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For my holidays next year, I’ve found and booked some mega cheap flights to the States. So am fulfilling a long term dream to cruise down from San Francisco to San Diego.

I’ll start with three days in San Francisco the take the coast road stopping in Monterey, then down Highway 1 and the Big Sur, ducking inland to Fresno to take in some of the parks. Then back to the coast to drop down to a base in LA to spend the last couple of days.

I will have to drive back up to San Francisco from LA on my last day, which looks like a 6/7 hour drive. But all I have to do the following day is sit on a plane, so that shouldn’t be so hard.

 

I’ve booked accommodation for San Francisco and In LA, but will probably be relying on cheap Motels on route. As I don’t want to have a set itinerary for the centre part of the trip.

 

Being an autoshiteist at heart, thoughts have crossed my mind about buying a car for the trip, but a Rental is going to be a whole lot more convenient and less expensive. Although a quick peruse of Craigslist shows up a few cool old clunkers, no idea on the formalities over there though!

 

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/cto/d/1977-mercedes-benz-300d/6748599403.html

 

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/cto/d/1981-mercedes-benz-300sd/6739495863.html

 

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/d/1998-jeep-grand-cherokee/6748418453.html

 

Any advice from fellow shiteists would be grand, either on places to check out and visit, do’s and don’ts etc!

 

Cheers in Advance

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I'm jealous already!

 

Yes, that drive back up to SF is going to take you all day, so it's best not to be against the clock.  Have a night in a motel before you fly, so you aren't rushing to make check-in.

 

While you're down in SD, see if you can find the Sheriff's Museum.  I found it when I was there, but it wasn't open.  Also, have a look round the USS Midway, a retired aircraft-carrier.

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I have a friend with a coffee shop in San Francisco by one of the quays. His name is Art Derby. He’ll sort you out with coffees and all the bits and bobs for your journey... I seem to remember his coffee shop being on quay 9 though I could probably give him a call to confirm....

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I have a friend with a coffee shop in San Francisco by one of the quays. His name is Art Derby. He’ll sort you out with coffees and all the bits and bobs for your journey... I seem to remember his coffee shop being on quay 9 though I could probably give him a call to confirm....

 

That'd be grand! thanks a lot!

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I’ll start with three days in San Francisco the take the coast road stopping in Monterey, then down Highway 1 and the Big Sur, ducking inland to Fresno to take in some of the parks. Then back to the coast to drop down to a base in LA to spend the last couple of days.

I will have to drive back up to San Francisco from LA on my last day, which looks like a 6/7 hour drive. But all I have to do the following day is sit on a plane, so that shouldn’t be so hard.

I've done LA to SF via Highway 1 and its stunning. Alcatraz is worth a visit, but book tickets well in advanced in summer months. I always wish I'd took a detour to Laguna Seca when staying in Monterey but we ran out of time. There's too many scenic stops in/near Big Sur to mention but further down towards LA Paradise Beach near Malibu is a nice place to spend a few hours if you are that way inclined. 

 

On the way back from SF to LV we took in Fresno and Bakersfield which were nice places, we also stopped in Barstow on Route 66 which other than a famous McDonalds made of some old train cars is a shit hole... in case you were tempted! 

 

If you have time when in LA then a drive to Palm Springs and going on the aerial tramway is well worth it, stunning views on a clear day. One place I always recommend in LA is Baby Blues BBQ restaurant in Venice Beach. Its been featured on a couple of food programs (DDD being one of them). I've always been underwhelmed by LA, other than Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica its a bit run down and uninteresting imo. 

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 One place I always recommend in LA is Baby Blues BBQ restaurant in Venice Beach. Its been featured on a couple of food programs (DDD being one of them).

 

Thanks for the recommend, I'm staying on the front at Venice beach for a few days so will defo check it out!

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Buying I think you will find difficult as a non-US citizen and insurance probably impossible. Hiring you will probably get a better deal in advance - check carefully about a one way trip and dropping the car at another depot. Also look out for the wildfire zones which seem real bad every year and getting worse....oh dear I do sound glum. Yea it's been put elsewhere the problem is insurance. Also taking a car out of State is a problem I recall when I hired in the US. America is more rule- bound than you'd think from watching Die Hard...dreams of driving coast to coast not sure how people achieve it.

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Yeh, the purchase route looks a bit of a minefield, although I will have a mailing address out there. Plus I'm not going for long enough to really make it worthwhile.

 

Prices for rentals are cheap enough as I'm returning to the pick up point.

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On Dug DeBug (on Youtube) or whatever he is called has talked about renting other folks cars. Maybe that is a way to go? Drive all sorts.

