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  1. Default A "sweet 16" trip in 11 days driving from San Fran (LA, Anaheim, San Diego) to Vegas

    I need sound advise for a NYer who is taking several 16 year olds on an early July sightseeing road trip through California. I am opting for 1 1/2 days in San Francisco, drive highway 1 (God have mercy on me) making a stop - possibly overnight, onto Santa Monica for a day then LA for 3, 2 in Anaheim, 1 1/2 San Diego, 1 1/2 vegas. we arrive SF in the am and on the 11th night we leave.
    Any suggestions? 3-4 star hotels...something great for young girls eyes and a mother's pockets. We are planning on Alcatraz and 2 tours in LA, along with Disney in Anaheim. Any suggestions on where to stay and where to stop during that long coastal drive? Trying to squeeze in as much views as possible for these 7.

    Also, is it better to be in Santa Monica or Hollywood for July 4th? Any differences?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ


    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    One area that I did not see on your list of places to spend some time but that I think would have a lot of appeal to teenage girls would be Monterey/Carmel. Besides the usual beaches and such, Monterey has a world-class aquarium and some great historic walking tours. And I don't know if Steinbeck is still required reading in high school, but there would be the chance to visit Cannery Row which he made famous and maybe get a book report out of. Then, working down through Carmel, there's 17 Mile Drive through some of the ritziest neighborhoods on the west coast (a toll is charged), Pebble Beach, the breathtaking scenery of Point Lobos State Reserve, a still active old Spanish mission: San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo, and window shopping along Carmel-by-the-Sea's equivalent of Rodeo Drive - Ocean Ave. And just south of Carmel, as you start down the Pacific Coast Highway, Julia Pfeiffer Burns Sate Park is a must if only for the waterfall debouching into the Pacific. Although much of this area is upscale, you should be able to find some reasonably priced 3-4 star accommodations in the Pacific Grove area.

    More generally on the lodging front, you might want to look at renting whole houses rather than just a couple of motel rooms. The price differential is not going to be that great and typically homes come with full kitchens and laundry equipment which will help, not to mention that it's a bit easier to keep an eye on everyone (and give them a bit more leeway) in a home rather than a more public motel. Finding homes available for one or two nights at a time will be a bit of a problem, but it's worth looking. Start by searching on {townname vacation rental}.

    And for many more hints and suggestions for the general area of your trip, check the discussions linked to here.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Alcatraz.

    I would strongly recommend booking your boat tickets in advance to visit Alcatraz, it's popular all year round and with a larger group it could save you a lot of queuing, or worse still dissapointment. This is the only officially recognised ticket seller by the National parks service. Agents will either put a mark up on ticket prices, or more commonly, only sell you tickets that include other tours in which they make their money.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default At night.

    To add to Dave's suggestion, consider doing the night tour. Besides seeing the prison at night, one can go outside and see the lights of the city come on as the sun sinks into the Pacific, behind the Golden Gate Bridge.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    A fairly decent hotel in the Hollywood area is the Burbank Marriott across from the Burbank Airport. No, the planes won't keep you up at night -- the hotel is pretty well insulated. We've stayed there a couple of times. It's off of I-5 on Hollywood Way.

    There are lots of good places to stay in the Anaheim area. We aren't "3-4 star" hotel type people, so the Best Western Stovall has been good for us. You can walk over to the 2 Disney parks (allow 2 days, one per park) from the Stovall, or ride the Anaheim Trolley, to avoid the $15/day parking fee that Disney charges.

    I'll second the suggestion of Monterey. Also, in our area, John Steinbeck is still on the required reading list.


  6. Default

    Thanks for the information. As we won't be in one place more than 3 days, I didn't think renting a house would work for us. I was considering Carmel/ many beautiful places in CA, I will be doing it an injustice...but the girls will have an adventure remembered forever. I definitely believe when they go back to HS, they will have a different point of view in their writing. I appreciate everyone's help....this is overwhelming to try and piece together a "almost perfect trip."

  7. Default

    Thanks SW Dave, I am already on that. Tickets are not available until 90 days prior. Just debating whether I get off the plane and take off running for Alcatraz, and squeeze in other views right after, or take them thru Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard St, see Golden Gate Bridge and Trolley Car then do Alcatraz next morning before driving towards LA. I better pack an extra bottle of B12.

  8. Default

    Lifemagician, I was at Alcatraz 27 years ago on my husband, it still leaves me speechless when I think of that night, I envision those who escaped/tried to escape and getting eaten by sharks. Do you think that will be impressive for young girls? Will it be too crowded, I read posts that suggest opting for the morning to avoid the crowded tours.

  9. Default

    Thanks Donna, I will definitely add that to my list of recommends. Do I need a full day in California Adventure and a full day in Disneyland? I was hoping to scale it down to 1.5 days so I can visit a childhood friend for a few hours in San Diego prior to going to the Zoo there.

  10. Default

    Tk you, AZbuck.... if I am leaving on July 3 from San Francisco and hoping to be in Santa Monica/Hollywood Los Angeles area on July 4, what would your advise be....driving and stopping overnight. I will be the sole driver. Also, where should I be on the 4th, Pier or Hollywood. What is a site to see on July 4th in LA. Yes, I am most definitely picking your brain.

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