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Location Advice please - Southern California

Talen

Member
A possible upcoming work trip to Claremont, California should give me the oppourtunity to have a few cheap days out there on my own money after the training course.

So I'm wondering where I should look at going when I'm out there. If things pan out as planned I should have 6 days at the end of July to do my own thing.

Any suggestions please?

One day is going to be spent at Planes of Fame in Chino, but beyond that there is so much choice I'm struggling a bit to work out the best way to spend the remaining 5 days. I'm looking at museums (mainly railway or military history) and landscapes. I know there are quite a few national parks nearby, but nothing about them as to which are worth visiting. Equally I'm open to any other suggestions if there are "must do" things out there.

I'm not too sure about driving into LA though as this will be my first visit to the US and my first time driving abroad as well, so staying out of the big cities appeals.
 

RyanB

Always on
Premium Member
Not sure how far afield you want to go but the Sequoia National forest isn't that far and is probably one of my top 5 California spots. Monterey is also a great place to visit if you have the time to go that far north.
 

Talen

Member
Not sure how far afield you want to go but the Sequoia National forest isn't that far and is probably one of my top 5 California spots. Monterey is also a great place to visit if you have the time to go that far north.
Sequoia is a bit further afield than I had originally been planning (200 miles is a long way to a Brit, or at least this Brit.) However I could turn it into a bit of a road trip and head up that way. I don't want to spend too many whole days driving, but I don't object to driving a couple of hours in the evening after visiting somewhere; I'm not much of one for nightlife so I would only waste most evenings reading in whatever hotel room I end up at, with the odd exception for some sunset photography maybe in the right locations.

A bit of a Road trip could be a good plan actually rather than staying in the same area, I'll do some digging into that idea.
 

RyanB

Always on
Premium Member
Sequoia is a bit further afield than I had originally been planning (200 miles is a long way to a Brit, or at least this Brit.) However I could turn it into a bit of a road trip and head up that way. I don't want to spend too many whole days driving, but I don't object to driving a couple of hours in the evening after visiting somewhere; I'm not much of one for nightlife so I would only waste most evenings reading in whatever hotel room I end up at, with the odd exception for some sunset photography maybe in the right locations.

A bit of a Road trip could be a good plan actually rather than staying in the same area, I'll do some digging into that idea.
Sequoia is about as far south as I have ever ventured, I know plenty of places in Northern CA having lived in the Bay area for quite a while in my youth but most of them would require a huge(by British Standards) chunk of driving from where you will be. Frankly I can't say I have ever been disappointed by a national park in CA and I suspect there are probably quite a few great spots in the national forest just to the North of you, I don't know of them mind but I bet they are there if a road trip isn't on the cards.
 

DwarvenChef

Always on
It really depends on what you want to see out here. I'm told the wide open spaces between everything puts the zap in many peoples heads, to us 200 miles is across the street... I have to drive into LA twice a week, ugh, 200 mile round trip...

The Getty is just outside West LA and is pretty cool to see. By the way I'm in Santa Barbara, wish I had space...

I avoid East LA as it's deeper into LA than I like to be.... Of course ALaska is also to close to LA for my liking :p
 

Minor Problem

Always on
Premium Member
I'd avoid LA like the plague, it's a soulless concrete jungle with no aesthetic appeal whatsoever in my humble opinion.
 

gaelldew

Always on
Premium Member
Military wise, great day out.
California Science Center
4.7 (9,085) · Science museum
Los Angeles, CA, United States
 

MikeB

Always on
Premium Member
Joshua Tree National Park is about 100 miles west of Claremont. Excellent photo opprotunities. It is a great place for night sky photography. Be mindful of the weather conditions for the specific times you will be there. It is a desert environment and some preparation may be required, depending on what you plan to do.

https://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/photography.htm
https://www.nps.gov/jotr/learn/photosmultimedia/multimedia.htm

Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Death Valley and Pinnacles National Parks are about 200 miles north. If you're adventurous Channel Islands National Park is just off the Pacific coast.

While Los Angeles may not hold any interest for you, the road along the ocean to Oxnard makes for a beautiful drive.
 

Talen

Member
Thanks for the suggestions all, I shall have a look at them and see what I can fit into my road trip.

The cities themselves hold no real attraction, I'd only be going into them for specific attractions, but I do like a good coast road...

In related news it looks like work might be changing their minds on me and I might end up in the San Francisco area as they want me to have look at something up that way too. So that would probably give me the weekend near LA and then a few days further north. I'm not sure if I'd then be flying home from LA or SF if the former it could be a good way to do a road trip down through the parks and forests, but I'd also likely lose a couple of days to what work are asking of me (unless I can then extend the trip out a bit further, but I might be pushing my luck there. Will have to wait and see.)
 

