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  The Chatter Box : Travel
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California Road Trip by cameragrrrl on 15 October 2004 12:47am
In the tentative stages of a California Road Trip slated for sometime around Xmas/New Year...

Basic structure is three days in San Fran, 2-3 days driving down Route 1, and three days in LA.

Any tips/recs/suggestions/itinerary plans...etc? I have never been to California before and am pretty much open to anything cheap and wonderful.

Re: California Road Trip by cldphoto on 15 October 2004 2:42pm
Big Sur. Beautiful place with redwood forests and soaring cliffs above the ocean. Andrew Molera State Park is easily overlooked when you go to the other state parks in the area, but it's worth the hike out to the tip of Point Sur.

Other highlights are San Simon and the Hearst Castle (as seen in "Full Circle"). Just don't buy gas at the gas station right near Hearst Castle; if I recall correctly, the prices were over $2 a gallon when I visited in 1998. I can only imagine what they charge now.

If you want to camp on or drive on a beach, Pismo Beach is nice. I wouldn't go too far out with a regular 2WD vehicle, though.
Re: California Road Trip by peripatetically on 15 October 2004 9:18pm
Do the Lacatraz visit, not jut the ferry that goes around it. Actually stop and take the audio self-tour. it's worth it. And the views of the city are fantastic!!!!!!!!!! Also, if you have time do a day trip to the wine counrty Napa or Sononma. Or if time is precious, Muir Woods, to see theredwoods. They are north of S.F. and not far at all.

Drive the coastal road to Carmel. Be sure to tour the town. it's a real haven, one that everyone raves about. I loved it--stayed 2 nights. Lots of lovely little cottages and a very nice mission. Also a mission at Sonoma.
The 17 mile-drive is gorgeous too, near Pebble Beach from Monterey to Carmel. Or vice versa.
Re: California Road Trip by Valarie on 15 October 2004 10:25pm
I drove from Portland to LA last year. We stayed in Carmel, which was very nice. I think it's better than Monterey, but I didn't see Big Sur so I don't know how that compares. (I do love Kerouac's novel, Big Sur, though.) I'd also stay at least a night in Santa Barbara. We stopped there for lunch and just adored it. Chic, but small and relaxing, with great weather since it's right off the ocean.

Also, we misjudged our time and spent a hair-raising hour or so driving Route 1 in the dark. I do not recommend it, particularly if you're driving south. Make sure you have plenty of time to drive it in daylight. It's beautiful, but it isn't for the faint of heart.
Re: California Road Trip by djd on 16 October 2004 12:17am
I did a California trip a few years back, and it was great. Everyone I know that has been to San Fran has really enjoyed the city.... must do's are riding the cable-cars, driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, and of course, Alcatraz. I seem to remember having to book the tickets for the boat to Alcatraz a couple of days ahead, mind you that was at the tail end of summer. Alcatraz is well worth it, and take the audio self-tour. And if it's a clear day at Alcatraz have your camera at the ready for some great picture shots of San Fran back across the Bay.

Carmel is lovely, and 17 Mile Drive an extremely scenic drive.
Re: California Road Trip by peripatetically on 16 October 2004 1:10am
Yes, I agree, the route 1 road is scary. We had to turn back toward Carmel again. I was having strong heart palpitations going across a bridge on a sharp curve hundreds of feet above the rocky cliffs. its gorgeous if you can keep your eyes open though! Driving south is probably harder than driving north as you are on the outside lane. YIKES!!!

And I agree, Carmel is much nicer than Monterey. More charming!! We stayed there for 2 nights, SF 4 nights, 4 nights in the wine country and 3 nights in Yosemite, although the latter isn't on your itinerary.

Have a great time!
Re: California Road Trip by Spursfan on 16 October 2004 1:31pm
Cable cars are a must in San Fran - and don't forget to 'do' Fisherman's Wharf (which can be reached by said cable cars!!).

Also - try and go Whale Watching from Monterey. We went out on the 'Magnum Force'; ok ok I was sea sick but then I always am! We managed to see some whales (ooops I've forgotten which sort at the mo'!!), great experience.

Re: California Road Trip by Valarie on 18 October 2004 9:49pm
I forgot some other recommendations in my previous post. I love to stay at Hotel Boheme in San Francisco. It's small (both in terms of room space and # of rooms available), but it's in the heart of North Beach, which is the Beat Generation's old stomping grounds, so you're quite close to Little Italy, Chinatown and other convenient locations. It isn't the kind of place to stay at if you like in-room microwaves and coffee pots, but it's very atmospheric and the staff has been wonderful. Ask for the Allan Ginsberg room.

And by all means, go to the House of Nanking for at least one meal. It's a little hole-in-the-wall, but it has the best Chinese food in the city. A friend who used to live in San Fran had recommended it to me, and challenged me to ask anyone where the best Chinese food is. So I actually did that - I asked our cab driver, the Hotel Boheme staff and a sales clerk, and they all said House of Nanking. If you go there, just ask them to bring whatever they think is best without looking at the menu (and make sure to let them know if you're vegetarian or not). Keep in mind this is not a lovely, charming dinner spot. Food is served fast and the place is hopping, which means that those long lines move fairly quickly.

I'd also go for a drink at the Top of the Mark (which is the restaurant at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel) - one of the best views in town. And for something a little adventurous and bizarre, you could always try the Tonga Room in the otherwise-stately Fairmont Hotel (next to the Mark Hopkins). Not for all tastes, but can be quite fun in the right mood.
Re: California Road Trip by peripatetically on 19 October 2004 1:04am
Hey Valarie. Yes, I agree with the Top of the Mark recommendation and the Fairmont. We went there at night and it was awesome!. A nice place for a nightcap and to see the lights!

Re: California Road Trip by poonpatch on 22 October 2004 6:01pm
I'll throw in an LA reference. Newport Beach. Lots of golden sand, much quieter than the other 'famous' beaches in LA and very pleasant little place as well.

We spent a lovely couple of hours looking at the pacific with dolphins swimming by...
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