Author Topic: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4  (Read 8055 times)

jeromedawg

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Hey all,

Looking for some good road trip ideas as well as cheap lodging for a family of four out of Southern California. It would be my wife and I and our LOs (currently 21mos and 3mos). I have like 4 weeks of CA EDD (partial pay) left where I can supplement with PTO, so I'm effectively only having to take 4hrs of PTO a day. The 4 remaining weeks expires Feb 2018, but I would like to use at least 2 of the weeks for this year. We're thinking about planning something either September or October. A 2 week road trip might be a little intense with 2 LOs so we might break it out into 1 week road trips.

Off the cuff, there's PCH, Yosemite, San Diego but I'm sure there's much more (even driving out of state - Zion? Grand Canyon? Bryce?). I would of course also want to keep lower-cost lodging in mind for all this but that seems difficult. Camping/Car-camping would probably be rough with two kids that young but we're also not the most 'adventurous' type as a whole (my wife would have a really rough time with this I think). Renting an RV has also come to mind too but I haven't researched it a whole lot and I'm pretty intimidated by the idea of driving something that big and knowing how to operate it, etc...

Thinkum

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 08:31:57 PM »
Have you checked Airbnb? Maybe you can get a place near one of the NP's and drive in to see the sights, then get back to your rented place to recoup with the kids.

Honestly though, traveling with kids that young, especially a road trip, does not really sound like a good idea.

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2017, 08:40:50 PM »
Have you checked Airbnb? Maybe you can get a place near one of the NP's and drive in to see the sights, then get back to your rented place to recoup with the kids.

Honestly though, traveling with kids that young, especially a road trip, does not really sound like a good idea.

Haven't looked at AirBNB too much so will consider that.

Yea, it could be rough. We have done short road trips with our first LO when he was pretty young - mostly involving driving back and forth between SoCal and NorCal. He does pretty well in the car but not so sure about how 2nd. The biggest problem we had with our 1st is him getting used to sleeping in a different place - that was pretty rough, and it may not be much better with the 2nd one.

I'm OK with it not being a 'road trip' in the sense that we're stopping at one city every few days and moving onto another every other. I'm good just taking a 'long'ish drive out to one or two places and staying there the week or what not. Even renting a place outside Zion, etc and staying out there for the week or a few days (factoring in 1-2 days for travel time).

trixiebelden

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2017, 08:44:23 PM »
I would maybe try a travel trailer instead of an RV. Easier to drive, plus it's illegal to put car seats in an RV so you'd have to bring another car anyway. Trailers are cheaper to rent and you can still go to a lot of cool campgrounds. Gold country is fun. You can pan for gold (even the toddler can!). There's also some great beach campgrounds you could park the trailer at. Try pismo beach - they have a lot of cool dune hikes as well.

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2017, 08:46:10 PM »
I would maybe try a travel trailer instead of an RV. Easier to drive, plus it's illegal to put car seats in an RV so you'd have to bring another car anyway. Trailers are cheaper to rent and you can still go to a lot of cool campgrounds. Gold country is fun. You can pan for gold (even the toddler can!). There's also some great beach campgrounds you could park the trailer at. Try pismo beach - they have a lot of cool dune hikes as well.

How would a 2wd Rav4 handle one of those travel trailers? I'd be afraid of hauling one of those with something 'underpowered' but I don't know a thing about trailers, RVs, etc. I'm assuming nobody can be occupying the trailer *while* it's in transit?

trixiebelden

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2017, 08:49:38 PM »
Yeah you would definitely need a truck. I've heard of trailers catching a big gust of wind on the freeway and flipping the lightweight car they're attached to. No truck or SUV you could borrow?

trixiebelden

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2017, 08:50:47 PM »
I don't know anything about them but maybe you could pull one of those tiny pop up trailers with your car

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2017, 08:54:51 PM »
I don't know anything about them but maybe you could pull one of those tiny pop up trailers with your car

Yeah you would definitely need a truck. I've heard of trailers catching a big gust of wind on the freeway and flipping the lightweight car they're attached to. No truck or SUV you could borrow?

