Entire West Coast Road Trip: Opinions?

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by jiminy.cricket, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. jiminy.cricket

    jiminy.cricket Disneyphile Extraordinare

    Nov 11, 2009
    Howdy, Mouseketeers!

    After listening to the Disneyland Podcast's Scenic Drive segment a few weeks ago, I was inspired to take a road trip of my own! This specific trip is just an idea in infancy that occurred to me yesterday. Since yesterday, I've been reading books and finding threads and websites related to an American West Coast tour. I've put together a skeleton of a trip and am thinking about doing this this year, which I will post below.

    Someday, I'd like to see the Redwoods, all of the National Parks, the ABD Backstage Magic Tour, the deserts, etc. I've wanted to see so much of the West, but upon realizing how vast it is, I think I'll have to stick to the coast for now.

    My questions:

    Does anyone have any comments or suggestions?

    This trip covers the coast, but are there any places anyone would suggest living? I won't be able to hit the inland cities of Modesto, Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield, etc. Can anyone comment on life and the cost of living here?

    Is this trip too ambitious for someone with limited time and resources? Should I tweak it? Modify it? Break it up? Change direction? Is it safe? Is this too expensive?

    I've already seen great ideas on other road-tripping threads. I really want to be able to get a sense of what life is like (cost of living, culture, people, eating habits) and local energy. This is not meant to be a commando trip.

    That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure I'll encounter more questions later on. Again, I apologize for the vagueness of my plans right now; they are still forming. Thank you so much for reading and for any feedback you're able to provide! Stay magical!


    About me:

    I'm relatively young and have never done anything like this, but I've always wanted to scout out the West Coast and see if it's a place in which I might belong and eventually want to settle (Yes, I realize the cost of living is outrageous.). Everyone who knows my values and personality keeps telling me I belong on the West Coast, though! I moved to the Chicagoland area a few years ago. Plus, that show OpenRoad with Doug McConnell just makes me want to get out there (especially during Midwestern winters)!

    This trip would be part data and experience-gathering, part vacation. I might be able to spend a week or two. I haven't thought about how much I'm willing to spend. I'm pretty frugal and would like to keep costs under a few thousand dollars.

    Some of these places I don't even know about. They just sounded interesting but I don't have a particular reason for placing them on the itinerary other than the fact that they sit along the highways.

    Rough itinerary:

    Fly into Seattle

    Seattle; Explore Washington coast; Portland; Salem?; Eugene?; Beaches

    Switch from 101 to Highway 1

    No Cal:

    Eureka? (Not sure what's here)
    Marin County
    Sausalito (Heard it's pretty)
    San Francisco: Disney Museum. (Visited SF two years ago so I wouldn't have to stay too long)
    San Jose
    Santa Cruz
    Monterrey aquarium? (I don't have to see an aquarium but people are raving about this one. We have an aquarium in Chicago that I've seen.)

    San Luis Obispo: Explore town and Hearst Castle
    Big Sur?
    Santa Barbara

    So Cal:
    Santa Monica?
    Burbank: Disney Studio tour
    Los Angeles
    Take the Dis Podcast Scenic Drive to Anaheim
    Disneyland Resort: any hotel suggestions? Is Disneyland Hotel really expensive?
    Mission Viejo?
    Dana Point?
    San Diego?

    Drive to LAX

    Did I miss anything? Is it too much? Again, I'm not sure what there is to see in a lot of these places. Thanks again for reading!
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  3. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

    Nov 28, 2012
    The cost of living isn't that high in the Central Valley. However, it's ridiculously hot in the summer, unemployment is higher, and there's problems with drugs. It's sad, but there's an epidemic of meth abuse from Redding down to Bakersfield. The Sacramento area is a bit better, but that's because there's more employment and government jobs.

    If you need to keep costs down, there are youth hostels in many of the areas you mention.

    If you're looking to move, you'd really need to consider what you plan on doing for a living. Are you college educated with a specific skill set? Maybe have a career that you want to continue. Just winging it? It's even difficult for some families making six-figure incomes to survive since the cost of housing is so high.
  4. danaesacto

    danaesacto DIS Veteran

    Oct 25, 2012
    Oh bcla you make it sound so bad, lol!~ hot? Well yes, but then the flip side is we don't get below freezing very often :cool1: Op: the valley can get over 100*, even up to 110* once in a great while, but it is a dry heat. What i like living here is I am 90 minutes from one amazing city (San Francisco), 90 minutes to the ocean, 90 minutes to beautiful redwoods, 1 hour up the mountain and I am in the beautiful Sierra Nevada's- up high enough to escape some of the heat ;). It is 40 minutes to the capitol with its museums, restaurants, theater etc. I am smack dab in the middle of it all! Death Valley is a drive- but do-able if I need to see dessert- So Cal is a days drive with its many, many options.

    Drugs? Aren't those everywhere? The cities up and down the valley have grown in size because land was cheap and people wanted to move to California- but many still feel like small towns. The further south you go from Sacramento- the vibe does change- some of the towns were farm towns for so long unemployment hit them very hard, and while the areas around Sacramento and the Bay Area are starting to rebound- it may take the lower valley a bit longer.

    I totally agree with hosteling- try http://www.norcalhostels.org/ and http://www.hiusa.org/

    My only concern with your itinerary is that is a lot of ground to cover in a short time. To just see all the California coast I would suggest 1- 1 1/2 weeks- yes you can drive faster- but then you will miss the being here- and it seems that is what you want- to really experience the atmosphere and feel of the areas- not to just drive thru. You will see the redwoods on the drive though!

    If it were me I would start with the tourist bureau's of Washington, Oregon, and California- see if you can start narrowing down your must see's and then go from there. Good luck planning!
  5. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

    Nov 28, 2012
    I'll just say that I did spend several months in the Sacramento area because taking a contract job sure beat being unemployed. And it was during the winter and spring, so I missed out on the heat - although I did interview for a job there during the summer before I took my current one. I have spent time there. My kid absolutely loves the California State Railroad Museum (we even got a membership), although there were several times where we missed out on the excursion rides because they shut it down due to the heat. Something about the cars not being air conditioned and people passing out when it gets too hot.

    There's certainly a huge meth problem in the entire Central Valley. Not sure why there. I hear it's not as bad around Sacramento, but everyone from Redding, Modesto, Merced, Fresno, Visalia, and Bakersfield seems to have a story to tell about coming across some meth head. Bakersfield might even be recovering faster because of high oil prices.

    I grew up in the Bay Area. I rather like it, but I'm not sure if I'd ever think of moving here if I didn't already live here. I have worked with people remotely, and (for instance) the people from Texas freak out when they find out how much a house or rent costs.
  6. Kendallsmama

    Kendallsmama Earning My Ears

    Jan 23, 2013
    I will comment about eureka and the north coast since I live here and no one has done so. If you want to see redwoods humboldt county is the way to go. We have tons of things. Look up trees of mystery in Klamath. You will be driving by them. their is a giant Paul Bunin and babe the blue ox sculptures. Fort humboldt is nice it's in eureka where Ulysses s grant was stationed at one time. Confusion hill where things roll up hill in a few hours south headed towards the bay. I moved here when I was 12 from Marin county so I know the bay too and theirs endless things to do their.

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