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2-Week Itinerary for PCH Drive LA - SF/Wine Country

Morristown, New...
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2-Week Itinerary for PCH Drive LA - SF/Wine Country

Thanks all for prior feedback. Our itinerary at a high level is as follows:

6/28 – Fly into LAX, rent convertible, begin two-day visit of LA area

6/29 – Continue LA visit

6/30 – Leave LA, stop at Malibu for short visit, spend short time in Solvang, then head to Santa Barbara for 1 night

7/1 – Leave Santa Barbara late morning, stop at Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes, then to SLO for most of afternoon, head to Cambria for 2 nights

7/2 – Visit San Simeon and Piedras Blancas Seal Rookery, perhaps drive down to Morro Bay, then back to Cambria

7/3 – Drive to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, then proceed to Point Sur State Park, drive to Carmel-by-the-sea, explore Carmel Mission, etc. and spend 2 nights here

7/4 – Visit Point Lobos State Reserve, then onto Monterrey Aquarium and explore surrounding area, perhaps dinner in Monterrey and head back to spend second night in Carmel BTS

7/5 – Head to wine country for next 3 nights (perhaps home base in Yountville)

7/6 – Wine Country

7/7 – Wine Country

7/8 – Drive to San Francisco, turn in rental car and stay for 3 nights and explore SF

7/9 – San Francisco

7/10 – San Francisco

7/11 – Fly home from SF

We know that there is only so much we can do in two weeks, and we are not looking to rush from one site to the other. We also know that we are not looking to spend more than 2 nights in LA (we'll probably do another trip at some point to explore more of southern Cal). Any feedback/suggestions would be appreciated. Also, if you can suggest a good spot to have a close encounter with some mighty redwoods, that would be nice. As for our gameplan for wine country and SF, research via Tripadvisor and some guidebooks is ongoing, but always happy to get advice from you.

Pasadena, California
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1. Re: 2-Week Itinerary for PCH Drive LA - SF/Wine Country

Personally I would skip Solvang, unless you are specifically interested in the nearby wineries. There is plenty to see in Santa Barbara itself. Also, Solvang is @ 40 minutes north of Santa Barbara, so better seen the next day enroute to Cambria.

Do you have specific plans in San Luis Obispo? It is a pleasant town, but you might prefer to drive an extra 30 minutes up the 101 to Paso Robles , and visit some wineries between Cambria and Paso Robles. Take #46 west, a pretty road thru vine-covered hills, and visit some wineries along that road or on the smaller roads that branch off from it. Look at the Paso Robles forum for winery suggestions. This is a newer wine area, lower-key than Napa or Sonoma, with some very good wineries.

Grover Beach...
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2. Re: 2-Week Itinerary for PCH Drive LA - SF/Wine Country

I agree with pasca on your 6/30 plan. It doesn't make sense to drive almost an hour north of Santa Barbara and then return to Santa Barbara for the night when you are traveling north the following day. Spend that day in Santa Barbara.

IF Solvang is a must to you, leave SB by 9:00 am on 7/01 and spend a few hours there. Leave by noon, but skip the Guadalupe Dunes in favor of SLO for a few hours in the afternoon and then Morro Bay on the way up to Cambria to avoid more backtracking.

Point Sur State Park? Are you referring to the lighthouse? The lighthouse is only accessible by guided tour and is offered on a limited basis.

Don't miss Carmel Beach or Asilomar Beach/Pacific Grove coastline while visiting Carmel.

The rest of your itinerary looks okay, even though you are backtracking from the wine country to SF. But that's logical as you're flying out from there.

Edited: 19 March 2012, 08:28
Morristown, New...
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3. Re: 2-Week Itinerary for PCH Drive LA - SF/Wine Country

Thanks for the excellent suggestions. When I first viewed a map for California, it showed Solvang as slightly below Santa Barbara. Now that I've ditched that map and gotten a completely accurate one, it makes abundant sense to not hit Solvang prior to SB. As for skipping the Dunes and spending more time in SLO, I take it that as between the two, we'd probably get more out of our spending a bit more time in SLO, and then heading for a stop at Morro Bay before proceeding up to Cambria, rather than backtracking the next day to visit Morro Bay. All makes sense. Any thoughts as to whether a brief stop in Solvang on 7/1 before getting to SLO is worth it, or should we just enjoy more time in SLO and Morro Bay that day? Also, while I have heard excellent reviews re Paso Robles wine country, I think our wine country stop in Napa/Sonoma will be sufficient. As for a stop to get a look at the redwoods, any thoughts as to where and when re our itinerary?

Napa, CA
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4. Re: 2-Week Itinerary for PCH Drive LA - SF/Wine Country

If you want advice on visiting the Napa Valley and the Sonoma Wine Coutnry, it's best to ask in those respective forums.

You are traveling during the 4th of July period which will be very busy in the popular tourist areas. It's best to make your reservations as soon as possible.

Generally, it's cheaper to stay in the Wine Country during the week rather than the weekends. Friday and Saturday are the most expensive nights.

One other thought. That time of year can be very foggy on the coast so it's best to keep flexible with your schedule of activities. Be able to adapt if the weather is not cooperative.

Grover Beach...
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5. Re: 2-Week Itinerary for PCH Drive LA - SF/Wine Country

"....Any thoughts as to whether a brief stop in Solvang on 7/1 before getting to SLO is worth it, or should we just enjoy more time in SLO and Morro Bay that day? "

Entirely up to you. I don't find Solvang all that interesting compared to what it was 30 years ago, but it does still have some charm to it. Just don't expect to see a lot of Danish kitsch. It's been replaced with "outlet" type stores that can be found in any number of places in California.

If it were me, I would opt for more time in SLO and Morro Bay. Even the Village of Arroyo Grande just before you get to Pismo Beach is worth a look. Charming western themed shops, bakeries, restaurants there with a nice community park behind the south side shops with a swinging bridge. Nice old town feel.

Edited: 20 March 2012, 06:14
6. Re: 2-Week Itinerary for PCH Drive LA - SF/Wine Country

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