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West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

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  • West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

    Yes! We're finally planning that trip to the US and Canada!

    Six weeks, next Summer, with three kids... (but I'll be leaving the sourdough starter at home)

    So what do we absolutely need to see? What should we steer clear of? Has anyone got a recommendation for a travel guide? And where can we get good bread and pizzas on the way?
    "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)


  • #2
    Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

    Well, while I'm sure that the west coast is lovely, you will miss a lot of really neat stuff if you stay over there. But then, I live on the east coast. Maybe for your next trip?

    My brother loved, loved, loved Seattle and its environs when he visited there. I think it may not have been raining that week! San Francisco is pretty cool too, but there are a great many places I'm sure are "can't miss".



    • #3
      Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

      Don't miss San Francisco and Napa and/or Sonoma!
      Portland and Seattle are excellent as well, Portland has beautiful gardens if you are into that (Rose, Azalea, and Japanese, depending on which month you visit). We recently did a trip to Seattle and then to Victoria (we did not make it to Vancouver) to see the Butchart Gardens.

      I use the Tripadvisor forums for advice like this...you should check that out.

      My Oven Thread:


      • #4
        Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

        After having just traveled down to the Willamette Valley last week, I'd say that's definitely worth a stop for some wine tasting. It's less than an hour from Portland and there are tons of vineyards there. And it's cheaper than Napa and Sonoma. And it's gorgeous. Not sure how that would work with children in tow, but you could go to Stoller and let them play disc golf while you drink wine.

        I really like the beach communities near LA, like Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan.

        You've got to check out Pike Place Market when you come to Seattle, but I just like sitting out at Ray's Cafe and enjoying some appetizers while looking out over the Puget Sound.

        Vancouver is a beautiful city, too. I've only been a few times, but I love it.


        • #5
          Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

          If you have a car, drive the coastal highway up from San Fransisco - one of the world great drives.

          Visit Vancouver Island as well.


          • #6
            Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

            Hi Frances,

            I was raised near Portland OR, spent time at the coast (Tillamook mostly, great cheese and oysters and salmon, etc).

            And currently live inland, smallish town, where the Cascade Mountain range is transitioning to the high desert of eastern Oregon.

            What type of activities will ya'll be looking for? big city, country side, mountains, desert, ocean? What months will you be traveling (could effect which activities make it to the top of the list)?

            For example, Mt. Mazama is the home for Crater lake. A volcanic caldera with over 2,000 feet of clear blue water in the lake (the rangers say you can see over 100 feet into the water in the lake). I think it is the seventh deepest lake in the world or some such... Spectacularly beautiful, but not accessible early in the year.. snow.

            Anyway, if I can render an opinion on possible places to spend time in Oregon, I'm happy to do so - but what activities are high value for your family?


            PS: And if your travels bring you through Bend Oregon, we can certainly fire up the oven!


            • #7
              Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

              I've spent some time on the west coast in LA.

              The places I liked are "Planes of Fame Air Museum" which has old planes on display that can still fly. Somehow there seems to be a different look to flying plans rather then static displays. One thing is you can still smell the oil and fuel in them. Along the same lines is the "March Field Air Museum", which has the SR-71 and also WWII planes.

              To eat I liked the California chain El Torito Mexican. Sunday brunch is memorable, but I also like Tues Taco specials and the salsa. Great Margaritas!

              Another nice place I like is Souplantation. It's a very nice salad bar plus fresh bread and soups.

              If you want to splurge, one of the funnest family meals I've ever had was at Greenfield's Brazilian BBQ. I took my crowd to one on the east coast, but the first one I went to was in LA (OK really Covina).


              • #8
                Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

                Tillamook Cheese was one of our earliest customers. I don't often get to travel there but I've been twice and it's a nice area so unlike the east coast. The plant is the biggest tourist draw I think in the county, but it is pretty neat and tasty cheese.


                • #9
                  Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

                  California has some of the most specatular coastline in the world. If you have time (and the kids are not whining about seeing a famous mouse in Anaheim), take the long way up the Central California coast on Hwy 1 North from SLO. Stop at Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Do some hiking around Big Sur. Do some shopping in Carmel. Visit the Monterey Aquarium. Hit the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, and maybe hit a summer concert. However, if you are in a hurry, just go up Hwy 101 North, and maybe hit a couple of towns along the way (each has it own quaint charm, and wineries) - Santa Barbara, Solvang (a little bit of Danish "culture" in California), SLO, Paso Robles, San Juan Bautista (if the governator hasn't closed the park there by then), outlet shopping and garlic in Gilroy. The area between LA and SF is nothing like LA and SF.

                  Avoid going up I-5 thru the Central Valley - some of the most boring landscape in the world.
                  Have fun,


                  • #10
                    Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

                    I'd second Ed's recommendations. The coast highway is incomparably beautiful. I've lived in California my whole life, and am still surprised by it. Big Sur, redwoods, surf pounding on cliffs, small farms and vineyards tucked between rolling hills covered with wildflowers. You could always say hello to James in Pebble Beach- I would suggest, if you are planning a drive, do so mid-week to avoid traffic.

                    The Monterey Bay Aquarium is justifiably world-renowned, very much worth a visit if you're interested in marine life.

