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California trip.. will have car.. what to do/see?

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I have a conference that will end on a Thursday evening in Anaheim/Garden Grove area.
Flight back is next Wednesday from San Francisco.
What should we not miss between these two locations?

Travelling: Wife, Me (both in lower 30's) and our almost 2 year old daughter.
We will be renting a car.

We definitely want to explore Los Angeles area.. San Fran area.. but have no clue about in between. I've been eyeing Yosemite and Pacific Coast highway even though both of them are completely different routes. No interest in Disney.. since we fly to FL once a year anyways and plus.. we want to visit Disney when our daughter is a litle older.

Any suggestions on what to see? We both are pretty open to both and like both urban and natural locations.

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rated:
Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

You won't regret it.

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v999 said:   Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

You won't regret it.

  That's the inland trip. ( Interstate 5)

Coastal Trip (Highway 101)
Santa Barbara
Monterey Aquarium
Lots and Lots of Beaches
Hearst Castle

2 Yr Old?  Hmmm...Legoland (South) as well as the Discovery Science Center

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Cars Land may be worth seeing...

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I would stop off at Santa Clara just a beautiful coastal town!

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Santa Cruz, dinner on the boardwalk with beautiful Sunset.

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1minutecloser said:   I would stop off at Santa Clara just a beautiful coastal town!
  Santa Clara is nowhere near the coast, newbie......

rated:
SecondGunman said:   
1minutecloser said:   I would stop off at Santa Clara just a beautiful coastal town!
  Santa Clara is nowhere near the coast, newbie......

  That's one of those posting bots that FW gets every now and then.

rated:
so Friday to Wed.?

LA and Orange County are a mess, traffic-wise, especially on a Friday.
I'd bee-line it out of OC first thing Friday (after 9am) and head straight for Santa Monica at least. Drive down the ramp at the SM Pier and park ON THE PIER (end of Colorado Ave). Great views from the Ferris wheel, and carnival games, food, etc. (bring layers as it might get chilly). Walk south on the beach path to get to the iconic Venice Beach boardwalk. 

Then head north up Pacific Coast Hwy (PCH) thru Malibu towards Santa Barbara.  You'll also pass through Ventura, which might have cheaper lodging than SB if you need a stopover. 

You can then take 101 north, stop in places Solvang for a "Danish" lunch. Cool little tourist stop. 

San Luis Obispo (SLO) is a good small college town stop as well, and you can catch Hwy 1 here too. 

Hwy 1 is a great drive along the coast, but part of it is currently closed due to a landslide. I believe thats between Big Sur and Santa Cruz. Look into it before heading that way.

Yosemite is a huge detour. I'd save that for another trip. 

lots to do & see obviously, lol. Plan your arrival into SF on non-rush hour too. That can be un-fun. 

Jeff
-traffic avoider & outsider. 

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