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First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice

Posted: 1/31/16 at 8:14:29 PM
Views: 2364

I've finally reached the point where I can get out to California and aside from the obvious stops, are there any things to do along the way?

I'm flying in on a Saturday morning arriving at 11am and leaving the following Saturday late at night.

I've planned a full day at each of the following parks, Disneyland, DCA, SFMM, Knott's, and SFDK. I have allotted two travel days to drive between LA and SF.

Joe
Great_Ump

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by drachen drachen Profile at 2/1/16 1:54:43 PM
Well, two days is excessive for travel time between LA and SF. It's only a 5 hour drive or so. I did a similar trip in 2013, without some of the Southern California parks.

Unless of course, you are driving back to LA. Perhaps the better route is to fly out of the Bay Area. That's what I did. Leaving a rental car at a Northern California facility was no issue at all.

If you have a Cedar Fair Platinum Pass, don't forget Gilroy Gardens on the way north. If you're just thinking coasters on this trip, perhaps you'll skip it. But the park is absolutely magnificent - worthy of a few hours, especially with "free" admission.

California's Great America was a surprise for me in 2013. It's a really nice park, with a number of rare rides, including a Schwarzkopf Enterprise, Schwarzkopf Bayern Kurve, and a Von Roll Skyride.

And then there's GoldStriker - a top 10 wooden coaster - and Flight Deck, a pretty good, early B&M Invert.

If you have the Platinum Pass, make sure you stop by CGA.

I think Discovery Kingdom, top to bottom, is Six Flags' finest park. I know the draw is Joker this year, but the animal exhibits and shows are 1st rate. The rides are good too. Outside of the two Vekomas, the coasters are pretty darn good too.

Having said all of that, you can get everything ridden in about half a day if you're pressed for time. It's not a large (ride) park.

Also in the Bay Area is Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Even though it only has two roller coasters, I'd pick that place over CGA and SFDK if I had to pick only ONE bay area park to visit.

* This post was modified at 2/1/16 1:57:05 PM *

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.94 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.56 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28%
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Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by Eric_Gieszl Eric_Gieszl Profile at 2/1/16 10:38:22 PM
Travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco is typically 6 to 7 hours. All depending on traffic, which can be horrific in Los Angeles and San Franciso-San Jose areas.

California's Great America and Gilroy Gardens are closed for the season. Both parks reopen in late-March.

There is not much to see or do if you plan to take I-5 to Northern California. Highway 1 is the more scenic route, but longer.

What is your tentative itinerary?

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by drachen drachen Profile at 2/1/16 11:17:59 PM
Eric_Gieszl said:

Travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco is typically 6 to 7 hours. All depending on traffic, which can be horrific in Los Angeles and San Franciso-San Jose areas.


California's Great America and Gilroy Gardens are closed for the season. Both parks reopen in late-March.

There is not much to see or do if you plan to take I-5 to Northern California. Highway 1 is the more scenic route, but longer.

What is your tentative itinerary?

I guess I didn't get the impression that he's heading there until everything is open again.

But Eric's right, there is nothing to see if you're taking I-5, unless you're in to dried up orchards.

If your plan is to take the PCH, you may find yourself stopping to take in the views quite often.

I left Irvine at 6AM to beat LA traffic, and I'm pretty sure I got to Gilroy at park opening, which was at 11AM. Now, Gilroy is about another 45 minutes to an hour south of Santa Clara.

If you're heading North from Magic Mountain, you're already past the worst of the traffic.

I remember driving past a closed Magic Mountain at 6:30-7AM, wishing I could have stopped for a few rides. I haven't been there since 2005. A lot has changed since then.

Traffic was miserable leaving San Jose and heading to Santa Cruz. It's a winding, up and down drive through the mountains. I'd imagine that that traffic is at it's worst on the weekends.

* This post was modified at 2/2/16 11:04:42 AM *

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.94 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.56 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28%
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Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by coastinj coastinj Profile at 2/2/16 1:21:45 PM
Along the way I'm not sure, but I highly recommend going a little north of SanFran and stop and take the ferry to Bodega Bay. If your a Hitchcock fan you'll appreciate it for how quaint yet creepy the town is
Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by Eric_Gieszl Eric_Gieszl Profile at 2/2/16 1:53:19 PM
I don't even understand how Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is possible considering the weekend only operations right now at Six Flags if he arrives and departs from the same airport.

