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Old 10-06-2010, 12:51 PM   #31
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I would go to the Aqarium. For me it would be really tough to pick from the park and zoo in SD or the aquarium. They are all best of class for sure. But since you are going up hwy 1, you shouldn't miss the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Is it doable in a couple of hours?
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:52 PM   #32
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Is it doable in a couple of hours?
Yep. You can spend anywhere from an hour to all day in the aquarium -- just depends how much time you have and how interested you are. The "couple hour" tour probably includes the sea otters (everyone's favorite), Kelp Forest tank, Outer Bay tank, and for the kids, the touch pool.

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Old 10-06-2010, 02:58 PM   #33
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If she likes weirdness, stay a night at Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. It's a little pricey, but if you're into strange, it's great. The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood is said to be haunted by movie stars. That could be an interesting place to stay too.

To be honest, the Winchester Mystery House is not that great. It's in the middle of a busy section of San Jose, which takes away from the atmosphere IMHO. I'd hate for your wife to come all this way with the Winchester House as the main attraction. She might be really disappointed.

I guess I can relate to your wife not thinking Calif. is that big a deal. I feel the same way about Cape Cod. My brother goes there every year and loves it. I visited him there once and that was more than enough. I just didn't get it.
I disagree 100% about the Winchester Mystery House, it's a really neat place to go. We enjoyed our tour very much and we wandered around a bit after as well. We even thought about getting a pass so we could come back later, we ultimately decided against it because we had DL AP's and Monterey Bay Aquarium passes as well but we really enjoyed the Winchester Mystery House.
We also very much enjoyed the Mystery Spot, it was so much fun and it felt so weird! lol We almost didn't do it but we were really glad we did in the end, it was well worth the stop.

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Is it doable in a couple of hours?
I would absolutely stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it's very much into conservation and education and she would probably enjoy it very much. They have a great seahorse display and a great pink flamingo display right now too. Absolutely worth the detour, especially if you're heading down 1 anyway. I would say the bare minimum you need to really see the aquarium is at least 4 hours, it's not a small aquarium so you should allow some time to see it. While in Monterey have some good food! And perhaps visit A Taste of Monterey (which GrandBob has suggested to me a time or two, we have yet to visit tho, our timing is off every time) to sample some Monterey area wines.
Does your family enjoy wine? If so while you're in SF you'll be about 30 minutes from Napa County, Napa has some really great (I have at least 12 bottles of great CA/Napa wines on my counter right now) wineries that you can visit. If you've got a favorite it may even be in CA. There is also the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield (just about 15 minutes farther then the Napa turnoff, about 45-60 min depending on traffic) that has free tours and samples, it might be fun for the kids. Just a few extra thoughts for when you're in the SF area. Suisun City (next to Fairfield, I live in Suisun and am currently on my couch about 15 min. from the JB Factory) also has some good wineries, DBF and I went out and about a few weeks ago and bought some wine from our local wineries, excellent wines here too.

Beaches in CA are beautiful, all up and down the coast they are beautiful so do enjoy those while you're here as well.

I hope you love your trip to our state......I really do love living here, I just wish the rest of my family would move here. lol
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Old 10-06-2010, 04:59 PM   #34
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I disagree 100% about the Winchester Mystery House, it's a really neat place to go. We enjoyed our tour very much and we wandered around a bit after as well. We even thought about getting a pass so we could come back later, we ultimately decided against it because we had DL AP's and Monterey Bay Aquarium passes as well but we really enjoyed the Winchester Mystery House.
We also very much enjoyed the Mystery Spot, it was so much fun and it felt so weird! lol We almost didn't do it but we were really glad we did in the end, it was well worth the stop.



I would absolutely stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it's very much into conservation and education and she would probably enjoy it very much. They have a great seahorse display and a great pink flamingo display right now too. Absolutely worth the detour, especially if you're heading down 1 anyway. I would say the bare minimum you need to really see the aquarium is at least 4 hours, it's not a small aquarium so you should allow some time to see it. While in Monterey have some good food! And perhaps visit A Taste of Monterey (which GrandBob has suggested to me a time or two, we have yet to visit tho, our timing is off every time) to sample some Monterey area wines.
Does your family enjoy wine? If so while you're in SF you'll be about 30 minutes from Napa County, Napa has some really great (I have at least 12 bottles of great CA/Napa wines on my counter right now) wineries that you can visit. If you've got a favorite it may even be in CA. There is also the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield (just about 15 minutes farther then the Napa turnoff, about 45-60 min depending on traffic) that has free tours and samples, it might be fun for the kids. Just a few extra thoughts for when you're in the SF area. Suisun City (next to Fairfield, I live in Suisun and am currently on my couch about 15 min. from the JB Factory) also has some good wineries, DBF and I went out and about a few weeks ago and bought some wine from our local wineries, excellent wines here too.

