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Posted: 09/07/09 12:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Will be heading south in April again, this time would like to go to California first, then across to Utah and then home again. Timeline would be about 3 weeks. It would be my wife and I, and our dog. 37 foot fifth wheel. Looking for recommendations for California. Would like to check out some wineries, maybe some good food, that sort of thing. Have never been to that part of the country before, any other advice would be appreciated. Thanks!


Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Posted: 09/07/09 12:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"Hearst Castle", "Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument" is a must see. Castle
San Simeon State Park is just south of the Monument. Camping

Santa Barbara is a neat place to visit time allowing. A good visitor center by Harbor Drive, also a pier there, County Court House is neat, the old Mission, a drive into the wine country is neat. One of Many

Twelve miles south of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria State Beach offers a mile of beach for swimming, surf fishing, tidepool exploring and camping. Carp

In Santa Barbara, we had good seafood at the "FisHouse", close to the visitor information place near the wharf. Situated on Cabrillo Blvd across from East Beach and Stearns Wharf, the Santa Barbara FisHouse is a perfect destination for ocean-side dining, offering patio seating by an open fire pit. There is parking at the visitor center. The Wharf is in walking distance. SeaFood There are also places to eat on the wharf with higher prices.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey is really great. Aqua
North of Monterey at Moss Landing is a great sea food place over by the docks, called Phil's Fish Market & Eatery. Phil's

On the Monterey Peninsula there is a very good scenic drive but I could not find a lint for it. Info can be gotten at a nice visitor center in Monterey. Monterey
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park would be a nice campgound to see the area. Big Sur
We looked at a private campground in Marina, but we were tent camping at the time and tent area not very good. RV Park
Moss Landing for sea food. Moss Landing

Enroute Campsites in CA to over-night at: Enroute

San Fanscisco lots to see there. Fisherman's Wharf (clam chowder in sour-dough bowl) Pier39 , Cable Cars, China Town, Alcatraz Cruises, etc. If you can get in, Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground is a nice place to stay (we had to stay at a priviate one when we last visited there) to commute into San Fanscisco, not to far from a BART station and ride in on the commuter train. BART
I believe we at at this one, but not for sure. It had great clam chowder. Pier Market Seafood Restaurant is well-known for its award-winning clam chowder and mesquite grill dishes. Where we ate was not right at the pier. Lots of places to eat.

Redwood National and State Parks to see the Redwoods just inside CA before getting into Oragon. RED WOODS

Many State Parks in Oregon.
South Coast
Central Coast
North Coast
We stayed at the one just north of New Port, very nice area. We also stayed at one south of there. I believe any of them would be great.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (US Forest Service) for over-night stays from the mouth of the Siuslaw, to Cape Blanco at Coos Bay. Dunes
Forest Service
Oregon Coast Coast

Washington Coast Hwy 101 like the Oregon coast, any park would be neat.

Cape Disappointment State Park (formerly Fort Canby State Park) was very nice when we visited it many years ago. Campground

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was neat to see. Mt.St.

Portland Waterfalls. Falls
Nice drive up the Columbia River from Portland. We stopped at one falls on the drive, not sure of the name now. But is away from the coast.

On one trip, we went inland for a side excursion to see Crater Lake in OR. CraterLake and Shasta Lake in CA. Shasta

We traveled mainly on 101, except for the trip to San Simeon to Big Sur to Monterey and over to Half Moon Bay. And of course to Crater Lake and Shasta.

There were several lighthouses alone the way which were neat to see & photo and great views of the Pacific.

If you go up towards Half Moon Bay, there is a neat lighthouse to see at the Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park. Half Moon Bay has a nice state beach with camping as well. PARKS

My painting of Pigeon Point Lighthouse

My second painting of Pigeon Point Lighthouse

We stayed at Carpinteria State Park when we wanted to see things around Santa Barbara. These are the options we had in 2006: Gaviota SP, Refugio State Beach & El Capitán SB but no dump stations and Carpinteria SB nice one with long beach area & a dump site.

Then we wanted to be near Malibu. Near but not too close to Malibu: Point Mugu SP also nice but small beach, Leo Carrillo SP excellent & with nice tide pools & Wi-Fi Service but small rocky beach. We stayed at Carpinteria and Point Mugu that summer, and have stayed at Leo Carrillo and Refugio earlier years.

