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25 dec - 16 january in California

25 dec - 16 january in California

Old Sep 28, 13, 11:20 pm
  #1  
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25 dec - 16 january in California

Hi fellow FTers!

Me and my girlfriend i going to California from the 25th of December to the 16 of January and then leaving for Puerto Rico and St.Martin for about 10 days. Because I have only been in LA and Las Vegas I hoped that some of you could help with suggestions/advice of what to do in California. It would be very much appreciated!
We are young ( around 25 ) but is not looking for party. Instead good wine and food, culture, nature and new experiences.
One of the conditions for the trip is that we don't want to rent a car. Instead we want to use rail, flights or other public transportations.
Our thoughts so far:
> Arriving to LA the 25th of December
> 1-3 days in Las Vegas
> 1-3 days in San Diego (we have some friends there)
> Grand Canyon (dont know how long)
> San Francisco
> Napa Valley, mayby living on a vineyard for some days?
> Santa Monica and Santa Barbara (heard great things about these cities)
> Yosemite (this is a must! )
> Lake Tahoe
> Mexico (1-2 days) My girlfriend loves Mexico
> Take the train to Tucson, Arizona and visit Tombstone

Then also:
> Fresno?
> Reno
> Death Valley? (possible with out a car?)

What do you think? Is there any of you favorites we have missed? Do you have any suggestions on any good vineyard where you could stay 1-2 nights?
Thanks for any input!
Creades is offline  
Old Sep 28, 13, 11:38 pm
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I don't even think it would be possible to do all that without a car for at least some parts. The Grand Canyon? Napa? Yosemite could be done by bus from Merced but is MUCH better with a car.

I don't want to diss my home town, but Fresno isn't really on the tourist routes. Nothing really to offer - again, without a car - except as an overnight stopover or base from which to visit Yosemite or Kings Canyon National Parks. During that season, Fresno's Christmas Tree Lane is world class but again, by car.

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade but this is VERY ambitious without a car. I live here and travel all around the state but don't even know if I could figure out how to do everything on your list using only public transportation.
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Old Sep 28, 13, 11:49 pm
  #3  
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I have thought about that and you are right that we will not be able to do everything in the 22 days we have. The list is more "everything we have thought that we want to do". Regarding the car i suppose it will be hard. But on the other hand we are not against taking domestic flights (to Vegas, Grand Canyon or else), taking a taxi or a tour bus. We just dont want to drive and have a car that we have to be responsible for. Rather that we pay extra and feel the freedom of taking a glass of wine whenever
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Old Sep 29, 13, 12:02 am
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Agree, this is nearly impossible without a car.

Some parts you could do: Coast Starlight train from LA to Bay Area
http://www.amtrak.com/coast-starlight-train

This is a great train trip.

You can stop in Santa Barbara.

You can also get from San Diego to LA on Amtrak.

Frankly, though, if you are capable of driving,you should just rent a car.
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Old Sep 29, 13, 12:05 am
  #5  
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Nothing is impossible. The worst scenario is that I have to pay a lot to different cabdrivers. I really appriciate you advice but the there will be no car-renting
But besides that; is there any wonderful places we have missed?
The coast-starligt looked really nice by the way!
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Old Sep 29, 13, 12:17 am
  #6  
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You could take the Megabus from San Francisco to Reno and get pretty close to South Lake Tahoe. I know there is bus service from the Reno Airport over to South Lake Tahoe. Check this site: http://www.renoairport.com/tofrom-airport/shuttles

Reno does offer bus service around the city.

Another alternative is AMTRAK from Oakland (connecting bus to San Francisco) to Reno. Looks like they might offer connecting bus service to South Lake Tahoe from Sacramento.

South Lake Tahoe does have some limited bus service within the city but the roads around portions of Lake Tahoe will be closed in the winter due to snow. Aside from walking around at the state line where you have casinos and plenty of hotels within a few blocks, you're probably not going to be out touring on foot at this time of year. Add in the fact that it will likely be below freezing and that skiers will drive hotel rates higher on weekends and during Christmas week. Make sure you look at hotel prices and locations before booking any transportation.

