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Off To California - Driving From San Diego Up To San Francisco

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off in 2 weeks for 2 weeks.

hotels booked in san diego LA and San Fran. no hotels booked between take it as it comes.

hiring a convertable and driving up the coast with the girlfriend.

any advice / places to see / eat etc (got a couple of travel guides so excluding the obvious guide book stuff)

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Guest Parry aka GOD
off in 2 weeks for 2 weeks.

hotels booked in san diego LA and San Fran. no hotels booked between take it as it comes.

hiring a convertable and driving up the coast with the girlfriend.

any advice / places to see / eat etc (got a couple of travel guides so excluding the obvious guide book stuff)

Start at San Fransisco and work your way north up Highway 1. Mendicino County, the Redwoods, Hurst Castle, the Pacific, grey whales . . .

Fantastic place.

I'd have hired an RV to do it if I were you.

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San Francisco is a nightmare for parking!

Dump the wheels and hop the cablecars.

To Eat: Fisherman's Wharf for seafood.

Don't miss the Monteray Penninsular: take the drive; well worth it; runs all around and the coast is fantasic; Don't forget to see Pebble beach golf club: and Spy Glass Hill - even more challenging than Pebble Beach!

Also take time to stroll along the main street in Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was mayor. All sort of boutiques; some reasonable places to eat too.

There is so much to see and do: two weeks isn't enough.

For eating when travelling, look for roadside diners where trucks are parked: with a goodly number of generic compact cars: reps. Both reps and truckers know where the better food is!

Often burgers to cry over.......................................

Not the crap from Wendys and Micky Ds: real solid ground steak and sauces and trimmings to make your eyes water.

Enjoy!

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Guest X-QUORK

No advice, just wanted to say that's a trip I'd like to take one day...oooh I'm jealous.

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off in 2 weeks for 2 weeks.

hotels booked in san diego LA and San Fran. no hotels booked between take it as it comes.

hiring a convertable and driving up the coast with the girlfriend.

any advice / places to see / eat etc (got a couple of travel guides so excluding the obvious guide book stuff)

I used to live in the area... so here's my tips.

You should spend 2 days in San Diego, plenty to see and it's generally a clean safe, place. (You could do half a day in Tijuana for fun)

From San Diego, go North up the 101 coastal road or the I5 freeway. There's not so much inland around here until you get further north.

There are a few places to stop off before LA, perhaps La Jolla (La-Hoy-a) or Carlsbad would be the best for a meal break, not enough to see here to stay overnight.

If you continue up, you go past Camp Pendleton home of the U.S. Marine Core training camp - so expect lots of pissed-up Jarheads in the local bars.

Then you get to LA, which I really don't like at all.

You can then go to Las Vegas via the I15, which will take you through the Mojave desert, some deserted gold mine ghost towns, lots of desert, and a pointless place called Zzyzx.

From Vegas, there's Death Valley (a must-see in my book) which if you do south to north will bring you out on the 395 which is a great road. It goes North/South on the east side of the Sierras. There's loads to do and see here, little places like Lone Pine are great places to stay. Continuing north is Yosemite park and lake Tahoe, which brings you nicely to San Fransisco.

Sequoia national park is well worth a visit too, but this is on the west side of the Sierras, so you could do it on the way back down to SanDiego, or before Vegas.

To enjoy the national parks, you should camp there for a few days.

Note that a lot of Californians tend not to drive convertibles these days because they don't like the ageing effects of the sun on their skin, so you will probably stand out as a tourist.

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Pop to Tijuana for a few hours whilst in SanDiego (it means Whales V*gina according to Anchorman), its not like real Mexico but is worth a look.

Yosemite National Park is great, some fantastic walks for all abilities, the walk to the top of the falls is well worth the treck and can easily be done in an afternoon if your reasonably fit.

San Luis Obispo was quite a fun town from memory aswell, lots of students out partying and the locally famous bubblegum alley, which is a bit gross really, but worth a look.

Alcatraz is a must in SF, not sure if there is still a waiting time for tickets, so it might be worth getting online and buying before you get to SF. A walking tour of the city can be good fun also. Check out the microbreweries, and get some good chinese food. Years since I went there but hte House of Nan King was good, but get some reccomendations from a local.

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thanks for replies so far.

yeah im doing 3 nights in las vegas (been there before) then flying to san diego with southwest, picking up hire car and then 14 nights up the coast. not long i know but im guessing by the end of it we will feel weve missed so much we will want to do it again the following year covering what we missed.

we are both 26 if that gives any help

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we are both 26 if that gives any help

Take your passport everywhere! Nothing more annoying than being old enough but not getting served a beer.

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I used to live in the area... so here's my tips.

You should spend 2 days in San Diego, plenty to see and it's generally a clean safe, place. (You could do half a day in Tijuana for fun)

From San Diego, go North up the 101 coastal road or the I5 freeway. There's not so much inland around here until you get further north.

There are a few places to stop off before LA, perhaps La Jolla (La-Hoy-a) or Carlsbad would be the best for a meal break, not enough to see here to stay overnight.

If you continue up, you go past Camp Pendleton home of the U.S. Marine Core training camp - so expect lots of pissed-up Jarheads in the local bars.

Then you get to LA, which I really don't like at all.

You can then go to Las Vegas via the I15, which will take you through the Mojave desert, some deserted gold mine ghost towns, lots of desert, and a pointless place called Zzyzx.

From Vegas, there's Death Valley (a must-see in my book) which if you do south to north will bring you out on the 395 which is a great road. It goes North/South on the east side of the Sierras. There's loads to do and see here, little places like Lone Pine are great places to stay. Continuing north is Yosemite park and lake Tahoe, which brings you nicely to San Fransisco.

Sequoia national park is well worth a visit too, but this is on the west side of the Sierras, so you could do it on the way back down to SanDiego, or before Vegas.

To enjoy the national parks, you should camp there for a few days.

Note that a lot of Californians tend not to drive convertibles these days because they don't like the ageing effects of the sun on their skin, so you will probably stand out as a tourist.

Have you gone completely and utterly MAD?!?!

Obviously from LA you should take Highway 1 north to San Francisco.

Driving along the coast on Highway 1 between LA and San Fran is one of the best drives in the world!!!

Another thing, make sure you visit Napa Valley (wine country).

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Take your passport everywhere! Nothing more annoying than being old enough but not getting served a beer.

Yes definitely, I've been carded and refused alcohol (in my mid 30s).

Even a UK photo driving licence might not get you served. It depends upon how big the place is and how used to tourists they are. A few months ago I was carded in Illinois, and the woman wouldn't accept my driving licence, as was pink, and not like the ones they have in Illinois. So obviously a fake.

Poor woman probably never even left the town in her life.

Damn rednecks.

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Have you gone completely and utterly MAD?!?!

Obviously from LA you should take Highway 1 north to San Francisco.

Driving along the coast on Highway 1 between LA and San Fran is one of the best drives in the world!!!

Another thing, make sure you visit Napa Valley (wine country).

I agree, but that's for the journey back to San Diego. Go there one way through the national parks, come back another, like Highway 1.

EDIT: At the time of posting, I was unaware that you had already arranged a stop to Vegas so scrub that bit.

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Try & avoid the freeways as much as possible.

We drove from SF down past sanDiago & into Mexico (what a sh1thole Tijuana is but worth a look if only to see the desperation of the 3rld world on America doorstep).

Try & avoid the freeways if possible.- he says again! In LA they can be 8 lanes wide & you (in some places) enter/exit from left &/or right! (You can pull on from the right & have to cross 7 lanes to leave from the left for the next exit)

Golden rule in America you pay for fuel BEFORE you fill up - we looked a couple of plonkers trying to get the pump to work!

Def. drive on the Pacific Coast Highway.

San Fran brill, LA not so good, but do try Universal Studios - the Americans do trashy stuff really well. (& I hate rides & celeb culture)

Similarly LV brill. Stay in the big casinos - The Luxor, MGM , Bellagio etc amazing rooms Don't prebook rooms but just go in and ask for their best price. We could get a fabulous room for $60 night 5 years ago. With the recession apparently you can get a room (in the smaller complexes) with some complementary '(gambling) chip for free.

