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metu71
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Joined: Nov 08, 2012
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Location: Turku/Finland

PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 5:32 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Hello fellow F'rs,

This thread is not even remotely F-related, apologies for that.

The other day we (my wife and myself) came up with this idea that we would fly to San Francisco, drive (unfortunately by car) to San Diego and then fly back from there. This trip would happen next February and take around one week. We were thinking of spending some days in SF and then take the road along the coast towards SD where we would spend also few days before flying back to Finland. Google Maps gave estimation of ~10 hours drive, do you think that is realistic estimation?
Does this kind of cities-on-both-ends-of-a-drive trip make any sense? We would like to hear your opinion regarding weather, general road condition etc. If it does not make sense to drive in one day, can you recommend any places to sleep over along the way? My wife forced me to ask if there is any safety related issues we need to consider? For example in Finland we can pretty much pull over practically anywhere, so is there some common rules that everybody in US knows that might be new to us.

We would very much appreciate any input about those matters which most probably cannot be found in travel marketing materials. Thanks a lot in advance!

Pasi&Marika
 
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grump
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Joined: Jul 13, 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:08 pm Reply with quote Back to top

San Francisco to San Diego trip deserves more than 10-11 hours. I grew up in Daly City, check the map. San Francisco is nice enough but has suffered many cruel lashes in the last 20-25 years. The drive down the coast is breathtaking. I lived in Half Moon Bay for many years, check the map. Camel, Monterey, Moro Bay, Solvang are all places that will beckon you as you drive through. I was in San Francisco yesterday with my wife. We both commented on how we missed it. ambiance of the older days, the different foods etc. but in the end the traffic is horrific and though I may be a bit blas'e from living there I have to say San Francisco is a pale image of her old self. You are a biker it is said "It's not the destination that is important it is the journey". Yes? My advise.. spend more time on the journey. Cheers. Mike
 
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djhurayt
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Joined: Mar 28, 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:44 pm Reply with quote Back to top

can it be driven in 10 hrs: yes

but as Grump said it is a beautiful drive and you are going to want to stop multiple (many many) times to enjoy the view and take pictures...
 
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DirtyT
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Joined: Nov 05, 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:45 pm Reply with quote Back to top

+1 to both above replies. I'm a native of the area myself, San Francisco still has great restaurants and interesting sights to be seen from the Embarcadero roadway (Coit Tower, Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown), but it is a PITA to drive thru - traffic is hellish and you'll likely see more of the seamy side of SFO than you care to. South of SFO along Hwy 1 (coastal route) is much better starting @ Half Moon Bay and going south. There will be Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, etc.

As far as time to do it - plan on 2 to 3 days - it's a long drive. Even using the quickest route (Interstate 5), SFO to San Diego is more like a 15hr trip with nothing to see but dirt and traffic, pretty much can be said about the central route (Hwy 101). The route you're considering (Hwy 1) is by far the most scenic (but takes the longest time). Once you get into the greater Los Angeles area, your likely best routes will be ,IIRC, Hwy 405 or Hwy 1 around the west side of L.A. The interior hwys (like I-5 Golden State Fwy there) will have nightmarishly slow/stopped traffic for miles. Maybe Genesound will chime in on the SoCal roadways as he lives there & should have more accurate & up to date info. Good Luck, Ed.

P.S. In any big city, esp. tourist areas, theft is prevalent (purse snatching, cell phones & laptops). The thieves are unconcerned about harming you - they often use a "blitz" (sudden & violent) approach - they have no scruples. Also, since you are renting a car - insist on one w/locking trunk - no hatchbacks. You do not want your belongings to be at all visible from the outside.
 
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metu71
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Joined: Nov 08, 2012
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:54 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks for the input!

The estimate of 10 hours drive seems to be such that there is no room for stopping now and then. It would mean straight driving from A to B. We have thought about the trip again and have come up with following plan:

DAY 0: We are going to arrive to San Francisco in the afternoon. Spend the remaining day and some of next day to look around so we will need hotel for one night in SF. This is not our main target so that must be enough. We were thinking of seeing at least the Golden Gate. Few questions came up:
1. As we will rent a car, do you think we should select hotel on certain area so that exiting SF to Hw 1. is easier?
2. What would be the best transportation to get to the Golden Gate bridge? As mentioned the traffic is terrible so probably not by car?
3. What would be the best/worst time to try exiting the city towards south?

DAY 1: Driving south we would take short leg to Monterey during the day. This leg is not too long so can you recommend some places to see on the way in addition to those already mentioned above?

