My husband and I will be travelling to California for about 10 days towards the end of Nov,during the thanks giving vaccation , this is our first visit.We Already have our to and fro tickets booked.We will be landing in LA on day one and would be departing from SFO on the 10th day.However I have several questions on my mind.Hope you travel gurus out there will help us with some info.
1.Planning to spend 3 days in LA,and would like to use the public transport?The only theme park we are considering now is Universal studios.Please suggest an area which would be convenient to stay and other intersting places to visit .
2.On day 4, we are planning to take Amtrack(coach starlight) from LA to SFO ?Is that a good idea? we want to avoid hiring a car . Are there any other options ?
3.While in SFO we want to visit
Any intersting places in Bay Area accessible by BART ?
How do we plan to visit Alcatraz?
and Napa Valley?
Also please suggest any good local tours ?
4.Which should we consider staying in SFO ?
5.Also please suggest things to do at Chinatown?Is it worth shopping there?Any decent places to eat there ,not to expensive?
Public transport in LA - are you kidding? This is the land of the automobile and freeways. LA has one of the worst public trans systems in the world! You need to rent a car, or you might as well skip LA altogether! I suggest staying in Santa Monica or Westwood.
Amtrak does not take you into SF city - you need to transfer to an Amtrak bus which does take you there. SF has great public trans. and you should certainly stay in the city - it is expensive, but well worth it! Chinatown is very touristy with mediocre restaurants, but most tourists seem to enjoy it. Look up Gray Line tours for N. California (a rental car would be better for outlying areas). I like the small boutique hotels in SF on Bush Street - the Cornell is very nice (small and French owned).
I travelled LA by public transport once. Stayed near the airport (which I wouldn't recommend), walked to the green line, into the city, and then to Hollywood and Long Beach. Was quite doable. Sure, I was the only white face around most of the time, and the network isn't as extensive as in non-American cities, but the service was swift.
I do think the trip to San Francisco should be done yourself by car, though, for that way you can take the Pacific Coast Highway (highway 1) along Big Sur and the gorgeous coast around there. Maybe stop in Monterrey or Santa Cruz. That's definitely worth doing, and much better than anything in LA (I'd seriously cut off a day from LA in order to do that).
Yosemite by public transport is also effectively undoable. I mean, it is possible to get to Yosemite valley by bus (I think), and then there's shuttle busses from there to Glacier Point - but you're still very constrained to the overcrowded walks along the valley floor. Much better to have your own car so you can go up to Tuolumne Meadows and thereabouts. (It sucks that public transport isn't up to the task, but such is the USA.)
I'd forget about Lake Tahoe and further with that little time. Either that, or cut LA from your itinerary completely (it's a grey and boring city anyway) and fly straight to SFO.
Either that, or cut LA from your itinerary completely (it's a grey and boring city anyway) and fly straight to SFO.
Thanks, Sander, I've been saying basically the same thing for months on TP, but most Europeans insist on seeing the land of freeways and places that were formerly the home of movie stars!!! I lived in LA's San Fernando Valley way back in the 1950's when it was a true paradise - no freeways yet. We had horses across the street, I could ride my bike anywhere I wanted to (and did), and it was a very nice unpolluted life. I went to school with the children of Roy Rogers and Abbot & Costello (big movie stars at that time). WOW, how LA has changed - they totally ruined it! On the other hand, much of northern and central California is still worth a visit.
Try the Flyaway Bus Service Between Union Station and LAX
Head out of LAX and into Union Station using the Flyaway (make sure the head sign says "Union Station" as there is also a Flyaway Bus Service to Van Nuys). For only $3 one-way, you can find your way to Downtown LA and at Union Station (where Amtrak is), a major LA transportation hub.
Passengers departing LAX are picked up on the Lower/Arrivals Level in front of each terminal under green signs marked "FlyAway, Buses and Long-Distance Vans."
Buses run in both directions every 30 minutes between the hours of 5 a.m. and 1 a.m., and every hour from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The buses depart Union Station and LAX on the hour and half-hour. The 20-mile (32 kilometers) ride takes less than 45 minutes during peak traffic periods.
From Union Station, you can get to Universal Studios via the Metro Red Line subway.
For further information
or this one
A little planning will get you around Los Angeles area with few difficulties.
Thanks much guys ,for all those suggestions.
Sounds like a great trip. It certainly doable with public transportation. For them parks my favorite is Knots Berry farm because it's small and has a bit of history. I believe it is also accessible by Public Transportation. Napa Valley could be a challenge but not impossible. I use to live there and most tourist would come by car. I believe the Bus comes from Vallejo into Napa if I remember correctly.
not sure if you've done your trip yet but it sounds fantastic.
Universal is great, i love it big time, partic the backlot tour.
But if you're in LA then Six Flags is close by and FAB FAB FAB, so many rides and crazy rollarcoasters its untrue.
SF is a must and as others have said you simple must drive it and stop in places like Monterey, the aquarium there is wonderful and its a lovely place to top.
As for SF, do as much as possible, its an amazing city.
The city tours are good, you get to see some wonderful sights that way.
Book Alcatraz as far in advance as you can coz it does book up, and give yourself plenty of time there, the audio tour is a MUST as is watching the short video when you arrive and they do several daily tours specific to certain parts of the history, these two must be enjoyed.
Of course Lombard Street must be visited as well as riding the tram up the steep streets, China Town has some fab restuarants, including one that is on the 11th (I think) floor of a building, over looking the city.
Also try and visit the building used in the "Towering Inferno" movie, the top floor has a bar i believe but it was closed by the time we arrived.
Oh my god, so much more to see, such a fab city!!!
Hi deadmanmoz ,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.We will be flying to LA on 22nov morning .
You're almost there!
Universal Studios is pretty cool. It's been a few years since I was there.
But you will need a rental car in LA, for sure.
Santa Monica is about a half an hour drive outside of LA and has it's own feel - quaint shops, a pier with an amusement park, etc. Hollywood Blvd is a little cliche, but if you're there, may as well check it out! I'm not typically a fan of fast food, but there's a chain out West called In-N-Out Burger. Check 'em out too.
And San Francisco-
I don't know if you already have your hotel booked, but the Parc 55 in San Francisco is a good choice. Pretty reasonable prices, as I recall - $99 a night? And it puts you a couple of blocks away from Union Square. You MUST east sushi while in San Francisco! They have some of the best...Sushi Groove is terrific. Reservations are probably necessary, as there aren't many tables. Check out Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf- you can see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge at a distance. If you want to get close to the bridge, you can take the bus right to it and walk across (or halfway across, it's quite a haul.)
And then there's Ghirardelli square (chocolate factory), Lombard Street (windiest street in the US). It's pretty feasible to hit most of these places in just a few days.
If you're interested in the 1960's/hippie movement, check out Haight-Ashbury.
I think someone else has already said this, but the best way to get around San Francisco is via bus or the street cars.
Have a great trip!!
[ Edit: Edited on Nov 20, 2008, at 10:01 PM by rys ]