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Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old

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Horsham, United...
posts: 4
reviews: 1
Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old

Hi All

First of all want to say what a great resource this forum has already been in giving inspiration for this trip.

Planning a trip to California in school holiday July/August 2015. 2 Adults plus 8 year old son who is really active and really enthusiastic about animals and wildlife.

We're trying to create a trip to give both the parents and the son something to really enjoy and remember. Some culture, some sights, some great food and locations and some theme parks!

Trailfinders have a 'family fly drive' itinerary as follows which we have been considering:

Day1-3 San Fran

Day 4 Drive to Monterey

Day 5 Monterey

Day 6 Drive Monterey - Santa Barbara

Day 7 Santa Barbara

Day 8 Drive Santa Barbara-Huntington Beach

Day 9-10 Huntington Beach

Day 11 Drive Huntington Beach to San Diego

Day 11-14 San Diego, flying back from San Diego

This package gives us time to spend at Universal, Disney and Sea World as well an opportunity to enjoy the Big Sur and coast.

I was wondering whether any people have done a similar trip and would recommend a slightly different itinerary to get the most from the trip.

Also, any recommendations of securing the best possible prices for flights, hotels and theme parks? Trailfinders are normally good but maybe it can still be arranged privately to save money.

Any input very welcome.

7 replies to this topic
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 39,525
reviews: 74
1. Re: Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old

My guess is that with this much lead time, you'll do a better job picking hotels than TrailFinders does, get a better deal on a car rental, and create a more suitable itinerary. Already they've zoomed you past family friendly Pismo Beach and forced you to drive longer on your scenic Hwy 1 drive day.

Is this the trip? trailfinders.com/tours/usa/western-usa/san-f…

Do you want to add 2 or 3 days and include Yosemite NP?

Horsham, United...
posts: 4
reviews: 1
2. Re: Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old

thanks for your reply and yes, that was the trip that I was mentioning in my post.

I'd read about Pismo Beach on the forum so it's interesting to hear your comment.

My wIfe and I have been lucky enough to go to Yosemite some years ago and as we only really have 14 days for the trip we had excluded it on this occasion.

However, all suggestion/input welcome

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
posts: 35,136
reviews: 343
3. Re: Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old

I would think in nights not days since days over lap. The itinerary is somewhat confusing as to where you are spend the night when.

The trailfinders trip also seems awfully expensive to me and unless they say which specific hotels you are staying in, I'd be leery, especially in Santa Barbara, San Francisco and San Diego.

This far out you can do better on your own booking I would think.

And then they have driving from Santa Barbara to Universal, spending the whole day there and then driving to Huntington Beach that same night?

Then you have less than two full days at Disneyland and Disney's California adventure, during the busiest, hottest time of the year, with no time left for the beach.

There is no point at staying at the beach and driving to Disneyland both days and having to drive back. That is wasting a lot of time (drive time, parking process, shuttle to park, shuttle from park, etc). I'd either stay in Anaheim and do Disney for two days, or stay at the beach and skip Disneyland. This trip is trying to pack way too much into a short time or they are not considering your priorities, they are shoehorning everyone into the same trip. I would take days off San Diego to add to Orange County, especially if you were staying at the beach.

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 14,869
reviews: 3
4. Re: Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old

As a frequent driver of Highway 1, I consider Monterey to Santa Barbara too much for one day's drive. Especially IF you want to take your time and take in the many sights en route. I wouldn't travel any further than Pismo Beach from Monterey.

I suggest leaving SF early on Day 4 for Monterey and get as much in that day and drive to Pismo Beach on Day 5.

Since your son enjoys wildlife, you might want to stop at the Elkhorn Slough between Santa Cruz and Monterey to see the otters, seals and variety of birds that call it their home.

Point Lobos State Reserve just south of Carmel offers easy to navigate hiking trails where you can also see abundant wildlife. The deer literally stand just feet away from you and don't flinch!

There's an elephant seal rookery a few miles south from where the elevated portion of the Big Sur drive ends, as well.

Horsham, United...
posts: 4
reviews: 1
5. Re: Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old

Thanks so much for the replies and suggestions. It's great to get the input.

We will definitely add a stop and overnight at Pismo Beach as well as looking to stay in Anaheim if we choose to visit Disney.

Does anyone know of the best family friendly areas/hotels to look at, particularly in San Francisco and San Diego?

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 39,525
reviews: 74
6. Re: Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old


The best place to research specific things like hotels, activities, and dining is on that specific forum. Start with the relevant Top Questions on the right side of the page.

For example, the SF forum page has lodging details like ... neighborhoods, lodging with parking, budget lodging, and so on. There is also a Top Question about activities for families with kids.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Anaheim, St. George
posts: 16,342
reviews: 85
7. Re: Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old

Welcome to the forums Zomling,

For Theme Park tickets you can also look at the Mousesavers website that lists current discount on attractions for you (they dont sell tickets). And you can compare various Multi-attraction tickets to see what may work best for you.


If you decide to stay in Anahiem to visit Disneyland, you can post in that forum, and we will be happy to help you find somewhere to stay as well as give you other info about your trip, ect.


Edited: 12:55 pm, May 14, 2014
Reply to: Family Fly Drive, SF to San Diego with 8 year old
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