Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

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Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby HelloImAMac » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:56 pm

I'm a father of 2 girls (4 and 1)
My family and I (2 kids + wife + myself) would like to plan a vacation on the CA coast. we are looking for ideas. A couple of years back we took a vacation in Kauai in Hawaii. It was a wonderful vacation. We are looking for something similar to do in CA (4-5 day road trip). We stayed in a condo apartment in Hawaii right on the beach and my older kid thoroughly enjoyed herself. We would like to give our kids another vacation like that if not the same !. The motivation of not going to Hawaii is mostly cost. Hawaii is expensive - flight + stay + food etc

here are some plans for the trip in CA-

    4-5 day road trip
    On the california coast
    preferably a condo with kitchenright on the beach
    timing of the trip would be middle of July when I am hoping the water would be a little warm

Here are my questions -


    how much should I expect to spend ?
    where should I go in CA ?
    what websites can I use to book the condo/hotel ?

thanks much in advance !
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby tj » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:17 pm

In my opinion, you can't compare California's beaches to Kauai (or any of the islands, really).

-If you want warm water, you pretty much have to go as close to Mexico as possible, so that would be the San Diego area beaches. I'm not even sure if the water is that warm down there, but would be warmer than most other beaches in CA.

-I haven't heard of beachfront condo's in California. There are beachfront hotels in Laguna Beach and probably the other beaches as well. Newport is mostly beachfront houses, though you might be able to rent one. The water is not warm there though.
-The water does not really get warm here. Those who live here would wear wetsuits
-I don't know what the prices would be, but I can't imagine they'd be much cheaper than Hawaii prices in the nicer areas.
-You could try vrbo.com
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby pheleven » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:11 pm

Yea, the water just doesn't get warm like Hawaii. As tj mentioned, the more southerly the less cold it is, but it's still not going to be the bathwater Hawaii has.

If the water is your main attraction, go south - San Diego has excellent weather and is beautiful. I've found it to be a lot more fun for a young adult than children though. Maybe I'm wrong.

If you're more into the natural beauty, culture, food, etc I would suggest you go to various central coast areas. My favorites are Monterey, Santa Cruz, Mendocino and Fort Bragg. Each have very unique opportunities (Aquariums, Redwood Forests, Boardwalks, Castles, and much much more), and lots of culture/small town appeal. You probably aren't going to find many "beach front" condos, as much of the coastline is cliffs with beaches dispersed here and there, but you can find great rentals with views or B&Bs at all those locations.

Simply put, you aren't going to get a Hawaii-like experience, but you surely can find amazing places and times along the CA coast - it's beauty and variety are unmatched.
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby btenny » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:17 pm

Look at some condos on Mission Bay in San Diego on the bay side. That area is more protected and warmer with little surf so the small kids love the water. But the water is still cold. You can go to the beach and play in the sand and sail and go to the Safari park and Lego Land and the SD Zoo and go fishing for day and a few dozen other activites. This area is wonderful for all ages and is full of families with kids in the summer. If you want to go to this area but spend less try for a condo in Pacific Beach looking out at the ocean side and above the beach on the bluffs. Or maybe even cheaper but more noisy and party central rent an old beach house in Mission Bay but not on the sand but say 2 blocks away. This is the area for 20-30 somethings.

You are late looking for a good rental in SD or Mission Bay or anywhere on the beach in California. Expect to pay more due to lateness. Many people reserve their places 6-12 months in advance. Most of the condo units are rented for a full week, usually Saturday to Saturday. Some include towel and sheet service while others do not. Same for cleaning service, some include it and others do not. There are also lots of kitchenette hotels in the area that are nice. You might consider these as well. If we are only going to stay 3-4 days we have found the hotels are the best bet.

There are dozens of rental companies, here is one. http://www.missionbayvacationrentals.com/
There are tons of Vacation Rental by Owner, here is one. http://www.vrbo.com/159

Have fun
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby tj » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:18 pm

You could also consider a Mexican resort. The water is a lot warmer down there, and it's probably cheaper, but there's definitely some sketchy parts.
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby Raybo » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:35 pm

Be aware that summer on the California coast can mean fog.

I've lived on the California coast my entire life in both Southern (LA) and Northern California (San Francisco and Santa Cruz) and can say that July days can be cold and windy right next to or on the beach. The further south you go, the sooner the morning fog burns off. Some days, the fog never comes. But, again, the further south you go the more fog-free days.

I lived in Santa Cruz for over 20 years and can say that it would probably be a fun town for young kids (the Boardwalk, and all), though, as others have said, the water is cold in Santa Cruz. There are a fair share of days where the fog doesn't burn off until the afternoon, but it is in a lovely setting.

California provides much more than beaches. Near Santa Cruz, you can walk among Elephant Seals, hike up river valleys, sit on the beach, drive down to the Monterey Aquarium and other things. Other places along the coast offer many other cultural, natural, and exotic experiences. There are lots of options.

