Tell me all about California!

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RobynPrincess's picture
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Tell me all about California!

I did something I should probably get out of the habit of yesterday.... On a whim I booked us flights to California for next May!! Wooooohooooo! clapping there was a bit of a glitch on a website but it doesn't look like they are gonna change our flights so we paid a total of PS355 per person ($550 ish) omg! yay

We fly into SFO and out of LAX 17 days later. Obviously we are gonna do disney (fingers crossed for a few nights DVC grand California) and we'd like to see universal Hollywood, and in San Fran we'd like to do the disney museum and Alcatraz. We are also thinking of a few days in Las Vegas. What else should we do and go to on the West coast? We plan to hire a car and happy to live out of suitcases while travelling around.

Am *so* excited but also a little bit terrified, WDW I feel like I'm fairly expert however the west coast is somewhere I've never been to and feel so clueless!

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
TR on a budget May - June 2011offsite condo
TR Sept - Oct 2010 big family trip in an offsite villa

EmFord's picture
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You're going to have so much fun! California is absolutely beautiful.. If it wasn't so far from WDW I would consider a permanent move out there (oh yeah and family, friends, etc laugh ). If you're flying into SFO you definitely wanna set aside a few days for San Fran and the surrounding areas. That city is wonderful and there are so many things to see. I would recommend Alcatraz for sure, the piers, FRESH sourdough bread. Ghirardelli (if you think the chocolate from the one in Disney is good, I swear the San Fran stuff is like crack). You'll definitely want to ride the cable cars.. There is a town a ferry ride away called Sausalito that is absolutely gorgeous. Theres the Napa Valley just a car ride away, you can hit so many wineries for tours and tastings.

You'll also probably want to do the coastal highway on your way down to LA since you're renting a car. Its a great ride.. You'll want to stop at some beach towns because the vibe there is just so great. I love that laid-back beach bum lifestyle. I've never been to LA or Disneyland but I'm sure you're going to have so much fun!!! That flight deal is awesome.

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Shut the front door. Wow, that will be awesome!

I echo what EmFord says. The Disney Museum is amazing, hit up Fisherman's Wharf (there's a shop on the second level on the wharf with some really unique and cool Disney items - I'll have to remember the name. I posted some pics from there a while back on here), Ghirardellis, Alcatraz, a trip over to Sausalito. As a matter of fact, that's where I am going for my birthday next week - a day trip over to Sausolito.

We went up to Napa / Sonoma, but were not all that into it. It probably has a lot to do with us not drinking wine at all. Oops! But also be aware that they just had a sizable earthquake up that way a week ago and there's a bit of damage. But I would expect by next May they will be right back to where they were.

Be sure to bring warm clothes - it can be colder than you might think in SF proper in May. Layers is key. Always dress so you can add or remove layers easily Smile

Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway is just beautiful. Half Moon Bay has some nice little shops, and there are plenty of small beach towns along the way south. And so many places to just pull over and go stand by the ocean.

DisneyLand as just a really fun experience. Just be sure to go in NOT trying to compare it to WDW all the time.

There's a reason we moved back to this area - it's amazing!!

The Watchmaker's picture
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Ah..LaLa Land...There was a vacation I won't forget..For many reasons..The good first..Los Angeles was awesome and we visited Graums theatre ( I'am a movie freak ) and the famous " Pinks " for the ultimate hot dog ( check out the photos inside of all the movie stars who have eaten there ) The famous Venice beach was amazing ( my six pack is now a twelve ) We also went to San Diego for an overnight stay. ( the zoo was amazing ) Our next visit from San Diego was Tijuana over the Mexican border..Wow!..That was an eye opener ( Not your Cancun ) We visited Knottsberry farm ( think that's what it's called ) Also universal studios ( got my photo taken with The Marx Brothers lookalikes ) And we also had a weekend in Vegas ( New York New York hotel ) ...We spent just over three weeks but we had a ball, of course we visited DL as well...The only trauma was our wedding anniversary night, we had booked a table at this swish downtown restaurant which famous stars like Stallone and
Jack Nicholson had dined at...Our anniversary date is September 11th...The year we were in California was 2001...Everthing shut down after the terror attack...Our flight home with American Airlines was like a ghost plane..Anyway,your going to have a great time...

Magic Days's picture
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CA has a much different feel than FL. We really like the changes. DL has lots of rides that are not available in wdw. If you don't use dvc there are some nice hotels all around DL and some offer shuttle services at a min rate. We also have spent a week in the San Diego area and loved it. There is sea world, Lego land, the San Diego zoo, Cornado island, well basically soarin. Lol. You two seem to have a great time every where you go so I'm sure you'll love ca.

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RobynPrincess's picture
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Ah thank you so much everyone for all your advice!! Am so excited and nervous. Gonna spend a few months researching before booking hotels and deciding exactly what we wanna do.

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
TR on a budget May - June 2011offsite condo
TR Sept - Oct 2010 big family trip in an offsite villa

The Colonel's picture
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I had a client in SF and spent quite a bit of time there. IMO, the most beautiful city. Rent a convertible and drive around Sonoma, Napa and then down US1.

