Travelling in California - any recommendations?

Discussion in 'US' started by SunrayOneZero, Aug 28, 2009.

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  1. I find myself visiting the land of the free for a few weeks...

    I'll be doing the usual touristy bits in California. I was just wondering if anyone could recommend any interesting off-the-beaten track places to go. Also, any good military museums etc?

    Thanks, SR10.
  2. Care to be more specific about where you'll be? CA covers about 70% more territory than the UK.
  3. Hardly off-the-beaten-track, but they gave me an interesting 3 weeks some years ago!

    Grand Canyon at dawn. If you want go into the Canyon, you should book well in advance.
    Las Vegas; stay in the better hotels, take advantage of all the goodies, and DON'T gamble.
    Hoover Dam.
    The coastal road north and south of San Francisco
    The Hearst place north of SF.
    Death Valley including Zabriskie Point; take a copy of the Floyd album!

    Lucky b******r.

  4. Good point.

    Current plan is 5 days in San Francisco. 3 nights in Yosemite. Then 5/6 days pottering somewhere between there and LA. No plan to go to LA or venture any further west than Death Valley or south of LA or north of Yosemite in fact. I'm sure that only leaves an area the size of England.
  5. Showing my ignorance.. hadn't realised Hoover Dam was that side of the USA. For some reason, i thought it was East Coast. Now that is an engineering marvel.

    Hearst Castle is a must.

    Looking forward to Big Sur. Booked a Dodge Charger. Sounds good, i just know it won't be anything like Dukes of Hazzard though.
  6. Hire or borrow a Harley and take a ride along the PCH to Neptune's Seafood Restaurant in Malibu. It serves great chowder, has been used as a location in loads of movies and is a favourite haunt of Hollywood celebs (although I didn't meet any).
  7. Monterrey is very cool, great beaches, very relaxed and annoying home of the Naval Postgraduate School. Just south is Carmel, small chilled out town of which Clint Eastwood used to be their Mayor!

    Much further south, San Diego is well worth a visit with a plethora of military museums, USMC, USS Midway, you can even pop in to Miramar, formerly TopGun, now a marine air station. Awesome sea food, great bars.

    San Francisco is a great city and enough to keep you busy for a good few days. The Presidio is worth a visit along with Alcatraz (book early online).

    The Pacific Highway is fantastic, though probably better on a bike.
  8. Oh, and there's the Getty Museum, not military but pretty good anyway. Also, the world's biggest thermometer at Baker. I don't really know why I went there, but it definately was big and the ride out to Baker then on to Vegas was superb.
  9. Check out the Gun Rental places that have a firing range. Las Vegas seems to have the best but I'm sure there are plenty more.

    Colt M16 Carbine .223
    M249 Minimi .223
    AK47 Assault Rifle .223
    H&K MP5 SMG 9mm
    Colt M16 SMG 9mm
    UZI SMG 9mm

    Thompson M1A1 SMG .45
    Madsen M50 SMG 9mm
    MP40 "Schmeisser" SMG 9mm
    M3A1 "Grease Gun" SMG .45
    and More!
    Handgun Rentals Starting at $20
    Machine Gun Rentals Starting at $50
  10. OK, I live in the LA area and I have to be honest, if you don't know where you're going it can be somewhat on the shit-side. The traffic is every bit as bad as you've heard and unless you have a local guide, you can spend half your time parked on a Freeway.

    Take the drive along Pacific Coast Highway. It doesn't disappoint. Overnight in Carmel or Monterey. My favourite beach in So Cal is Zuma Beach, just to the West of Malibu. A little closer in is a beach restaurant called Bob Morris' Beach Cafe on Paradise Road. That's a really fun afternoon.

