Best parts of California to see in under a week?

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by EdFred, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    So my plan next summer is to head to Alaska via a few places I missed on my last big trip. All I saw of California last time was a Shasta flyby, Tahoe, the east side of the Sierras and Death Valley. Sort of 'meh' in July. On this trip, I am going to end up in San Diego for the Zoo. (probably for two nights) From there I want to see Sequoia which means heading into Visalia grabbing a rental car and heading into to Sequoia for the day(or two?)

    From San Diego (for best scenery):
    Over Catalina to Oxnard then up to Visalia, or
    Inland past Bakersfield to Visalia?

    Next plan is a Bay Tour on the way to Petaluma (Sam owes me lunch :D)

    Just head straight for San Jose, or
    Via Big Sur and Monterrey before doing the Bay Tour?

    From there it's off to Arcata for the Redwoods and an overnight or two.

    After that I figure the entire coast up to the Canadian border.

    Is there anything I should see/do between any of those places, or any other day stops that are 'required' in CA on such a trip?
     
  2. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Can't help you but leave posts on your visits,plan to head out to the coast this summer.
     
  3. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I will do another online trip log like I did for the last one. At the end of each day, I went to my hotel room typed up everything I saw/did that day, and upload pictures. I'm glad I did. 10 years later I remember each day of the trip, but I don't remember each thing that happened each day. So that will definitely happen again. I've got a link for the previous trip out west (18 states in 12 days) if you'd like.
     
  4. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    If you don't mind the two over-water legs (about 50 nm each), MZB-OCN-SXC-VTU is scenic, avoids LA Basin traffic, and skirts the west edge of the Class B.

    From there, follow the coast to Santa Barbara. Stop in at Santa Ynez and see the kitschy Danish tourist town of Solvang. Then pick up the coast again north of the R-areas and head up to Monterey (one 'R'). Monterey and Carmel are worth a visit.

    In the summertime though, coastal stratus can sometimes be persistent. If it is, head north from San Diego along I-15 through Cajon Pass (flight following definitely recommended). Often Joshua Approach will give clearance through the R-area over Edwards AFB above 7500' or so. Fly via Mojave (home of Scaled Composites) and Tehachapi, and see the Tehachapi Loop west of town on the railroad line down the hill toward Bakersfield.

    While you're in the Central Valley, for a great steak dinner, land at Harris Ranch (3O8) alongside I-5, 41 nm west of Visalia. Just hope the wind isn't from the direction of the stockyards ...

    As you continue north along the coast toward Canada, I know a place where there's a lot of aviation history and you can score a free lunch (hint: KVUO).
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015
  5. 1600vw

    1600vw Pattern Altitude

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    Seventeen Mile drive. This is at Pebble Beach. Take route 101 or route 1 if you have the time up to Pebble Beach. This time of year it is awesome there.

    Tony
     
  6. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Looks almost exactly what I had planned out, minus the Harris Ranch part - but will keep that in mind. Last time I was in your area, I flew right down the Columbia into SPB and I overnighted at the B&B there. I was coming from the northeast on that trip though - and I did hit Evergreen after that.
     
  7. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Monterey is a nice visit, though the FBOs are a bit expensive, and Big Sur is VERY pretty if it's not inundated by fog (best time is afternoon). You can overfly Hearst Castle and perhaps get a view of Vandenberg from a distance (watch the restricted airspace -- and Hunter MOAs are hot very frequently).

    There is a vast and rather cool mountaintop temple on the north coast, northwards from Fort Ross (it's charted south of Sea Ranch). And Point Reyes is stunning if it isn't foggy, though it's out of your way if you're headed to Petaluma. Note that there are acceptable emergency landing spots near the Estero, including a flat beach to the north, but there are significant segments north and south where there is nothing survivable should your engine give out. Not even ditching (it's rocky).

    You got the obvious stuff. Gotta overfly the Golden Gate Bridge. B clearances through SFO are usually pretty easy.

    The best $100 burger in California, in my opinion, is Half Moon Bay. There is a precision GPS approach these days, and you'll need it in summer. Park as far south as you can taxi and walk to the harbor right outside the gate. There are several excellent seafood restaurants right there. My favorite is Sam's Chowder House, but there are others closer.

    There is an excellent Mexican place across the street from Watsonville, but it's a D U M P. Expect rather authentic ambience. Best burrito for miles, though. I have yet to try the new on-field restaurant there, but it's got a good rep. Italian. There is also a really good burrito -- with homemade tortillas and a bit more of a first world ambience -- at the supermarket across the street from Ukiah. One of the really big summer fire sites is just southeast of Lampson, and it's stunning just how big the burned area is. There are also two very large geothermal power plants there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015
  8. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Thanks Ed could you pm me the link from your last trip,thanks Ron.
     
