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Old May 7, 08, 11:14 am   #1
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Suggested itinerary for driving the PCH from SFO to LAX (or SAN?) in 7 days

Next spring, we're thinking of doing a drive down the PCH from SFO to LAX (or SAN). We have a toddler who will be 2 and 1/2 at the time. What itinerary would you suggest? We will likely arrive on a Saturday in SFO and depart on the following Saturday or Sunday from LAX or SAN, depending on what's better. We want to spend 2 days in SFO, but otherwise I'm having a hard time deciding where to stop on the trip and for how long. We want to do Monterey and a day in the Central Coast/Santa Barbara wine country. Where else should we stop? And should we go all the way to SAN or stop at LAX? We have little or no interest in the LA area, so it'll either be just the terminus or we'll skip right over it to get to SAN. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Last edited by SRQ Guy; May 7, 08 at 11:22 am..
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Old May 7, 08, 12:43 pm   #2
 
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I love San Diego, but my opinion is driving from San Francisco to San Diego in five days is too rushed to enjoy all the PCH has to offer. With a toddler, the Monterey Aquarium is a natural destination, and I think it's enjoyable for adults too. Santa Cruz is an enjoyable stop, a very laid-back town. The boardwalk right on the beach is fun. I've heard some mixed opinions on the Hearst Castle. I liked the tour, but some people don't think it's worth it. Not sure if a toddler would enjoy it all that much.

You'll have a great time no matter what you do. Here's an itinerary to get you started:

Saturday- SFO
Sunday-SFO
Monday- drive to Santa Cruz, stay in Santa Cruz
Tuesday-drive to Monterey: visit the Aquarium
Wednesday- Carmel and the 17 mile drive
Thursday-Enjoy the incredible drive down the Big Sur coast, stay in San Luis Obispo or Morro Bay.
Friday- Santa Barbara wine country (Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos) or Central Coast (Paso Robles area)
Saturday- depart LA

I also asked for tips on a PCH drive awhile back. The thread, with lots of good advice, is here: http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthrea...693&highlight=
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Old May 7, 08, 1:52 pm   #3
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Thanks for the advice, and the pointer to the other thread.
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Old May 7, 08, 5:12 pm   #4
 
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Bit of a bummer that you'd just skip Los Angeles, California. But, oh well ...

I think that Quaker325's itinerary sounds fine, but it's a bit heavy on the area right around Monterey, California, IMO. I think of Santa Cruz, California, and Carmel, California, as all being adjacent to one another. I'd collapse those three days into two and spend another day further on down the coast.

One more thing: you're looking at a 2.5- to 3-hour drive to LAX from Santa Barbara, California. And, you're going to lose 3 hours flying to Florida. So, you're likely going to have to get up pretty early to arrive home at a decent hour (I would think).

Of course, getting up early when there's a toddler around is pretty easy from what I hear. On the flip side, you will be able to look forward to a jet-lagged toddler when you get home who will sleep three hours later than usual.
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Old May 7, 08, 8:31 pm   #5
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Originally Posted by iapetus View Post
Bit of a bummer that you'd just skip Los Angeles, California. But, oh well ...
I've been there many times, and sadly found it to be the most overrated city I've ever visited.

Quote:
I think that Quaker325's itinerary sounds fine, but it's a bit heavy on the area right around Monterey, California, IMO. I think of Santa Cruz, California, and Carmel, California, as all being adjacent to one another. I'd collapse those three days into two and spend another day further on down the coast.

One more thing: you're looking at a 2.5- to 3-hour drive to LAX from Santa Barbara, California. And, you're going to lose 3 hours flying to Florida. So, you're likely going to have to get up pretty early to arrive home at a decent hour (I would think).
Thanks for the advice. I'm aware of the long flight home. I suspect we'll spend the last night in a hotel at LAX so as to enable catching an early flight home conveniently.