That sounds scary! I'm not sure if we could borrow anything... I don't think we know many people with a v6 truck or SUV who would be comfortable letting us borrow it (and we wouldn't feel too comfortable asking to borrow). I suppose we could look into renting a truck/SUV too. I wonder if we could just rent a Uhaul, throw a bunch of camping gear in the back, and sleep in the back hahahaha jk
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 08:56:35 PM by jeromedawg »

mm1970

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2017, 09:01:16 PM »
Hey all,

Looking for some good road trip ideas as well as cheap lodging for a family of four out of Southern California. It would be my wife and I and our LOs (currently 21mos and 3mos). I have like 4 weeks of CA EDD (partial pay) left where I can supplement with PTO, so I'm effectively only having to take 4hrs of PTO a day. The 4 remaining weeks expires Feb 2018, but I would like to use at least 2 of the weeks for this year. We're thinking about planning something either September or October. A 2 week road trip might be a little intense with 2 LOs so we might break it out into 1 week road trips.

Off the cuff, there's PCH, Yosemite, San Diego but I'm sure there's much more (even driving out of state - Zion? Grand Canyon? Bryce?). I would of course also want to keep lower-cost lodging in mind for all this but that seems difficult. Camping/Car-camping would probably be rough with two kids that young but we're also not the most 'adventurous' type as a whole (my wife would have a really rough time with this I think). Renting an RV has also come to mind too but I haven't researched it a whole lot and I'm pretty intimidated by the idea of driving something that big and knowing how to operate it, etc...

We took a week during Spring Break (March) to go to Zion and Bryce.  We looked at hotels and AirBnB.  We ended up in a 3BR, 2BA townhouse in  Kanab, UT, for less than a hotel.  It was quite nice.  It was about an hour from Zion and 2-2.5 hours from Bryce?  Totally do-able.  Our kids were 9 and 3 when we did that.  It was $900 for 5 days in the AirBNB.

Map it out, but we are old and cannot really drive more than 6 hours a day.  Because a 6 hour drive by Google is more like 8 or 9 when you add in bathroom and lunch stops.  So for our trip from Santa Barbara to Kanab, it's 9 hours driving time (which means actually 11 with stops).  We took 2 days to get there.  2 days to drive there, 5 nights there, 2 days to drive back.  We REALLY enjoyed this trip.  Those parks are gorgeous - Bryce especially, and there was plenty of other stuff to do too.  The townhouse we stayed at had a little park with trails right behind it.  I loved this trip so much that I'm trying to figure out how to go back and extend it to see Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef too.

We've been to Yosemite a couple of times, stayed in hotels outside the park (Mariposa?)  And once we stayed in a duplex in Yosemite West, which is actually inside the park.  It was reasonably priced when we went, which was also spring break. 

This spring break we went to June Lake, north of Mammoth.  Very pretty and more reasonably priced than Mammoth.

Apparently we travel in Spring break.

We've also gone to San Diego/ Carlsbad/ Legoland.

I've considered renting a van from Escape Campervans.  But with little kids I don't think I'd necessarily do it.

FINate

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2017, 09:33:05 PM »
My vote is an AirBnB/VRBO for a week at a time.

No idea what your LOs are like, but was pretty clear to us that road trips and sightseeing were out of bounds when ours were that age. Toddlers get restless in the car and infants require too many stops to feed/burp/change/rock and its problematic if infant really needs mom but you're on the road. Then once you get to a destination everyone's sleep schedule is messed up and you're too exhausted the next day to enjoy it. And you can't really see the sights when you're always trying to keep the toddler safe and the infant happy.

If you get a rental not too far away (Solvang, Santa Barbara, Morro Bay?) that becomes your basecamp and you explore a little bit at a time without stressing the kids out. Eating out, exploring different neighborhood parks, going to the beach, little short trips. Not as exciting as a big trip, but we found this to be way more enjoyable.

We're finally getting read for a long road trip with the kids now that they are a little older.

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2017, 10:20:17 PM »
My vote is an AirBnB/VRBO for a week at a time.

No idea what your LOs are like, but was pretty clear to us that road trips and sightseeing were out of bounds when ours were that age. Toddlers get restless in the car and infants require too many stops to feed/burp/change/rock and its problematic if infant really needs mom but you're on the road. Then once you get to a destination everyone's sleep schedule is messed up and you're too exhausted the next day to enjoy it. And you can't really see the sights when you're always trying to keep the toddler safe and the infant happy.