DAY 2: Drive south from Monterey to Santa Barbara. Interesting places to see?

DAY 3: Drive south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and not stopping (at least not for long time) in Los Angeles. I bet there would be number of places to visit/see, but I don't think we have enough time for that...

DAY 4 - 6: See places in San Diego.
Our daughter has already said that she wants to try some extreme water slides, so some water park is a must. I have understood that there are few so which do you recommend?
Some theme park is also on the list?
My wife (and daughter too) wants to do some shopping so it means some heavy lifting for me. Any recommendations where you can get more value for your money?

DAY 7: Our flight would leave in the morning...

Then some of the practicalities. I guess there is plenty of places where you can rent a car. We were thinking of not doing that on airport but after a long flight it might be easier to sit in the back seat and wait for a driver to take us to our hotel. Any recommendations for reliable car rental service? Do you think they would deliver the car to our hotel? We would also need to leave the car to San Diego so I guess all services do not allow that? Any estimation about price range of a medium size car big enough for two adults and two teenagers with luggage? Is the traffic in SD any easier, do you think we should keep the car or use some other transportation while in SD?

We realize that the time we have is quite short but that is all we can do for now and because of this we have a good reason to come back later Smile . I want to highlight that we appreciate your input, there is no better source of information than people living in there where you want to go. Big thanks to all!

Pasi&Marika
 
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grump
Red CB1100F
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Joined: Jul 13, 2004
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Location: Grass Valley,California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:23 pm Reply with quote Back to top

metu71 wrote:
Thanks for the input!

The estimate of 10 hours drive seems to be such that there is no room for stopping now and then. It would mean straight driving from A to B. We have thought about the trip again and have come up with following plan:

DAY 0: We are going to arrive to San Francisco in the afternoon. Spend the remaining day and some of next day to look around so we will need hotel for one night in SF. This is not our main target so that must be enough. We were thinking of seeing at least the Golden Gate. Few questions came up:

There are great hotels just south of SFO in San Bruno/Millbrae area. From there it is easy access west to Hiwy 1 up the peninsula to The City. Use you GpS/Phone for Great Hiwy on the west side of San Fran. Great views can be had along the edge especially from around Lincoln park golf course, Palace of Fine Arts. Take 19th Ave back to Highway one and you will be on your way south. Sleep in and use mid morning to travel north and back around to head south

1. As we will rent a car, do you think we should select hotel on certain area so that exiting SF to Hw 1. is easier?
2. What would be the best transportation to get to the Golden Gate bridge? As mentioned the traffic is terrible so probably not by car?
3. What would be the best/worst time to try exiting the city towards south?

DAY 1: Driving south we would take short leg to Monterey during the day. This leg is not too long so can you recommend some places to see on the way in addition to those already mentioned above?

DAY 2: Drive south from Monterey to Santa Barbara.

Interesting places to see?

Check you GPS for spots to see there are a LOT of them so chose what looks of interest to you.

DAY 3: Drive south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and not stopping (at least not for long time) in Los Angeles. I bet there would be number of places to visit/see, but I don't think we have enough time for that...

I like "Old Town" in San Diego but is definitely for tourists. Try their Mexican food though. Some one will give you better advise on San Diego sights. I don't go to southern California much. I live and stay in the hills pretty much.

DAY 4 - 6: See places in San Diego.
Our daughter has already said that she wants to try some extreme water slides, so some water park is a must. I have understood that there are few so which do you recommend?
Some theme park is also on the list?
My wife (and daughter too) wants to do some shopping so it means some heavy lifting for me. Any recommendations where you can get more value for your money?

DAY 7: Our flight would leave in the morning...

Then some of the practicalities. I guess there is plenty of places where you can rent a car. We were thinking of not doing that on airport but after a long flight it might be easier to sit in the back seat and wait for a driver to take us to our hotel. Any recommendations for reliable car rental service? Do you think they would deliver the car to our hotel? We would also need to leave the car to San Diego so I guess all services do not allow that? Any estimation about price range of a medium size car big enough for two adults and two teenagers with luggage? Is the traffic in SD any easier, do you think we should keep the car or use some other transportation while in SD?

Taxi to nearby hotels, as above, sounds good and there are car rental companies near by there as well as at SFO.

We realize that the time we have is quite short but that is all we can do for now and because of this we have a good reason to come back later Smile . I want to highlight that we appreciate your input, there is no better source of information than people living in there where you want to go. Big thanks to all!

