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  1. Default Los Angeles to San Francisco

    Hi me and a friend are planning a trip from LA to San Francisco. We are in our 20s from Australia.
    We need ideas on routes and approximate times, and where to stay. Accommodation does not have to be glamorous. We are happy to stay at anything so long as the places are clean, and have showers and no creepy crawlies.

    We land in NYC on the 12th May and will be taking a morning flight to LAX on the 22nd May. We are flying out of San Francisco on 31 May.
    Im not sure whether we should hire a car direct from the airport or from say Santa Monica. (Will it be easy to hire a car, given that we are 27 and 24. Which are the best companies. )?

    Here is the proposed itineary for the roadtrip part of it. If you could advise approximate times to leave it would be good as we have no idea of the distances. Also it will be over Memorial Day Weekend, so may be busy?
    22 May: Fly into LAX. Pick up car. Sightsee during day (Flight will probably land around 3PM). Overnight at Santa Monica (or get public transport to Santa Monica, and pick up car the next day?)
    23 May: Begin drive from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara.
    24 May: Santa Barbara to Cambria
    25 May: Cambria to Montery (Big Sur)
    26 May: Montery to San Francisco. Return car.
    26-31: San Francisco. (too many days?)

    Does this seem appropriate, or could we do this quicker or fit more things in? We really arent too sure what 'other' attractions we should go to also, and if we should spend a day exploring LA or not.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12,475

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'll start by saying that LA is a place where you'll want to get a car, and unless you can get a fantastic deal off-site, I'd recommend getting your rental car right at the airport. Once you are in SF, then a car isn't as important.

    If you are both going to drive, then you'll likely be looking at an extra driver and underage fee for the 24 year old. You could avoid this by only having the 27 year old driving. Otherwise, shopping around may help you find a low extra fee for the extra driver

    Have you booked your flights yet? If not, you might consider doing a full loop, where you either fly from NY to SF or fly home from LA. With the amount of time you've got, you might consider also including places like Yosemite, Sequoia NP, Death Valley, Vegas, or possibly even the Grand Canyon. It would mean less time in SF, but if those places sound interesting, they would be worth considering. Here are some other posts about trips like that. If you only want to do the coast, that's find too of course, and if that's the case, I think your plan looks good.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    8,845

    Default

    I just checked a one-way rental from LAX to SFO for those dates, and most of the majors will not charge a one-way dropoff fee, but there will be an under-25 surcharge. The cheapest appear to be Alamo and Enterprise.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,082

    Default

    Whether you want to take the time to explore LA or San Francisco, depends on what you want to get out of this trip. As you've discovered, driving the coastal highway between the two cities is going to take 2 days. Just be careful, as the scenic pullouts heading north will not be in your favor -- they will be on the opposite side of the road, and sometimes on a blind curve. (That's why we always recommend doing this highway from north to south. If your flights aren't booked already, you may want to consider either what Michael suggested, or going into SFO and leaving by way of LAX.)

    In LA, you've got 5 major theme parks, Hollywood area, Santa Monica Pier, and many many museums to look over. In San Francisco, you've got a lot of tourist-y things to do like Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Candlestick Park, and so much more. You'll find a car is a necessity in LA as the transportation system isn't particularly wonderful (because LA is so spread out). It's helpful in San Francisco only to a degree.

    Michael made some great suggestions on places to go in between. If you can only choose one, Yosemite would be a good one as it's not a huge drive and you could still catch the coastal drive too.


    Donna

  5. Default

    Thanks for the help.

    In the process of booking tickets now and it looks like I will be flying from NYC to LAX on the 22nd at night and land there at 9.30PM. Bearing in mind I need to be at San Francisco on the 27th, can anyone suggest a suitable itinerary

    Should we stay the 23rd night in LA also and leave for Santa Barbara on the 24th? (perhaps Ill get to enjoy driving on Mullholland drive too then?)

    Or just stay the 23rd night in LA just leave to Santa Barbara on the 23rd?

    Any suggestions as to where to stay, and if we should pick up the Car the night we land in LA, or pick it up on the next day?

    Current itinerary
    23/5
    pick up car in the morning (which depot?). Drive Mullholland Drive, have lunch, then drive to Santa Barbara.

    24/5
    Santa Barbara to Cambria

    25/5
    Cambria to Monterey via Big Sur

    26/5
    Monterey to San Francisco.

    Having looked at this, it looks like we will arrive in SF on the 26th and not the 27th. Should I spend a day longer in LA/ drive to Yosemite/ or spend an extra night along the coastal highway?

    Are the overnight stops appropriate? We would like to be able to do things after dark too and not be too bored. Though one night of 'quiet' should be okay

    Thank you
    Last edited by menty; 03-28-2013 at 08:35 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    8,845

    Default

    When you pick up the car depends on where you will be staying on the night you arrive. If the hotel has an airport shuttle, you won't need it till the next day, and you can ride the shuttle back to the airport to get it.

  7. Default

    Any suggestions where to stay. I want to do Mulholland Drive and probably have lunch at Santa Monica on the 23rd. (not really exploring LA). Then leave for Santa Barbara
    But looking at the map, it starts from around the Hollywood area? What are the best times to avoid traffic

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,621

    Default One or two days..... your call!

    As already mentioned above by glc, most car rental companies do not charge a one way fee between SF and LA. (I have never been charged one.)

    Everytime I have been to LA I have stayed at the USA Hostel on Schrader. One of the best hostels in the US. They have a policy (or did have last time I stayed there) of 'stay two nights and we pay half your shuttle cost'. The blue shuttle from the airport takes you right there. Essential to book, as they are always full - a testament to their service and facilities. So check their site, see what they offer, and decide if a two night stop is for you.

    If you have a spare day in SF, drive over the Bridge and check out some of the sight to the north, including the Large Trees in Muir Woods. Do you have a tour of Alcatraz on your itenary? Very much worth it. The night tour is even more so. Just spectacular to watch the sun sink into the Pacific behind the GG Bridge and see the lights come on all over SF. (There is a USA Hostel in SF too, but I have not stayed there yet.)

    Have a great trip.

    Lifey

  9. Default

    Thanks. We have 5 days and 4 nights in SF.

    I am just planning out the LA to SF leg at the moment as I understand accommodation needs to be pre booked and a car needs to be hired. Ideally I would like to rent a Mustang Convertible (I am 24), what are my chances?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,621

    Default

    Two chances, mate.

    Buckley's and Nunn!!!

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