If you get a rental not too far away (Solvang, Santa Barbara, Morro Bay?) that becomes your basecamp and you explore a little bit at a time without stressing the kids out. Eating out, exploring different neighborhood parks, going to the beach, little short trips. Not as exciting as a big trip, but we found this to be way more enjoyable.

We're finally getting read for a long road trip with the kids now that they are a little older.

Yea, this is what I'm leaning towards. I definitely wouldn't want to road trip where we're constantly on the go. But driving to one or maybe two places maxes and staying in that given area for a week would be ideal... preferably near a NP and also where there's some opportunities for fishing some creeks/rivers/streams :) I just can't quite think of anything off the top of my head - vacation planning for places in the woods is somewhat foreign to me but I guess I'll start looking. Maybe an AirBNB/Cabin rental up at Big Bear or Mammoth Lakes would be nice. It might even be a good option with my in-laws, except I would seriously be concerned that they'd get lost following us since they'd have to drive separately. I think we'll just keep it to the four of us :)

FINate

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2017, 12:31:50 AM »
Mammoth lakes area is great, or even June Lake Loop...any place along the Eastern Sierras will be wonderful that time of year...possible snow and cold, esp. at higher elevations (once snowed on us for 5 days backpacking at elevation in mid Sept.) You may even see some fall colors at higher elevations. It's close to the eastern entrance of YNP (and the lovely Tuolumne Meadows area) though a pretty long drive from the valley if that's what you had in mind. Keep in mind that Tioga Pass/hwy 120 may close if it gets significant snowfall. Not very likely in Oct, but could happen, just watch the forecast. That general area also has Mono Lake and the Bodie ghost town, both are worth a visit.

RE fishing: Check the regs for each section of stream and each lake you're interested in (https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Inland/2017-Regulations). Some areas are only open certain dates, have specific equipment requirement (e.g. barbless hooks), etc.

Sound fun :)

mm1970

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2017, 09:24:19 AM »
I'm going to second a couple of others.

We stayed in the June Lake loop in a great little cabin this spring break.  2BR, 1BA, full kitchen.

http://www.reversecreeklodge.com/

In Yosemite, it was booked through here

http://www.yosemitewestreservations.com/

And as spartana said, Big bear is close by too, and there are lots of little cabins and things there.

cj25

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2017, 09:57:35 AM »
I can recommend an Airbnb cabin in Big Bear that we really enjoyed - clean, good location, stocked.  PM if interested. 

There is a nice and inexpensive Best Western in St George Utah if you head out towards Zion (BW Abbey Inn) - it has an AMAZING free breakfast.  LOL!


bognish

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2017, 10:54:45 AM »
I really love national parks, but vacations to them with kids did not start to get fun until they were 4 or 5 years old. Most western parks involve a lot of driving and things that are dangerous to kids who haven't mastered walking: cliffs, fast moving water, cactus, poison ivy. The grand views are lost on kids. They just want to get out of the car and play in a stream or crawl around rocks. My kids favorite park is Zion and that is mostly because the hotel had a pool and we got to ride busses. They remember absolutely nothing of the park. Enjoy your local parks for a few more years and save the driving until they are older.

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2017, 02:42:27 PM »
So we're leaning towards Big Bear but may actually do that the weekend after July 4th. Not sure how crazy it gets around there though. Another option might be to rent a beach house in San Diego or one of the beach cities on the way down there.

In September, we may decide to stay around Monterey and Half-moon Bay, and I think my parents are wanting to do a Chinese Red Egg & Ginger party for our daughter that weekend - we don't want to stay with them that entire week though so that would work out in terms of using up the EDD leave. I'll have two more weeks to use up maybe in December or January and February of 2018.


smallstache

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2017, 08:36:17 PM »
I would maybe try a travel trailer instead of an RV. Easier to drive, plus it's illegal to put car seats in an RV so you'd have to bring another car anyway.

No it's not.

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2017, 10:43:44 PM »
Summer weekends in Big Bear are pretty crazy crowded so if you can get there mid week it'll much better and less expensive. Otherwise I think for your week long trip SLO area is a great option. The town itself is nice with lots to do and you are close to Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, Cambria ( vety cute and nice long wooden board walk on Moonstone beach) and San Simeon.  You can always stay a day and night in Solving and Santa Barbara enroute up or back too.  It'll be dry and sunny there is fall too and not very crowded.