Saturday arrival.

Six Flags Magic Mountain on Sunday due to weekend only operations.

Disneyland, California Adventure, and Knott's (Mon-Wed)

Thu- ?
Fri- Drive to Vallejo
Sat- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and then depart that night from Los Angeles or an airport up north?

I personally would skip Northern California. Stay in Southern California and add another day for Disney, plus visit SeaWorld and Belmont Park in San Diego on another day.

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by Great_Ump Great_Ump Profile at 2/4/16 7:59:05 PM
Eric_Gieszl said:

Travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco is typically 6 to 7 hours. All depending on traffic, which can be horrific in Los Angeles and San Franciso-San Jose areas.


California's Great America and Gilroy Gardens are closed for the season. Both parks reopen in late-March.

There is not much to see or do if you plan to take I-5 to Northern California. Highway 1 is the more scenic route, but longer.

What is your tentative itinerary?

I still need to figure that out. I realized later that I completely forgot about California's Great America.

I'm flying into LAX on Saturday and flying out the following Saturday late in the evening.

I'm going solo and with me being the only driver, I've planned two drive days just so I'm not pushing myself too hard. I'll probably hit a park in the evening both days, if I'm up for it.

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

Joe
Great_Ump

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by Great_Ump Great_Ump Profile at 2/4/16 8:09:09 PM
Here what was originally drawn up before forgetting CGA:

Saturday 5/28 (arrival) - 5/30 - hitting Anaheim parks (Disney, DCA, Knotts)

Tuesday 5/31 - SFMM, day after holiday, hoping for a slower day, if not, definitely getting the avoid the line thing

Weds 6/1 Drive - SF-area park in the evening depending if I'm up for it

Thurs 6/2 - SFDK

Friday 6/3 - Drive back to LA - LA Dodger game Fri Night

Saturday 6/4 - open - gotta be back at LAX by 7pm.

I put this together based off the MLB schedule having researched that 4 of the 5 teams in CA will be home during that week. Oakland/Anaheim is in town Sat-Weds before they both head out to the road. The Dodgers return Friday. San Diego just isn't happening this trip.

Joe
Great_Ump

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by chitlins73 chitlins73 Profile at 2/5/16 7:45:27 PM
Wow! I give you guys credit that do long trips solo.I could never go on a trip all by myself.I would end up talking to myself...lol.I need someone to enjoy the experience with.
Dion
Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by Great_Ump Great_Ump Profile at 4/4/16 10:19:28 PM
Well, here is the final plan:

Sat - arrive, LAA game at night

Sun - rise early, drive to OAK/SF area, OAK game, CGA in the evening

Mon - SFDK

Tues - finish at CGA (if need be), drive the PCH, arrive to SFMM hotel, hit SFMM if there is energy in the evening

Weds - SFMM

Thurs - Knott's - SD game at night

Fri - Knott's - LAD game at night

Sat - open, gotta be at the airport by 7pm

Joe
Great_Ump

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by SirWillow SirWillow Profile at 4/13/16 2:58:57 PM
You're wanting to drive from LA to Oakland, catch a baseball game, then drive to San Jose afterwards and somehow manage to get into the park and spend some time? Good luck with that.

LA to Oakland Colisseum- (6 hours if no traffic, which never happens. Better plan at least 7)

Game- game starts at 1, ends about 4, figure at least 45 minutes to get out of the park, so now you're looking at close to 5pm.

Drive to CGA- 45 minutes posted, with no traffic. Again, never seen that, even on a Sunday. Figure at least an hour. Plan on arriving at CGA, parking, and getting to the gate maybe by 6pm


So you'll be arriving more than likely exhausted with about around 4 hours til park closing. You'll get some of the coasters in, but after the long day, all the driving, and dealing with jet lag, I don't know how enjoyable they'll be at that point. And you won't finish the park.

