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  1. Default 10 days in California??

    I am flying to LA in September this year with my girlfriend for 10 days, flying back from LA to the UK. We have a rough idea of what we would like to do, but was wondering if there were any other suggestions or recommendations we should consider.

    We are planning to arrive in LA, and stay 3 nights in Santa Monica to explore LA. Then drive up the West Coast visiting wine country, staying at Carmel or Monterey for 1 night on the way to San Francisco where we were looking to stay 2 nights. We were then thinking of driving across to Yosemite (1 night) and then back to LA...which is the best way to come back to LA??

    I was wondering if my timescales seem ok....and what are the chances of fitting Vegas in and cutting down nights in other places.

    We are keen to see as much as possible and are fairly active...

    Cheers in advance for any advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default within reason

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Your outline seems basically fine, although there are a couple things to note.

    Santa Monica is kind of on one edge of the LA area, depending upon what you want to see, you could be looking at some long commutes (Anaheim/Disney would be more than an hour in traffic for example).

    If you did Yosemite, I would probably drive over Tioga Pass, and then take US-395 down through the desert back to LA, just know this will make for a very full and pretty long day. The more direct option would be CA-99/I-5 which is about a 4/5 hour trip.

    You could fit in LA, but you don't have a lot of extra time here it doesn't seem. There are hundreds of other threads about this basic outline including Vegas, so if you search around here a bit you should find tons more information.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.
    We were planning on staying 3 nights in Santa Monica, but would you recommend staying somewhere else in LA? Also do you think 3 nights is too long in LA? I guess we would like to do the typical touristy things, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and maybe Disney.

    I'll take a look around the site for more info...I'll have to book another trip to fit everything in!!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Have fun in California!

    Quote Originally Posted by harts View Post
    ...I'll have to book another trip to fit everything in!!!!
    The good news: we've really only been around a few hundred years, so there's not that much historical stuff to slog through.

    The bad news: we're bigger than the UK (425,000 square kilometers to 245,000 square kilometers).

    Santa Monica has a fun vibe; it's a "beach" community... but is (as noted) on the edge of the greater LA metropolitan area. Given that LA spreads out a lot, there is really no way to avoid having to travel SOMEWHERE if you want to see more than the area around your hotel. The trick is to figure out what sights you want to see, and pick a home base that takes both local LA travel and ambiance into account. Warning: freeway travel during commute hours in LA can be ugly.

    You mentioned wine country; while Napa and Sonoma (north of SF) are the old standbys, you could visit a few wineries in "Sideways" (the movie) country between Santa Barbara and Solvang on your swing up the coast, saving some time. This however would probably mean two nights between LA and SF (adding something like Cambria, Solvang, or Morro Bay to your plans to stop in Monterey/Carmel), so you may need to trim LA back to two days if this option appeals to you.

    Poke around, refine your itinerary and if you post back folk will almost certainly have more suggestions for you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    My comment would be, have you considered doing the trip anti-clockwise, so that when you travel the magnificent west coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you are on the ocean side. There are so many turnouts and view points along this route... if you travel south to north, you would have to cross the oncoming traffic everytime you turn into and out of them.

    In the Napa Valley, north of San Francisco is a small place called Calistoga. Here you will find one of only three Old Faithful geysers in the world. Worth a visit!


  6. Default

    Thanks CalOldBlue and Lifey!

    Sideways country sounds like a better plan for the wineries, and a stopover would be sensible, especially if I want to experience the wineries properly!!

    Good thinking about the anti-clockwise trip, I forgot you guys drive on the "other side!" ;-)

    I'll take a look around the site to amend my trip and decide on a base in LA. Cheers...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default If you're of a certain age...

    ... and I am, you may recall an actor by the name of Fess Parker. Noted for portraying two frontiersmen: Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Fess owns a winery on Foxen Canyon road, (part of the area in question). Some of his Syrah's are pretty nice.

    The gift shop is a hoot: you can buy coonskin caps for your wine!

    Photo: Don Casey

    Taken as part of a "Flat Stanley" project.

  8. Default Los Angeles to San Francisco Roundtrip

    Hi there,
    I am going to LA in a couple of days and am planning to drive to San Francisco via the scenic route and then back to LA via the Pacific highway. I am really after some info on exactly what routes to take and which areas of interest I could take in when going from place to place.

    Currently we are thinking:
    Day 1,2 - Arrive at LAX and stay in Santa Monica (taking in Hollywood etc etc)
    Day 3,4,5 - head for Yosemitie but not sure on the best route? Is it possible to take in Death Valley? Stay in Yosemite for one night at least
    Day 6,7,8 - Stay in San Francisco
    Day 9, 10 - Drive back to LA via Pacific Highway stopping at Monterey

    Would be grateful for some advice on filling the gaps!


    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 09-06-2009 at 08:36 AM. Reason: Merged threads

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default pretty easy

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    We really don't do bests here, because there are a lot of really good options. Your idea to do Death Valley would certainly work, from there you could go over Tioga Pass through Yosemite. That would be quite feasable on your timeline.

    You could also look at going up through Sequoia/Kings Canyon, although it would be tough to do both Death Valley and Sequoia without being kind of rushed.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Agreed.

    I agree with Michael, it would be tough doing both Sequoia and Death valley but either one is doable. Although Death valley is more of a detour it does take you across Tioga pass which is a big part of the Yosemite experience. If you chose Sequoia and wanted to drive across Tioga and back there really isn't much in the overall distance between the two. If you chose DV you could stay in the park at Furnace creek or Stovepipe wells and the following day head up the 395 towards Lee vining and Mono lake and either stay there the night or continue across Tioga [CA120] into Yosemite valley. Either way I would recommend another night in or just outside to the West of the park before heading to San Fran. That would give you time to explore along Tioga pass, have some quality time in the valley and maybe a trip up to Glacier point, which is one of the best views anywhere in the world.
    I would recommend an Alcatraz tour while in San Fran and pre booking through the official site is a good idea to guarantee a place and to save queuing at the ticket office. Pier 39 is a lot of fun as well with lots of places to eat.
    Along the PCH Hearst castle tours are very popular if you have the time.

    Have a great trip and let us know how things turned out and your thoughts when you return.

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