Yea, I'm thinking about staying in the Central Coast now for July possibly and maybe Big Bear or Mammoth in September. I recall staying overnight in Pismo Beach for a night and we weren't particularly left with the best impression... not sure but it just wasn't what we expected. I think Morro Bay, Cambria and San Simeon might be more desirable for us. I'd love to try fly fishing the surf at any of the given beaches around there too.

crimwell

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2017, 06:49:19 PM »
We did trips of about 1500 miles round trip to visit relatives when our kids were about those ages. We broke the 750 mile distance into two days for each of those trip​s (we used to do that drive in one day before we had kids). Started very early so the kids basically slept in the car for the first several hours. We don't do DVDs or tablets or whatever in the car, so they just had to play with little toys and eat lots of snacks. I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing a trip that long, and it's important to note that these were trips to a single destination at the home of relatives, so that made things easier, but I think longish trips even with small kids are definitely doable although a lot probably depends on the kids' temperaments.

One thing to keep in mind with national parks is that the lodging is often quite far from the attractions, unless you go for the expensive and difficult to reserve lodging that's inside the parks. As several people have pointed out, children these ages will be totally unaware or at least uninterested in the beautiful vistas etc. The upside of that is that they might really be into less spectacular sights that area close at hand (rocks, dirt, etc). Have you thought about getting a hotel in Twentynine Palms in October or November and visiting Joshua Tree national Park? It's still hot in October, but you can get relatively cheap lodging quite close to certain areas of the park. Older kid would probably have fun climbing on the smaller rocks.

Same time of year you might also consider Las Vegas: Red Rock Canyon just west of the city has some spectacular sights, there are high mountains a little west of that (Charleston Peak - area looks similar to high parts of San Bernardino Mountains), there is Lake Mead. Valley of Fire State Park an hour north of town has weird red Rock formations like Bryce canyon. Biggest thing here is that there are nearly endless lodging options, including, depending on time of year, ability to make credit card rewards points go really far.


crimwell

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2017, 07:26:05 PM »
One more piece of information you might have never paid attention to before kids. Every town has small neighborhood parks with playgrounds. Most kids love playgrounds, and they might be pretty happy if they get to play in a new one. If you need to stop to let the toddler stretch his/her little legs and nurse/change baby, they usually have some nice grass to sit on too. These can be surprisingly fun stops for adults, and it's usually not hard to find one close to the highway if you do a minimal amount of planning ahead with a map.

If you drive up the coast to Morro Bay/SLO, there are dozens of little exits to overlooks and stuff along 101 one you get past Ventura

FINate

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2017, 07:40:19 PM »
One more piece of information you might have never paid attention to before kids. Every town has small neighborhood parks with playgrounds. Most kids love playgrounds, and they might be pretty happy if they get to play in a new one. If you need to stop to let the toddler stretch his/her little legs and nurse/change baby, they usually have some nice grass to sit on too. These can be surprisingly fun stops for adults, and it's usually not hard to find one close to the highway if you do a minimal amount of planning ahead with a map.

If you drive up the coast to Morro Bay/SLO, there are dozens of little exits to overlooks and stuff along 101 one you get past Ventura

Indeed. If you end up anywhere near Solvang then Sunny Fields Park is worth a side trip -
 https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sunny+Fields+Park/@34.6079014,-120.1235281,15.14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x727673076f0312f2!8m2!3d34.6074798!4d-120.1232028  Plus the wineries in that area are usually pretty chill and are fine with people having picknic lunches (unlike most of Napa - arogant jerks up there :) )

crimwell

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2017, 11:38:10 PM »

Indeed. If you end up anywhere near Solvang then Sunny Fields Park is worth a side trip -
 https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sunny+Fields+Park/@34.6079014,-120.1235281,15.14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x727673076f0312f2!8m2!3d34.6074798!4d-120.1232028 

Wow, that is a really cool playground. I love the one​s like this that have a local theme to them.

profgubler

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2017, 04:20:42 AM »
Try escapecampervans.com. A campervan is cheaper to rent than an rv and easier to drive. It fits in most tent sites so is cheaper to park. And it will be more comfortable than tent camping. You just need a bathroom and bathroom and shower which you can get at all the national park campsites.


