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SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

Pittsburgh...
posts: 18
reviews: 17
SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

Hello! I was hoping I could get some input from Californian experts about the itinerary I had in mind for a California trip I'm thinking about planning. I realize there are a lot of other posts about similar topics throughout several different forums in which I read through, but I was hoping to get unique answers specific to my itinerary. So thank you in advance and I appreciate your time!

A little background... Nothing about this trip is set in stone yet (e.i.: dates, number of days for entire trip, flights, what cities we're visiting, number of nights in each city, etc.), so at this point we're flexible with basically everything and would love to hear your take on it as we are very open to suggestions that could potentially make this trip better. It will be my husband & I traveling, we are in our late 20's and we like to do a variety of things... sightseeing, eating great food, and doing things outdoors (biking, fishing, etc) are some of the things we enjoy. We like to hop around as we get bored being in places too long, getting just a taste of multiple places would be fine with us. We are interested in seeing the top sites in each city, so suggestions for each place would be appreciated (especially LA- not sure where to start! I don't think we'd be interested in the amusement parks there, seems like it would take up too much of our precious time). I have a tentative itinerary in mind based off of some research I've done, but any input you could provide I would appreciate!

Day 1, Saturday, 9/28: Arrive in San Francisco by Noon; Sightsee for the remainder of the day; Overnight in SF

Day 2, Sunday, 9/29: Sightsee all day; Overnight in SF

Day 3, Monday, 9/30: Wake up early, rent a car and drive down Hwy 1; Stop at Santa Cruz for a few hours (boardwalk & amusement park); Continue down Hwy 1 and stop in Monterey (aquarium); Overnight in Monterey (We've never been to a B&B, and I'm thinking this would be a good place to try one?)

Day 4, Tuesday, 10/1: Wake up early and explore Carmel for an hour or two (breakfast); Continue down Hwy1, taking our time & stopping for pictures at look-outs, etc; Debating on stopping at Hearst Castle (Is it worth it to stop here? Could we just drive around or do we have to take a tour inside?); Overnight in Morro Bay (arriving late)

Day 5, Wednesday, 10/2: Explore Morro Bay (fish, kayak); Overnight in Morro Bay

Day 6, Thursday, 10/3: Wake up early and drive to LA, stopping in Santa Barbara for a couple of hours (eat lunch, relax on beach); Overnight in LA

Day 7, Friday, 10/4: Sightsee; Overnight in LA

Day 8, Saturday, 10/5: Sightsee; Overnight in LA

Day 9, Sunday, 10/6: Depart LA, fly home

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 20,894
reviews: 114
1. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

Your plan looks fine. The only question you and was about Hearst castle, you cannot just drive around, in fact you cannot drive beyond the visitor center but take their bus for a planned tour. Hard to say of something is worth it

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
posts: 13,277
reviews: 56
2. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

For Los Angeles, check the FAQ's posted at the top of the LA forum - this will give you an idea of what you can do while in LA.

San Francisco, Ca
posts: 4,645
reviews: 41
3. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

If you're going to try a B&B for the first time, I'd stay in Carmel... the town is much more quaint than Monterey, with shops, galleries, restaurants all within walking distance of downtown.

As for fishing, check out licensing requirements... I assume all beaches or piers require some sort of permit.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Borrego Springs, San Francisco, Solana Beach
posts: 27,842
reviews: 26
4. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

There are a number of B&Bs in Pacific Grove as well, which is near Monterey.

I would suggest Cambria over Morro Bay as a place to stay.

I think Hearst Castle is fascinating and its location is beautiful. I think it's "worth" doing.

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 14,019
reviews: 3
5. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

Good B&B options in/around Monterey include the Old Monterey Inn, Seven Gables Inn, Green Gables Inn (My favorite), Gosby House Inn, Centralla Inn, Lamplighter Inn, Cobblestone Inn.