    If you really want to come and see LA, then my suggestion is to stay in the Santa Monica/Venice Beach area. A trip to the Getty Center is worth a quiet afternoon. If you're fairly youngish and don't have kids with you, let me know and I'll fill you in on the nightlife around town. ;)

    Vegas is a must. You have Hoover Dam just to the East and Death Valley about 30-45mins West. Try and plan a midweek visit to Vegas as hotels will be stupidly cheap. (4 Star from 50 quid, 3 Star from less than 20... on the strip). Try . You can get flights over the Grand Canyon from a little over $100 a head. Most packages are about 3-4hours long. I advise people to get the earliest flight possible. Yes, it's a silly o'clock start, but they pick you up from your hotel, you get to see the sunrise over the canyon and there's little or no thermal activity, and you get back just in time for lunch. As opposed to a couple of hours driving in the car.

    Also, be on the lookout for In'n'Out Burger. Order the Double-Double. If you're doing LA-Vegas or Vegas-LA by road, the one in Barstow is a rite of passage.
  11. LA was crap. SF was nice but 5 days? Jeez! To appreciate Yosemite, you have to leave the camps behind and go wild - which takes time.

    Mammoth Lakes to the east is interesting if you are a geology freak; the San Andreas Fault is pretty obvious in the area and when the Fault next moves, this is likely to be the epicentre.

    The Sequioa National Park is beautiful as is the Redwood NP.

    Watch for changes of scale on the inter-state road maps; a nicely planned bimble of a couple of hours turned into a 6 hour pedal to the metal frenzy!

  12. Make sure you take the hill side trip on the North side of the Golden Gate bridge, views of the bridge and the Pacific Ocean are stunning. Keep off the 101 highway wherever possible and take the normal roads for the best views, Carmel, (pricey and touristy), and Pacific Grove (nice town on the Ocean) are well worth the visit. In fact that whole area is stunning.
  13. I stayed overnight on the Canyon; expensive but worth it because I was out of bed @ 0500hrs and on the edge by 0530hrs. I cannot adequately describe the next hour; suffice to say that it was 20 years ago and the Kodachrome slides do not do the view justice!

  14. Maybe a night or two at Big Bear if you're in coming in Sept. See how your lungs like kayaking at 7,000ft. :)
  15. There's a bar in Jack London Square in Oakland that should be worth a look. It was one of the few places that didn't get knocked down or burned up in the earthquake of 1906 and it was said to be a favorite haunt of the writer Jack London. Unfortunately I don't remember the name, but you couldn't miss it as the floor was slanted by about 20-30 degrees. (This was the result of the shaking the building got) I spent many an happy hour there with my friend back in the 80s. When you walk in stone cold sober the slant of the floor and the juxtaposition of the bar doesn't worry you, but after a few belts it does tend to prey on one's mind.

    The Presidio is now part of the National Park system. The Army left some years ago. My ex-wife received some of her training as a nurse at Letterman Army Hospital but that's gone now.

    The hospital was built in 1898, and was named in 1911 for Jonathan Letterman, who was the medical director of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. The hospital was important in every US foreign conflict in the 20th century, and remained in service until the army base was decommissioned in 1995.

    The historic building was demolished in the 1960s to establish a modern building which was erected in 1969.

    The building was abandoned in 1994 when the base was transferred to the National Park Service and was demolished in 2002. In 2005, Lucasfilm opened the Letterman Digital Arts Center on the site of the old hospital.

    There's a preserved Nike missile battery (SF 88) in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area that you could visit if it strikes your fancy. The battery was set up during the Cold War to fire nuclear tipped missiles at Russian bombers. The Nike program was discontinued in 1979 partly because the Nike missiles didn't have sufficient range and partly because it was realized that if the nuclear warhead had exploded it would have toasted San Francisco as well as the Russian bombers. Live and learn. :wink: :p You can find info on this site at this National Park web page:

    I don't recommend you travel to Los Angeles. The traffic is horrible on the freeways and there really isn't anything there that's worth looking at. On the other hand the old Queen Mary is tied up in Long Beach and serves as a floating hotel. That's worth a look, but it's a long way from San Francisco.