Finalized (Always Working) Itinerary & Some Questions

PlutoTheDog89

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Hey all - first off, thanks for all the help on these forums. I haven't had the chance to answer all (or most) of you since life has gotten a bit busy, but... I took a lot of your recommendations into consideration. This is our first Cali trip and me, my mom, and my sister will be driving down PCH. I think I have a pretty solid itinerary down pat, but would love to hear what you all think:

Quick caveat: My sister and I are in our 30s and my mom is 65. It's a bucket list trip. We always did Disney World for Christmas. The plan was to take a break, and now especially after my dad passed, we plan on seeing new and exciting places. We're not really hikers, we will try and do the beach (even if it means sitting in our hoodies). We'll arrive on 12/23 and stay through 1/3.

Monday, December 23rd
- Fly from JFK to SFO; Arrive in SFO ~1:45pm. Pick-up the rental car and head to hotel
~4pm: Check-in at Holiday Inn Express Fisherman's Wharf
- Walk the piers and get dinner at the Ferry Building (?) Open to recommendations here
- Sleep moderately early (will try and stick to an Eastern schedule as long as we can during the trip so we can get up early.

Tuesday, December 24th
- Head to Golden Gate Bridge area: GG Bridge Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Chrissy Field, etc.
- Lunch -
- Lombard Street, Painted Ladies, Chinatown
- Dinner in Mission (burritos)

Wednesday, December 25th
- Wake u early; check out and start our drive
- Stop in Santa Cruz; see the pier and area; see the Sea Lions
- Stop for lunch in Monterey (thinking Rosine's but may go seafood route); See Cannery Row, Old Fisherman's Wharf
- Drive through Big Sur - stop to get some photos
- Head to Cambria - after a long day of driving, we'll probably head to bed early

Thursday, December 26th
- Hearst Castle in the AM
- See the Sea Lions in Cambria
- Head to Madonna Inn
- Tour SLO a little bit
- Stop in Solvang
- Head to Santa Barbara: Dinner and ice cream

Friday, December 27th
- Breakfast in Santa Barbara
- Drive to Malibu - see Malibu
- Drive to Santa Monica - I am concerned about having an SUV full of luggage, so playing with this idea
- Drive to Beverly Hills & see Rodeo Drive - Not as concerned here. Doubt anyone in Beverly Hills will want our stuff
- Check in in LA thinking of staying in Universal City - maybe Sheraton? Open to recommendations here. Would rather not stay near Walk of Fame and in the middle of all the chaos. Garland is a little out of the way
- Dinner at In-N-Out
- Go check out CIty Walk?

Saturday, December 28th
- Early morning at Griffith Observatory
- Head to Hollywood: Walk of Fame, Chinese Theater
- Lunch at Farmer's Market
- Tour the Grove area
- Head to DTLA: Bradbury Building, Last Bookstore, coffee at Ace Hotel rooftop
- Dinner at Giusado's
- Back to hotel at night

Sunday, December 29th
- Check-out - store luggage?
- Breakfast at & Waffle
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour
- Drive to Anaheim
- Dinner at Trader Sam's?
- Check out decorations at Grand Californian

Monday, December 30th
- Disneyland/California Adventure
- Dinner at Blue Bayou?
I know it's gonna be crowded...

Tuesday, December 31st

- Disneyland/California Adventure
I know it's gonna be really, really crowded...

Wednesday, January 1st

- Drive to San Diego
- Stop at La Jolla
- Open afternoon: Beach or exploring Gaslamp District
- Ferry to Coronado
- Dinner in Coronado
- Back to hotel

Thursday, January 2nd
- SD Zoo
- Balboa Park
- Dinner

Friday, January 3rd
- Open Day
- Fly home at 10:15pm PST

Questions
-
Any tips for road tripping down PCH outside the obvious? I'm super concerned traveling and making stops with luggage. We've done it down I-95 in the past (NY to Florida)
- Would love some recommendations for food in SD
- Would love hotel recommendations in LA and SD
- Does the itinerary make sense?
 

cruisehopeful

Wishing I was taking a nap on a ship.
Joined
Oct 25, 2015
Wednesday, December 25th
Thursday, December 26th
Your plans for the 25th and 26th are extremely ambitious on a normal day. These are holidays and things will be much busier. The short day light hours will cut out a lot of time that you can do/see stuff and while there won't be any snow, I can guarantee that as soon as the sun goes down, it will be very cold. It's cool and windy in those parts in general. I would cut out as much as you can on those days and leave a couple things as backups or alternates only.

