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Old 12-27-2017, 12:57 AM
Location: San Antonio/Houston/Tricity
38,092 posts, read 55,882,569 times
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I posted similar question on California forum couple years ago and oh, boy - the members there gave me so many fantastic tips, I couldn't thank them enough! There is nothing better than get the source engaged! No travel books in the world could do better. I am still grateful for their help. OP, try that. They will do all they can to make your trip memorable
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Old 12-27-2017, 08:10 AM
Location: Seattle
1,533 posts, read 1,318,617 times
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Here's a loop I'd suggest (or click on thumbnail for reduced map) - https://goo.gl/maps/g4dU3dELDHN2

This goes north from LA to Yosemite, then up California Hwy 49 through the spectacular gold rush country along the Sierra foothills along Calif. Hwy 49. This passes through beautiful country and fabulous historic little towns like Columbia, Murphys, Sutter Creek and Nevada City, with a possible side trip to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where you'll see giant sequoia trees - more accessible than a separate trip to Sequoia NP.

You'd then cut across the central valley to Sonoma (my fave town in the wine country) then south over the Golden Gate through SF and down the Pacific side of the SF peninsula to Henry Cowell (or Big Basin, your choice) State Park, where you'll see coast redwoods. (The redwoods are taller, the sequoias bigger - they're not the same species.)

Then loop around Monterey Bay, stopping at the cool beachfront amusement park in Santa Cruz, Monterey for its cool aquarium and Cannery Row, Carmel for its beautiful Spanish mission, beach and twee shops, then down the coast to Point Lobos (fabulous coastal scenery and lots of wildlife). See Big Sur and follow CA Hwy 1 south (currently closed for roadworks, hence not shown on the map, but will reopen before you get there) to the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, then on through the "Sideways" wine country to beautiful Santa Barbara (glorious Spanish mission) and back to LA.

This is a high-speed loop; a couple of comments:

-It skips Lake Tahoe. Just my view, but the south shore is too honkytonk with casinos and tourist pollution, and it's out of your way. (A California road trip is all about choices, and I'd suggest the coast and redwoods will easily outweigh Tahoe, but of course it's a personal choice.)

- September is often the hottest month of the year, and it's especially a time when fire risk in the Sierras is very high. I'd have a "Plan B" firmly in mind if fires erupt; perhaps a more coastal route. And Death Valley in September is outright crazy. If you MUST experience the desert then, use Palm Springs as a base (much cheaper and more going on than DV) and do a day trip to nearby Joshua Tree NP, which (IMO) is more beautiful and interesting than Death Valley anyway.

Happy planning!
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Old 12-27-2017, 10:31 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,652 posts, read 40,029,981 times
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Originally Posted by evening sun View Post
Stealth recommended Solvang, I don't think that is a good place for a European to visit, it is a fake place. Fine, if they have more time, but thye will be on a tight schedule.
I only recommended pastries, not the town.

Of course it is fake, it is California.

Itís On the way... (if you want a Euro pastry), if not... go to the next fake spot.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:31 AM
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California has probably the world's most concentrated collection of scenic locations but with all that driving you might want to see less and see it more intensely.

Be careful about Route 1 south of Big Sur. Last time I was there (last year), it was closed due to a major bridge washing out. Check with the California Highway Patrol. http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/highway_conditions.html

Southbound on Route 1 has better views, but if you're nervous about heights, northbound feels and is safer.

I would skip Death Valley. If you want to see the desert, Joshua Tree and Anza-Borrego are much more accessible. I also know two people who died hiking near Death Valley.

Las Vegas sucks; don't go.

I live in San Diego and love it. It really is quite different from LA and the rest of California.
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