Second Favorite California Adventure

Hi, Liners. My family of 5 (boys ages 6-13, wife, me) is embarking on an adventure throughout California in 1 month. It’s our first trip to the West Coast. We are finalizing itinerary destinations and are seeking some Liner wisdom from anyone willing to share. Here’s a quick summary of our plans. We welcome all feedback, especially regarding my question at the end.

Nights 1, 2, 3 in San Francisco near Nob Hill/Chinatown area. We won’t have a rental car for this leg. We’ll have either 1.5 or 2.5 days of sightseeing including a baseball game, hop on/off tour, ferry ride to somewhere, etc.

Nights 4-5 in Yosemite. On our last day in SF we’ll pick up a rental car and head to Yosemite, staying at the lodge inside the park. We’re planning to hit all of the main hot spots during our time there. We’ll probably do a tour and maybe rent bikes. The nighttime walking tour looks pretty cool to me too.

Night 6 at Pismo Beach as we head down the coast toward Anaheim.

Nights 7-10 at Disneyland Hotel, with 3 park days with hoppers. We’re studying up on the differences between Disney World (which we know inside and out) and Disneyland. We’re returning the rental car the day we check into DLH.

Our big undecided issue is the amount of time we spend in San Francisco. If we spend 3 nights there we’ll have only 1 night to explore the coast. If we drop down to 2 nights in SF we’ll have an extra day to travel south to Anaheim. Thoughts?

@stlouie You live in/near SF. What advice do you have for them? TIA

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Many years ago we did the Alcatraz tour - first one of the day. Youngest grandson rushed us thru so we could take the first return ferry and not get locked in a cell by renegade military folk.

We also planned to eat and shop in Chinatown. We got rushed thru that so we could miss Bruce Lee saving everyone from bad guys and get caught up in collateral damage.

We did tour the cable car place. And rode the cable car several times. Idiot son in law made sure youngest grandson (9 yo) got to ride hanging off the outside, as if I would have prevented it.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the Pampanito - U S Navy WW2 submarine - but then we had DH with us. His first submarine he served on in the 50s was the same class as the Pampanito. He had first hand commentary so I can’t speak to the rentable tape info.

As for time in SF vs travel down the coast - how do the boys like time spent in the car? Are they interested in rockier beaches? Hiking?

I don’t recall much of our coastal trip except I found Morro Bay was less of a disappointment than the guy with the weird house or the Spanish Mission or the huge bay fig tree that was essentially a shelter for the unhoused.

Do they still launch stuff from along the coast? I’m drawing a blank as to the name of the installation.

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I’d recommend reducing San Francisco to 2 nights. This gives you an extra day to explore the coast on your way to Anaheim. With 2.5 days in SF, you can still see the highlights and catch the game. More time on the coast means you can enjoy spots like Monterey, Carmel, or Santa Barbara without feeling rushed.

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I’m here! Yes, I live 30 miles from San Francisco.


I’m a bit challenged to provide input. I’m not sure what you want to do except going to watch baseball at Oracle Park? And how much time you need in San Francisco really depends on what you want to do. Here are a few thoughts:

  • It takes time to get around. Allot more time than you think you need. Traffic can be terrible!

  • Ferry to Alcatraz is the “thing” to do. You reserve the tickets online ahead of time. Get the audio tour!

  • Without a car, the hop on hop off bus is the way to go.

  • You must ride the cable car!

  • I think the hop on hop off bus would take you to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’m relieved you don’t have a car in SF! Parking is expensive and can be a pain to find. Car break ins are way too common. Thieves break into cars regardless if anything of value is visible. Heck, I have seen thieves, steal stuff from other cars when cars are stopped at a signal!

Keep your jewelry at home! Thieves are yanking necklaces and robbing people in broad daylight! Along the same line, keep your wallet, cellphone, and other valuables securely on you. Try not to use a purse.

Yosemite Lodge is a stone’s throw from the view of Yosemite Falls. It may or may not have that much water in it when you get there. We have had a good snow year. But it has been hot! I highly encourage the bike rental. You can easily ride around the Valley Floor and see things that you can’t see from the bus.