  9. Hawker800

    Hawker800 Line Up and Wait

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    Monterey and Carmel are a must. Big Sur is a yawner unless you just want to drive the PCH.
     
  10. stratobee

    stratobee Cleared for Takeoff

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    For me, the musts in California are:

    Big Sur (gotta drive tho, no real airports)
    Yosemite
    Avenue of the Giants/Redwoods NorCal
    Lake Tahoe
    PCH up north of San Fran through Mendocino.
    Napa for wine country.

    It's a gorgeous state. And flying friendly.
     
  11. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Meh, you'd be better off going to Mexico.


    If you must, Big Bear is nice.
     
  12. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Thanks for the input, but to clarify I'm not interested in doing any scenic drives of significant length - other than getting to sequoia and redwood national parks. Looking for aerial vistas for the most part.
     
  13. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Then from LA to Monterey just follow the coastline all the way up. A heck of a lot more scenic than flying up the central valley...that is just a whole lotta nothin.

    Agree with MAKG...KHAF is one of the best food stops in CA. The south transient parking area personnel gate dumps you right into a lot of excellent food options and the harbor area.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015
  14. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yosemite is not too shabby. And with all the crowds on the ground in Yosemite Valley, this is the best way to see it now.

    [​IMG]

    About 25 nm northwest of Yosemite Valley is Columbia (O22). Turning base for runway 17 over the deep Stanislaus River Canyon is breathtaking. There is a footpath from the FBO that takes you right to the historic gold rush town of Columbia. From there you can take a tour of a working gold mine.
     
  15. 1600vw

    1600vw Pattern Altitude

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    I would drive route 1 a lot. Nothing better then this. If you are in a hurry, don't be and enjoy the views.
     
  16. 1600vw

    1600vw Pattern Altitude

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    If you are flying there is a really nice spot just west of Sacramento. You can fly in and eat. They have a runway. I have forgot the name of this place. If memory serves me correctly, it is after Davis but before Vacaville. Its called the nut cracker or something like this. You must stop. Very nice place. California has so many nice places.
     
  17. 1600vw

    1600vw Pattern Altitude

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    The 17 mile drive is one of the most awesome drives you will take.. It sounds long but the part that takes you through Pebble Beach will take about 30 mins to drive. If you pass through this area you must take this drive. I lived there for a few years.

    The waters off Monterey are 2 1/2 times deeper then the Grand Canyon.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2015
  18. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    There are thousands of drives in California better than a tourist clogged toll road through a very expensive golf course. Virtually the entire coastline in the region looks like that and Pacific Grove is a very nice nearby free alternative, closer to the airport.

    Nut Tree is OK. You don't go there for the food, though it exists. You go on a nice weekend morning to see all the warbirds hidden away in the hangars there that no one knows about. The Nut Tree itself has been closed for years, and it never was much more than an oversized tourist trap. Now, it's a strip mall.

    Yosemite is real nice, but you gotta fly it at 2000 above the highest point on the valley rim (Glacier Point), which works out to 9500. And it's far out of the way unless you're crossing over the Sierra there. Columbia is a very nice airport with a grass runway.

    I much prefer coastal flying over the Central Valley, but if you're headed to Harris Ranch, there are several excellent exposures of the San Andreas Fault between Palmdale and Coalinga that can really only be seen from the air. The best known is the east side of Carrizo Plain, some 5 miles north of Fellows VOR. Look for offset streams and truncated features.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2015
  19. Gary

    Gary En-Route

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    No expert on CA destinations, but a few places we've enjoyed:

    Hearst Castle - a true monument to extravagance!
    Big Sur is a beautiful drive if you have the time
    Muir Woods
    Mendincino - bit trendy, but still pretty cool
    St Orres Bed and Breakfast
    Monterrey Aquarium
    The Exploratorium in San Fransisco
    Sequoia National Park

    Gary
     
  20. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    Instead of bedding down in Visalia you might want to consider The Cub Inn near E45. It's run by a pilot so an EAA/AOPA membership will get you a discount and I hear he'll loan you his car. Unfortunately, it's closer to Yosemite than Sequoia so I don't know if you want to alter your itinerary to stay there.
     
  21. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I ate at the on-field restaurant (Ella's) last week. I had the spaghetti and meatballs, which were very tasty. There were a lot of people there, always a good sign.
     
  22. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Big Bear Lake
    Flying atop LA Class B is cool enough; wicked traffic below.
    Catalina Is
    Harris Ranch is a must-eat for a non vegan
    Sierra Nevadas
    I enjoyed seeing all the central valley farmland
    Yosemite (you are young & fit, if I did it you can: hike half-dome)
     
  23. B17Rex

    B17Rex Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you are around KMYF in SD and want to grab a pint, let me know. On me! I live a mile from the airport.

