2 Girls. 1 World. A Whole Lot to See


Planning a Road Trip With Roadtrippers!

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I have been in a planning FRENZY the past few weeks. Since making travel a priority, this seems to be my end-of-year routine. I’ve got an anniversary trip to plan, the family beach trip, at least one running event-based getaway, another mom-daughter trip (hopefully) and my favorite, the mother-son adventure.

Two years ago I started the mother-son tradition with a day trip to DC. I had a blast taking both boys and it calmed my fears about traveling with kids alone.

Last year the 8-year-old embarked on our first-ever rafting trip to Utah and it solidified my commitment to travel with my boys at least yearly.

Wanting them to take an active part in the tradition I asked the 8-year-old where he wanted to go next and to my surprise he said, “Hollywood!”

I decided to turn his suggestion for a one-city trip into a California Coastal Highway Adventure!

My plan is to fly us into Los Angeles, rent a car, explore Hollywood, and then leisurely drive up to San Francisco exploring as we go. I don’t want a really strict agenda, I just want to spend time with my son exploring the world.

But I know NOTHING of California.

So I started to dig around on Google and that’s when I stumbled on Roadtrippers.com.

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This site is AMAZING!

You give it a start and a destination and it maps it like Google Maps.

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Then you “Find Places”

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And it overlays them on the map!

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Too many choices? Limit your search with subcategories!

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When you click on a point of interest you can see the name.

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As you can see, you can add it your trip, but if you don’t know what it is you click again and voila!

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Description, address, website link and my favorite, the “Rad-o-Meter!”

If you decide to add the point of interest to your trip, it adjusts your directions and lists it in your itinerary.

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Am I the only one who finds this amazing!

I’ve been working on a loose itinerary for the CA trip on and off for days! Which reminds me, you can login with Facebook and save multiple trips.

Here’s what I have in store for us so far.

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I’m not looking at this as a strict itinerary, more like options as we travel up the Pacific Coast.

Now to actually book airfare. I’ve been watching the rates hoping see a dip.

Any Californians have site seeing suggestions for us, I’m all ears!

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There are 21 comments so far. Join in on the conversation.

    jen r

    January 8, 2014

    Hearst castle is in San Simeon off PCH & somewhere near there is a beach where you can see seals/walruses lazing right on the beach :) Reply


      January 8, 2014

      I have both those places on our itinerary! Reply


    January 8, 2014

    I live in California... I agree with jen... Before I even looked at the comments for this post, Hearst Castle was my first thought. I've been on the main tour and the upstairs. Both were incredible, and I want to go back for more. A really good hotel is Best Western Cavalier, just minutes from Hearst Castle. The hotel is right on the beach and they light several campfires for their guests at night. http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern/US/CA/San-Simeon-hotels/BEST-WESTERN-PLUS-Cavalier-Oceanfront-Resort/Hotel-Overview.do?propertyCode=05173 Second thought is the Redwood Forest, Avenue of the Giants, Drive thru tree(s). Here's a link http://redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=513&source=Favorites Look forward to your trip details and posts. Reply


    January 8, 2014

    If you have a couple of hours near San Jose check out the Winchester Mystery House - so much fun!! Reply


    January 8, 2014

    Don't know how much the 8 year old would enjoy San Simeon (it was built to showcase art on the walls and views from the hillside so not much cool factor for kids. But don't miss the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose and Alcatraz in San Francisco. Alcatraz in particular should be booked ahead of time because it does sell out due to limited space on the ferry. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is also a don't miss for kids, and a great area to rent bikes to ride along the shoreline if the weather is nice. Of course, 17 mile drive is gorgeous if you have time, but like San Simeon, some is more interesting to adults than kids. There are some seals that hang out at the wharf in Monterey (and some more that sun themselves on a beach just south of the aquarium) that's not as crowded as trying to see them at San Francisco's fisherman's wharf. And Muir Woods is a very accessible trip just a ways past the Golden Gate bridge to see redwoods up close. Email me if you want any more specific advice for Northern California--I'm a native and raised two boys here. Reply