There is a series of YT about a Brit who took is Puma to the USA. I have also seen one about some Brit motorcyclist drivng on UK plates. Maybe take a Shitter over and sell it there?Series 3 LR are hip right now. Or series 2 Disco, but cars have to be over 25 years old. (someone will confirm)

For a car purchase I would suggest you do some research Travel, backpackers or road trip forums maybe your best area to read.

Personally if I was to purchase a car I would try and find something I could import into the UK to use or for resell. The opposite to importing one.

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Buying a car for a non-resident isn't a problem, neither is insurance - but, do you really want to wander around in a strange country trying to find a bargain?  Presumably you only have a finite amount of time for your holiday - easiest route is rental.  I am sure that some of the smaller companies have rules about taking their cars out of the state but I generally rent from the larger places and have never come across this - out of the country, yes... out of the state, no.  Enterprise are my usual choice - unlimited mileage, take the car anywhere you want in the country - good selection, compact car through full size pick-up trucks and SUVs - reasonable prices.

 

Bear in mind that second hand cars here aren't as cheap as they are in the UK - so, if I see something for $1,000 I have to ask myself "how bad is it?"  I know I would be reluctant to gamble my holiday and my money on a "bargain."  Besides this is what you really want... https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/cto/d/1972-ford-ltd-station-wagon/6745066214.html

 

San Francisco... I love the place but it can be very touristy and very expensive.  And, some parts are a real shit hole and can be dangerous if you don't know where you are.  I usually get an air bnb when I go as it usually works out cheaper than even the cheap hotels.  Alcatraz is worth a visit but, as has been mentioned it will be crowded.  Years ago you could just hop on the ferry but now you will need reservations.  If you like Irish Coffee there is the Buena Vista near the wharf - it's got quite the reputation and serves something like 2000 a day.

 

LA to San Francisco in 6 or 7 hours... nope, won't happen.  I make that drive a couple of times a year and 8 hours is steady driving at around 75 mph with only one brief stop.  Traffic at both ends will slow you right down and if you are taking the 5 - the quickest and least scenic route - you will run into truck traffic in the central valley.  If you choose the 101 it will take you between 8 1/2 and 10 hours - it's a more scenic route and we often go that way just to enjoy the drive.  PCH/Highway 1 - only to be used for meandering and enjoying the views and never when you have a deadline.  The 1 only just reopened this summer and should stay that way barring another rockslide.

 

Venice is a bit of an eclectic place - I've not been there for donkey's so I am sure it has all changed - you are close enough to Santa Monica and the other beach cities - Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan - with Long Beach and Huntington Beach a bit further down.

 

Take a look at Crystal Cove in Orange County - they have beach huts for rent - forget trying to book one in advance as it is almost impossible - however, they do have walk-in availability so it's worth checking out as long as you have a back up plan if nothing is available. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Cove_State_Park 

https://crystalcove.org/beach-cottages/reserve-now/

 

If Yosemite is on your agenda bear in mind that it is crowded and accommodation can be hard to come by - that being said, it is an amazing place and you should not pass up the opportunity to visit.  And, don't forget to visit the Winchester House in San Jose.

 

Last, do not underestimate the distances involved - make a realistic itinerary and enjoy your holiday.

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Back in 2005 I did LA to SF up the 101 in 5 3/4 hours, in a Chrysler Sebring convertible.  I was going rather quickly though, and I left at 5am so missed the worst of the traffic heading out of LA, and only stopped once for pez and a slash. Leaving at sensible o'clock and driving at normal speeds then yep, 8 - 9 hours is nearer the mark.  It is a nice road mind - the 5 is dead straight and dull as f*ck.

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Just a word of warning really - you're visiting the most expensive part of the most expensive country in the world.

 

Expect to pay 2-3 times as much for food as you would over here (for anything!). 'Cheap motels' won't be that cheap either, I camped when I visited and just putting my tent up cost $35 dollars, hostels weren't too bad though although there aren't many. The one in Santa Cruz is really nice.

 

Be warned of bad congestion though in cities. The ocean drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz is stunning. The rural road from SC to Coalinga is beautiful too but the flat valley bit at the end is very rough and very dull, so maybe stick to the coast.

 

Driving is very easy and lazy, no road rage, all of the locals are very friendly. Stick to the speed limit though regardless of how stupidly low it is and make sure you stop at stop signs! Take plenty of cash as card is less popular than the UK, buying petrol is still very confusing.

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Did a similar trip last year. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Recommendation would be hire a Dodge Durango and live the authentic Soccer Mom lifestyle. Thing was feckin enormous but over there it was absolutely fine.