    -Brian
     
  24. 1600vw

    1600vw Pattern Altitude

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    I can tell from this post you have never been on 17 mile drive. Nothing clogged about it. It's a very nice drive. I would drive it almost everyday after work just to relax.

    Pebble beach is not just a golf course. There are 5 golf courses owned by pebble beach. It is a forest and gated community with 2500 homes. There are mountain lions, deer and many other wild life located here. I saw the mountain lion one morning going to work on my bike. I was told we had Mountain lions and never believed it until I saw it with my own eye's.

    You can not forget Poppy Hills. It is located here also. I loved stopping in for an adult beverages on my drive around 17 mile drive. I did this almost daily. It was my routine.

    Yes the Nut Tree. In the 80's this was a happening place. We ate there. It was a very nice spot back 30 some years ago.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  25. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Carmel, and especially out to Point Lobos.

    K
    (Monterey Union High School 1963)
     
  26. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the wine crawl in the Napa Valley. I like coastal places myself though. San Francisco is a must see, if you've never been there.

    I could have sworn I saw a dialogue someplace involving Sam D and Edfred meeting up in Petaluma? Another thread? Or am I going nuts?
     
  27. Sam D

    Sam D Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yes another thread and yes you're going nuts! :) Probably the one where EdFred was planning a post-Gastons trip.

    Maybe if Ed plans things right, he can overnight in the area and we can do either the beer or wine tour...or both.
     
  28. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Still have that bottle of Jeremiah Weed?
     
  29. Blueangel

    Blueangel Line Up and Wait

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    1. SF bay area tour up to Petaluma and wine country
    2. Socal tour to SBA and Santa Barbara for more wine and seafood.

    Those cover plenty of good places to visit.
     
  30. Sam D

    Sam D Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yes. I'm "aging" it. I should get it to you before next summer!
     
  31. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's definitely something people do, but it seems a bit problematic for a pilot flying a lot. Lots of wineries around Petaluma, Napa, Sonoma (Skypark) and others, but I'd actually suggest Paso Robles for that. Wineries right next to the airport, good quality, and not nearly as overpriced as Napa.
     
  32. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't know that wineries right next to the airport is that beneficial - it's not like most of us are going to take a short walk off the field, slam a few glasses and jump back in the plane. Or at least fess up to it.
     
  33. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's true.

    As a longtime wine country resident (there are some 50 of those in California, not just Napa -- locally, we grow mostly Pinot Noir with some Riesling), I cringe at the thought of charging admission for wine tasting. That has become standard at Napa. It's not elsewhere.

    Typical wine tasting elsewhere is quite low key, uncrowded, and very often free. It doesn't, however, result in large quantities of wine, and sometimes the choices are limited. There may also be some distance between the wineries, unlike Napa where every square inch has vineyards on it (East PRB is kinda like that, too, though). It's basically free samples like you sometimes get at the grocery store.
     
  34. Sac Arrow

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    Amador County is a pretty good wine tasting venue as well - if you like good wineries. It's not a great visitor venue though, as the wineries are spread out and you need to know the place. But you're right, Napa Valley is a zoo these days, at least along the 29. There are still some uncrowded spots on the Silverado Trail.
     
  35. Palmpilot

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    Southern California native? :wink2:
     
  36. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You got me!
     
  37. Aeric

    Aeric Line Up and Wait

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    This could be a good opportunity for a bunch of us (Sac, MAK, Sam, Palm, etc.) to meet with Ed for lunch at either HAF or O69 and then let him loose, on his way north along the coast.
     
  38. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    HAHA!

    That is indeed a giveaway.

    I grew up in SoCal (near KTOA), and learned within a few months of moving north, not to refer to highways in that manner. It's almost as bad as calling it "Frisco," but not quite. The other dead giveaway is trying to abbreviate everything.

    It still catches my attention when driving in Palmdale (which I do too much) and hearing a local traffic report.
     
  39. Blueangel

    Blueangel Line Up and Wait

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    Santa Barbara has good wineries and San Diego has good craft breweries. I'll join you and Brian for a pint the next round on me since Brian offered first round at KMYF.

    Scott
     
  40. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    A day trip through Yosemite would be way better than Sequoia. Fly to Mariposa, drive into the valley on 140 then take the southern route out through Wawona where Mariposa Grove is. Plenty of big and famous redwoods to see there. If you simply must go to Sequoia then you must take Hwy 180 at the junction and go all the way down into Kings Canyon. If you're that close you really shouldn't miss it.