    Amy @ A Little Nosh

    January 8, 2014

    A few years after college graduation I did a trip from LA to SF up the coast. I LOVED LOVED LOVED it so much. You're going to have a wonderful time! Reply


    January 8, 2014

    I totally could have used this tool to plan my Europe trip this past summer. But my custom google map ended up looking something like this :) Hoping to do a similar trip in the next couple of years, flying into LA, driving to SF and flying home from there. So, once again, I'll be looking forward to how your trip unfolds! Reply

    Thea @ It's Me Vs. Me

    January 9, 2014

    Oh my goodness, how cool is this?? I love the stuff you find. Reply


    January 10, 2014

    I'm so glad you posted this site! One of my goals is to plan a family road trip this year. Can't wait to check it out. California sounds great! Loved that he picked Hollywood. Reply


    January 11, 2014

    I don't know how far out of the way you are willing to travel but Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks are amazing. I've written about them on my blog but I'm sure you can find info everywhere. The sequoia trees are absolutely incredible. I love road trips. Happy planning! Reply


    January 14, 2014

    Fly out of San Diego, and hit Lego Land. Reply

    Sherri wolsky

    January 14, 2014

    If you can find a deal on a convertible, best way to drive PCH. I've done it 2x both in a convertible. Also get the dash mount fo your Go Pro. There is so much beautiful scenery you will want to capture it all and maneuvering some of the PCH makes it challenging. My biggest regret from my trip last year when I did it was not having a dash mounted video camera. If you go to my wall I posted some photos and a few short videos of my trip last year. The zebras were an unexpected pleasant surprise. Reply


    January 14, 2014

    Definitely Alcatraz. If you are there June 1st you can watch the Triathlon or June 7th is the Sharkfest swim. I am doing both. "Leisurely" and "driving" don't go together when on the road in California especially in the summer. Prepare for tons of traffic jams and moving at a slow speed on that route. Have fun! Legoland for the kids for sure. Reply


    January 17, 2014

    See those islands off Santa Barbara? If he'd be into ferry rides and biking, you could go explore Catalina Island. You could ferry over and rent bikes to explore the island. With a lot of car time, would be some good activity. Def pay attention to drive times between locations. I grew up in San Diego and whenever I go home people (East coasters) seem to be talking about how they are going to "pop up" to San Franciso for the day. CA is a big long stare. 8 hour drive btw SD and SF on interstate 5 and much longer on PCH. I am super excited to see you guys are staying on the coast. Will be a super fun trip. Lots of amusement parks in the LA area. Reply


    January 17, 2014

    Noel- I have ridden/run on Catalina for years. Flat is very limited in town and it's really congested for riding. The hills surrounding Avalon are really really steep and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone who doesn't ride a mountain bike regularly and certainly not for kids. Too dangerous! Reply

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    February 18, 2014

    Long-time lurker and Californian here - lots of great ideas already posted, but wanted to toss one more idea into the mix. Consider reversing your trip and start in SF and end in LA/SD. Driving down the coast, you'll be in the ocean-side lane so it's a much more incredible view (especially for your passenger!). Driving north, it's harder for your passenger to see out to the ocean. Just something to consider :). I'm sure you will have a blast! Reply


    April 11, 2014

    I live in the San Luis Obispo area and agree with previous posters - Ryan might be bored fairly quickly at Hearst Castle. My son was about his age the last time we visited and he enjoyed the bus ride up the big hill but the guided walking tours he was fairly bored. However, the beaches around there are great (water is always freezing so wetsuits are a must if you want to go in!). If you are up for a hike, there is plenty of great spots around here. Madonna mountain is a great hike with fantastic views at the top. (http://www.madonnainn.com/hike.php) Might I also recommend staying on the 101 from Santa Barbara and not hop onto the 1 through Lompoc - the road is really windy with no beach views. If you are wanting to see Vandenberg there is an exit from the 101 that will take you there. From San Luis Obispo on up the coast the 1 is the way to go - beautiful!! What a special time for you two together - have fun! The weather is going to be beautiful - perfect for a convertible car! Reply