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I know this area well. Lived in a little town called Santa Cruz on Monterey Bay for awhile, it's a really laid back chill place and well worth a look, although you might wanna avoid the tacky boardwalk and the mexican flats behind it.

Go and see the redwoods, have a few surf lessons at Cowell's Cove and go and watch the big boys ride Steamer Lane on a big swell.

Pacific coastal highway is a must of course, one of the best drives on the planet.

San Diego and San Francisco are great cities IMO but LA is crap and the less time spent there the better

If you drive through death valley area in summer your car may overheat or have some other problem, even if it is new. The only place to get any kind of service is a small town called Baker. If you're there visit the Mad Greek Restaurant, he does a good meze.

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Never been up the coast highway, but spent a lot of time working around Vegas.

If you want to see the Grand Canyon take a chopper ride out Vegas. I wouldn't drive there. You can't really walk down to the bottom of the canyon and walk out again in one day, so if you drive there you end up just looking over the edge and wishing you could go down one of the trails. It's hard to appreciate the enormoity of the canyon from the lookout points. An aerial view is better. I have been down and stayed at the bottom, but its a mission to organise and places to stay at the bottom are limited.

Bryce canyon (maybe 3 hours out of vegas) is smaller, prettier and the walks are more manageable than the grand canyon. You could also do Zion, which again is very pretty. On the way back from Vegas uo to San Fran you could visit Death Valley and Yosemite, again a great place.

Entry to the parks can be expensive, but you can get a national parks pass for $50 that will get you into all parks for a year. This is much cheaper than getting the individual entries.

Its going to be +++hot where you are going. Make sure you carry water in the car in case of a breakdown. Some of the places are pretty remote and it could be a good few hours before you're picked up.

Finally, San Fran - Alcatraz...at night, a must do.

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Golden rule in America you pay for fuel BEFORE you fill up - we looked a couple of plonkers trying to get the pump to work!

Gas pumps deliver fuel terribly slowly, about 1/3 of the speed as here. I don't know why. When filling up a car, you might be there some time so you should use the little catch on the handle to lock the handle in the depressed position - you'll see what I mean when you get there.

You can then leave the pump dispensing whilst you go off to do something more interesting.

Presumably you already know about compulsory stop junctions, one-car-at-a-time throughput, and you can turn right on red in many cases.

Also as a pedestrian wait for lights to change before crossing , and only cross at specific crossing points. They can get very funny about that sort of thing.

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Also as a pedestrian wait for lights to change before crossing , and only cross at specific crossing points. They can get very funny about that sort of thing.

I got a ticket and a $70 fine for jaywalking in San Fran :(

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thanks for replies so far.

yeah im doing 3 nights in las vegas (been there before) then flying to san diego with southwest, picking up hire car and then 14 nights up the coast. not long i know but im guessing by the end of it we will feel weve missed so much we will want to do it again the following year covering what we missed.

we are both 26 if that gives any help

We just got a hire car in Vegas - even the interstate from there to LA was fascinating. Seeing Baker come up something like 15 miles in advance was weird.

I'd second the 'Don't bother with LA' stuff.. one day for the Chinese theater and general ambience, that's all you need (or will want, probably).

Then went North from Santa Monica on the coast road. Good fun... We only had a couple of days from LA to SF so didn't stop much - we overnighted at Morro Bay which is a quiet and peaceful place after Las Vegas/Los Angeles. Plus the fish and chips from the restaurant on the seafront was, surprisingly, some of the best I've ever had.

The trick in SF is to book as hotel with parking.

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off in 2 weeks for 2 weeks.

hotels booked in san diego LA and San Fran. no hotels booked between take it as it comes.

hiring a convertable and driving up the coast with the girlfriend.

any advice / places to see / eat etc (got a couple of travel guides so excluding the obvious guide book stuff)

Did a California road trip 10 years ago, a triangular route from LA-Highway1-SF-Napa-Yosemite-Vegas-LA, did it in 2 weeks so we were on the move quite a bit but didn't seem overly hurried.

LA, not my favourite, a huge sprawl, 8-lane freeways, but worth seeing Hollywood Walk of Fame, Bel Air mansions, Rodeo Drive, Universal Studios, Santa Monica Pier, just to say you've done it.