 

San Francisco bus tour is a good way to see the city but don’t lose your tickets. Mrs P opened her bag going over the Golden Gate Bridge and the draft sucked the tickets up and spat them over the edge of the bus and presumably into the Pacific. Pier 49 is good, Ghiradelli chocolate factory was a good way to spend time, Monterey is lovely, etc

 

I would say have your own adventure. If you try and pack every recommendation in you will be so busy rushing from place to place you won’t have time to enjoy it. And anyway making a mistake and going off track will probably enable you to find the best diner ever with a Mint Tagora in the car park which you wouldn’t have otherwise found

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Card vs. Cash - I rarely, if ever use cash - in fact I have to go to the bank right now as the place rebuilding the water pump for my Rover only takes cash - so, while cash is always useful, you will be fine with your card.

 

Stop signs - yes, yes, and thrice yes.  Come to a complete stop, cars that arrive at their stop sign before you and traffic to the right has right of way.  If you make a right turn on a red light only do so after coming to a complete stop and making sure it is safe to go.

 

Speed limits... of course the answer is always obey the posted speed limit.  That being said, on regular roads I keep very close to the limit, no more than 5 mph over, but usually right on the limit.  On Freeways I generally cruise at 75 mph or so, and I am not the fastest car on the road either.  Local rule of thumb, try to keep within 10 mph of the limit and don't take the piss if you see any police vehicles.  And, you can overtake on the inside on the freeway, so if someone won't move over, just duck up the inside if it's safe to do so.

 

Dodge Durango pfffft - Dodge Ram 4x4 with the 5.7 hemi.

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When you rent that car, make sure you are buying insurance as well. Insurance is not mandatory when renting as many drivers have rental car cover as part of their own car insurance.

After one of my working visits to LA I was horrified to find that I had been driving for a month with no insurance; due to a misunderstanding with the nice man who upgraded me: Dodge Intrepid mk2 for Dodge Neon money.

 

Venice beach? - rent some roller blades for the boardwalk!

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On Freeways I generally cruise at 75 mph or so, and I am not the fastest car on the road either.

I found that even when sitting at 3-figure speeds I still had traffic coming past me.  The myth that Americans drive slowly appears to be just that.  I also had great fun along a windy bit of the PCH chasing down a local lad in an Integra Type R - he wasn't hanging about either, so the bit about Americans not being able to drive round corners is also bollocks.

 

Here's "my" car parked up along Hwy 1.

 

post-190-0-92712800-1453032645.jpg

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When you rent that car, make sure you are buying insurance as well. Insurance is not mandatory when renting as many drivers have rental car cover as part of their own car insurance.

After one of my working visits to LA I was horrified to find that I had been driving for a month with no insurance; due to a misunderstanding with the nice man who upgraded me: Dodge Intrepid mk2 for Dodge Neon money.

 

Venice beach? - rent some roller blades for the boardwalk!

The great rental car insurance conundrum... one of my pet peeves.

 

The rental car is insured - it can't be on the road without insurance.  However, here in California, as is the case in all states that allow it, the rental company is self insuring.  In other words they are also the insurance company and the vehicle is insured to be driven by anyone authorized by the rental company.

 

The catch/problem arises when it comes to the issue of damage to the vehicle - in the contract that you sign you agree that you will be responsible for damage to the vehicle unless you either have your own insurance or, you pay for the "insurance" they sell you.  Any third party that you injure or cause damage to will be covered under the rental company's policy.

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I found that even when sitting at 3-figure speeds I still had traffic coming past me.  The myth that Americans drive slowly appears to be just that.  I also had great fun along a windy bit of the PCH chasing down a local lad in an Integra Type R - he wasn't hanging about either, so the bit about Americans not being able to drive round corners is also bollocks.

 

Here's "my" car parked up along Hwy 1.

 

post-190-0-92712800-1453032645.jpg

Driving across country a few years ago I settled in behind a big rig in Arizona and we stayed with him all the way through New Mexico and into Texas - he was cruising at 80 and that suited me fine.

 

Later on, driving through Texas a highway patrol car executed a Smokey and the Bandit style u-turn across the grass median and pulled us over - he let me off with a warning and advised me to drive no more than 10 over the speed limit unless I was going through some of the po' dunk towns that would ticket us out of towners for the revenue...

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Are you into railways? If so, this is your place: https://www.psrm.org/ 

Go on a Saturday when the club members are present and don't hesitate to walk into the work shop and chat with the guys, great dedicated people! I had a great time and was invited into the drivers cab for an engine test drive out into the desert.

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card or cash.. i would say card works 95% but take some cash for the odd case card is not accepted or machine fails.

I recently had problems at card operated gas pumps that would insist on a 6 digit PIN but mine is only 4.

Usually you have less fees and a better rate when you draw cash from an ATM instead of changing cash at banks or airports.

