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California/coastal trip

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Question
Hi!
We have never been to California and we would like to travel the scenic rt. 1. We want to come in September and are hoping that it is good weather that time of year. We live in NY so where do you recommend we fly into and start our adventure. From start to finish. We love the coastline, love to snorkel and swim,love scenery. Where do you recommend to stay and see and for how long. We were thinking 7 to 8 days. Any help with planning will be greatly appreciated.
         Linda

Answer
Hi Linda,

I would recommend that you fly into San Francisco to start, then travel south. After spending a couple days in SF, head south on 101, then cut over to the coast on highway 17. Santa Cruz is a lot of fun, and has a very cool boardwalk. From Santa Cruz, the drive to Monterey is quite pleasant. Stop in and have dinner on Cannery Row. The next morning, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Take highway 1 south through Big Sur, enjoying the view. Stop at San Simeon for a tour of Hearst Castle. You can spend the night in Pismo Beach or San Luis Obispo.

From SLO, it's about 4 hours to LA. Highway 1 ends at SLO, but you can pick it up again around Oxnard. If you have time, Solvang is a cute Danish Village just before you get to Santa Barbara. If you take the coastal route (1) through Malibu, add 30-60 minutes to your drive into LA.

While in LA, you'll want to see the Hollywood & Highland area, including the Walk of Fame, Chinese Theater forecourt, and maybe the Kodak Theater or El Capitan Theater. Universal Studios and City Walk are one subway stop from there. Probably best to stay around Hollywood for a day or two as a takeoff point for excursions. You'll want to also visit Disneyland, which is the top tourist attraction. For that, I recommend staying by the park at the Howard Johnson or the Candy Cane Inn, two good hotels that give you more bang for your buck. Both are close enough to the park that you can easily walk to the front gate.

If you have time, Sea World and the San Diego Zoo are worth the trip south to San Diego. This also offers your best chance to swim with the dolphins.

September is tied with August as being our hottest month. Little chance of rain, a large chance of a heat wave. If you want to snorkel in the ocean, keep in mind that our ocean currents come from Alaska, not Mexico. The water is at its warmest this time of year, but will still only be in the low 70's or upper 60's. Catalina Island has very good snorkeling and diving opportunities. The ocean currents and the pounding of the waves here are great for surfing, but not so good for snorkeling.

I could recommend a side trip to Yosemite from SF, but it takes about 6 or 7 hours to drive there from SF. It's beautiful, even in September, but most of the waterfalls are not even flowing that time of year.

Have fun, and feel free to ask any follow up questions!  

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Steve Summers

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I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I`ve lived in the Valley, west side, east side, and South Bay, so I`m an expert on getting around town. I`m knowledgeable about all of the Southern California tourist attractions. I am also an expert on state beaches in Southern California, and have an expansive camping background. No relocation/moving questions, please.

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I have lived in Southern California my entire life. I'm a "local", with expert knowledge of Southern California. I've done a lot of extensive traveling to NorCal, so I can provide answers about northern California as a visitor, and southern California as a local.

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Not that this matters, but since it's required, I have a Bachelor's Degree. I also have a Master's Degree in the University of Life.

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