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California/How to plan the itinerary to visit Calfornia


QUESTION: Hello, I am from Argentina and this will be our first visit to California (couple with two children:11 and 9). We have already got our tickets: we will arrive to San Francisco on February 7th, 2014 and we will return from Los Angeles on March 1st. Our plan is to visit San Francisco (the city, Alcatraz, maybe Napa). Then go by car to Los Angeles (staying overnight in some beautiful place). Stay some days there (do the Warnerīs tour). Then Anaheim (Disney and Universal), Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and San Diego (to rest!). The thing is that we donīt know how many days to stay in each place or how much will it take to drive to all of these places. And we donīt know the appropriate order of places or if it is better to go by car to LV or fly there. Thanks in advance for all your help!


Please accept my apologies for the delayed response. I was away on business.

The biggest problem here is that there is SO much to see in these cities. Feel free to adjust your itinerary. Three weeks will go by very quickly. Here is my suggestion:

Day 1-4: San Francisco- Alcatraz, Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, ride a Cable Car, Coit Tower, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Day 5: Visit Napa Valley. Taste some Wine.
Day 6: Drive to Monterey, taking highway 17, stopping in Santa Cruz, ending in Monterey. 3-4 hours, plus stops.
Day 7: Visit Cannery Row, Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Day 8: Drive to Los Angeles via highway 1. Lots of twists and turns going to San Luis Obispo, but worth it. Stop at Hearst Castle along the way. 6-8 hours of driving, plus stops.
Day 9-13: Visit Hollywood- Universal Studios and/or Warner Bros tour, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood & Highland Center, see a TV show being filmed (, downtown LA (Olvera Street, Chinatown, Nokia Theater, LA Live, Staples Center), tour of LA (, Beverly Hills, the Grove Shopping Center. Change hotels, something close to Disneyland.
Day 14-16: Disneyland Resort- Disneyland, California Adventure, Downtown Disney. Have dinner at Medieval Times or Pirates Dinner Adventure, shop at Newport Beach Fashion Island, visit the Crystal Cathedral. Drive to San Diego at the end of the day (2 hours).
Day 17-18: San Diego-- Sea World, Old Town San Diego, San Diego Zoo, Coronado Island. Stay at the Hotel Del Coronado, or Coronado Beach Resort.
Day 19-20: Fly to Las Vegas from San Diego. It's about 6 hours of rather boring desert, or a 1 hour flight.  Enjoy Las Vegas.

Fly back to LA, then back home. Unless, of course, you can get a flight directly.

Check out, and get a Southern California CityPass.

Have fun!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks a lot for your help!! These are my last questions... (I promise). I have Starwood points so we will be using them in all the major cities. In which neighborhood do you recommend staying? In San Francisco: MOMA, Union Square or Fishermanīs Wharf? LA: W Westwood, W Hollywood or Le Meridien Santa Monica? And in which city do you recommend that we stay for President Day to do some real shopping? Thanks in advance!

Hi Ana,

In San Francisco: If your main goal is sightseeing, stay in Fisherman's Wharf. You get more of that "San Francisco" vibe. If you want to shop more, then Union Square.

Los Angeles: LA is different than any city on earth because everything is so spread out. There's no central location. My first choice would be the W Hollywood. It's next to the Metro Red Line, and you can get to many of the Hollywood sights easily, including Universal Studios. W in Westwood is a bit nicer, and Westwood Village has many places to shop and eat. Santa Monica is nice because it's by the beach. However, in Los Angeles, everything is determined by how close you are to your destination. It can easily take an hour to get from Santa Monica to Hollywood, so I'd go with the W Hollywood. Also, you're right across from the Pantages Theater, so you can check out what show is there.

According to the itinerary guideline I gave you,  you should be in Los Angeles on Day 10/February 17. That's just fine, as there are MANY places to shop.

Places to Shop:
Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
The Grove, Los Angeles
Americana @ Brand, Glendale
Beverly Center, Los Angeles
Citadel Outlets, Commerce
Brea Mall, Brea
The Block at Orange, Orange
South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa
Fashion Island, Newport Beach
Santee Alley, Los Angeles  


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Steve Summers


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.


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.

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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