There has to be some CA residents on here that can give you good advice.

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alicemouse's picture
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Hi Robyn!! Sounds like at least 3 of us will be making the trek westward next year!! CCP is also going. I've talked with Dani (Disneylover21) quite a bit and she is super informative! If she doesn't join in the thread, I recommend getting in touch with her via PM.

You're probably about a month out from booking GC, right? I was very paranoid, too, about whether or not we would be able to stay on points because paying for a room was cash I did not want to spend. Luckily, even booking a week after the 7-month window opened for March 25-28, we were able to get a studio. 1BR doesn't seem to be much of a problem (especially at 7 months), but as we have already allocated all of our borrowed 2015 points, I was borrowing 2016 points and trying very hard not to use ALL of them. Hopefully you'll have no trouble for May!

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

RobynPrincess's picture
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I'm very nervous about point borrowing wise too as we don't have a huge amount left for next year and will have to borrow some of 2016 points in. We are about a month away.... It might even work out that we will be in Orlando while we need to make our reservations for next year :-/ not sure how that's gonna go lol

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
TR on a budget May - June 2011offsite condo
TR Sept - Oct 2010 big family trip in an offsite villa

RobynPrincess's picture
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Ahhhhhh nooooooo!

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
TR on a budget May - June 2011offsite condo
TR Sept - Oct 2010 big family trip in an offsite villa

The Colonel's picture
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From what I understand, its not like the world. The hotels directly across the street are OK and still walking distance to the parks.

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Magic Days's picture
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The neighbor hotels can actually be closer than the disney ones.
Also some more reading options.
http://www.citypass.com/southern-california

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alicemouse's picture
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Oh no! The end of your trip is Memorial Day weekend...That's probably why there's no availability for Saturday night. What about doing a 1-BR for the last night? Or one night cash or at a good neighbor? You'd have to change rooms, but at least it saves some out-of-pocket lodging.

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

Sid Man's picture
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Ah, I've put some stuff in your other thread, regarding LA, but to echo the others - The Disney Museum in The Presidio in SF is worth a visit, Alcatraz should be seen. Apparently the night visits can add an extra element of spookiness, especially to the already-quite-dark isolation cells. Try the Off The Grid food vans at Golden Gate where it's a party atmosphere with around 30 different food vans offering up all sorts of food and desserts.

If you're driving up from LA to SF (or vice versa), take the scenic route and drive the PCH-1 down (or up) making sure you take in The Big Sur and stop off at some of the more isolated beaches there. There's a beach with purple sand underneath the top layer (Pfeiffer Beach) complete with a slightly treacherous slope to the car park, but once there it's good - it is paid parking but there's a hut with an attendant who'll take your cash and let you park. Also look for McWay Waterfalls along the way - I missed this one! A stop off in Carmel, Clint Eastwood's former domain, is worth a stop at for the original Fisherman's Wharf as is Santa Cruz for a quick walk up the same beach boulevard where The Lost Boys was shot. Granted it's not as dingy as it looks on film, but it's a good beachside funfair.

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MandaLynn's picture
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This sounds like an amazing plan! I would love to spend a few days in SF, but that will need to wait a year or so. Disney takes precedence and I don't have $$$ for both at the moment Wink

While I am not a California expert, I just came back from a weekend at DL/CA! Ask me anything while it's still fresh Smile

RobynPrincess's picture
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Wow thank you so much for all the help so far! It's all getting copied into a word document so I don't forget Laughing out loud

Can anyone help with where to stay in San Fran? Any areas to be or not to be? (That is the question after all Wink )

We are thinking 3 nights San Fran, 2 nights Yosemite, 3 or 4 nights Las Vegas, 1 night Malibu and the rest in LA. Yosemite is a bit of a sticking point at the min cause it's a long drive, I would rather fly to Las Vegas from San Fran (I hate long car trips) but Sy wants to drive. I am not going to be out hiking round Yosemite so I don't really know what we are going there for... I mean it looks beautiful but I'm only going to see it from the car Wink hmm.... Will have to see how this one pans out....

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
TR on a budget May - June 2011offsite condo
TR Sept - Oct 2010 big family trip in an offsite villa

finngirl's picture
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I think the 2 nights in Yosemite is too much if you aren't interested in hiking around. There are shuttle buses that take you to different viewpoints, so you can ride, get off, look around, take photos, and move on to the next stop. We spent a full afternoon there, hiked AND did the shuttle thing, and that was enough for us. And we love hiking the parks! The drive in is pretty, but if you are heading to Vegas, you could take those 2 days and do stops at Bryce Canyon or Zion instead maybe.

Where do you think you will spend the most time in SF? That could affect which hotels you should consider. If you want to spend time at the Pier and Fisherman's Wharf, and don't want to drive, etc., then a hotel in that area might be right for you. We stayed at the Hilton just a few blocks from the Pier last year, and it worked out really well. We could walk to the Pier and all the entertainment and restaurants there, hop the cable cars nearby, etc. It's about a $35 cab ride from the airport. I'm sure Jeff would have tons of suggestions for places to stay and things to do. We missed Golden Gate Park this time, but that's one of my favourite places too.

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