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  1. Default San Francisco to Los Angeles

    Hi there!

    I was hoping someone could help us out with some information on travelling from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We are looking to do this drive around September sometime.

    We were wondering:
    - What the best 'cheap' rental car company is for this (i.e. one way);
    - What are 'must-sees' on the route? I already have a few marked down, including Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, San Luis Opisbo). Bearing in mind we are from New Zealand, so coastline and beaches are something we are familiar with);
    - Approximately how long we should look at doing it in (I was thinking something along the lines of 3 nights/4 days);
    - Where would you recommend stopping to stay along the way?

    Thanks everyone in advance for your advice/suggestions!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Fits Quite Nicely

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    One of the simple truths of RoadTripping is that there is no single rental car agency that is always and everywhere the cheapest. You'll simply have to compare prices from many different agencies and see who's offering the lowest rates on the particular car you want at the particular time you want it. You may be able to get a break on the one-way drop off fee by booking through a consolidator in New Zealand, but I'm not familiar with any particular such outfits.

    Unfortunately(?), your choice of sights to see, including Hearst Castle and the Monterey Aquarium sets your route for most of the way north from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco. That will have to be on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, CA-1). There is a mountain range, the Santa Lucia, between the coast and inland north-south roads which limits connectivity between the two, so once you start up the PCH you are pretty much committed to it at least until Monterey. Besides the places you've already noted, you should also have a look at some other possible sites including: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, 17-Mile Drive, the Mission San Carlos Borromeo
    del Rio Carmelo
    , and some window shopping on Ocean Avenue in Carmel.

    Two days is really about the minimum needed for a relaxing drive up the PCH with a few stops. To that add any significant amount of time that you're going to send in San Luis Obispo, Carmel/Monterey, and in the south Bay Area. So three nights/four days would make for a nice RoadTrip. I'd suggest stops in Cambria, the Monterey area (Pacific Grove tends to be a bit cheaper), and maybe San Jose.


  3. Default

    Thanks very much! I forgot to mention, we are living in San Fran at the moment, so don't need to factor in any time here (will have seen enough of it by the time we hit the road!) and also possibly useful information is that it is only my husband and I, so no kids or pets or anything to worry about.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Check around.

    Over the years I have rented vehicles from Budget, SF area to LA, usually LAX. Not only have I always found them the most economical, but I have never been charged a one way drop fee.

    However, last year, when I rented from Budget, it was not in SF, but some miles east of there. I found myself going through four or five of their outlets to get the cheapest rates without a drop fee.

    Budget are also the only company I know of who ask for your nationality. Nor sure what difference that makes or why they ask. In 2009 I rented from Budget in Hayward. When I was researching, I found some which actually were prepared to bring the car to you wherever you were in SF.

    Don't miss out on Solvang, on your way south.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you have 4 days and 3 nights, you have plenty of time to make this a very leisurely trip. You could spend some time in Santa Cruz, then spend a night and part of a day in the Monterey area. Farther down the coast, Cambria is a charming seaside village with nice places to spend a night. You need to book your Hearst Castle tour in advance. If you need a 3rd night on the road, look at Santa Barbara.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default In That Case...

    ...and noting that you're driving north to south rather than the south to north I mistakenly thought in my initial response, then I'd suggest that you send two nights in the Monterey/Carmel area. There's an awful lot to see there. In addition to those already discussed, there's Cannery Row (if you're a John Steinbeck fan), docent-led walking tours of historic Monterey, Point Lobos State Reserve, and possibly a drive over to Pinnacles National Monument using Carmel Valley Road (County Rd G-16).


  7. Default

    Thanks for the info already provided to the thread starter. Hopefully this is not a thread hijack as the question may also be useful to tegz3 - the thread starter.

    We're doing this trip - LA to SF - by RV starting 7th Oct, and taking a leisurely 8 days over it. We plan to spend at day at the Getty Centre and then head north taking in the sights you've already listed, and plan to spend the most time doing day hikes in Big Sur.

    My main question is - How vital is it to book all our RV sites in advance? We plan to make sure we have a booking for the first and last night but would like to be a bit more spontaneous with our stops in between. Should we book a site for every night? Or just first and last night plus the Friday/Saturday of the weekend? Or if we are just going to pitch up on a first come first served basis would we be best advised to pitch up on Thursday night and stay for 3 days to avoid the Friday night rush for the weekend of 12th/13th October? We don't mind unserviced sites - we just want to make sure we're parked legally and we'll be self contained.

    We found that when we did an RV trip from SF to Seattle there was no need to book anything during the first 10 days of June, but will the sites on the LA - SF trip be busier in October?

    Any advice gratefully received.

    Regards, Roger and Pat

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