Closer to Malibu: Point Dume SB & Zuma County Beach seem to have some camping in or by them if memory serves, we have stopped at Point Dume with its nice sand beach but not camped.

Leo Carrillo's campground and Point Mugu Sycamore campground are in wooded canyons up from the beach areas, Mugu has some beach camping as well off a roadway parking area type. We found Neptune's Net Seafood to have great seafood. The Scene – This glorified roadside shack is situated alongside Malibu's picturesque Pacific Coast Highway. As I remember, it is close to Carillo & Point Mugu. At least it was between Malibu & Point Mugu. Neptune's Site

We also stayed at McGrath State Park between Ventura and Oxnard in 2006. A very nice campground with trees & shade, a wooded, bamboo area with trails. A small river running by not far, not too neat a river. The the real downside, it is a long walk to the beach and the beach is not a nice one at all. It has a nice campground, not bunched up, sadly the beach was dangerous at best, with coarse broken shell-sand and very steep bank/drop off to the water. Lot of sand dunes getting to the beach. No Photos of the beach.

McGarth was a good place to base for seeing Ventura & Oxnard. We enjoyed it there as we did Carp and Mugu. We drove to the Getty Villa from Mugu. But Carrillo might be a nicer place to try of the two. But Mugu is close enough to see Ventura & Oxnard & Getty Villa / Malibu.

Carpinteria State Park has some parking lot like campsites, but have others that are not. The ones farthest back along the park road are nicest, up on a small "bluff".

Nice tital pools off Leo Carrillo's beach, also small scale ones at Point Mugu's small but sandy beach.

This site might help: RV Park Reviews

People have asked about RV Parks near Los Angeles. These are in LA County, but not too bad for traffic if on the roads at the right time of day:

East side of LA
East Shore RV Park SAN DIMAS
In same area Fairplex RV Park POMONA

North of LA
Malibu RV Park Very nice area.

On the east but not in LA county
San Bernardino RV Park

KOA San Bernardino

I'd go for Leo Carrillo State Park myself or even Point Mugu State Park Mugu 50 miles to LA. Or even San Clemente State Beach which is in Orange County but is close to San Diego County.

Or at Doheny State Beach Dana Point - Orange County * State Park * Doheny Campground Or at San Clemente State Beach * Coastline.

This one might work for anyone needing a long spot to camp (Max Camper Length: 40 Feet), but I have not been to it. Bolsa Chica State Beach Looks like the other state parks might not take a 40' rig.

What to do when there:

The Getty Villa is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.
Where to Find Us
17985 Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Palisades, California 90272
Please note that access to the Getty Villa entrance is only from the northbound right-hand lane of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Getty Villa is on the way to Malibu on PCH in Pacific Palisades, one mile north of Sunset Boulevard. Getty
What to See
Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities arranged by themes including Gods and Goddesses, Dionysos and the Theater, and Stories of the Trojan War and Roman-inspired architecture and gardens.
Admission to the Getty Villa and to all exhibitions is FREE. An advance, timed ticket is required for each adult. Each Villa general admission ticket allows you to bring up to three children ages 15 and under with you in one car. (This does not apply to tickets for events, such as lectures and performances.) Parking is $10 per car or motorcycle. The Getty Center is near as well, much larger, very neat with a varied art periods. Very worth seeing, if just the buildings & garden. Getty

The Getty Center presents the Getty's collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present against a backdrop of dramatic architecture, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking views. Admission to the Getty Center and to all exhibitions is FREE—no tickets or reservations required for general admission. Parking is $10 per car.
The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California, approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. It is located near the intersection of the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405) and the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10). Take the Getty Center Drive exit from the 405 and follow the signs.
Getty Center is in the Hills above Santa Monica between the 101 or Ventura Freeway and Santa Monica. Getty

There is so much to see at the Getty Center, one can spend the whole day and not see it all. The buildings and gardens are a must see in themselves. There is so much art to see, it would take a week to see it correctly. A double must see. The Getty Villa is smaller but a must see as well. They are many miles apart.

The Norton Simon Museum is another really great museum to see in the Los Angles area. It is located at 411 W. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena on the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevard at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeway, is a great smaller art museum with the most significant collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in Southern California. Reflections of modern life captured by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, who alone is represented by over one hundred works of art, are displayed alongside the vibrant palettes of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin. Complementing these works are Auguste Rodin’s monumental bronze sculptures, which are displayed in the Museum’s front garden. Paintings by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Francisco de Goya mark the beginning of the 19th century and lead to superb examples of mid-century Realism executed by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet. Outstanding paintings by Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard carry us right to the doorstep of 20th-century Modernism. A must see!