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FINate

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #23 on: June 15, 2017, 10:09:35 AM »
Try escapecampervans.com. A campervan is cheaper to rent than an rv and easier to drive. It fits in most tent sites so is cheaper to park. And it will be more comfortable than tent camping. You just need a bathroom and bathroom and shower which you can get at all the national park campsites.


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Yikes that's pricey, showing $151/night in mid-July, or over $1000 for the week. Peak season pricing? I guess if you don't have any gear (or no place to store it) and you go very infrequently it makes sense. But for damn, for that kind of chedda you can get a high quality canvas tent and great sleeping pads, then should be good to go for 10 years or more.

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2017, 10:14:07 AM »
I'm a little late to this one, but if you pass through Holbrook, AZ, I recommend a stay at the Wigwam Motel. It was actually pretty cheap and clean (albeit basic, but fine for one night on a road trip), and my kids LOVED it! I was concerned it would be awful, but it was actually very good value for the money, and the beds were surprisingly comfortable.

Otherwise, I second the suggestion to stop at playgrounds along the way. We bring a picnic lunch in the car and find a park with a playground and bathroom, so the kids can eat and then play while we eat. Once we started doing this we found we saved a TON of money and the kids were happier in the car.

mm1970

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #25 on: June 15, 2017, 04:44:46 PM »

Indeed. If you end up anywhere near Solvang then Sunny Fields Park is worth a side trip -
 https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sunny+Fields+Park/@34.6079014,-120.1235281,15.14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x727673076f0312f2!8m2!3d34.6074798!4d-120.1232028 

Wow, that is a really cool playground. I love the one​s like this that have a local theme to them.
Yeah, it's nice.  We drove past it dozens of times with the kids (picking up our wine) before we stopped.  But realize that it's the desert, and it gets really hot in the summer in Solvang.

I agree with the person who mentioned picnic lunches at the wineries.  I didn't realize Napa folks were snobs.

mm1970

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #26 on: June 15, 2017, 04:46:03 PM »
Try escapecampervans.com. A campervan is cheaper to rent than an rv and easier to drive. It fits in most tent sites so is cheaper to park. And it will be more comfortable than tent camping. You just need a bathroom and bathroom and shower which you can get at all the national park campsites.


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Yikes that's pricey, showing $151/night in mid-July, or over $1000 for the week. Peak season pricing? I guess if you don't have any gear (or no place to store it) and you go very infrequently it makes sense. But for damn, for that kind of chedda you can get a high quality canvas tent and great sleeping pads, then should be good to go for 10 years or more.
Yeah that must be peak season.  LAst time I priced them, it was about the same as a rental car, but it wasn't peak season.

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #27 on: June 15, 2017, 05:02:58 PM »
Haven't seen this mentioned yet, but
1) arguably the best portion of the PCH - big sur - has large segements  closed due to mudslides.  Estimates suggest it might not open until 2018.
http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/highway_conditions.html


2) Yosemite is not considered Southern California.  Just sayin'.

Now for my recommendations - if you're heading towards Yosemite anyway I'd urge Kings Canyon during that time of year.  Substantially less people with some equally stunning hikes and some of the largest accessable sequoas on earth.
Morro bay is scenic, Paso Robles has lots of good wine tasting.  Pinnacles NP is worth a day (or three) of hiking but be warned that it get very HOT in summer.

sounds like fun!

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #28 on: June 15, 2017, 09:04:07 PM »
Haven't seen this mentioned yet, but
1) arguably the best portion of the PCH - big sur - has large segements  closed due to mudslides.  Estimates suggest it might not open until 2018.
http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/highway_conditions.html


2) Yosemite is not considered Southern California.  Just sayin'.

Now for my recommendations - if you're heading towards Yosemite anyway I'd urge Kings Canyon during that time of year.  Substantially less people with some equally stunning hikes and some of the largest accessable sequoas on earth.
Morro bay is scenic, Paso Robles has lots of good wine tasting.  Pinnacles NP is worth a day (or three) of hiking but be warned that it get very HOT in summer.

sounds like fun!

Sorry, I wasn't clear - when I said "out of Southern California" I think I meant it in the context that we are based out of Southern California. So we're not necessarily looking for a road-trip that's within the bounds of SoCal; of course, that might be preferable with the two little ones at this point.

