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the_yellow_dart

California

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My girlfriend and I are going to be heading down to San Fran then LA at the end of June.

We're going to fly into SF, stay about 4/5 days, rent a car and drive to LA, stay about 3/4 days, then fly back from there.

LA I really don't know that much about. Where are the safe areas to stay? Is transit good enough to get around with down there, or should I keep the rental car for our days in LA? Also, what should we see?

San Fran I think I can handle planning on my own, but any suggestions would be appreciated.

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I last visited Southern California in March of 2006. I'd say visit Laguna Beach, as it is a very beautiful city & beach area (I only had time to go to one beach, but Huntington Beach was also recommended). One nice thing about Laguna Beach is that the Pacific Coast Highway goes right through the town, close to the beach, and you'll see all kinds of interesting cars & trucks drive by. If you and the gf are Disney fans, I'd definitely say take a trip to Disneyland. The Disney Corporation did a recent renovation to the place and I hear it is much nicer and cleaner - almost the way Walt had it - again. Disney California Adventure is next door and is a nice place to visit, but is currently undergoing a massive renovation/re-theming project. If you love a good fried chicken dinner, I'd recommend a visit to Knotts Berry Farm (it's also an amusement park, but I think you can go just for dinner too). A trip to Universal Studios Hollywood and CityWalk is nice, and you never know what movie/tv show will be filming while you're there. A tour of Los Angeles is nice (there are plenty of small bus tours available), see Grauman's Chinese Theater, there's a great Farmers Market to go to for lunch & shopping, see familiar sights from tv & movies, and of course a visit to the Peterson Automotive Museum would be nice :AH-HA_wink:

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Some highlights for me from visits to So Cal over the last 8-10 years include the Santa Monica Pier (I've stayed at hotels near there several times), 3rd st Promenade in Santa Monica, CityWalk, Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollyood and the nearby Hollywood & Highland shopping area (some good restaurants there), Roscoes Chicken and Waffles, driving on Mullholland Drive and the various canyons of Beverly Hills (Laurel Canyon, etc), driving through BH and Bel Air and along Santa Monica Blvd is great for car watching... I've enjoyed seeing various landmarks also, like the Griffith Park Observatory, LA City Hall, and the Capitol Records building. The Petersen is a must for car fans, and the NHRA Museum out in Pomona is very nice also. If you like art museums, I recommend visits to the Getty, LACMA and MOCA. There is a lot to see...

I've enjoyed the drive down the PCH through the OC beach towns, as well as up through Malibu and beyond.

The Angeles Crest Highway is a great drive also, going up in the mountains.

I always try and rent a Mustang convertible when I'm in So Cal, when the weather is nice. Had a 350Z coupe one time, that was a lot of fun.

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Some of the private hotels in SF are offering pretty good deals right now. I think you can get a room at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill for under 200 a night right now.

KEEP THE CAR IN LA!

KEEP THE CAR IN LA!

KEEP THE CAR IN LA!

Do not rely on mass transit there.

Safe places in LA it depends greatly on the type of hotel you are staying it.

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OK Here's the thing: YOU WANT A CAR IN LA. Some transit between some areas is good, but the overall system is lacking. LA was designed largely for the car, and that's the best way to experience it.

As far as safe places to stay are concerned, I would recommend staying either downtown or along the coast in one of the Beach cities. Downtown has alright nightlife now that LA Live opened, and there are some great bars/clubs to be had. Downtown is also a very central location allowing you to go just about everywhere in 20 minutes. If you want something more coastal, I recommend Venice or Santa Monica if you want a lot of shopping opportunities, or Manhattan Beach/Hermosa Beach/Redondo Beach if you want clean beaches and some of the night scene. Hermosa is club central, Redondo has a fantastic pier, and Manhattan is really quiet with a clean beach and great upscale restaurants.

As far as things to see, there are too many to even attempt to list. I suggest you get this: City Walks: Los Angeles:50 Adventures on Foot. Great resource, though IMO they could easily have done 100.

As far as places to eat...Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles is fantastic, and they have 5 locations. Yelp the closest one to wherever you end up staying. Fred 62's in Los Feliz Village is another awesome place, and it's 24/7. For a good Chinese dinner, go to CBS Seafood in Chinatown. For great dim sum, go to 888 Seafood in Rosemead. If you've never had it before, go to In-N-Out--the best fast food chain--but check out their secret menu before you go, because I think anything animal-style is better. In Manhattan Beach (also in Hermosa, but I haven't been to that location), there's an incredible Italian place called Mama D's. Chosun Galbee is a good Korean place in K-Town, and Ruem Pair is an amazing place in Thai Town. La Dijonaise is a french bistro in Culver City with the best croissants I have had in the US. Just yelp all of these, and use yelp to find other things you might be interested in.