As you've already discovered, if it is all about beach and warm water, Hawaii is the place. In California, it would be San Diego.
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby jane1 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:29 pm

As others have pointed out, and I want to reiterate, CA coast does not have warm waters even in the summer.
http://www.beachcalifornia.com/beach/ca ... ature.html shows average water temperatures for different CA locations.
You can get natural beauty, aquariums/zoo, etc but not anything like a Hawaii beach experience.
If you want a warm beach vacation is the US, FL is the best bet but it would be hot and humid in July. Or go to Mexico as others have recommended. If you want some urban beach (Lake Michigan) experience with kid friendly activities, Chicago is a great summer vacation destination. Of course it is very urban and not like Hawaii.
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby Sidney » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:51 pm

Google the terms upwelling and California.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby Mudpuppy » Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:46 pm

For 4-5 days, you can find hotels along the waterfront in San Diego for about $100-150 a night that include microwaves and mini-fridges. This might be more cost effective than renting a condo. There are also far more expensive places along the waterfront, so make sure you do some homework. As others have said, if you want warm water, the San Diego area is the place to stay. In the LA area, the water can be cold even when the air and beach sand are warm. And further north than that, you're at the mercy of the fog.
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby noyopacific » Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:37 pm

HelloImAMac wrote:I'm a father of 2 girls (4 and 1)
My family and I (2 kids + wife + myself) would like to plan a vacation on the CA coast. we are looking for ideas. A couple of years back we took a vacation in Kauai in Hawaii. It was a wonderful vacation. We are looking for something similar to do in CA (4-5 day road trip). We stayed in a condo apartment in Hawaii right on the beach and my older kid thoroughly enjoyed herself. We would like to give our kids another vacation like that if not the same !. The motivation of not going to Hawaii is mostly cost. Hawaii is expensive - flight + stay + food etc

I live on the north coast of California (Mendocino) and while it is magnificent, it isn't the California beach scene that might come to mind. Proper beach wear around here begins with a warm sweatshirt! Assuming you mean southern California, the quintessential beach scene is probably at Venice Beach. It is a nice (but often crowded) beach where visitors can be always count on being entertained by watching the bizarre activities of some really weird people. For the record, the biggest freaks in California are people who moved her from other states! You might want to also visit the Wild Animal Park near San Diego and of course Disneyland. Scheduling your daily jaunts to avoid the worst traffic is advisable.
When our daughter was 5, our family drove down Baja California to see and TOUCH the Grey Whales. http://www.marinebio.net/marinescience/ ... agoons.htm It was one of the most incredibly fantastic experiences we've had as a family. (Even better than our trip to the Galapagos which was a great trip too but rather expensive.)
I'd say that a 4-5 day road trip to the town of Guerrero Negro and "Laguna Ojo de Liebre" (Gringos call it Scammon's Lagoon) would be do-able. Whale season is January - March or early April.

If this sounds appealing, you can find lots of info and videos on YouTube. If you have the concerns about being robbed in Baja, we have driven there numerous times with very few problems.
The information contained herein, while not guaranteed by us, has been obtained from from sources which have not in the past proved particularly reliable.
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby CABob » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:14 pm

For some information about water temperatures see http://www.beachcalifornia.com/beach/ca ... ature.html
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby Flobes » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:38 pm

I am in the process right now, planning my lodging for a northern California trip, Marin and Sonoma counties, to bookend a 6-day obligation in Marin.

Through http://www.vrbo.com/, Vacation Rentals By Owner. Many listings, well organized, complete descriptions, photos and reviews.

My negotations are almost complete, and I'm about to book. I'm choosing a cottage in the redwoods and one right on the water. Both very different from my home's landscape.

Once you determine your target area of California, you might just find the perfect beachfront condo, cottage or home -- fully equipped with toys for the kids and adults!
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Re: Vacation ideas in California - on the beach !

Postby Watty » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:17 pm

4-5 day road trip


That adds a lot gas, food, and nights in a hotel.

With a 4 and 1 year old that might not be a lot of fun either.

Unless there are places that you really want to see on the way I would take a hard look at flying and renting a car, it might actually pretty competitive cost wise. Another option to consider would be to have one adult drive the car and the other fly with the kids.

One thing that I just happened on when I was traveling with my son when he was a bit older than that is that many small towns have a public pool that you use by paying a few bucks. These can be a good break for an hour or so that will let the kids get out of the car for a while to break up a long driving day.

Someone mentioned going to Mexico and that is a real possibility since there are a lot of affordable choices there if you don't go to the big all inclusive resorts. I've gone to the Yucatan to the Mayan Riviera south of Cancun several times and that area is probably a lot safer than most of Southern California but I don't know if I would feel comfortable taking a baby or a four year old there because you do need to be careful about drinking bottled water. July is also starting to getting into hurricane season.
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