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Old 04-23-2013, 05:40 PM   #1
Huff
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Help me plan Cali coast trip!

Trying to plan our week long vacation along the coast up to San Francisco and struggling with how much time to allow for each area, where to stay etc.

We're leaving Phoenix late afternoon May 24th or early morning the 25th. Back home on the following Sunday June 2nd. Too old to make the drive all the way from Phx to SF in one day! The 1st weekend is Memorial weekend so that sunday and monday could be crowded at most tourist places.

We want to see fishermans wharf and shopping around there (ghirardelli square etc), alcatraz, 6 flags SF, maybe a bay cruise, monterey aquarium, santa cruz boardwalk, maybe whale watching from Santa Barbara or Monterey bay areas and possibly magic mountain on the way up or on way home but doubt we'll have enough time for that and still get everything else in. Kids will want to go to the beach but probably only a couple hours so maybe while at the boardwalk.

Any agenda ideas, what days to drive, where to stop for the night and get the most out of a week would be appreciated! My biggest snag is figuring out what to do the 1st sunday and monday knowing its a holiday weekend but still leave enough time to do the busier more touristy things during the week.
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:38 PM   #2
Skippydoo
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I did the Coast Highway 1 trip in August a couple of years ago and while it is a different season I highly recommend the little random stops at fruit stands and such. Coming out of Monterey you will come to Castroville (or something like that) which is the artichoke capital of the world. We stopped at a farm stand and got a fresh bag from the field and snacked on fried artichoke hearts from a food truck that were out of this world!

Also in Monterrey, not too far from the aquarium, I'd their old fisher mans wharf that was a great deal of fun.

I picked my best friend up at LAX around 9:30am, we drove down to Santa Barbara then went Highway 1. We stopped along the way a lot, had lunch at the wharf in Santa Barbara and we got into Monterey way later than we intended. And night driving on that twisty turny road was not the relaxing vacation we were intending. So I recommend you pay attention to your stop time, but the views just call to you to stop and watch the ocean.

i drove from Albuquerque and I highly recommend the trip. We didn't really to much in SF, but went north and visited the Redwoods which were mind blowing.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:23 AM   #3
larina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huff
Trying to plan our week long vacation along the coast up to San Francisco and struggling with how much time to allow for each area, where to stay etc.

We're leaving Phoenix late afternoon May 24th or early morning the 25th. Back home on the following Sunday June 2nd. Too old to make the drive all the way from Phx to SF in one day! The 1st weekend is Memorial weekend so that sunday and monday could be crowded at most tourist places.

We want to see fishermans wharf and shopping around there (ghirardelli square etc), alcatraz, 6 flags SF, maybe a bay cruise, monterey aquarium, santa cruz boardwalk, maybe whale watching from Santa Barbara or Monterey bay areas and possibly magic mountain on the way up or on way home but doubt we'll have enough time for that and still get everything else in. Kids will want to go to the beach but probably only a couple hours so maybe while at the boardwalk.

Any agenda ideas, what days to drive, where to stop for the night and get the most out of a week would be appreciated! My biggest snag is figuring out what to do the 1st sunday and monday knowing its a holiday weekend but still leave enough time to do the busier more touristy things during the week.
Just to clarify, there is no Six Flags S.F. There is a Six Flags Discovery Kingdom about 45 minutes north of S.F. in Vallejo. For planning purposes, I thought you'd want to know that.

In terms of where to stop, how far can you realistically make it before resting for the night? Is there someplace that just makes sense, logistically? That's where I would start, and then see if that's someplace you want to be. If not, what's close (within an hour or so) and could be a good alternative? It's your vacation, play with it, have fun, but you need to get some reservations going for Memorial Weekend (places will be busy/crowded/booked Friday through Monday, maybe even Tuesday) so you don't end up sleeping in your car. Are you looking to stay in S.F.? We like to stay at Union Square, but lots of folks seem to like staying at Fisherman's Wharf.

Who all are you traveling with? How many total in the party and ages? That could influence advice for your trip. Oh, depending on ages, maybe hit Disney Family Museum in S.F. while you are there.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:30 AM   #4
k3chantal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huff View Post
Trying to plan our week long vacation along the coast up to San Francisco and struggling with how much time to allow for each area, where to stay etc.

We're leaving Phoenix late afternoon May 24th or early morning the 25th. Back home on the following Sunday June 2nd. Too old to make the drive all the way from Phx to SF in one day! The 1st weekend is Memorial weekend so that sunday and monday could be crowded at most tourist places.

We want to see fishermans wharf and shopping around there (ghirardelli square etc), alcatraz, 6 flags SF, maybe a bay cruise, monterey aquarium, santa cruz boardwalk, maybe whale watching from Santa Barbara or Monterey bay areas and possibly magic mountain on the way up or on way home but doubt we'll have enough time for that and still get everything else in. Kids will want to go to the beach but probably only a couple hours so maybe while at the boardwalk.

Any agenda ideas, what days to drive, where to stop for the night and get the most out of a week would be appreciated! My biggest snag is figuring out what to do the 1st sunday and monday knowing its a holiday weekend but still leave enough time to do the busier more touristy things during the week.
Sounds like many of the actual activities that you list are in San Francisco; Ghiradelli Square, Alcatraz, Bay cruise (can also be done in Monterey). To get to Alcatraz you have to take a boat (obviously) so perhaps that will be enough of a 'boat ride'. The tour there is interesting and you should look into purchasing tickets ahead of time. There is also Pier 39 that has many shops and often sea lions lying behind the stores. There is also the Exploratorium that has just re-opened and the California Academy of Science which is in Golden Gate park. You could just spend the whole week in San Francisco but the beach situation is not ideal. But if you did decide to stay and wanted a beach, Half Moon Bay is a reasonable drive and has 'better' beaches.

Santa Cruz is in between San Francisco and Monterey so if you did SF first, I would then do Santa Cruz. The hotels are super expensive (I live about 40 minutes away but we like to take mini-vacations to places near by; and I am always shocked with the price especially for what you get). The Boardwalk is really fun for the whole family. If you want to get out of the sun for a while it has mini golf inside. Your best bet is to watch out for 'deals' for admission on the internet. There are coupons you can print out.

You should also check out Capitola and Sea Cliff beach. It is a fantastic beach to take the kids. Be aware, if you want to go to the state beaches, you will need cash to park (last summer it was 10.00).

Be aware that some coast side communities and San Jose have no bag policies when you purchase items. You can still buy paper bags at the stores for ten cents or you can bring your own.

Monterey is further down the coast. The Monterey Aquarium is a fantastic facility. My recommendation would be to get there really early. As members I often feel bad for the people waiting in the long line to get in. Of course, there are beaches your family can enjoy. Parking can be extremely difficult to find so you are best just to use their parking garages. Don't forget to check out Carmel. It's very quaint (think quaint in the very expensive kind of way) and it too has a great beach.

No way you are getting to Santa Barbara with your time constraints and quantity of activities listed previously (think 6+ hours of more driving after Monterey). But, if you find the time, between Santa Cruz and Monterey and inland a bit is an amusement park called Gilroy Gardens. If your children are under ten, they would really enjoy it. It has many rides and is quite a beautiful park.

During that time, it is going to be difficult to avoid the crowds even during the week. Your best bet is to make sure you have any tickets pre-purchased and get to where you are going early enough.

Have fun!
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