Have a good time, Pasi and Marika. mike

Pasi&Marika
 
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PGSmick
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Joined: Nov 04, 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:17 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Everyone who has ever spent time in the areas you are going will now become your self-appointed travel agents. For my part, I would not miss: Muir Woods just north of SFO where you can see a stand of truly remarkable California redwood trees (hurry before Trump and his cronies decide to cut them down). In Monterrey, I would take some time out for the Monterrey Aquarium.

That's all I have for you.
Have a great trip!

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grump
Red CB1100F
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Joined: Jul 13, 2004
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Location: Grass Valley,California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:28 pm Reply with quote Back to top

PGSmick wrote:
Everyone who has ever spent time in the areas you are going will now become your self-appointed travel agents. For my part, I would not miss: Muir Woods just north of SFO where you can see a stand of truly remarkable California redwood trees (hurry before Trump and his cronies decide to cut them down). In Monterrey, I would take some time out for the Monterrey Aquarium.

That's all I have for you.
Have a great trip!


Redwoods are amazing. Also to be seen in Memorial Park south of Half Moon Bay and Big Sur further south. On you next trip back see the sequoia trees east of Bakersfield.
 
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DirtyT
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Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 453
Location: East Bay, Calif

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 11:01 pm Reply with quote Back to top

grump wrote:
Redwoods are amazing. Also to be seen in Memorial Park south of Half Moon Bay and Big Sur further south. On you next trip back see the sequoia trees east of Bakersfield.


Big +1 there - Redwood & Sequoia trees are magnificent (tallest trees on the planet IIRC). Since there will be 4 of you, rent something like a mini-van, a 4 door car will not be comfy enough. As you want to p/u in SFO and drop in San Diego, you'll likely have to rent at the airport - maybe try Enterprise Rental (I ususally drive my own vehicle - no idea what rentals run). In Feb, there will be lots of hotels w/rooms avail. Figure out what you want to visit first and then make reservations - for traffic reasons, I recommend locations nearer to Pier 36, Fisherman's wharf, the Presidio area for access to Hwy 1.

Leaving SFO going southbound, likely going Hwy 1 would be best - leave by 1pm, as the afternoon commute home starts approx. 2pm and is madness in all dirs. southbound (Hwys 101, 80 across Bay Bridge, 280). Northbound across the Golden Gate is no picnic either. IMO, not much to see in Half Moon Bay or even Santa Cruz (unless you like roller coaster rides and the Boardwalk) except the great ocean scenery on the way along Hwy 1 - but there's plenty of that from Monterey southwards. So if you leave early enough (noontime), you could take either Hwy 101 south or Hwy 280 to Hwy 101 south thru San Jose to Hwy 680 south to Hwy 1 and Monterey.

As far as places to visit beside what's already been mentioned, there is Golden Gate Park (museums & Steinhart Aquarium) on the western side of SFO and easy access to Hwy 1 from there. In Monterey there's the Monterey Bay Aquarium (better than the Steinhart) and Cannery Row - going south to Carmel, if you're a Clint Eastwood fan, you could visit the Hog's Breath Inn (owned by Eastwood) but don't expect to see him there. I would pass on Hearst Castle (kinda long & boring tour). Definitely stop at Morro Bay for pics

In LA, you may want to see the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Blvd. As far as water slides go, I can only think of Magic Mountain (it may be called Six Flags now - not sure) on southern end of the "Grapevine" (Interstate 5). There is also Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm in the Santa Ana / Anaheim area. I'm no longer that familiar w/ LA, so best to look up some of this stuff on the internet - LA and San Diego must have tourist oriented sites. Maybe some So Cal members will chime in.

One last thing, once you are in SFO, pick up a cheap plastic tarp (black if you can) to cover your luggage with while it's in the van - most thieves won't bother breaking in for something they can't see. Good Luck, Ed.

P.S. Take a Cable Car ride while in SFO!
 
