Myself and my partner are planning to Fly to San Fran in september. We have 3/4 days to drive to San Diego? Any advice about this trip? Is it do-able? Where should we stop? Also any recommendations for car hire?
All comments much appreciated.
For car rentals, the major companies are:
I suggest you go to sites like kayak, carrentals.com, expedia, travellocity, or similar to compare rates--and be aware that there will be a one-way drop off charge. Also, if you plan to travel to Mexico, you have to pay extra to buy Mexican travel insurance since American car insurance is no good in Mexico.
As far as where to travel and where to stop, this depends on whether you want to go see Yosemite or whether you prefer the coastal route.
If you want to go along the coast, I suggest your three nights be spent at:
(1) Monterey/Carmel area,
(2) Santa Barbara or Solvang area, and
(3) Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, or Laguna Beach.
If you plan to go see Yosemite, I suggest the three nights be spent at:
(1) Murphys or Angels Camp,
(2) Fresno or Bakersfield, and
(3) Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, or Laguna Beach
Also, if you plan to go see Mexico, plan to go to Rosarito Beach and not to Tijuana, which is a real tourist trap. Also, you'll need more time in that case, so leave the third spot (third night's stop) earlier so you can get to Rosarito by around noon or 1 PM on your fourth day.
Also, some will suggest that you take the coast route (Hwy 1) between Monterey/Carmel and Santa Barbara/Solvang and see Hearst Castle, others will suggest that you take the faster Hwy 101 and stop at the wineries either in Paso Robles or (better, since you are driving) down near Solvang (your final destination for the day).
Hopefully, Jambo101 and Daawgon and HamRadio will "chip in" with their opinions of which route to take (and where to stop). They've travelled through all of these areas and know some of them (like the inland routes) better than I do.
[ Edit: . ]
Calif has some of the best roads in the world, and also some of the most boring roads known to mankind. It is very hard these days to avoid the freeways in the major metro areas - for this reason, I suggest to all foreign tourists that they spend as little time in Los Angeles as possible (look at any map of the LA freeway system and you will see why). The most beautiful route in the state is the coastal Hwy 1 - spectacular, but also very slow going. You can't beat the Monterey Peninsula for physical beauty and attractions (Sunday traffic in this area can be extremely heavy in the good weather!) Just inland from the Peninsula is the Salad Bowl of America (Salinas). In August they have the excellent Garlic Festival in nearby Gilroy. Early Sept will be quite crowded in the area due to the Labor Day Weekend, and the opening of schools. I strongly suggest the later part of Sept for lower prices and less traffic throughout the state. I use Carrentals.com as a rental consolidator, and usually book with Budget or Enterprise (I have had bad luck with Alamo).
I hope you're giving San Francisco plenty of time - my favorite city in Calif, but please don't attempt to see SF by car - it simply does not work! This is one city that needs to be walked or cycled. SF does have an excellent transit system. The BART train serves the entire Bay Area, while the MUNI system is for the city proper. The BART train serves SF International Airport, the City itself, and several East Bay cities such as Berkeley and Oakland.
By the way, the West Coast is more than just Calif - the Pacific Northwest is far less crowded and somewhat less expensive. Ocean swimming is often quite cold north of Central Calif, but the beach combing is far better in the NW. You should also know that prices (especially food prices) have never been higher. Calif has the advantage of excellent fresh produce (my advice is to shop in the ethnic markets for the best prices rather than the supermarkets). Sept is the end of the dry season in Calif, and this means a very good chance of brush fires - just be flexible with your plans.
A word of warning - San Francisco has it's best weather in Sept, and this means many many tourists. You should be sure to book accommodations well in advance - many fairs and events happening at that time.
[ Edit: Edited on 18-Apr-2010, at 22:17 by Daawgon ]
Hey there! We recently made 7 days of video diaries in California. Did all kinds of cool things both touristy and not so typical including a night time helicopter ride over LA with Campagne, surfing in santa barbara, a night in Frank Sinatra's house as well as many other things. Check out the video diaries starting from Day 1 -snip-. The rest of the videos are on the YouTube channel. Happy travels
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]