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  1. Default One Week Road Trip - West Coast USA (Starting from Santa Clara)

    Hi folks!

    We're a spontaneous young couple from The Netherlands and we're coming by to see your lovely country from June 20th until the 28th. We are planning to make a one week road trip, starting from Santa Clara, and ending up back at San Francisco on the 26th. Knowing that the trip actually starts on the 21st, that leaves us with five and halfish days of true sightseeing / driving around. We know that this amount of time is very limited to actually even make a start to get a glimpse of the West Coast, but we're young and we love to explore!

    Thus far we've thought that the first day we'd probably drive the furthest (to Yosemite National Park), and stay there for the night as well. We were then thinking of taking it slow driving back to San Francisco, but we're not really sure what the best places are to stop along the way (and stay over night). We're quite the adventurous types, so staying in some sort of ghost village for the night is actually something we look forward to. We'd really love to drive across Pacific Coast Highway, enjoy a bit of nature, beaches, and shopping while we're at it.

    In other words, we need some tips (especially on the way back to San Francisco).


    Ruben & Kim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default You can do both.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip forum.

    It's not a great deal of time, but the best thing is you are not days away from some great attractions. There is no reason why you could not drive the PCH. Take that down as far as Cambria, then head inland to Yosemite. At this stage it may be too late to get accommodation inside the Park, but there should be accommodation available in nearby places like Mariposa.

    When it comes to Yosemite, one day is rarely enough. Be sure to go up to Glacier Point, and drive out the eastern entrance over Tioga Pass. This will also take you close to the ghost town of Brodie, but since the last three miles or so section of the road is not maintained, you will not be able to take your rental car there. Still, you may find the hike worth it. That would mean staying a night on the eastern side in or near Lee Vining. On the way back you may like to once again pass through Yosemite to check out those places for which you did not have time the first day, or you could take one of the other passes over the Sierras.

    That would still leave you with time to maybe check out something like Napa Valley (grape and wine country), or if you head north on the east side of the Sierras, you could return to SF via Lake Tahoe. But if it were me, I'd spend another day in Yosemite.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The reason for the recommendation to take the PCH first is traveling south, the scenic pullouts will be on your side of the road, you won't have to cross traffic to get in and out.

    Bodie is a great ghost town, but you can't spend the night there. Ask the rental agency if you are permitted to drive there - yes, the last 3 miles of the road is gravel, but it *IS* a numbered State highway.

  4. Default

    Hi guys!

    Thanks a lot for your replies. This helps a LOT. What we've planned thus far:
    June 21st => From Santa Clara we go onto PCH, our planned stops for the first day:
    - Half Moon Bay
    - Santa Cruz
    - Drive down to Monterey
    - Maybe do the 17 Mile Drive at sunset (but that is probably pushing it?)
    June 22nd => Still on PCH, our itinerary is as follows:
    - Bixby Bridge / Big Sur
    - Piedras Blancas (Elephant Seals)
    - Maybe Hearst Castle?
    - Drive to Cambria, spend the night there
    June 23rd => Half day Cambria, start driving to Yosemite, spend the night in the neighbordhood
    June 24th => Day @ Yosemite (spend the night in the neighborhood)
    June 25th => Glacier Point, start driving back to San Francisco, spend the night somewhere on route
    June 26th => Slow return to San Francisco, spend the night (and the rest of the days we have left) there.

    Our Google Maps itinerary looks as follows:

    We have the following questions:
    - What do you guys think of our itinerary?
    - Should we drive down further south?
    - Should we stop at any special places from Cambria to Yosemite?
    - The route from Cambria as illustrated on Maps is via Highway 41, but I was wondering if there are "better" or "quicker" alternatives.
    - Since we're traveling on a budget, any cheap ($100 a night, no bed bugs) motel recommendations?
    - What route should we take from Yosemite (Glacier Point) back to SF? Any places you recommend to stay over night?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Looking good.

    Personally I wouldn't head any further south than the Cambria area [other than perhaps Cayacus/Morro Bay] with the time you have available.

    From the coast I would concentrate on getting to Yosemite, it's a big park and quite magnificent to explore. CA41 is a good route into the park. When entering the park from the south you have Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoia trees near the south entrance and next is Glacier Point road on the way to the Valley.

    You could check out the 'Yosemite Bug' budget lodging near Yosemite.

    I would head out on CA120 towards SF and consider stopping in Groveland for the night after another day in Yosemite. As mentioned earlier by Lifey, the Tioga Pass [CA120] that goes over the high ground in Yosemite is quite spectacular and is worth the drive up to Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne meadows etc. You could visit on your final day in Yosemite and then continue out of the park to Groveland for the night as suggested.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-11-2013 at 10:13 AM.

  6. Default

    Hi all!

    Thanks for the great feedback! Our route has not changed much, although we decided to stay overnight in Sonora instead of Groveland due to budget restrictions.

    We still need to book 2 nights at the PCH, and 2 nights in or just outside Yosemite Park.

    Given that we have 2 nights, what are the best (and cheapest) cities / towns to stay at overnight at the PCH?

    Thanks a lot Southwest Dave / glc / lifey!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Cheapest on the PCH? I think the most reasonable near Monterey would be Pacific Grove, and San Simeon near the south end. Note that San Simeon is quite isolated, Cambria would be a lot more enjoyable but more pricey.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    To the right hand side of this page you can browse lodging deals and get an idea of price comparisions for different towns, but I don't have any personal recommendations.

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