A friend and I are traveling by car through california this winter break and we need help creating an itinerary-finding things to do and finding hotels for some of the cities. We love nature,good local food and original/traditional hotels.
Fix: Los Angeles, Monterey, San Fransico, Yosemite, Kings Canyon
Are there any towns/parks in between we should see? Budget - we're pretty open but looking for mid-range places for accommodations under $150/night.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best in the world if you ask me! Go to the Fisherman's Wharf after and get a bread bowl of clam chowder to go from Old Fisherman's Grotto after, you won't regret it!
Mentioned in this answer:
Between Los Angeles and Monterey stop in San Luis Obispo and explore the beaches there like Pismo Beach and Morro Bay. You may enjoy seeing the old Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa as well. Hearst Castle is a beautiful estate with an interesting history with several tours available. It's located just north in San Simeon. This is wear you can see elephant seals on the beach. They may be calving then, so the timing is perfect. You'll find a good lunch at Wild Ginger Cafe in nearby Cambria.
While in Monterey, stop at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary. The Monarch butterflies migrate here and spend October-February hanging in tight clusters to the trees. It's a truly amazing site. Don't miss it.
North of Monterey, you'll find Santa Cruz. I like the small beach at Natural Bridges State Beach, but if you drive a bit further, you'll see more elephant seals and have some nice hikes at Ano Nuevo State Reserve. You'll see windsurfers on the coast near Big Basin State Park - the entrance to the park is here as well where you can hike among the redwoods. Try the famous artichoke soup at Duarte's Tavern or try goat cheese at Harley Farms Goat Dairy.
If you're hungry near Half Moon Bay, try Spice Me Thai or have a traditional breakfast at
Just before you get to Pacifica, there's a new tunnel. Turn left into the parking lot just before or just after your enter the tunnel and take the 1.5 mile hike along the old road, Devil's Slide Coastal Trail. The views are spectacular. Once in Pacifica, try High Tide Cafe & Crepery or the Devil's Slide Taproom. The Vietnamese food at
In San Francisco, hug the coastal highway and follow it along the Pacific Ocean through the Presidio and across the bridge. You'll come to Fort Funston known for hang gliding and a nice beach, you'll see Ocean Beach on your left with the gardens and parks of Golden Gate Park on your right. Continue on to the historic Cliff House and the Sutro Baths - I love climbing around here. This is close to Lands End as well and there are trails, so you can park and walk all over this area.
Baker Beach has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Cross it and you'll enjoy the Marin Headlands covered in old cold war bunkers and hiking trails with views of the bay, Pacific, and San Fran. If you're there on a Sat-Mon, stop at the Point Bonita Lighthouse from 12:30-3:30 and hike around that area. Muir Woods isn't far and those hikes are absolutely gorgeous.
I never stop between San Fran and Yosemite, so I can't help you there, but enjoy the time. You're coming to a gorgeous area of the world that is over abundant with parks and nature.
Mentioned in this answer: