My husband and I are finalizing our trip first trip to CA. We will fly into San Francisco for 1 night and then want to see the redwoods then go down the coast. We love scenery and the ocean however I would like to just see for the scenery 1 vineyard. We would like to also go down the coast ending in San Diego and would like to see the zoo. Is there anything else you could recommend to see in southern CA.? We are not into big crowds, so hollywood would not be something we would be interested in. We were thinking early to mid Sept. but we want to avoid the fog and any rain. Is it good weather in Sept? thanks so much!
September is tied with August for the hottest month of the year, at least in Southern California. In northern California, the weather starts cooling off a bit, usually later in the month.
The coast of California is certainly beautiful, but you also have the Sierra Nevada mountains on the east side of California. Going to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe is worth the trip, but it's quite a drive.
If you don't want to cross the state to get to the mountains, a drive south from SF is worth it. You can actually see many coastal redwoods in Felton, by taking 101 south from SF, then crossing back to the coast on highway 17. Santa Cruz has a famous boardwalk amusement park, worth visiting. Taking highway 1 to Monterey is beautiful. I highly recommend spending some time in the Monterey/Carmel area, particularly around Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Taking highway 1 south through Big Sur is practically a requirement. They shoot a lot of car commercials there just for the scenery. A stop at Hearst Castle is definitely worth your while, as well.
From San Luis Obispo to LA, I would recommend stopping at Pismo Beach and getting some clam chowder at Splash Cafe. It's excellent. Once you get past Pismo, 101 goes inland a bit, and hits the coast again around Santa Barbara, a great college town worth exploring (especially along State Street). From SB, take 101 south. If you take highway 1 south through Oxnard, you'll stay along the coast, visiting the beachfront homes of Malibu (once again, many car commercials shot here).
For a fun side trip, hike to the Hollywood sign: www.hollywoodsigntrip.com.
Other than Griffith Park, LA is an urban/suburban sprawl. There is development all the way from Thousand Oaks to southernmost Orange County. In fact, you don't even see the ocean from Santa Monica all the way to Dana Point. Santa Monica Pier is quite famous and worth a short visit. Venice Beach is also very famous, and interesting if you can handle the freak factor.
In San Diego, make a little time to visit the Hotel Del Coronado. Definitely worth it.