One thing you need to consider is winter weather. If there's a big snow storm you could be delayed for a few hours or even a day, depending on road closures. Allow yourself plenty of time to get back to San Francisco if you're intending to fly onward from there.

Also, you're right in the middle of our rainy season to be touring wine country. There is a rather expensive bus service from SFO right up to Napa, but once you're there you're going to find it next to impossible to shuttle between vineyards without a car. Vines are dormant this time of year so there's not going to be much happening up there. There are restaurants and shops in downtown Napa, but you're some distance from any major vineyard further up the valley in Yountville or beyond. You might want to see if you can do this as a day trip from San Francisco with a tour company as a backup plan--at least then you'll hit some of the wineries.
http://evanstransportation.com/
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Old Sep 29, 13, 12:31 am
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OK, try this itinerary up the coast.

Fly to SAN. Spend time with your friends.
Take Amtrak to LA. Spend time there or take Coast Starlight to Santa Barbara. Spend at least a day or two. Take train up to San Luis Obispo. Spend a day there - nice restaurants and a nice town to stroll around in. Beach towns like Avila Beach or Pismo Beach are nearby.

Take train to Salinas, then bus or shuttle 30 miles to Monterey. Spend 2or 3 dys there and in Carmel. Great restaurants, sights, and activities. Take train or shuttle buses up to San Francisco area. You can buy tickets with Amtrak to Emeryville, then Amtrak bus to San Francisco itself.

Beyond that, I can't think of good public transit options for the rest of the trip.

Yosemite that time of year may be very snowy or possibly partially closed.
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Old Oct 6, 13, 3:46 am
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Originally Posted by Creades View Post
Hi fellow FTers!
> Arriving to LA the 25th of December
> 1-3 days in Las Vegas
> 1-3 days in San Diego (we have some friends there)
> Grand Canyon (dont know how long)
> San Francisco
> Napa Valley, mayby living on a vineyard for some days?
> Santa Monica and Santa Barbara (heard great things about these cities)
> Yosemite (this is a must! )
> Lake Tahoe
> Mexico (1-2 days) My girlfriend loves Mexico
> Take the train to Tucson, Arizona and visit Tombstone
Let's look at going car-free on some of these locations...

Some of LA is possible by public transit, but some is not....and all of it will be much complicated by not having a car. And taxi service is both expensive, and will require calling and waiting for any but the most taxi heavy areas. (Airport, certain business hotels)

Las Vegas: If you are just hitting casinos on the strip, it's do-able. Getting there can be short-hop flights (LA, San Diego, or Bay area airports; Megabus & Amtrak have bus service)

Grand Canyon: There are 1 day bus tours from Vegas. Wasting most of a day on the bus for a couple hours at the canyon seems perverse on such a limited schedule.

Napa: I'm unaware of any winery with accommodations...and getting there from San Francisco w/o a car is problematic. Getting around the Napa area w/o a car is REALLY problematic.

Forget Tombstone if you don't have a rental car. Amtrak's "service" from LA to Tucson is only 3 days a week in each direction....and there's essentially NO way to get from Tucson to Tombstone w/o a private vehicle. (Greyhound/Amtrak to Benson + a 30 mile o/w taxi ride from there to Tombstone)

San Diego, Santa Barbara, Fresno, San Louis Obispo, San Francisco and many other points are accessible via Amtrak train and their connecting motorcoachs. And here there is good news, a California Rail pass (7 days of travel in 21) is a quite reasonable $159 per person. The local transit in the named communities is not too bad...although outlying areas are much easier to access by rental car than public transit.

Yosemite: While it's much easier by private car, you can get there via a bus tours from San Francisco.....or the YARTS bus service which connects to Amtrak in Merced.

Lake Tahoe: Without a private vehicle, it's a nightmare.