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I took the Pontiac Custom-S on a Western States road trip last summer, we visited Baja California and California, my only suggestion is, don't go when they have an earthquake like we did ... :smilewide:

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Oy LA traffic ><

LA is a big place, lots to do, lots of neat things to see, but oh boy the traffic ><

Enjoy your trip to SoCal, hopefully you will be able to see some of the Californian Gold colored mountains that non-Californians seem to enjoy so much.

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The traffic isn't that bad...Chicago's is much, MUCH worse, and LA has like 9M+ people in the metro region. You just have to know how to time it, and whether/which surface streets may be faster (hence, the book).

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Buy a Garmin nuvi for $120 or so if you haven't already. An iPhone with Google Traffic is helpful as well.

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The traffic isn't that bad...Chicago's is much, MUCH worse, and LA has like 9M+ people in the metro region. You just have to know how to time it, and whether/which surface streets may be faster (hence, the book).

Well its bad compared to what I'm used to, which is no gridlock ever :smilewide:

Although i do recall leaving LA one night after a Dodger game and there being absolutely no one on the I5, that was nice.

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The traffic isn't that bad...Chicago's is much, MUCH worse, and LA has like 9M+ people in the metro region. You just have to know how to time it, and whether/which surface streets may be faster (hence, the book).

Agreed.

If you're driving from one one end of the LA metro area to the other, you'll want to pull your hair out. But then the region is so vast and sprawling it'll take hours even with minimal traffic. It's best to stick with one or two areas per day.

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Agreed.

If you're driving from one one end of the LA metro area to the other, you'll want to pull your hair out. But then the region is so vast and sprawling it'll take hours even with minimal traffic. It's best to stick with one or two areas per day.

Exactly--it's huge by any measure (population, geographic area, etc.). How many places exist where you fly over the entire metro region with no end in sight for the entirety of the final decent? It just goes on seemingly forever...

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After researching a bit more and realizing how expensive rental cars and hotels are, I think we'll just stick to San Fran and forget the Los Angeles part. Can't really afford it.

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In that case, take a day to go to Muir Wood.

Priceless experience.

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After researching a bit more and realizing how expensive rental cars and hotels are, I think we'll just stick to San Fran and forget the Los Angeles part. Can't really afford it.

Aww, well there is an old WW2 Diesel Sub out in the bay if you like that sort of thing up in SF.

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I think we'll just stick to San Fran and forget the Los Angeles part.

:angry2:

Well, then I'll only go to Montreal and forget Toronto. Just kidding, of course. So you'll be missing out on my hometown.

LA can be done in a 3-day period and you can see a lot (if you skip the amusement parks/studio tours)

Day one: Downtown LA major things (fairly compact), tacky Hollywood must-sees and Beverly Hills

Day two: Santa Monica, Malibu and the South Bay

Day three: Orange County highlights OR coastline to Santa Barbara OR Angeles Crest/nearby mountains OR other type of day trip

About San Francisco, if you are there on a weekend, take the BART train UNDER THE BAY and check out the street vendors in Berkeley...a veritable time warp, with lots of tye-dye wearing people who make you wonder how they can afford to live in the Bay Area to begin with...just walk out of the BART station onto Shattuck Avenue and you will see some interesting people...I don't remember if it's on Saturday or Sunday. The Berkeley campus is also interesting, in general.

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Bob, what the hell is there to see/do in Malibu? It's a 45-minute drive from downtown, and other than seeing the view driving along PCH, there is NOTHING to do there--there are a lot of gated communities and "private" beaches you can't get to. I use quotations because all beaches are technically public, but Malibu has been in litigation against this since the 1970s and the du jour situation is that you cannot access the beaches with any ease at all without the key to the gate that only private homeowners have direct access to.

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If you are a costco member, they offer some pretty good discounts on rental cars. Also, booking a combo with travelocity or orbitz tends to help your rates as well.

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Bob, what the hell is there to see/do in Malibu? It's a 45-minute drive from downtown, and other than seeing the view driving along PCH, there is NOTHING to do there--there are a lot of gated communities and "private" beaches you can't get to. I use quotations because all beaches are technically public, but Malibu has been in litigation against this since the 1970s and the du jour situation is that you cannot access the beaches with any ease at all without the key to the gate that only private homeowners have direct access to.

Day two could look like this:

- go to the Getty Museum

- drive along Sunset into the Palisades taking a detour here and there to check out some nice homes

- drive up to Malibu to see the ocean, the old Malibu Pier, get the view from Pepperdine, eat at Gladstone's or other place (try Leo Carrillo State Beach, it feels 200 miles away from LA, or even Zuma Beach can be ok)

- drive down to the South Bay and check out beach strand in Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo and get a quick glance at the Marina del Rey en route

- drive up to the northward outlook of Palos Verdes to see the curve of Santa Monica Bay which is worth a few photos

- return to Santa Monica and spend an evening in Iran/Armenia/Israel/Mexico/surfer land/movie star wannabe land and get a good dinner while peoplewatching

It's all good.