Beaches in CA are beautiful, all up and down the coast they are beautiful so do enjoy those while you're here as well.

I hope you love your trip to our state......I really do love living here, I just wish the rest of my family would move here. lol
My mother does want to see one or two beaches, but they seem so COLD that time of year! ( Feb/March ) 55-62F sounds like some cold swimming. That being said, I was thinking of checking out Santa Monica and Santa Cruz. I think my kids would get a kick out of the latter also because they are big fan of The Lost Boys
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:32 PM   #35
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My mother does want to see one or two beaches, but they seem so COLD that time of year! ( Feb/March ) 55-62F sounds like some cold swimming. That being said, I was thinking of checking out Santa Monica and Santa Cruz. I think my kids would get a kick out of the latter also because they are big fan of The Lost Boys
Those beaches will be fun to visit. But you are right you probably won't want to spend a day laying on the beach and swimming maybe just get your feet wet unless it happens to be during a really nice day. Hopefully see some surfing too, and they will be wearing wetsuits.
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Old 10-06-2010, 07:23 PM   #36
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The San Diego Wild Animal Park is actually in Escondido, which is kinda half way between Anaheim and San Diego. Well worth a trip.

If she's into conservation, and you're going to/through Monterey, then you have to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They're heavily into conservation and public education. Be sure to pick up a copy of their Seafood Watch pocket guide, which tells you which seafoods are sustainable.

(Disclaimer - I work for the sister organization, MBARI).

-Bob
Don't want to hijack your thread xipetotec, but want to ask GrandBob a question which kind of pertains to your topic as well!
We are driving back from DL on or about Dec. 5. We want to make it to San Francisco and plan on leaving fairly early, like 9 ish.... from Hojo's. We have in the past driven many times, usually just the I5 straight up, but have driven through SF a couple of times as well both going south and north. In 2008 we did the weeks long trip, meandering up the #1 all the way up and through SF, but we took days to do it, stopping here and there. This time, we want to head over to the coast from the I5 at either Lost Hills, or Kettlemen City, on either the 46 or the 41. What we thought would be quickest is taking 41 to where it forks and switching to the 46 going to Paso Robles, then carry on the 46 to the coast. the 41 just looks straighter on the map for the beginning part.
Second part of the question....based on leaving Hojo's about 9am, zipping up the I5 cutting the shortest way possible to the coast, then driving up the #1, will there be time to stop in Carmel for a quick, like maybe 1/2 hour visit, and will there be time to stop in Monteray also for a quick maybe 1 hour visit, and still get to SF at a decent hour? We wanted to get to SF for dinner, but could maybe do that in Monteray as well, then just go to the hotel in SF and get to bed early for our big day in SF (it's our 30th anniversary on the 6th and we are going to leave our hearts in SF... ) Lol...
Any tips will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:56 AM   #37
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Don't want to hijack your thread xipetotec, but want to ask GrandBob a question which kind of pertains to your topic as well!
We are driving back from DL on or about Dec. 5. We want to make it to San Francisco and plan on leaving fairly early, like 9 ish.... from Hojo's. We have in the past driven many times, usually just the I5 straight up, but have driven through SF a couple of times as well both going south and north. In 2008 we did the weeks long trip, meandering up the #1 all the way up and through SF, but we took days to do it, stopping here and there. This time, we want to head over to the coast from the I5 at either Lost Hills, or Kettlemen City, on either the 46 or the 41. What we thought would be quickest is taking 41 to where it forks and switching to the 46 going to Paso Robles, then carry on the 46 to the coast. the 41 just looks straighter on the map for the beginning part.
I'm not sure I understand. You're talking about heading north from LA to Monterey, right? I don't understand why you would want to go all the way north to Kettleman City, just to pick up 41 and head back south. If you're trying to get from I5 to 101, 46 is the way to do it.

Alternatively, you could just take 101 all the way from LA north. I usually prefer I5 to 46, but others prefer 101 for the scenery. It's not much different in time either way.

Quote:
Second part of the question....based on leaving Hojo's about 9am, zipping up the I5 cutting the shortest way possible to the coast, then driving up the #1, will there be time to stop in Carmel for a quick, like maybe 1/2 hour visit, and will there be time to stop in Monteray also for a quick maybe 1 hour visit, and still get to SF at a decent hour? We wanted to get to SF for dinner, but could maybe do that in Monteray as well, then just go to the hotel in SF and get to bed early for our big day in SF (it's our 30th anniversary on the 6th and we are going to leave our hearts in SF... ) Lol...
Any tips will be greatly appreciated.
Yep, you can spend 1/2 hour in Carmel. Not sure you'll see all that much, but it will give you a chance to wander about town. It's a really small little town. Advice - drive down Ocean Ave, which is the main drag, and check it out. If you feel like window shopping, park on a side street and just wander around. Personally, I prefer visiting its sandy white beach. In that case, just drive to the end of Ocean Ave, where it ends in a small parking lot. Take off your shoes and head down the (slightly steep) sand dune to the beach. Great views of Pebble Beach, too.

Ditto an hour in Monterey. The main drag in Monterey is Alvarado St. Alvarado dead-ends at the Portola Hotel (formerly Doubletree), but it continues as a pedestrian walkway through the plaza and past the historic buildings to Fisherman's Wharf. It's a nice stroll.

It's about 2 hours from Monterey to SF, so you can plan accordingly.

HTH,
Bob

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Old 10-07-2010, 06:49 PM   #38
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My mother does want to see one or two beaches, but they seem so COLD that time of year! ( Feb/March ) 55-62F sounds like some cold swimming. That being said, I was thinking of checking out Santa Monica and Santa Cruz. I think my kids would get a kick out of the latter also because they are big fan of The Lost Boys

Santa Cruz will be cold, your kids may want to put their toes in the water but that's about it, you'll probably be swearshirts and long pants when you go but it's worth it. Go to the Boardwalk, ride the carousel, try to grab the ring and throw it in the clown's mouth, you get all kinds of bells and whistles when that happens. Most of the Boardwalk rides are just standard fare, nothing too spectacular but the girls did enjoy the sky coaster and the carousel very much. And they love to sit on the beach and put their toes in the water, no matter how cold it is. I don't know anything about the Santa Monica beaches, never been to any of them. Cold or not, they will still be beautiful to see.

Smiley, Carmel is beautiful!!!! Absolutely positively love it there. Follow Bob's advice, he's spot on about Carmel & Monterey. And personally, I'd do dinner in Monterey and then head to the hotel in SF.
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Old 10-11-2010, 12:33 AM   #39
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The aquarium is located in 2 buildings right on the bay. Both buildings have 2 stories. The newer building houses the currently closed Outer Bay tank (to reopen 7/11) and 2 exhibit areas with multiple tanks/exhibits - Hot Pink Flamingos and Secret Lives of Sea Horses. The original building, next door, is @ the end of cannery row and opened in 1984, it houses, among other things, 2 large exhibit tanks - the Kelp Forest and the Monterey Bay Habitats tank. The Otter exhibit is also in this building as are 2 touch pools, a penguin exhibit, the auditorium (which has several programs a day) and a casual place to eat & a restaurant/bar. There's also an exhibit/room about MBARI (the research arm - where GrandBob works.) It's worth checking out the MBA site and the webcams to get a feel for it.
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Old 10-14-2010, 10:56 AM   #40
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I'm not sure I understand. You're talking about heading north from LA to Monterey, right? I don't understand why you would want to go all the way north to Kettleman City, just to pick up 41 and head back south. If you're trying to get from I5 to 101, 46 is the way to do it.

Alternatively, you could just take 101 all the way from LA north. I usually prefer I5 to 46, but others prefer 101 for the scenery. It's not much different in time either way.



Yep, you can spend 1/2 hour in Carmel. Not sure you'll see all that much, but it will give you a chance to wander about town. It's a really small little town. Advice - drive down Ocean Ave, which is the main drag, and check it out. If you feel like window shopping, park on a side street and just wander around. Personally, I prefer visiting its sandy white beach. In that case, just drive to the end of Ocean Ave, where it ends in a small parking lot. Take off your shoes and head down the (slightly steep) sand dune to the beach. Great views of Pebble Beach, too.

Ditto an hour in Monterey. The main drag in Monterey is Alvarado St. Alvarado dead-ends at the Portola Hotel (formerly Doubletree), but it continues as a pedestrian walkway through the plaza and past the historic buildings to Fisherman's Wharf. It's a nice stroll.

It's about 2 hours from Monterey to SF, so you can plan accordingly.