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krgood0
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:10 am Reply with quote Back to top

We went to San Franscisco from the UK in 2008, We hired a car to pickup from the Airport, there is a free train shuttle to the car hire place which runs alongside the 101 freeway, so when you have your car its straight on the freeway
We have been to the US around 25 times over the last 20 years and always use Alamo or Avis for car hire, just make sure you take the extra insurances out that cover breakdown, towing Tyres etc, they used to be included but in recent years have become chargeable extras
We based ourselfs in San Mateo which is just south of San Franciso airport, from here we did day trips to the tourist spots, traveling after the morning rush hour

We did do a bit of Highway one, we cut across to Half moon bay and went to Santa Cruz for the day, had lunch on the boardwalk and the kids spent the afternoon in the amusement park
As suggested visit Fishermans Wharf and drive across the Golden Gate bridge, we also did the tour of Alcatraz well worth a visit

We also visited Yosemite national park for a couple of days and stayed in the center of San Franscisco on our return on Market Street which was close to the start of the Powell street Cable cars, You must take a cable car ride as it a great experience, just bear in mind some hotels are expensive and there is limited on site parking
We have visited LA a couple of times, did universal studios and i seem to remember a nearby Water park we went to, Did Disney at Ahaheim and also did a day trip to Sea World in San Diego
If you can i would stretch it to more than 7 days as so much to see

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metu71
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:02 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Big thanks to everyone for your input!

More comments I read, I realize that there is so much to see and only limited amount of days but that is all we can do this time. Flights are now booked and we have coming months to decide suitable places to stay over night and select hotels. I will spend hours getting more info about places you have brought up. I'm sure this will be trip to remember...

I looked at car rental prices from www.rentalcars.com, it is not that expensive. A 7-person van like Dodge Grand Caravan or alike would probably be the one. We will be having quite big suite cases (myself with my wife and two teenagers) so fitting them in the trunk of a sedan would not be possible. Maybe I should try to squeeze the amount of luggage down a little bit...
 
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Motocanada1957
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:17 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I have done this trip at least 25 times

1) More time in Santa Barbara. less in San Diego
2) stop at the Hearst Castle
3) stop in Pismo beach. have breakfast with the surfers
4) not common, but the most romantic hotel along the coast is in Lucia, 10 rooms jutting over the coast, nothing around except a little gas bar and resto 300 cards away. Big value for the missus. but often booked. you'll have to look up the name, but as there's only two buildings in Lucia should not be hard to find.
 
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metu71
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:41 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Ok... Now it starts to be the time. Tomorrow morning at 04:00 (finish time) we will start from our house and drive to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. We will arrive to San Francisco some 19 hours later! Then the journey will begin... I am so excited!!!
 
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TCRacing
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:55 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Just in case, Iím located south of San Francisco Bay Area.

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tomk1960
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:03 pm Reply with quote Back to top

metu71 wrote:
Ok... Now it starts to be the time. Tomorrow morning at 04:00 (finish time) we will start from our house and drive to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. We will arrive to San Francisco some 19 hours later! Then the journey will begin... I am so excited!!!


Pasi - I hope you have great weather and an unforgettably awesome vacation. Enjoy!

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metu71
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:54 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks!
Now we are in San Diego. Views on the route along the coast were breathtaking. The Pacific Ocean on the right and mountains rising to the sky on the other side. Havenít seen anything like that before. It was good advice to split the drive over several days, it would have really hard day to drive during one day.

Weather has been great, all sunny, not too hot just great!
Planning to see USS Midway today, just canít wait.

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DrOlds
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:02 pm Reply with quote Back to top

When you go over the bridge definitely head up to Muir Woods. When you are in downtown SF doing the "Wharf" walk down to the park and on the corner of Hyde Street & Beach Street (where the Hyde streetcar line ends) is "The Buena Vista" my choice as the best Irish breakfast spot. We were in Monterrey during the last USGP and went up for breakfast and sat at a table next to Kenny Roberts, his wife and daughter. Have a couple of Irish coffee's and enjoy the ambiance. The Ghirardelli Chocolate store is a block up Beach and is worth the walk. Take the Hyde streetcar up to Lombard and walk down Lombard street. Do not miss the ride down the coast ... Alice's restaurant is up on top of the ridge a little south of Half Moon Bay on Skyline Drive (RT 35 & 84) but it would be way better on a bike.

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cliffiec
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:54 pm Reply with quote Back to top

metu71 wrote:
Thanks!
Now we are in San Diego. Views on the route along the coast were breathtaking. The Pacific Ocean on the right and mountains rising to the sky on the other side. Havenít seen anything like that before. It was good advice to split the drive over several days, it would have really hard day to drive during one day.

Weather has been great, all sunny, not too hot just great!
Planning to see USS Midway today, just canít wait.


We were in SD yesterday! Would have loved to buy you a beer and chat for a few, if you're going to the Midway, take a few minutes and walk down to Seaport Village, for a bit of tourist shopping, LOL. Enjoy the day!

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