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Old 05-10-2022, 06:50 AM   #1
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Is San Diego worth the gas and advice for going up the west coast.

We are planning on leaving for a big cross county trip to Grand canyon then up the west coast to Seattle. We are driving a 34' class A with toad.

I'm trying to decide if after coming out of Flagstaff, if we should head straight across via i40 to the beaches north of LA, or if we should go south down i8 to San Diego, then up the coast. We visited San Diego about 20 years ago, and enjoyed the zoo and such, but visiting this time with the kids. I'm trying to determine if it is worth the extra stop and gas, or if the central California beaches would be just as nice.

For heading up the coast, the last time we did this trip we were in a car so this is a different beast. With a rig do we pretty much want to stay on i5 going up and then just jet across to the coast at our stopping points?

Recommendations on places to stop/avoid, and routes heading north to Seattle?

Thanks!!
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Old 05-10-2022, 09:26 AM   #2
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In my opinion, driving along the coast north of San Francisco, say from Bodega Bay north, has incredibly beautiful views. There are a lot of places to pull over and enjoy the view. It is a slow and winding road. Take your time and use the pull outs for faster vehicles.

I can't say much about going south because I don't have much experience driving along the coast, say, south of Monterey. But in general, I think anytime I can be near the ocean I'm happy.
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Old 05-10-2022, 09:42 AM   #3
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I'd skip southern California. Head toward the San Francisco area and northward. The beaches of Oregon are awesome as are the state parks!
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Old 05-10-2022, 11:05 AM   #4
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This is such a personal decision it is hard to say but since you emphasis beaches I would say no, the San Diego beaches are nothing special unless you go down to the "friend ship park" and walk the beach to the Mexico boarder and experience how "friendly" the boarder patrol is if you approach the fence. I would judge it as a very important education for your children.

I would say Balbo park, the zoo, and the marine museum are very interesting and worth the gas but maybe not the time if you end up rushed or have to delete something like San Francisco, or Yosemite, or Sequoia NP both of which are absolutely must see if you take the coast route.

LA is different than San Diego but I would spend time there if I had to choose. You can visit the USS Iowa ( I haven't but want to), the Queen Mary ( ok but I'd wouldn't do it again), Hollywood and catch the Jimmy Kimmel show if you like that sort of thing. I really liked the Getty Museum.

We're fulltime and cities are great but if I had one shot I'd skip the coast at least until San Francisco. I'd skip San Diego and LA and go over 40 to the Mojave then up to Death Valley on 385. Continue North to June Lake, Mammoth lakes, visit the west side of Yosemite (not as dramatic but worth while). Lake Tahoe isn't my thing but you might like it. Lassen Volcano National Park would be a must see for me. After that you could go up the coast or over to Bend. I wouldn't pass up Mt Saint Helens, amazing. Be sure to check out the sediment control project. The pending consequences of all the sediment from that exploded mountain are staggering to contemplate.

Alternatively you could go over to the coast after Lassen. There are some good state parks on the coast between there and Washington. Even from the coast I'd be tempted to go to Mount Saint Helens maybe from Manzanita.

Taking 395 pretty much deletes Yosemite and Sequoia which is a big compromise but I think it is worth it.


Of course if you're doing this in the winter you're going to have to stay on the coast.
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Old 05-10-2022, 11:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psearles View Post
We are planning on leaving for a big cross county trip to Grand canyon then up the west coast to Seattle. We are driving a 34' class A with toad.

I'm trying to decide if after coming out of Flagstaff, if we should head straight across via i40 to the beaches north of LA, or if we should go south down i8 to San Diego, then up the coast. We visited San Diego about 20 years ago, and enjoyed the zoo and such, but visiting this time with the kids. I'm trying to determine if it is worth the extra stop and gas, or if the central California beaches would be just as nice.

For heading up the coast, the last time we did this trip we were in a car so this is a different beast. With a rig do we pretty much want to stay on i5 going up and then just jet across to the coast at our stopping points?

Recommendations on places to stop/avoid, and routes heading north to Seattle?

Thanks!!

All depends on what you want to do and see. There's plenty of things to do and see in the San Diego area and up California from there. Leaving San Diego, once you get north of Camp Pendleton, in a lot of places there is no driving up the coast and it's city freeway driving. Once you get north of LA the drive up the coast is nicer than it is from San Diego through LA.


If you want the coastal view, you want the 1, not the 5. The 5 is horribly dull but faster. If you have the time, take the 1. Outside of that, there's a lot to see and do. How much time do you have and what do you want to do?
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Old 05-10-2022, 11:33 AM   #6
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I posted about our 2 months in CA, last post on 3/31. We traveled primarily on hwy 101.

As another poster mentioned, it is so personal and depends on how much time you have. So many great towns on the California coast, not just the big cities. We skipped the beaches and visited zoos, museums, missions, and local landmarks.

We pretty much avoided hwy 1 with the motorhome, choosing to use the toad for exploring.
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Old 05-10-2022, 11:56 AM   #7
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Ruben H. Fleet Space Theater, Balboa Park and the USS Midway are absolute musts when in San Diego. Leo Carrillo NM is also very cool.
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Old 05-10-2022, 12:19 PM   #8
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If your only reason for going is the beaches then no San Diego is not worth doing, the central California beaches are just as nice or nicer and it is a bit out of your way to go that far south. Otherwise it very much is what you want to see and do.