HTH,
Bob
Thankyou Bob! my confusion is exactly why I asked you yes you had it correct, driving north from LA to SF, wanting to drive some of the coast and through Carmel and Monteray. We did the 101 and 1 on our last big trip in 08 and it seemed to take a loooonnnng time to get out of LA that way. We want to get out of the LA area asap, cover some ground, then enjoy some coastline starting about Cambria. So as I am chief naviagator, I will tell hubby "turn here" when we get to the exit for #46
actually after I posted I remembered we drove down to Newport Beach and drove right up the #1 all the way when leaving LA, going through Malibu etc. that's probably why it took so long. So you think going the 101 would not take much more time than the 5? the girls with us have not been that way before and it would be more interesting for them than the 5. But our main consideration is to save as much time as possible leaving LA and getting to Cambria.
Also edited to add: "drove" down Ocean ave. in Carmel on Google street view....that beach is stunning! we will make a quick stop there for sure!
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:52 PM   #41
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Well, if you took 1 all the way from Newport Beach through Long Beach, Redondo Beach, etc, all the way north, I can understand that it would take quite a while.

If you mostly want the coastal route north, I would take I-5 to downtown LA, then I-10 over to Santa Monica, and pick up Highway 1 there. Indeed, Google maps says that route, and then 1 up to Cambria, is only 10 minutes longer than I-5 to 46 to Cambria. For scenery, I'd take Highway 1 north from Santa Monica.

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Old 10-14-2010, 11:04 PM   #42
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Well, if you took 1 all the way from Newport Beach through Long Beach, Redondo Beach, etc, all the way north, I can understand that it would take quite a while.

If you mostly want the coastal route north, I would take I-5 to downtown LA, then I-10 over to Santa Monica, and pick up Highway 1 there. Indeed, Google maps says that route, and then 1 up to Cambria, is only 10 minutes longer than I-5 to 46 to Cambria. For scenery, I'd take Highway 1 north from Santa Monica.

HTH,
Bob
Wow that is so suprising! Hubby hates doing the grapevine in winter, especially if it's foggy! there was a huge pile up on the north side of it this past Jan. just before or after we were there, don't remember which. In Jan. 2009 the fog was so thick you could not see to cross the street outside DL! and there was a big pile up same place again. I realise the fog may be on the coast as well, but at least you are not being forced to drive like a mad man or trying to avoid all the mad people on the I5 who seem to think there is no reason to slow down just because you can not see a darn thing! So what do you think? does the fog on the coastal road get as thick as coming down the grapevine?
edited to add: we did the long trip all the way up the coast through Oregon in July. we encountered a lot of fog early in the am, and again in the late afternoon. Does that happen in winter as well?
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Old 10-15-2010, 09:57 AM   #43
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There are so many things to do in California! I really recommend taking a food tour while you're at it because you can't get better Mexican anywhere else. La Super Rica in Santa Barbara is amazing, but the wait is kind of long, so you shouldn't go during peak hours.

Also, I think the beaches in Santa Barbara should get anybody excited to go to California!
Sounds great, except we'll be there like March 2nd or so. Won't the water be *SUPER* cold at that time?
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Old 10-15-2010, 10:05 AM   #44
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So what do you think? does the fog on the coastal road get as thick as coming down the grapevine?
edited to add: we did the long trip all the way up the coast through Oregon in July. we encountered a lot of fog early in the am, and again in the late afternoon. Does that happen in winter as well?
In the summertime, we get coastal fog. That's primarily May-Sept, and can get pretty thick on the coast, though it usually burns off by noon. The central valley is almost always perfectly clear all day long.

The wintertime is just the reverse. The coast is usually clear. But the central valley can get a very thick tule fog. This can get so thick, so bad, that it causes 50 car pile-ups on I-5. The tule fog generally comes only Nov-March.

HTH,
Bob
(sitting in an unusually heavy, unseasonable coastal fog at the moment)
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:30 AM   #45
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It cracks me up, being 40 year old native of Santa Cruz, that "Lost Boys" really put us on the map. I've met many a European tourist that came here because of "Lost Boys" too. When it was being filmed around town I never thought it would become the sensation it is today. Many of my friends including my husband were extras in it, so it's fun to watch every now and then.
Anyway since your wife seems to like the weird end of things, in Hollywood I suggest staying at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It's full of "ghosts". We stayed in haunted room 928. Montgomery Clifts ghost is said to haunt it. Hmmm maybe it felt a little haunted. If you can't stay there the lobby is worth a look. It's beautiful. I do believe the whole "Tower of Terror" ride is based on the hotel as well.
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