Mexico: If you want to visit Tijuana, you can take the light rail down from San Diego on a day trip and walk across the border. It's a dirty nasty border town.....but whatever... As for travel *in* Mexico, I'd avoid it like the plague...
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Old Oct 6, 13, 3:20 pm
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Originally Posted by mlshanks View Post
Napa: I'm unaware of any winery with accommodations...
RustRidge Winery has Bed & Breakfast accommodations and Milat Family Vineyards has private cottages in the vineyard.

There are other B&Bs and inns within walking distance of wineries and vineyards.
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Old Oct 11, 13, 12:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
OK, try this itinerary up the coast.

Fly to SAN. Spend time with your friends.
Take Amtrak to LA. Spend time there or take Coast Starlight to Santa Barbara. Spend at least a day or two. Take train up to San Luis Obispo...
This whole itinerary is excellent. A few items of note:

The best places to spend New Year's Eve will be either Hollywood, San Franciso or Las Vegas. I know you do not like to party but your New Years Eve will be SIGNIFICANTLY better in one of those cities at one of the clubs where you can even rent out a table ($$$) if you would like. Do not trust "promoters" online (they will sell you some ticket to a crap party for $200), instead, feel free to reach out directly if you think you may be in LA or SF and I can make reservations - or a host at one of the nicer casinos can recommend something interesting in Vegas.

Tijuana is a waste, if you have about 4-5 days to spare you can do Cabo but that really might be pushing it.

All in all, Doc Savage made some excellent suggestions and I would use his post as a great starting point when planning your trip.
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Old Nov 27, 13, 9:29 am
  #11  
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Hi,

Now everything is booked and the final itinerary is:

San Diego (25 dec-30 dec)
LA (30 dec-2 jan)
Las Vegas (2 jan-6 jan)
Santa Barbera (6 jan-8 jan)
Monterey (8 jan-10 jan)
San Fransisco including Napa (10 jan-13 jan)
Yosemite (13 jan-15 jan)
San Fransisco (15 jan-16 jan)
Puerto Rico (16 jan-21 jan)
St.Maarten (21 jan-26 jan)
Puerto Rico (26 jan-27 jan)
San Fransisco (27 jan-29 jan)

A lot of Amtrak and domestic AA. But i think it will be great and I am thankful for all the tips you have come up with!
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Old Nov 27, 13, 9:34 am
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Glad you got it all set up. Have a great time!
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Old Nov 27, 13, 4:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Creades View Post
San Diego (25 dec-30 dec)
LA (30 dec-2 jan)
Las Vegas (2 jan-6 jan)
Santa Barbera (6 jan-8 jan)
Monterey (8 jan-10 jan)
San Fransisco including Napa (10 jan-13 jan)
Yosemite (13 jan-15 jan)
San Fransisco (15 jan-16 jan)
Puerto Rico (16 jan-21 jan)
St.Maarten (21 jan-26 jan)
Puerto Rico (26 jan-27 jan)
San Fransisco (27 jan-29 jan)
That's quite an itinerary!

January is not the nicest time of year to visit Central and Northern California. Although the temperatures are mild for winter at around 60F/17C during the day, the sky is frequently cloudy with light rain or the chance of rain every day. But with any luck you'll catch at least a few clear days while you're here.

In Yosemite it will be around freezing during the day and snowy.
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Old Nov 27, 13, 9:39 pm
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Sounds like quite a trip! Here is a thread with some dining ideas in Monterey/Carmel. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/calif...ey-carmel.html There are some wineries with tasting rooms in town as well. As mentioned upthread, you can take Amtrak to Salinas. The Monterey/Salinas Transit station (the local bus service) is a short two block walk from the train station, and it'll be a 30 to 40 minute bus ride into either Monterey or Carmel. You can catch a cab their as well if you'd rather. Have a great time!
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Old Nov 27, 13, 11:25 pm
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Just got the first real snow of the season in the southern Sierra. Just a little though, the ski resorts are still closed. More is expected soon but unless a real blizzard comes in it should not affect your bus trip into Yosemite. Just be prepared for some cold.
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