We spend about a month each year in San Diego and always find lots to see and do, but we are escaping Canadian winter and central California is cooler so we tend to go down I5 and across to Santa Barbara and then meander south from there. This time of year I would pretty much go north from LA along the coast if ocean is your focus. Slower travelling than I5 but the views are pretty spectacular and lots of small towns to explore. While we do I5 in the winter because it is the fastest route south I would avoid it any other time of the year. Pretty much any other route is more scenic.
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Old 05-10-2022, 12:51 PM   #9
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We lived in California for 35 years (north and south), and enjoyed seeing everything in that beautiful state in our Class A with Toad.

OP’s Class A with toad would be white knuckle for him going up US1. I-5 is miserable driving torture even in a car. When RVing traveling north from LA, always take 101. It’s a scenic drive with much to see and do along the way. Camp in Buellton, dine at Wagonwheel where the movie “Sideways” was made, enjoy the wineries, and take your toad over to the coast on a day trip. Or Go north on 101 to Pismo, camp there, enjoy the beach, day trip with toad to Morro and San Simeon, and then cut across to 101 before you get the Hearst Mansion. Arroyo Grande has, in our opinion the best winery for Pinot Noir in the world; Latetia Vineyards. There’s also a campground at Morro, but you’d have to backtrack to get back to the 101. North of San Simeon on Hwy1 is where the cliffs begin. Not for big rvs.

If you want to visit Sequoia or Yosemite, head east from Paso Robles. If not, continue north on 101 to the Bay Area and points north. Cross the Golden Gate and head north on Rte 1 along the coast. Stop at Bodega Bay for good eats. Many beaches all the way to Mendocino. Then cut back over to 101 or I-5 for the drive up to coastal Oregon.

Not worth it to go to San Diego, IMHO. Not many campgrounds to make it accessible for toad day trips, unless you have military privileges, in which case Camp Pendleton’s San Onofre Beach Campground is one of our favorite stays.
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Old 05-10-2022, 12:59 PM   #10
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Beaches ? no Things to do in sanDiego ? sure. Also, If you have a larger vehicle US 101 is the best the " 1" (right along part of the coast) should be done in the toad or carefully considered. If nature is the Goal , Northern California 101 and Oregon Washington can fill your Vacation very nicely. The southern part of Calif I avoid like the plaque because Ive been there done that , that may influence my suggestions.
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Old 05-10-2022, 01:22 PM   #11
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The coast line north of SF and in OR is one of the most beautiful in the world but forget about swimming but they're great for beach combing and other non-swimming activities. The water is extremely cold. This is true of all CA beaches north of Catalina island and, at best, southern CA summer water temperatures are going to be in the high 60s. Even at that, they're much colder than east coast beaches where summer temperatures can reach the 80s:

https://www.californiabeaches.com/pa...ifornia-coast/

I agree that US 1 is going to be a bad choice for a 34' MH. Save it for side trips with the toad. In most cases you'll have decent access to the coast to places like Bodega Bay, Monterey, etc. from US 101. And don't even think about US 1 in the Big Sur area. It's beautiful but scary and is often closed due to slides.

One of our favorite spots is Bandon, OR. They have a very nice state park in addition to commercial RV parks and you can go crabbing right off the town dock. Rental traps are available and you can get your catch cleaned and cooked for a reasonable price. Crabbing is open in estuaries (i.e. bays), beaches, tide pools, piers and jetties year-round. Crabbing in the ocean is CLOSED for Dungeness crab from Oct. 16 to Nov. 30:

https://bandon.com/wp-content/upload...-in-Bandon.pdf
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Old 05-10-2022, 05:03 PM   #12
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I've beached all up and down the West Coast for the last 70 years. I think that the beaches in San Diego are the best -- beautiful water, good surf, warmer water than elsewhere. If you plan to go in the water and maybe catch some waves with a boogie board, San Diego is the best.

"Warmer" is relative, though. The water is cold in the winter (about 60) and pretty decent in the summer (about 70 during August).
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Old 05-10-2022, 05:21 PM   #13
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Wow, all this caution about the 1! I've been up and down it my whole life and never found it to be all that bad. Maybe it's because I've been down it so many times that I don't find it all that distressing. If you don't like drop offs and cliffs, it's not the place for you in an RV. I actually think the 405 is more stressful on any given day. It's worth the trip though, even if it's a side trip. You'll need a day or two to do the whole distance and back. It can be 5-6 hours a way from San Luis Obispo to Monterey, depending on traffic and stops. Lots of places to stop and take a photo, but there are a couple of spots where you won't find gas or restrooms for long stretches.
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Old 05-10-2022, 05:42 PM   #14
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Wow, all this caution about the 1! I've been up and down it my whole life and never found it to be all that bad.
Look at the maps along the CA coast. Red = not over 40'.

https://dot.ca.gov/programs/traffic-...rhomes/bus-map
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