Maybe it's the old man in me, but that part of the trip in particular just looks overwhelmingly exhausting. Realize that for the vast majority of what you'll be driving in CA, they'll be long drives in heavy traffic.

The one time that you won't be in heavy traffic will be the PCH, though it will likely be steady. But you'll be wanting to stop quite a bit on that one if you're wanting to see the scenery and take pictures, because as much as it winds and drops off, you don't want to be playing with a camera or phone while driving (not to mention that's illegal in CA and will get you a ticket as well). It's an awesome ride for a passenger, but not so good for drivers.

:)

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by drachen drachen Profile at 4/14/16 11:19:37 AM
Great_Ump said:

Well, here is the final plan:


Sat - arrive, LAA game at night

Sun - rise early, drive to OAK/SF area, OAK game, CGA in the evening

Mon - SFDK

Tues - finish at CGA (if need be), drive the PCH, arrive to SFMM hotel, hit SFMM if there is energy in the evening

Weds - SFMM

Thurs - Knott's - SD game at night

Fri - Knott's - LAD game at night

Sat - open, gotta be at the airport by 7pm

Joe
Great_Ump

I don't know what's cooler - that you're hitting all of those amusement parks, or that you're hitting all of those ball parks.

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.94 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.56 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28%
Facebook: Search Park Connoisseur
Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by Great_Ump Great_Ump Profile at 4/18/16 12:21:45 PM
Mr. Willow,

I've booked a hotel room to be checked in from Friday night (day before arrival). Not to mention that I plan on resting all day Saturday before the game.

The games themselves. I just want to see the ballparks, watch a couple of innings, and be gone. I won't be staying all nine innings to watch two teams I don't follow. ;)

Thanks for the heads up!

Joe
Former Great Ump

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by glutton glutton Profile at 5/29/16 4:59:29 PM
I'm looking forward to seeing your trip report for this. CA is my home area, but I like doing theme park & baseball stadium trips to other parts of the country too. I've never tried to squeeze as many different theme parks + baseball games into a single trip before!
Perhaps I'll spot you at SFDK tomorrow, since I'm hoping to go try the Joker!
Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by theRock-steel theRock-steel Profile at 6/2/16 6:22:19 AM
I hope he got a Flash Pass for SFMM. There is so much to do there, it's hard to re-ride the favorites without it. I think most of us would love to hear what he thought about the parks up north. Detailed reviews of Gold Striker and Joker are a must. I would like to hear what he thought about Flight Deck and Superman Ultimate Flight too; those were surprisingly good last August when I went.
For anyone else planning a trip to CA, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk up near SF is a good place to stop. Their classic, Giant Dipper just missed being in my top 10 woodens.
Also, if anyone has ever gone to Pacific Park or Adventure City in the LA area, I would like to hear more about them.
Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by Eric_Gieszl Eric_Gieszl Profile at 6/2/16 2:54:32 PM
He doesn't need a FlashPass for June 1. School is not out in Southern California. The longest wait was probably for New Revolution (1hr +) and it was likely that X2 was closed.

I visited the park for a day last week and one day the week prior.

--
Eric
Ultimate Rollercoaster Moderator
Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by glutton glutton Profile at 9/27/16 1:27:09 AM
Did GreatUmp ever post a trip report after this trip? I've looked, but can't find one, and I wondered if he was able to get to all of the ballparks & theme parks that he planned.
Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by SirWillow SirWillow Profile at 9/27/16 8:43:04 AM
glutton said:

Did GreatUmp ever post a trip report after this trip? I've looked, but can't find one, and I wondered if he was able to get to all of the ballparks & theme parks that he planned.

I was wondering the same thing myself. At least a summary of how the trip was. :)

Re: First Time Trip To California - Seeking Trip Advice by mugen828 mugen828 Profile at 9/28/16 10:27:52 AM
SirWillow said:

glutton said:

Did GreatUmp ever post a trip report after this trip? I've looked, but can't find one, and I wondered if he was able to get to all of the ballparks & theme parks that he planned.

I was wondering the same thing myself. At least a summary of how the trip was. :)

I'd be interested too. Hopefully he'll get some email notifications from our posts. :)

- mugen828
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