As for Hearst Castle: The views from atop the hill are amazing! If you don't do a tour, you can at least walk around the Visitor's Center where you can get an overview of the history or even watch the IMAX "Building the Dream" movie about the building of Hearst Castle.

Morro Bay is okay, but the huge smoke stacks looming over the town kind of detract from the view. I agree that Cambria is a nicer place to overnight in by comparison. The drive to Morro Bay from Cambria is approx. 20 minutes.

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
posts: 25,016
reviews: 5
6. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

You have very good advice above. Have a wonderful trip.

Pittsburgh...
posts: 18
reviews: 17
7. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

We will definitely look into staying in Carmel or Pacific Grove instead of Monterey. Maybe we can just stop at Monterey and go to the aquarium on our way. is there anything else in Monterey we should do while we are there?

Also, about how much time should we allot for a tour of Hearst Castle? I am more intrigued by it than ever now after seeing your responses.

I was wondering about Morro Bay because I haven't heard many people mention it in other posts and I noticed there aren't many places to stay there... The only reason it stood out to me was because of the activities like fishing, kayaking, whale watching, etc. Do you think we could do these types of things in Cambria? I don't know much about Cambria, so any tips for there are appreciated.

Also, one last question in which I don't expect too many responses since its buried in this post, but do you think it would be worth us looking into driving to San Diego rather than LA? I'm not educated enough on either city to know which would be best, I suppose I should do more research to determine that. I know we aren't interested in the amusement parks or Hollywood studio tours or anything like that so thats why I'm considering San Diego. Perhaps we can make a quick stop in LA to get a picture of the Hollywood sign and then keep driving to SD?

I truly appreciate the time you all took to give your input. I value your advice and will look into adjusting our trip based off your feedback. This is exactly the type of advice & input I was looking for. THANK YOU :)

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Borrego Springs, San Francisco, Solana Beach
posts: 27,842
reviews: 26
8. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

There is a lot more to LA than theme parks and the Hollywood sign. I'd suggest cruising over to the LA forum and taking a look. DE HopSkipJump is especially eloquent on the topic of what to do in LA that tourists often overlook.

SD is a much smaller city and perhaps more mangeable from a visitor's perspective, especially if you have limited time. It has a nice downtown or you could stay over on Coronado. Again, check their forum too.

It's anywhere from a 2-5 hour drive depending on traffic. Factor that in as well because the drive between the two is not fun.

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 14,019
reviews: 3
9. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

".....I was wondering about Morro Bay because...... The only reason it stood out to me was because of the activities like fishing, kayaking, whale watching, etc. Do you think we could do these types of things in Cambria? I don't know much about Cambria, so any tips for there are appreciated."........

______________________________________

You can kayak around Cambria's shoreline, but whale watching can only be done out of Morro Bay, as there is no harbor in Cambria. Morro Bay has a lot of traffic and is really more of a bedroom community for San Luis Obispo these days. That's not to say that Morro Bay isn't nice, it's just that Cambria is SOO much nicer and because it's an easy 20 minute drive down to Morro Bay from Cambria, Cambria makes a better lodging choice.

Cambria, BTW, is lovely seaside town nestled in a pine forest with a beautiful pebbly beach. It's a walkable beach where you can sometimes find gem stones known as moonstones that wash ashore. Cambria's pretty shoreline on Moonstone Beach Drive has a wooden path for morning or romantic sunset walks. And Cambria has some of the county's best dining options: Robin's, Sow's Ear, Black Cat Bistro, Madeline's, Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill to fit every taste and budget.

Cambria has two distinct shopping districts: The East Village and the West Village. Both areas have charming shops and architecture to match. It's just a wonderful little town and you'll leave feeling like you stayed in a quaint vacation area as opposed to the hustle and bustle of busy Morro Bay. While Cambria can get crowded, too, it just feels different compared to Morro Bay.

Edited: 7:17 pm, March 05, 2013
10. Re: SF, LA, & In Between - Itinerary Help!

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