we have seen enough trees by then?)

    Death Valley (1 night) I want to go, my husband doesn't, so this is a compromise.

    We don't want to go to Las Vegas, as we have already combined that with the Grand Canyon previously.

    We then want to go west to the coast. We don't want to go to Los Angeles ( no offence to those of you who love the place, but we just don't particularly feel the need to go there)

    We thought that we would then head for the coast somewhere around Cambria and start to make our way north. We want to include Hearst Castle and the Big Sur and all the other honey pots along the coast. Again, your views would be very welcome about this part of our itinery.

    Our final 7 days will be in San Francisco where we are meeting friends who will have just arrived from the UK for the start of their Californian adventure.

    On previous road trips of a similar length we have spent a considerable amount of our time exploring back roads and small towns and we thoroughly enjoyed taking our time exploring different parts of the USA. We really don't want a whistle stop tour of all the top tourist spots, so with that in mind, any advice would be gratefully received.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Welcome!

    If you want to drive the Pacific Coast, I'd recommend you schedule your trip to do it southbound. That way, the scenic pullouts will be on your side of the road. Look at a counter-clockwise loop trip out of SF.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Nice and relaxed.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You have the basics for a wonderful trip with plenty of time for 'Mooching'. If you continued through Redwood National park to Crescent City, you could consider headin northeast and visiting Crater Lake and down through Klamath Falls, Susanville and Reno to Tahoe or, head to Grants Pass and through Lassen National Forest and Volcanic park.

    I'm quite sure you wouldn't of had 'enough' of the big trees by the time you get to Sequoia but it's not all about the trees, the scenery is quite wonderful ! You might already know but.... Kings Canyon and Death valley look quite close but you have a mountain range between them and it will be a days driving to get between the two of them. That's fine as you have plenty of time, it's quite a detour though. On the way you could take the slow going mountain drive through the Sequoia National Forest from Springville to Kernville on the Kern River Highway to Lake Isabella, it feels much more secluded and on route you have the 'Trail of 100 Giants' with more BIG Trees.

    You will find lots of info by searching around the forums and using the planning pages above, to get you started have a look here at some of our favourites. As the picture starts to unfold keep asking questions as and when needed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Oxford, United Kingdom
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thank's for this advice. The reason we decided to go north first was because we thought the weather would be better in September, and that the south would still be warmish in October. I had realised that the coastal route would ideally be better travelling from the south to the north, but hoped that it would be outweighed by the consideration we were giving to the weather. What do you think?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Oxford, United Kingdom
    Posts
    4

    Default

    My apologies for not realising I needed to specify who I was responding to. I am new to this and foolishly expected my response to appear directly under the post I replied to & not at the bottom!! My post above was meant for glc, but Southwest Dave, please feel free to give me your thoughts on the matter.
    Dave, I didn't realise there was a range of mountains between Death Valley and Kings Canyon, but I had picked up from browsing this site that we would want to break our journey and someone somewhere mentioned Lake Isabella as a good place to stay. Thank you for all the above information, I will research your suggestions and will then,no doubt, have lots more questions to ask.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Oxford, United Kingdom
    Posts
    4

    Default Advice on parking in San Francisco please

    After receiving good advice from this forum, much of which we have used, we are now in week 4 of our Californian Road Trip. We are about to spend the next 5 days in the Monterey Bay Area before completing our trip with 8 days in San Francisco. We may potentially need to park the hire car in San Francisco for 1 night, before using it on the final day's hire for a trip to Muir Woods (to think I was initially worried that I may have included too many big trees in our itinerary, and now I want one final fix before our return to the UK)

    I would like advice on secure parking as near to McAllister St & Pierce St as possible. I would also like to know if anyone has any idea on how much we could expect to pay for one night.

    Finally, I also wondered if anyone knew anything about a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco called Millenium. My son ate there a few years ago and really rated it, but things can change over time, so I wanted an up to date opinion.

    Thank you for previous advice on our planned itinerary, which helped to make our trip very successful so far.

    Hazel

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Here's a couple.

    Hi Hazel, pleased to hear you are on the road and having a good time. I have found 2 garages nearby with a quick search, one being the Civic centre on McAllister. The other is on Turk Street and is $16 for overnight secure parking + taxes.

    The Civic centre works out at $2 per hour between 3pm and 6pm and then $1 per hour from 6pm to 9am and then increases to $2.50 per hour, so if my maths are correct and you dropped it off at 4pm and picked it up by 9am it would cost $19. At SFparking on Turk you can have 24 hour access to your vehicle by the looks of things. It might be worth calling ahead as I have no idea if they fill out or not.

    I can't help with Millenium other than to say there are a mixed bunch of reviews I have read, mostly OK with the food but some doubts about friendliness and welcome.

    Just south of McAllister you will find Alamo Square, from where a famous shot of San Francisco is taken with the 'Painted Ladies' [a row of colourful Victorian houses] in the forground and the City Skyscrapers as a back drop. You might have time on route to Muir woods to detour to the Golden Gate Recreation area where there some wonderful views of the GG Bridge and City !

    Enjoy Muir woods and the rest of your stay and I hope you will drop by with a report on your trip !

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