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Day two could look like this:

- go to the Getty Museum

- drive along Sunset into the Palisades taking a detour here and there to check out some nice homes

- drive up to Malibu to see the ocean, the old Malibu Pier, get the view from Pepperdine, eat at Gladstone's or other place (try Leo Carrillo State Beach, it feels 200 miles away from LA, or even Zuma Beach can be ok)

- drive down to the South Bay and check out beach strand in Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo and get a quick glance at the Marina del Rey en route

- drive up to the northward outlook of Palos Verdes to see the curve of Santa Monica Bay which is worth a few photos

- return to Santa Monica and spend an evening in Iran/Armenia/Israel/Mexico/surfer land/movie star wannabe land and get a good dinner while peoplewatching

It's all good.

Ummm...#3 is the only one that actually is in Malibu, and even Gladstone's is a stretch at the base of Pacific Palisades. Getty is a must, but the Sepulveda Pass is not Malibu. Unless you're referring to the other Getty property, but I'm not sure of its status--after the fires up there I thought it was damaged?

I dunno...I think the time would be better spent in the Westwood/Santa Monica/Venice area instead of going alllllllll the way up to Malibu. That way you could work in the Ballona Wetlands and the Beach cities more easily and with less commuting.

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Ummm...#3 is the only one that actually is in Malibu, and even Gladstone's is a stretch at the base of Pacific Palisades. Getty is a must, but the Sepulveda Pass is not Malibu. Unless you're referring to the other Getty property, but I'm not sure of its status--after the fires up there I thought it was damaged?

I dunno...I think the time would be better spent in the Westwood/Santa Monica/Venice area instead of going alllllllll the way up to Malibu. That way you could work in the Ballona Wetlands and the Beach cities more easily and with less commuting.

I remember one time when I was out there, starting in Hollywood I drove out Sunset Blvd and thru Brentwood and Pacific Palisades to the Will Rogers State Park, kind of a nice park..the up thru Malibu and then took one of the canyon roads over the mountains back to the 405...

Another area further south I like to drive around is the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the in-laws of a friend of mine live in Rancho Palos Verdes, was over there a couple years ago for dinner w/ them.

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I dunno...I think the time would be better spent in the Westwood/Santa Monica/Venice area instead of going alllllllll the way up to Malibu. That way you could work in the Ballona Wetlands and the Beach cities more easily and with less commuting.

One way or another, a 3-day tourist to LA needs to get some sand in between their toes.

Malibu is the most "rural," so it has a good feel. People more representative of what LA "used to be" are more likely to be found in Manhattan and Hermosa, Redondo had a decent pier and Torrance's beach south of there offers a nice view of "the sweep" of the bay, Santa Monica actually has a crappy beach and parking is expensive...and wait...for some Bohemian (as Berkeley or Santa Cruz as it gets in SoCal) vibes, Venice Beach may be ok...but not after the sun goes down.

So many (stupid) people bash LA. I showed LA to my cousin from Europe in 3 days the "right way" and she was impressed....a city that just can't be explained! A palm-lined waterfront and snow-capped mountains behind the downtown skyline. What's there to bash?

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One way or another, a 3-day tourist to LA needs to get some sand in between their toes.

Malibu is the most "rural," so it has a good feel. People more representative of what LA "used to be" are more likely to be found in Manhattan and Hermosa, Redondo had a decent pier and Torrance's beach south of there offers a nice view of "the sweep" of the bay, Santa Monica actually has a crappy beach and parking is expensive...and wait...for some Bohemian (as Berkeley or Santa Cruz as it gets in SoCal) vibes, Venice Beach may be ok...but not after the sun goes down.

So many (stupid) people bash LA. I showed LA to my cousin from Europe in 3 days the "right way" and she was impressed....a city that just can't be explained! A palm-lined waterfront and snow-capped mountains behind the downtown skyline. What's there to bash?

Generally agree. I'm just not a fan of Malibu or the people in it at all. Plus it's way the hell up PCH. Best LA-area beach hands down is Manhattan--so clean and wide, with a lot of decent shops nearby. Plus The Strand has some beautiful homes along that stretch.

I just had a friend from Indianapolis visit me a few weeks ago--first time in LA and first time at a real ocean (apparently the Gulf of Mexico doesn't count...???)--and she had a blast. She saw it the right way, and had fun. The most common thing I hear from the out-of-state kids at USC is "How can you NOT love LA?" ...and while there definitely are some things that could be better, overall it's a blast all around.

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