Quote:
Of course, getting up early when there's a toddler around is pretty easy from what I hear. On the flip side, you will be able to look forward to a jet-lagged toddler when you get home who will sleep three hours later than usual.
Indeed.
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Old May 7, 08, 11:17 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by SRQ Guy View Post
I've been there many times, and sadly found it to be the most overrated city I've ever visited.
I suspect you either haven't visited many (any?) cities, or you simply don't know how to "do" LA. I think it is generally a highly underrated city, as people only think of the overblown negative stereotypes and don't realize all the magic that is actually the reality of the place.
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Old May 8, 08, 12:44 am   #7
 
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Originally Posted by DJ_Iceman View Post
I suspect you either haven't visited many (any?) cities, or you simply don't know how to "do" LA. I think it is generally a highly underrated city, as people only think of the overblown negative stereotypes and don't realize all the magic that is actually the reality of the place.
FWIW, I completely agree (thought I think the use of the word "magic" might be a little overly poetic ). However, this is one of those things that I think people either get or they don't get. Rarely have I heard of people's opinion getting swayed on this topic; so, I don't normally try very hard to do so.
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Old May 8, 08, 2:22 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by SRQ Guy View Post
I've been there many times, and sadly found it to be the most overrated city I've ever visited.
Oh?

As a third-generation Angeleano, I'd be curious as to what you look for in a city to make it rate highly for a visitor?

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Also, traveling with a toddler, I'd be concerned how he/she does with extended driving time in a car seat. Some are fine, while others *really* get cranky or carsick when the trip gets longer than an hour or so w/o a break. I'd have a plan for stops if this is apt to be a problem.

If the above likely to be an issue, I'd also recomend giving Highway 1 south of Monterey a pass... While it's a lovely drive w/ amazing views, it's also a twisty road w/ almost nowhere to stop from Big Sur to San Simeon... Better to take I-101 South.

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Old May 8, 08, 5:17 am   #9
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I apologize if I offended Angelenos. Everyone has their tastes, and LA doesn't fit in mine. I love NY, Miami, Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco (amongst others) but I just never could get into Los Angeles.

mlshanks, thanks for the concern with the long drives, but our toddler generally does very well for 2-3 hours between stops, even on really twisty terrain. In fact she always falls asleep in her car seat after an hour or so. The key for that part of the drive will be to time it around her nap. I do appreciate the heads-up that there is almost no place to stop on that stretch! It makes it easier to plan the drive.
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Old May 10, 08, 9:33 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by SRQ Guy View Post
I apologize if I offended Angelenos. Everyone has their tastes, and LA doesn't fit in mine. I love NY, Miami, Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco (amongst others) but I just never could get into Los Angeles.
No worries, I certainly didn't take it as in insult... Just peaked my curiosity.
I often find that people who say they "don't like L.A." have some fundimental misapprehension about the city....since it is both so diverse and spread out, it's not easy for folks to really get a feel for the town...I regularly encounter natives who have never been to landmarks, events, activities, or neighborhoods that I take for granted.

Then there are the misconceptions. Everyone jokes about L.A. traffic, which can be brutal at certain places. But the locals generally have half-a-dozen alternitives that they use as second-nature... (ask us nice and we'll share ) It's actually San Francisco, Seattle, or New York City that has awful traffic...since travel in those cities almost always involves bridges & tunnels that turn into unavoidable bottlenecks. Yes, LA's public transit is lacking compared to SFO or NYC (having much more area/terrain and much less population will do that), but it certainly is on par Seattle or Miami.

I asked what you seek out in a city as a tourist, because if it *was* something you were missing, I'd be happy to point it out...
...and I can honestly admit that you aren't going to find certain things in L.A.... Four distinct seasons, snow, professional football, or everything you want to see within blocks of your hotel (unless your tastes are really narrow).

Quote:
mlshanks, thanks for the concern with the long drives, but our toddler generally does very well...
Lucky you!

If you can do the drive down Highway 1, it certainly is a beautiful trip. You might think about taking an afternoon tour of Hearst Castle... A toddler might be more interested by the bus ride up and back since the Hearst family's exotic animals (zebra, elk, antelope, buffalo, curly-horned goats, etc) roam the lower slopes on the way to the castle. But the view is stunning. And the family might be amused by the kitchy Madonna Inn just outside San Louis Obisbo. (both should be reserved well in advance).

Here's something that might impress a toddler (and the rest of the family) between SFO and Monteray: How about a visit to both the coastal redwoods (BIG trees) and an operating steam railroad? The Roaring Camp Railroad and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park are next door to each other outside Felton, CA...just inland form Santa Cruz.
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