Solvang was a let down for me. It was basically wine tasting and gift shops with items made in China.

I personally thought the boardwalk area in Santa Cruz was very disappointing and junky. I'd cut that out unless it's a bucket list place for you.
Check in in LA thinking of staying in Universal City - maybe Sheraton?
Universal Sheraton is a great idea. It's a little old and the Hilton next to it can be a more updated choice. Either are good, though, so I might choose based on price. Last time I chose Hilton because it's a very steep hill going to Universal and City walk and the Hilton is a little closer. Both have a shuttle, though, we just preferred to go at our own pace and walk.
Dinner at Trader Sam's?
Might be too busy of a time of year for this. There aren't reservations, so you'll be stuck waiting in line for a long time. It's worth checking out, but if the wait is too long, you can get food next door at Tangaroa Terrace and then wait in line at Trader Sam's for drinks if you still want to do that.

Another option would be dinner reservations at Steakhouse 55. You will need a reservation made quite a bit ahead of time.
Dinner at Blue Bayou?
Make your reservation as soon as the 60 day window opens up.
Stop at La Jolla
Just want to say that there are usually a large number of seals and Sea Lions here. If you have to cut out some of that viewing from earlier in your trip, you can make that up here, although it won't be pupping season, so there might not be as many as there are right now.
San Diego Zoo will likely have night time hours at this time. If so, I'd do Balboa Park earlier in the day, as all the museums and things will be closed in the evening.
 

oakleycat

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 19, 2017
Completely agree with cruisehopeful about December 26. It's not possible to do all of those things in an enjoyable way in one day. Possible if you're okay with quick stops at each, but Solvang and Santa Cruz boardwalk would also be my choices for cutting. Solvang is a cute little touristy town that is enjoyable if passing through with time to kill, but I would never recommend it over some of the other landmarks you're planning on. I also found the SC boardwalk to be disappointing. If you're planning on Santa Monica Pier you can get the same feel there, though that's overrated as well.
 
  • PlutoTheDog89

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2011
    Your plans for the 25th and 26th are extremely ambitious on a normal day. These are holidays and things will be much busier. The short day light hours will cut out a lot of time that you can do/see stuff and while there won't be any snow, I can guarantee that as soon as the sun goes down, it will be very cold. It's cool and windy in those parts in general. I would cut out as much as you can on those days and leave a couple things as backups or alternates only.

    Solvang was a let down for me. It was basically wine tasting and gift shops with items made in China.

    I personally thought the boardwalk area in Santa Cruz was very disappointing and junky. I'd cut that out unless it's a bucket list place for you.
    Appreciate the feedback. I'm gonna cut the pier (or make a very abbreviated stop), Solvang, and may even cut part of Monterey to ensure we're in Cambria before sundown.
     

    Jimsig

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 23, 2012
    Sunday, December 29th
    - Check-out - store luggage?
    - Breakfast at & Waffle
    - Warner Bros. Studio Tour
    - Drive to Anaheim
    As an FYI the WB Studio Tour parking is is a paid underground garage. I would imagine your luggage would be safe in the car there. If &Waffle is near your hotel it might be easier to eat there before you check out and then load the luggage in to your car before you go to WB, Uber/Lyft there are back if you can't walk it. Or could be easier to check out first and park at WB and Uber/Lyft back and forth between WB and &Waffle as it looks like &Waffle and the WB are only about 2.5 miles apart.
     

    Douglas Dubh

    True Fiscal Conservative
    Joined
    Nov 13, 1999
    Did you leave out the Disney Family Museum in SF on purpose? I would add it and drop something else in SF.
     

    PlutoTheDog89

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2011
    Did you leave out the Disney Family Museum in SF on purpose? I would add it and drop something else in SF.
    I'd LOVE to get there and Alcatraz... unfortunately the museum is closed and tours don't run on 12/24 and 12/25. I'm hesitant to make a night tour for 12/23 with traveling across country during winter.
     
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