In any case, now we're considering doing week-long trips in July, August AND potentially September (as I mentioned I have at least 2-3 weeks of leave I'd like to use up before the end of the year). October is another option (in lieu of one of the other months) as that should be pretty open for us too. I just don't want to feel too rushed to make a decision to go somewhere (especially for July) without adequate planning/prep. Maybe August/Sept/Oct would be good. Of course, a week at home is always the last-remaining option :)

Kings Canyon definitely sounds like a possibility! And we haven't actually spent much, if any, time at Morro Bay, so that can be another option. I was thinking the San Simeon/Cayucos/Morro Bay areas regarding that.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 09:06:19 PM by jeromedawg »

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #29 on: June 15, 2017, 11:44:53 PM »
I'm still thinking about Pismo - how is the Grover Beach/Ocean Dunes area? We weren't impressed with downtown but this like back in 2010 so maybe there was some bias being right after the crash lol. So what's the latest scoop on the Pismo Beach area these days? Would it be worth staying there a week and hanging around for beach time?

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #30 on: June 16, 2017, 09:50:02 AM »
I'm still thinking about Pismo - how is the Grover Beach/Ocean Dunes area? We weren't impressed with downtown but this like back in 2010 so maybe there was some bias being right after the crash lol. So what's the latest scoop on the Pismo Beach area these days? Would it be worth staying there a week and hanging around for beach time?

IMO the main attraction at Pismo is the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. So depends how much you like partying on the beach with quads and dune buggies and 4x4 trucks. I rode the dunes as part of a corporate offsite a number of years ago. Was a ton of fun though several people had to be taken out by ambulance so the corporate overloads cancelled the second day :( Other than that, I don't remember Pismo itself being that interesting - strip malls and housing - though maybe we just didn't explore enough of the town.

I think you're better off with Morro Bay (and Cayucos), or even San Luis Obispo (college town with decent downtown area and good dining options, but will be hot in July).

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #31 on: June 16, 2017, 10:17:30 AM »
I'm still thinking about Pismo - how is the Grover Beach/Ocean Dunes area? We weren't impressed with downtown but this like back in 2010 so maybe there was some bias being right after the crash lol. So what's the latest scoop on the Pismo Beach area these days? Would it be worth staying there a week and hanging around for beach time?

IMO the main attraction at Pismo is the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. So depends how much you like partying on the beach with quads and dune buggies and 4x4 trucks. I rode the dunes as part of a corporate offsite a number of years ago. Was a ton of fun though several people had to be taken out by ambulance so the corporate overloads cancelled the second day :( Other than that, I don't remember Pismo itself being that interesting - strip malls and housing - though maybe we just didn't explore enough of the town.

I think you're better off with Morro Bay (and Cayucos), or even San Luis Obispo (college town with decent downtown area and good dining options, but will be hot in July).

I'd agree that these are two vastly different scenes. Cayucos/Morro Bay appeals more to artists, hikers, nature-lovers etc.  I have less experience with Pismo but its always struck me as a higher-energy, partying sort of place.  Pismo gets way more crowded but also more sun (and less Fog).

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #32 on: June 16, 2017, 10:46:53 AM »
Pismo itself isn't all that great. Funky little beach town, nice pier area and great beach outside of the dunes vehicular area. There are lots of little tucked away gems in Pismo that are nice though so a stop and a walk. The little Dinosaur Caves Park right off the freeway in Shell Beach is a fun place for the kids and and great views along the cliffs just north of Pismo Beach.

But I think its best to stay somewhere like Morro Bay where you are more central to everything and can take daytrips to places like Cambria, San Simeon,  and Caycous as well as SLO and Pismo Beach. There lots of places to visit in town and near by and lots of parks too for the kids as well as a couple of state parks (Montana Del Oro isn't too far).

We've stopped at Dinosaur Caves Park to let the kids play while heading to Santa Barbara. Nice little park.

Montana Del Oro has some good mountain biking for those into that. Good road riding in that area as well, such as Prefumo Canyon Rd-Avila Beach-SLO loop. Now I want to plan another tip :)

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #33 on: June 16, 2017, 12:15:43 PM »
I think we may book a place we found in Morro Bay that seems reasonable and likely able to accommodate us. We're looking at mid-September - how is it during that time of year?