MikeB

Always on
Premium Member
Many tourists have difficulty coming to grips with the scale of the U.S. thinking they can visit several National Parks in an afternoon. Use Google Maps and pay attention to the timeframes given as they take into consideration distance and traffic. Pay particular attention to time when traveling around Los Angeles and San Francisco, rush hour traffic is the worst in the world and can waste several hours getting through it. Pick one park that you want to go to and plan your visit around the locations that you want to photograph. Use www/nps.gov to get particular info on each park, review their photos for promising locations, then search the web for additional info on those locations. California is larger than most euro countries, so choose your park(s) and directions carefully.
 

DwarvenChef

Always on
Yea, What Mike Said :p

Traffic in both LA and SF are the pure pits, and don't even get close to the 405 (parking lot) freeway... 7 lanes to a side (14 from side to side) and moving about 20 miles an hour....

SF and the surrounding areas are a bit less mind numbing and MANY great places with in a 4 hour drive. I used to live between Yosemite and Sequoia parks, its a good 4 hour drive to San Jose and 5 to SF.

Hitting the coast roads from SF or LA is extremely pleasing as long as the road is not falling into the ocean at the time...
 
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Grumpy John

Here a lot
I really don't have much to offer in the way of must visit destinations in California. My only input is speaking as an Aussie the distances in America don't intimidate me. I did a road trip with a friend back in '99 and we covered over 2,000 miles in 20 days. L.A. - Grand Canyon - Vegas - San Francisco - L.A. fly to Dallas then drive to Memphis - New Orleans - Austin - Dallas, fly home. Easy peasy.
 

Talen

Member
Many tourists have difficulty coming to grips with the scale of the U.S. thinking they can visit several National Parks in an afternoon. Use Google Maps and pay attention to the timeframes given as they take into consideration distance and traffic. Pay particular attention to time when traveling around Los Angeles and San Francisco, rush hour traffic is the worst in the world and can waste several hours getting through it. Pick one park that you want to go to and plan your visit around the locations that you want to photograph. Use www/nps.gov to get particular info on each park, review their photos for promising locations, then search the web for additional info on those locations. California is larger than most euro countries, so choose your park(s) and directions carefully.
Yeah I've picked up on that looking at Google Maps; it is deceptive, I find myself looking at the map thinking at that looks like it should be just down the road, click directions, time needed 1.5hours. Careful planning will indeed be carried out as soon as work confirm details of the additional trips they're thinking of tacking on (and confirming the whole thing for that matter, Boss' Boss still has to sign off on it.)

Long distances don't intimidate me per se, I just find myself tired, I've done ~600 miles (~11hours driving) in two days this weekend to go to an airshow. I was noticably flagging by hour 9 of driving on day 2.

Yea, What Mike Said :p

Traffic in both LA and SF are the pure pits, and don't even get close to the 405 (parking lot) freeway... 7 lanes to a side (14 from side to side) and moving about 20 miles an hour....

SF and the surrounding areas are a bit less mind numbing and MANY great places with in a 4 hour drive. I used to live between Yosemite and Sequoia parks, its a good 4 hour drive to San Jose and 5 to SF.

Hitting the coast roads from SF or LA is extremely pleasing as long as the road is not falling into the ocean at the time...
If I end up in SF then Yosemite will definetely be on my list to visit. I'll work out where exactly and plan around that I suspect. My other thought is that if they want me to go to SF I will put that off to the end of the week and make it a road trip from LA to SF via some of the parks, but I'm not sure if work would go for that.
 

Talen

Member
If you visit Yosemite, give yourself two days in-park. If you're going in summer then DO NO VISIT YOSEMITE ON A WEEKEND DURING THE SUMMER

Experience Your Yosemite
https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=F8790915-E5C3-6F36-E64E7BEB175886A9


Summer 2017 - Traffic in Yosemite Valley
https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=A65063A7-1DD8-B71B-0B0ACF1DFDA9AA16
Blimey! I'm going in just over a month, but I won't be going (to any national parks) at the weekend looking at that video.

Work still haven't decided if I'm going on to the lab near SF yet, so I'm working on a couple of different itineraries which I can pick from and book hotels/motels for once they decide.
 

Talen

Member
Work have now decided on what they want me to do in addtion to the training course, nothing. So I have all six days to myself, my current intinerary looks something like this:
Saturday Planes of Fame, Chino

Sunday AM Via Angeles National Park to
Sunday PM Blackbird Airpark, Palmdale

Monday AM Red Rock Canyon Red Rock Canyon
Monday PM Sequoia National Forest

Tuesday Sequoia National Forest

Wednesday AM Bitter Creek Wildlife Refuge
Wednesday PM Oxnard to LA Coast Road

Thursday AM Travel Town Museum LA, Griffith Park
Thursday PM ?
Friday AM Fly Home Ontario

If my googlemapping is right each block of driving is around 1.5-2.5 hours (some will depend on where exactly I go in the Sequoia National Forest.) Which is more than doable in the evenings I think.

Work's travel agents are in the process of booking everything on their end and I'm doing the same my side. Just got to wait for the ESTA to be approved (fingers crossed, although I don't like the fact it didn't approve straight away earlier.) Now to start finding hotels for overnight stops.

Edit: ESTA is now approved.
 
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