Other Yosemite stuff:

  • You can pay for a tram tour of the Valley.
  • Drive to Bridalveil Falls. It’s a short, flat hike to the Falls but the parking lot is small!
  • Drive to Tunnel View in the late afternoon. It’s gorgeous! :heart_eyes:
  • Drive to Glacier Point for bird’s eye view. You can see Vernal and Nevada Falls from here.
  • Drive to Mariposa Grove. It’s a bit of a hike but there is a tunnel tree you can walk through there.
  • Vernal Falls footbridge is nice but it can be rather long and it’s uphill to get there. Recently, I saw a couple of people pushing strollers up there! It isn’t that ADA accessible!!!
  • We love eating at the Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge! :yum:
  • I wouldn’t go to Mirror Lake. There may not be water in it! You can ask the people coming back from the hike if there is water. Otherwise, it’s anticlimactic!

It looked like this when we went in May a couple of years ago. It’s lovely with water.


  • Take the bus to Sentinel Bridge for sunset, if it is not cloudy. You’ll get this!

The CA coast is beautiful! It will be a lovely drive. If you like seafood, we love the boil at Cracked Crab in Pismo Beach

DLR is less intense than WDW!



Hopefully Pirates of the Caribbean will be operating. I like DL’s version better.
The Indiana Jones ride is a keeper.

We really liked the Mater ride. Wish the WDW HS Aliens were as much fun.


Circling back around to provide some updates on our itinerary. We leave in 2 weeks.
Nights 1 and 2 in San Francisco

  • We’re going to an Oakland A’s game the first evening (this is apparently on my DS13’s bucket list)
  • We’re going to book a hop on/off tour
  • My DS10 is the only one with the slightest bit of interest in Alcatraz and we’re hoping to keep him out of prisons for as long as possible so we’re skipping this.
  • A visit with the Golden Gate Bridge
  • We’re on the fence about a dinner at the Tonga Room (we’re staying at the Fairmont). It looks amazing but it’d cost more than a Disney character meal and our family is just now outgrowing those!

Nights 3, 4 at Yosemite Valley Lodge

  • Starry skies nighttime tour at Glacier Point
  • Valley tram tour the next morning
  • Probably time at something watery in the afternoon, e.g., Merced River, Mirror Lake
  • Mariposa Grove the next morning on the way out

Nights 5, 6 at Monterey and Pismo Beach as we travel down the coast

  • Where we stop will be dependent on whether Highway 1 is back open near Big Sur. We’d really like to drive that route.

Nights 7-10 at Disneyland

  • Is Uber/Lyft the best way to get from Disneyland to SNA airport?

Yes. It’s super easy and usually not too expensive. Looking back at my receipts it’s usually about $30 + tip.

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Did you read my comment about Mirror “Lake” above? It may not be much of a watery attraction by the end of July/early August.

Yep. If nothing else we may just end up in the pool if the heat is oppressive.


Wanted to make sure you didn’t walk all the way there and be disappointed!

There’s the pool at the Lodge. There is also the Merced River. May I recommend taking the shuttle to Housekeeping? Walk through housekeeping to the River.

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Good tip. Thank you.

We were just there last week! I have three kids 12, 10 and 2. We spent 2.5 days in SF and then spent two days doing Big Sur area. My older two LOVED Alacatraz, but younger ones wouldn’t get a lot out of it. But it was beautiful views of the bay, especially if you take the time to explore the backside/gardens.
We rented bikes and biked acorss golden gate bridge, and came back and played along the Crissy Fields Beach- beautiful pictures of golden gate in the background. There is also a really fun, unique nature playground near there. And the Walt Disney Family Museum!
I would say if you can swing it, try to hit the Point Lobos State Park near Big Sur… the trails off the coast are out of this world.


That’s great to hear and thank you for the tips! We are hoping to make it to Big Sur but it depends on whether the highway is back open when we’re there. We’d like to take the coastal highway all the way down to Anaheim.

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