ATM's at banks take less fees than the ones at gas stations or in supermarkets. Do not take 100$ or 50$ bills, very often refused by shops because a lot of fakes around.

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Did a similar trip last year. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Recommendation would be hire a Dodge Durango and live the authentic Soccer Mom lifestyle. Thing was feckin enormous but over there it was absolutely fine.

I did mine in 2010.  Flew in and out of Vegas, up to Fresno, up to SF, down to LA, down to SD, back to Vegas.  It was a brilliant trip.  I'd booked a Durango, thinking it's equivalent to a Range Rover, should be adequate.... but the girl at the hire desk at the airport offered me an upgrade.  To a Chevy Suburban.  I now love Suburbans!  It took me three days to realise the third row of seats was up!  Excellent touring machine, if a bit big to park in SF.  Parking ain't cheap.  I'd do it again tonight.

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Me and 5 mates went to America in 2006 we flew to Vegas had a few days there then drove to mammoth lakes snow boarding for 10 days then drove to LA for 3days. We booked car hire in England and it said it was going to be a chevy dayvan. I thought at least its American and might have a V8. I was mortified when we arrived, it was a Toyota sienna people carrier. I asked what's happened to chevy. They said all come off hire last week and replaced with these. It had some underpowered v6. Coming out of Vegas up a proper long hill it was pretty much foot on floor annoyingly it kept going in and out of kick down. When going through mountains a big rig come past us like we was stud still, and we were doing about 80

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We went LA - Pismo Beach - Santa Cruz - Monterey - San Francisco. After that we flew to Vegas, and drove from there back to LA. I have been through the desert on a horse with no name.

 

The run from LA to San Fran was in a Jeep Cherokee. We had booked a Nissan Rogue (Qashquai thing) but I thought as I am in the US I should drive something local. I quite liked it even though they are meant to be crap. Pickup was at LA airport which was hard going as unfamiliar vehicle, road layouts, and the wheel on the other side takes a few minutes to get used to. I only managed to get out of the airport as it is basically Los Santos airport from GTA5 so I drove the direction I would in the game and made it successfully out incredibly. Without mowing down any pedestrians or driving onto the runway to steal a plane. Although I really wanted to!

 

I found petrol stations confusing as the concept of paying for gas before getting it caught me out on more than one occasion. Makes sense though.

 

Durango. Beastie

post-3538-0-82079100-1542238547_thumb.png

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When I lived in Houston, Six-cylinder and I drove to LA from there, mostly on Route 66, in a rented Sebring convertible. Always best to have a rental car, as the A/C will work and if the car has a breakdown, it's their problem not yours. My car at the time was a nice, reliable Volvo 740 wagon (a 940 in disguise with leather and all the toys) but I didn't want to put the miles on it and of course R66 and CA are best appreciated with the roof down!

 

It also used to be the case that the AAA roadside breakdown service was limited and there were towing limits of 100 miles as standard and 200 miles max. if you paid for the premium service. As towns can be many more miles apart than that, a longer tow to the repair shop becomes expensive!

 

Credit cards with chip & pin are still a novelty in many parts of the USA and may not work in automated payment situations. Generally if you can sign for a payment then that works OK. Cash is good, keep some dollar bills handy for small tips e.g. for coffee shops.

 

Not sure which rental companies reflect it (Hertz does) but car rental in California by 'international' customers (i.e. you) gets you 3rd party liability insurance (LIS) cover for free from the rental company. Loss Damage Waiver (damage to rental car) is capped also and if the car is stolen, then as long as it wasn't your fault, you won't pay out. I'd suggest you do buy Loss Damage Waiver insurance, but don't worry about the other insurances you wil be offered.

 

If you get stopped by the police, don't get out of the car or move to reach into pockets, but follow their instructions and be polite and you will probably enjoy the experience. British accents tend to go down well, which is odd but nice.

 

Drive friendly and enjoy the ride!

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Thanks for all the advice.

 

I've looked at rentals, and a large car - Buick Verano (basically an old shape Insignia) is coming in under budget, even with all the insurance boxes ticked. I would like something like a Suburban, so might try going all Michael Palin in the rental office to see if I can sweet talk one.

 

  I only managed to get out of the airport as it is basically Los Santos airport from GTA5 so I drove the direction I would in the game and made it successfully out incredibly. Without mowing down any pedestrians or driving onto the runway to steal a plane. Although I really wanted to!

 

 

A friend recently visited L.A. and said the same, he found it very strange almost knowing his way around having played a computer game!

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Both times I hired a car I received a free upgrade. It is almost as if they overcharge for the mid sized cars so they have room to dish out upgrades and create good customer feelings. Or it could have been the British accent of course. Not that Estuary Essex cuts any ice usually!

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