my husband and i are planning to travel for 3-4 weeks or so up the west coast starting in LA and ending in vancouver...in particular stopping in santa cruz, san fran, portland and spending time in the outdoors (trekking etc)
does anyone have itinary suggestions or time frames to spend in certain areas?
we are looking into hiring either a rental car or campervan one way but looking pricey...any info on budget companies would help.
You have a good plan with plenty of time, but a few words of caution. Driving in California will be a totally new experience for someone from Ireland (I believe you drive on the left side?) - and driving in the LA area where it's necessary to use the maze of freeways to even get out of town is a real problem in my eyes. S. Californians drive at one speed - extremely fast, and when you're new in town and trying to decide which of 8 exits you need to use to go to any one location will not be easy or comfortable for the person driving. I've been driving most of my life, and whenever I have to drive in LA my blood pressure rises several points!
If you do rent an RV, start your trip in any other location than LA, PLEASE. (since you're doing the entire West Coast, I suggest you start in the Pacific NW where traffic is far lighter than S. California.) Also remember that you can't just pull off the highway and park that camper for the night just anywhere. Most of the time you will be forced to pull into an RV park or campground where you pay for a space for the night.
This website is for the largest chain of RV parks in the USA (there's a link for rental info also):
Driving north of Los Angeles you will enjoy San Luis Obispo area, and it's about halfway bewteen LA and San Francisco.
In particular, Morro Bay and Montana de Oro state park are beautiful coastlines. Further north is San Simeon and Hearst Castle.
On your way to Santa Cruz be sure and take in Big Sur, the Monterey Peninsula and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the latter being a real jewel.