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #34 on: June 16, 2017, 12:27:32 PM »
I think we may book a place we found in Morro Bay that seems reasonable and likely able to accommodate us. We're looking at mid-September - how is it during that time of year?
Mid september is usually an awesome time - too early for the winter rains but late enough that kids are back in school and the traffic has dropped off considerably.  Besides early May I can't think of a better time of the year to go.

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #35 on: June 16, 2017, 01:29:56 PM »
What do you guys think of arriving on Monday after 3pm (check-in), stopping at SB, Solvang or SLO on the way up to kill some time, then staying till Friday. That's 4 nights/5 days - too short or just right? We would probably want to head to the Avila Beach Farm (tractor ride maybe), Cayucos, San Simeon (probably not Hearst Castle but maybe the seals?) and well as to have time lounging and relaxing at the house, beach, or Embarcadero at Morro Bay

EDIT: the alternative would be to go up on Sunday instead for an extra day. Same plan of stopping in SB, Solvang, SLO, etc (only one of those places) on the way up. Then coming back on Friday.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 01:54:18 PM by jeromedawg »

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #36 on: June 16, 2017, 08:27:19 PM »
I went ahead and booked for 4 nights/5 days at a small unit in Morro Bay. My wife is afraid she'll be bored any longer haha. Not 100% sure what we'll have lined up to do but definitely exploring the immediate area. Probably lunch in Solvang (including Sunny Fields Park) on the way up. While we're in the area, maybe the Sub Sea Tour, Embarcadero, beaches, Tidelands Park, Cayucos, sport fishing (for me). And on the way back to LA/OC, Gopher Glen, Avila Valley Farm and/or downtown SLO (Firestone!) on the way back. I decided we would head up on a Sunday morning (hopefully leaving around 9am) instead of Monday just because of awful LA traffic. Maybe we'll stick around in SLO for a while, hangout in Santa Barbara and visit my in-laws in the San Fernando Valley before making our way back to OC (because weekday afternoon/early evening traffic is awful as well - we'd probably wait until after 7-8pm before getting on the 5 or 405 and going through downtown/LA. 

I am a little concerned about the size of the unit we're in - it's a downstairs 'guest' duplex unit with 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom. We're going to bring a pack n play for my older one but are a bit concerned about how well he'll sleep in the small living room area. There is a door to the outside from the bedroom as well though, so if I want to go out early mornings there will be less of a chance of waking him up. We'll see how it goes...
« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 10:35:37 PM by jeromedawg »

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #37 on: June 17, 2017, 11:22:32 AM »
I went ahead and booked for 4 nights/5 days at a small unit in Morro Bay. My wife is afraid she'll be bored any longer haha. Not 100% sure what we'll have lined up to do but definitely exploring the immediate area. Probably lunch in Solvang (including Sunny Fields Park) on the way up. While we're in the area, maybe the Sub Sea Tour, Embarcadero, beaches, Tidelands Park, Cayucos, sport fishing (for me). And on the way back to LA/OC, Gopher Glen, Avila Valley Farm and/or downtown SLO (Firestone!) on the way back. I decided we would head up on a Sunday morning (hopefully leaving around 9am) instead of Monday just because of awful LA traffic. Maybe we'll stick around in SLO for a while, hangout in Santa Barbara and visit my in-laws in the San Fernando Valley before making our way back to OC (because weekday afternoon/early evening traffic is awful as well - we'd probably wait until after 7-8pm before getting on the 5 or 405 and going through downtown/LA. 

I am a little concerned about the size of the unit we're in - it's a downstairs 'guest' duplex unit with 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom. We're going to bring a pack n play for my older one but are a bit concerned about how well he'll sleep in the small living room area. There is a door to the outside from the bedroom as well though, so if I want to go out early mornings there will be less of a chance of waking him up. We'll see how it goes...
I think that all sounds great. Sept will be dry there and could be hot but it'll also be fog-free too and warmer. Personally I leave Sat and stay somewhere mud way and do a Sunday to Friday thing in Morro Bay and go to Solvang or SB Friday and return Sat or Sunday  just to avoid traffic thru LA in both directions. I dont think you'd be bored and you wouldnt have to rush. You can always come home early if you are bored too. Some other kid friendly areas (I think) nearby are the Elvin Forest in Los Osos, Cambria and Moonstone Beach (both just off Hwy 1 on way to San Simeon - not much to do in San Simeon though), the museum in the Morro Bay State Park and the marina with a little hiking trail thru the marshes. Tidelands Park at the south end of town and another large community park north of town that has a bike path that runs along the dunes. Theres also an ostrich farm on the road into Solvang from Buellton. Kids probably like that. Anyways I think you'll enjoy it.
http://visitcambriaca.com/attractions-california/
http://www.elfin-forest.org