Pacific Coast Hwy 1 was a highlight, you want at least 3 days for LA-SF (make sure you stay on Hwy 1 which hugs the coast most of the way, don't get sidetracked onto the faster 101, it's boring), Santa Barbara Pier, Solvang "danish" village, McWay Waterfall onto beach at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Hearst Castle, Big Sur coast, pay the toll to do the 17 mile drive on the Monterey peninsula. Monterey/Carmel area was my favourite spot, beautiful coast/beaches, things to do, not as hectic as the big cities.

San Francisco had a cool vibe and amazing light, view from twin peaks, Alcatraz, cablecars. Drive over Golden Gate bridge (amazing view back to the city from the Marin Headlands, first exit after the bridge) up to Napa Valley for a free tour/tasting at a winery.

Yosemite was sublime, Tunnel viewpoint, thundering waterfalls, huge rock faces, lots of sequoias here too so no need to visit the other parks especially.

Drive to Vegas across the Mojave Desert felt like a proper US road trip, when you get there you'll be blown away by how well they have manage to fake everything in the middle of the desert, like a theme park for adults, don't miss the spectacles on the Strip but do it in the evening, it's gonna be hot- Bellagio fountains, Treasure Island pirate battle, Mirage volcano, etc. Stay in the aircon during the heat of the day, the casinos, shopping are huge and you never seem to be able to find you're way out, wonder why! Hoover dam was spectacular. Try the all-you-can-eat buffets. Catch a Vegas show too.

We didn't book any hotels for our trip, we found motel discount booklets in tourist leaflet racks at eating places, shopping centres,etc. We had no trouble getting in anywhere, but it was off-peak season, mid-may

My bro-in-law still talks about this trip to this day, he was blown away, you will enjoy it, have a great time!

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If you cross the golden gate bridge to the marin side you can drive up mount tamalpais, great view.

Driving up the marin coast there are some nice beaches but the water is cold so no good for swimming but a nice drive. On the coast there is an eathquake exhibition centre at Point Reyes Station which is worth half an hour.

Further up the coast is Fort Ross. It was a russian fort.

If you do get up the coast on the marin side then you can cut across through petaluma to sonoma and then on to the napa valley. Sonoma is quite interesting, it is the most northely point that the mexicans reached and where they kept an eye on the russians. It is also where the california bear flag revolt started when a bunch on anglos told general vallejo that they were taking over and he said ok.

I think you need a longer holiday.

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Did this trip years ago with my mates. From San Diego to San Francisco, Vegas at some point too.

Has to be Route 1 up the coast as someone mentioned.

I remember that there is a very posh restaurant off Route 1 by the coast. Would be a great place to take the missus tho I never went there myself.

Great thing about Route 1 is you can just park it when you feel like it and relax on one of the numerous fairly quiet beaches along the way.

We also stopped in Santa Cruz, bit of a student town with some nice bars and I remember eating at a nice seafood place near some kind of giant rock??

San Francisco, cheap hotels are hard to find. We had the cheapest hotel which was still dear by American standards. It was on a right shithole area downtown. Within walking distance of the clubs but really a no-go area at night. Full of literally, vagrants in "the shadows". Though we found it easy to score weed.

(btw motels etc are easy to come by elsewhere of course, no need to book. But I think it might be prudent to book ahead for San Fran).

I saw more homeless people in San Fran in one weekend than I have in my whole life outside of it. Many are ex-vietnam vets, ex hippies etc. Very sad. Outside of the dodgy area I was in, the rest of San Fran is fine.

Book tickets to Alcatraz BEFORE you get there!!! We turned up in a taxi stoned and there was no chance! Booked up already. So you can't just turn up on the gate, it won't work.

Hope you have a great trip. I don't know anyone who has gone on holiday to America and not liked it. We Brits fguckin love America :D

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we overnighted at Morro Bay which is a quiet and peaceful place after Las Vegas/Los Angeles. Plus the fish and chips from the restaurant on the seafront was, surprisingly, some of the best I've ever had.

Is this the restaurant near the "rock"? I think this is the same place we went. Very tasty.

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