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  1. Default Las Vegas (starting point), Los Angeles and San Diego

    We land in Las Vegas, next morning we drive towards California. We is me, my wife and 20 year old son.

    First day, July 1st) set out from Last Vegas.

    4 days in California

    5th day, July 6th, we head back to Las Vegas

    On one of those days, we want to visit Catalina Island (perhaps Day 2). Prefer to spend time in San Diego. Looking for budget itinerary ideas…Things to see and do, best places to stay on a budget, etc. Ideally, beaches and scenic places.

    Your help is appreciated in making this itinerary. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,192

    Default I Wish I Had Better News

    Unfortunately, while many museums in Los Angeles are free on the first Tuesday or Thursday of the month, that does not apply in July and August, which is prime tourist time. There are a few that will still have free days, but they tend to be art museums {not on your list) or have expensive on-site parking. The same goes for beaches. Even though the area between Los Angeles and San Diego has a lot of coastline, much of it is inaccessible due to terrain, private homes, or being part of a military installation. What beaches exist are usually crowded due to the high population density. Many of them have 'demand pricing' meaning they'll be especially costly over the July 4th holiday. Las Tunas Beach, north of LA is one possibility.

    Your best 'scenery' will be inland, including such sites as Joshua Tree National Park (but check the Elk Fire status before going), the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Mojave National Preserve is on your route between LV and LA, but even though a couple of its visitor centers are closed the roads through are open and it's free.

    As for accommodations, when I'm traveling alone, I like to stay at lower cost but well-known chains such as Days Inn, Microtel, America’s Best Value Inn, etc. If you belong to a loyalty program, now might be the time to use and/or earn some points. If I'm going to be out most of the day, I just don't see the point in spending a lot of money on a room that I just sleep in. The advantage of going with a nationwide brand is that there is someone to complain to other than just the local franchise.

    Hopefully, others will respond with more or better info,

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-31-2022 at 08:07 AM. Reason: Typos & Links

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Unfortunately, while many museums in Los Angeles are free on the first Tuesday or Thursday of the month, that does not apply in July and August, which is prime tourist time. There are a few that will still have free days, but they tend to be art museums {not on your list) or have expensive on-site parking. The same goes for beaches. Even though the area between Los Angeles and San Diego has a lot of coastline, much of it is increasable due to terrain, private homes, or being part of a military installation. What beaches there are usually crowded due to the high population density. Many of them have 'demand pricing' meaning they'll be especially costly over the July 4th holiday. Las Tunas Beach, north of LA is one possibility.

    Your best 'scenery' will be inland, including such sites as Joshua Tree National Park but check the Elk Fire status before going, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Mojave National Preserve is on your route between LV and LA, but even though a couple of its visitor centers are closed the roads through are open and it's free.

    As for accommodations, when I'm traveling alone, I like to stay at lower cost but well-known chains such as Days Inn, Microtel, America’s Best Value Inn, etc. If you belong to a loyalty program, now might be the time to use and/or earn some points. If I'm going to be out most of the day, I just don't see the point in spending a lot of money on a room that I just sleep in. the advantage of going with a nationwide brand is that there is someone to complain to other than just the local franchise.

    Hopefully, others will respond with more or better info,

    AZBuck
    Thanks. My son, though, has come up with wanting to take a ferry to Catalina Island, a whale watching trip (San Pedro?) and a day at the San Diego zoo.

    We might want to stay a night near each of them. Maybe near Newport Beach or Long Beach (Catalina Island trip), near the Zoo and near where we might go on the Whale watching trip. We had been to the LA sites a few years ago.

    Trying to book motels online now, I getting very high prices (cause of the July 4th weekend?) so maybe I should just try my luck at last minute bargains.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,790

    Default Willing to gamble?

    I'm not sure I would be willing to gamble with last minute deals at a busy time of year, quite often (from my experience) is that all that's left are a few 'dumps' or really expensive top end lodging. There may be some options with a free cancellation policy(?) which could be worth exploring. I'm not sure if they would work out cheaper, but have you looked at the possibility of staying in an apartment or cabin from where you could travel to and from. Or something different like this 40ft RV on Airbnb.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I'm not sure I would be willing to gamble with last minute deals at a busy time of year, quite often (from my experience) is that all that's left are a few 'dumps' or really expensive top end lodging. There may be some options with a free cancellation policy(?) which could be worth exploring. I'm not sure if they would work out cheaper, but have you looked at the possibility of staying in an apartment or cabin from where you could travel to and from. Or something different like this 40ft RV on Airbnb.
    The RV would have sounded great when I was younger but frequency of restroom use during night at my age makes it tough with outdoor restrooms.

    I did check with VRBO but those are even more expensive for those dates.

    Last minute deals are risky but often work as even big hotels let their unsold or cancelled rooms go for less. In any case, might just have to stay a few miles further out from the beaches and deal with those issues.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,761

    Default

    I'm an ex-San Diegan who wrote a series of posts Around San Diego County. In there are some ideas for what to see and do around San Diego County.

    The Zoo is great, but the sister park, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, is very unique (or at least, it was at its inception in 1972). Neither park is cheap, though, and they are 30 miles apart. Each park would take at least a day. I would check the zoo website for all the particulars.

    While most of the country is easing off on the mask-ordinance, friends back in San Diego tell me that they still carry a mask with them at all times. They never know when a business is still requiring them.


    Donna

  7. #7

    Default

    Weekend traffic between San Diego and Los Angeles is usually atrocious. Also on holidays. Instead of spending your holiday behind hundreds of vehicles you might be better off selecting the LA area or San Diego area. Taking the ferry to Catalina Island is the LA-area selection which likely means San Pedro or Long Beach (the Dana Point ferry is in south Orange County placing you in the middle of the horror driving zone).

    Access to the beach during the weekend means staying at a hotel near the beach within walking distance. The Huntington Beach area might be within driving distance of the Dana Point Ferry if you leave early in the morning. But during most of the day the beach roads will be as jammed as the freeways. There is a municipal parking lot a few blocks back from the Huntington Pier.

    Pricing for hotel/motel rooms have skyrocketed. I would not want to roll the dice on availability this year.

    One option worth exploring is the Coaster rail system in San Diego County.
    https://gonctd.com/maps-schedules/schedules/

    Also explore the Surfliner for options:
    https://www.pacificsurfliner.com/glo...ay-25-2022.pdf
    https://www.octa.net/Metrolink/How-to-Ride/System-Map/
    Note: The San Juan Capistrano stop is very close to the Dana Point ferry to Catalina.

    The Tustin area might open up some options for getting to the Dana Point Ferry (San Juan Capistrano) and to San Diego. The Solana Beach stop is walkable to the beach and a nice "coastal village" as well.

    Those trains in conjunction with use of Uber might open up many lodging options for you.

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