Thanks - yea we're trying to keep to lodging at a single place. It'll be a longer trip there and back but it should be fine. Thanks for the leads on the other kid friendly areas - I'll look into those. We may even rent a Surrey in Morro Bay for a half-day... I don't know.

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #38 on: June 20, 2017, 06:50:58 PM »
Do you guys think Monterey would be crazy in the late August timeframe with summer and kids being out of school, etc? I'm considering going back maybe for a day trip or overnighter. Was also considering a week-long trip but would probably stay in Salinas or somewhere else I'm assuming would be cheaper.

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #39 on: June 20, 2017, 09:25:26 PM »
I've been to Monterey in late August and it wasn't too bad if you get to any attractions early or later in the day. I've also been there in mid April and honestly it was not that different, there seems to always be tourists around, but again, it was not too bad. I have stayed in Salinas and it's okay, you just have to be mindful of where you're staying. Another area I stayed in was Pacific Grove, which is right next door to Monterey. You should be able to find something on Airbnb or VRBO.

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #40 on: June 21, 2017, 05:47:39 AM »
I love Monterey, but as Spartana indicated lodging can be very expensive... look into Sand City or Seaside. There are always tourists around, but except for a few weekends (e.g. Concourse) it's always manageable.
Definitely check out Point Lobos State Park (just south of Monterey) for scenic trials that are easy to walk around and give you close-up views of otters in kelp beds and scenic vistas. You can park outside the park on Hwy 1 and walk in to avoid paying the parking fee, though I strongly support the state parks. The Monterey Aquarium is amazing but expensive and almost always crowded on the weekend. Still worth it though.  Other great (and free) hiking points and views include Soberanes Pt. - unfortunately Garapatta SP is currently closed due to mudslides.

jeromedawg

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #41 on: June 21, 2017, 02:58:59 PM »
Thanks for the tips on Salinas and avoiding it haha. Not sure why my brother and his family stayed there...

Yea, we probably won't end up driving up to Monterey from Morro Bay - seems like a bit of a pain. Will probably just hang around Morro Bay and the immediate surrounding area.

I've only stayed overnight in Monterey at the Clement using my reward night from the IHG card - it's pretty worthwhile doing it that way, but it does feel a bit short. We usually just drive in, stay the night, do the aquarium the next day and head out - last time we did this it was on the way up to my parent's place in the East Bay. I actually have a free reward night now so I could use that. I *think* I could wait for the 2nd reward night in November too and do 2 nights there if we really wanted to. Might be risky trying to time that though, especially around Thanksgiving.

Big Bear is still a possibility, and Lake Tahoe might be fun too... that's just such a long drive. I guess we could stay overnight on the way up but I dunno...

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Re: PCH, Yosemite, other road trip ideas and cheap lodging for 4
« Reply #42 on: July 05, 2017, 04:53:18 PM »
I live in the Monterey Bay area. Unless you enjoy sitting in traffic, waiting in lines, and fighting for parking then I would avoid Monterey in August. September is a much better time to visit. If you're into biking, a great way to see the city is to park at Robert's Lake and catch the bike path from there. The path is flat so easy to tow a trailer with the kids.

We just got back from a 17 day road trip around the southwest. Our first stop was going to be Joshua Tree, but with the heat wave we decided that wouldn't be any fun (we don't mind the heat but near 100 F at midnight is too much), so we ended up modifying our plans and instead stayed near Big Bear in Holcomb Valley. Very nice campgrounds and quiet (only 2 other groups there, but I hear it gets busy on weekends). You have to bring your own water, and it's a dirt road for the last 4 miles or so, but we really enjoyed the peace and quiet...until we were forced to evacuate by the Holcomb Fire :) Big Bear lake itself was lower and dirtier than I expected, but it was still fun to swim there for an afternoon.