The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific is another neat aquarium to see. LongBeach
The Queen Mary is also in Long Beach, not far from the Aquarium.
We ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Market after our visit to the Aquarium. Good food, good service, maybe a little more pricey than some of the other places I have listed. There is a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on Cannery Row in Monterey by the Aquarium as well.

More on Trip Along West Coast .

* This post was last edited 10/17/09 03:58pm by DesertHawk *   View edit history

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San Joaquin Valley

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Posted: 09/07/09 01:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you make it to the Napa, CA area, the Napa Wine Train is a nice experience. Have dinner and wine while slowly enjoying the wine country on a train. We really enjoyed it.



Southern California

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Posted: 09/07/09 04:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For Northern California Napa/Sonoma area I will 2nd the wine train. Also, good burgers at Taylors Refresher in the same area. Sweet potato fries are excellent.

For central California Paso Robles is an area where a lot of award winning red wines are grown and made. Wine Country RV Resort is a great place to stay, close to hundreds of wineries and a short drive to the coast and town of Cambria, Hearst Castle, Elephant seals. Lots of GOOD restaurants in Cambria as well. Paso Robles has a couple of good restaurants as well. One of our favorite places to go!

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Granite Bay. CA. USA

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Posted: 09/07/09 08:54pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We stay at the Calistoga Fairgrounds when we go to Napa Valley. It is on the North end of the Valley but good places to eat and only about 5 miles to St. Helena for some excellant resturants and a drive around the Valley on the Silverado Trail you can visit all the wineries you want for days. Other wine regions that have just as good wine and not as expensive is Amador County and El Dorado County, about 100 miles southeast of Napa. You could stay at the 49'er RV park in Plymonth and go from there to El Dorado county and Amador County is right there. Another place with fine wine is Lodi, CA.


Vacaville, CA

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Posted: 09/07/09 09:40pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DesertHawk, your rock! Thanks for the list of cool places. You saved me alot of work. LOL!

I second the recommendation on the Calistoga Fairgrounds. Good, central location. There is a great BBQ place in Calistoga. It's one of DH's favorites.

49'er in Plymouth is nice as is the RV park at the Jackson Rancheria. We like both. If you like BBQ and Ribs, Plymouth has a little restaurant called Incahoots. They have great sweet potato fries. Amador and El Dorado counties are great for wine tasting. Apple Hill should be opening soon. That is also a neat treat.

We are going to Monterey next week and just found out they have a Great White Shark at the Aquarium. They also have a seahorse exibit going on. Monteray Bay Aquarium I highly recommend visiting if you can. In Moss Landing there is great thing called the Elkhorn Slough Safari. DH and I took it and had a lot of fun. Elkhorn Slough

I also second the recommendation for Cambria. Go to Hearst Castle if you have a chance. It is an amazing tour and worth the money. Oh, and the butterflies should be at the coast in San Simeon.

Of course, try to eat where the locals do. Seldom have we gone wrong doing that. We stay away from the tourist oriented restaurants.

If you couldn't tell, it's all about the food for me!

Enjoy your trip and let us know how it goes.

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Goodyear, Arizona

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Posted: 09/22/09 05:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

there 2 places in Napa to stay at, that have hookups.

Napa Valley Expo has newly-reconditioned sites. it's a couple of blocks from the Wine train and 3 blocks from downtown Napa. it's also next to the Silverado Trail, which is the best road to see the Valley.

Skyline Park is a rural campground with hookups, located next to the county park. it's across the street from vineyards.

if you want any recommendations for visiting Napa Valley, send me a PM.

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Southern California

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Posted: 09/23/09 03:50am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you are a bike rider, don't miss the Dry Creek area near Healdsburg -- very pretty, quiet, great Zinfandels.

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Vacaville, CA

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Posted: 09/07/09 09:41pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Oh, and I forgot to mention the Factory Stores in Vacaville. If you get out that way, our City would love if you would help increase the sales tax revenue! [emoticon]



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Posted: 09/07/09 09:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WOW, tons of information! This is great, thanks guys!

Anybody else have anything to add?

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