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California - January or March?

edited June 2009 in - - California
Hi experts, I have the opportunity to take a vacation to California next year in either early January or early March.

We will be flying in to LA and heading up the coast to San Francisco, followed by a few days in Vegas then back to London from LAX (SF - Vegas - LAX probably by air).

Out of those two options, which month do you think would work best and why? And what is unmissable along the way?

Thanks guys.


  • edited 9:20PM
    Have you seen the Word Travels guide to California? Its got all the details you need to plan your trip - including detailed weather info.
  • edited 9:20PM
    March, definitely. January is colder than you would think, and nobody has good heat, so it's easy to get and stay chilled, especially if it's wet. March is much nicer.

    SF is a great place with plenty to see. I would do the tourist things (Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf, Coit tower, etc) and just walk around. Also, Golden Gate Park, with its Botanical Gardens and assorted museums is worth a visit. The aquarium in Monterey is a great stop to make also, on your way up the coast from LA. A bit further up, you can go to Muir Woods and see the redwoods, and if you are a fan of wine, you can head further up to wine country and take in the vinyards.

    Have a wonderful trip!
  • I agree that March would be better than January, but there is no assurance that you wont encounter rain at that time of year in California. Los Angeles will tend to be warmer. As you travel up the coast it will get cooler and you may encounter some fog, especially in SF. Be sure to select clothing that can be layered.

    When you are in San Francisco, try to go to Sausalito. It is on the other side of San Francisco Bay and well worth it. There is a ferry a few blocks from Fisherman's Wharf that can take you across the bay to Sausalito in 20 minutes.

    San Francisco has fabulous restaurants everywhere and you will really enjoy them. The clam chowder at Fisherman's Wharf is another treat not to be missed.

    If you want to visit the wine country, you might want to consider Napa. It is approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) from San Francisco. You can actually sign up for a tour that will take you there and back if you want.

    Wishing you happy travels.
  • First off, the best way to see things in Los Angeles is by car. Our mass transit systems are really not efficient and don't work well at all with very few exceptions.

    It is almost impossible to say what is best to see in Los Angeles. Most people want to go to Disneyland, the ultimate theme park, which is really not in Los Angeles, it is about 30 miles south in Anaheim, and definitely worth a visit. We also have Universal City, which is huge and very popular, too.

    Next, would be Hollywood where you would see Grauman's Chinese Theatre and some of the stars awarded to famous actors on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Kodak Complex which includes a large shopping mall and the KodakTheatre (where the Academy Awards are held) is right next door to Grauman's. Look north up into the hills and you can see the Hollywood sign. Just a few blocks away is the famous Sunset Strip. Head west and you will find lots of interesting boutiques and dining options. Continuing west, you will run into Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive where you can see the rich and famous shop.

    East of Hollywood is Griffith Park and the Griffith Park Observatory which has recently undergone a major renovation. The planetarium there is spectacular. The Park is huge and there is an interesting zoo. There are also many hiking trails if you are so inclined.

    The Grove and Farmers Market is near Hollywood and is a one of the top areas for dining, shopping and entertainment. The Farmers Market (I believe it is the oldest in Los Angeles) is adjacent to the Grove and you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as find lots of casual take-out restaurants with a variety of cuisines to choose from.

    If you like museums, the Getty is one of the top museums in the LA. It is a marvel of architecture perched on a peak of a small mountain with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Los Angeles.

    There are wonderful beaches on the coast. Venice Beach, a few miles north of LAX, is known for its lively sidewalk attractions. You will see a little of everything - rollerbladers, artists, sidewalk performers, etc. Next door (north) is Santa Monica where you will find the Third Street Promenade which is a mecca for shopping and dining. Head toward the ocean and the visit the Pier. It has an amusement park with a large Ferris wheel. It also has a carousel from the 1920s, a small aquarium, shops, entertainers, an arcade, a trapeze school, a pub, and restaurants. A drive to Malibu is also a must. It has some of the most beautiful coastal scenes in the world.

    We have many sports teams in Los Angeles. Whether you have an interest in baseball, basketball, hockey, football or soccer, we have a team. In January and March you might be able to obtain tickets for basketball or ice hockey games in Los Angeles.

    Downtown Los Angeles is full of high-rise skyscrapers. One of the notable downtown attractions is Olvera Street. It is the oldest part of the downtown area and was first settled by Spanish settlers and later inhabited by the Mexicans. Some of the original structures are there, as well as shops and eateries that reflect its origins. Across the street is Union Station, which opened in May 1939. It is known as the "Last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United States and notable because of its architecture. Downtown also has a number of art institutions and restaurants. The Staples Center is home to several sport teams and also hosts concerts and other large public events. Next door is the Los Angeles Convention Center. The downtown area is in the process of undergoing a much needed revitalization.

    Hopefully, this will help you in planning your trip. Los Angeles is a diverse city with lots of beautiful area and some not so (like the area around LAX.) Keep on looking. It never fails to surprise you.
  • edited 9:20PM
    All the advice above is excellent. March is usually better than January, although there's a slightly higher chance of rain in early March. The weather usually changes in mid-March and stays warm until late November.

    I just want to add that, when driving up the coast, there are several beautiful places to stop and visit. The first is the Santa Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara. It is central California's wine country and is stunningly beautiful, especially if you get off the main highway (101) and visit some of the wineries. It is really worth an overnight stay since there are many outstanding restaurants, charming accommodations, and even a casino if that's your fancy. (Santa Barbara is gorgeous, too.)

    The central coast has beautiful attractions like Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Hearst Castle, and Big Sur. Most are nice just to stop and have lunch. But another night's stay is definitely warranted in either Carmel or Monterey-- both of which are on the Monterey Bay peninsula about 100 or so miles south of San Francisco. Stunning views, romantic restaurants, charming walks through the town (especially Carmel).

    I highly suggest you rent a car in L.A. from a large company that will allow you to do a one-way trip to San Francisco so that you fly to Vegas and then back to L.A. It really is a sin to fly between L.A. and S.F. since the drive up the coast is one of the most enchanting experiences about our fair state.
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