                    Whole libraries could be filled with local information on San Francisco, and there are more travel guides out there than you could shake a stick at. I won't go into too much detail here, but to say that you will definitely have an opportunity to investigate some great baking. The natural wild yeasts and lactobacilli in San Francisco are famous for the excellent sourdough they produce; very sharp flavor. Many bakeries there produce some variety of it; the oldest and one of the best known is the Boudin Bakery, but there are many other, quite excellent, smaller ones. The North Beach area is a traditionally Italian neighborhood, with a number of good pizzerias, including a few VPN wood-fired places. Yelp is often a good source for local reviews. Close by, Chinatown has some of the best Chinese food you could ever find, and a fascinating cultural history.

                    I don't know if you're planning on staying in hotels, or if so, what your price range is, but if you are going to stay in SF overnight, I highly recommend the Hotel Drisco. It's a smaller boutique hotel in Pacific Heights, one of the quieter, more exclusive parts of the city, close to the Presidio, the Marina, and the Golden Gate. When my wife and I go to SF for anything more than a day trip (which is not nearly often enough), it's where we stay.

                    For being such a populous state, the California coast is still fairly remote, with a number of protected wildlife areas. The north coast, from San Francisco on up into Canada, is even more remote, with much of the coastline being relatively inaccessible; but all the more worthwhile if you can manage to see some of it. That's the region with the really big trees, something worth experiencing. Muir Woods and Redwood Natural Park are some of the most notable, but the whole way up there are amazing places.

                    There's also Yosemite; although that's a good distance out of the way from your route, there really is nothing else quite like it.

                    The "wine country" is most associated with Napa and Sonoma, but there are many other regions up and down the state, and in pretty much any of them you can find any number of small vineyards and wineries with tasting rooms.
                    Last edited by cynon767; 09-23-2009, 12:52 PM.

                    My oven build is finally complete!


                    • #11
                      Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

                      Hi Frances!

                      Lots of good suggestions so far. I would like to second the California coast from south of Big Sur to Monterrey. Then on to San Francisco and Napa/Sonoma. Over to Yosemite. Up to Tahoe and up the mountains to Crater Lake. (Note: I skip the upper California coast and go inland and do the Oregon coast). Down the Umpqua River (one of the most beautiful on earth) and on to the Oregon coast. Up the coast to about Newport and then to McMinnville for a the Willamette Valley. Eat at Nick's Italian Cafe. The Evergreen Flight Museum might appeal to your kids too - has the Spruce Goose (wooden seaplane as big as a 747). Then to Portland. Take the Interstate east to Hood River and stop on the way at Multnomah Falls! Go north out of Hood River to Mount St. Helens and Mt Ranier, to Seattle, to Vancouver, Victoria, etc. I highly recommend the Coopers Cove B&B in Sooke on Victoria Island.

                      I can make more detailed recommendations in many of those places (like specific wineries) but there should be an element of surprise as well!

                      Good Luck!
                      Last edited by texassourdough; 09-23-2009, 01:29 PM.


                      • #12
                        Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

                        Hey thanks guys, just the kind of tips I was hoping for!
                        I'll make a long list before we go so that we can check out some of the places and eateries you suggest.

                        We'll be renting a mobile home and moving around as the mood takes us for six weeks, starting in San Fransisco, hopefully getting as far as Vancouver Island, and taking in Las Vegas and Los Angeles on the way back (as it were). Dates are the last week in June until the first week in August.

                        The highwy number 1 will deffinately feature on our itinary. Other than that... hmm lots of variety I should think. Our kids are pretty good with big cities, and hiking, too. So big city, country side, mountains, desert, ocean, all sound good to me.

                        Museums and wine tasting maybe not so much - we'll do our wine tasting in the evening after they've gone to bed - recomendations for local wines that we can buy in a store are welcome.

                        One thing the kids will probably want to see is something to do with native americans - only I would prefer to show them something authentic rather than a touristy make-believe whatever. Dunno, does that make sense? The subject is bound to come up though.

                        Just writing about it, I am so starting to look forward to this trip!!
                        "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)



                        • #13
                          Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

                          There are a number of good, although small, museums dedicated to Native Americans throughout the country, usually regional in focus. California is in the midst of trying to expand its State Indian Museum into a new larger facility, but the process is delayed by budget issues. The current State Indian Museum is located in Sacramento, just outside Sutter's Fort. There are also a number of tribal sites around the state, including a small but well-organized museum in Yosemite dedicated to the original occupants of the valley. One of my favorites is Indian Grinding Rock, which is about an hour east from Sacramento.

                          California has always been an extremely diverse place; apparently, that was true even before europeans arrived: from the wikipedia page on Native American languages- "North America is notable for its linguistic diversity, especially in California where it alone has 18 genetic units consisting of 74 languages (compared to the mere 3 genetic units in all of Europe: Basque, Indo-European, Uralic)." There are dozens of different tribes in California alone, literally hundreds of different tribes across the continent, each with its own unique culture and history.

                          I am excited for you- This sounds like it will be a great trip! When I was a kid, my family did a similar trip, traveling in a small motorhome along the California coast. This will probably be even more amazing for your kids, since not only will you be taking longer and covering more ground, it's in a whole new foreign place for them. Awesome!

                          My oven build is finally complete!


                          • #14
                            Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

                            I loved Cali and was stationed there near San Fran and closer even to Napa Valley. (US Navy 1985-1991)

                            Google Eureka CA and you'll see that the costal areas are very nice country but truely out a ways from the main stream and if the kiddies don't like long road trips or get car sick kind of a windy ride up the coast north of the bay. Best motorcycle riding I ever did!!!

                            But a few days in the bay (Bring a jacket even in the summer) seeing (and eating ) up and down the coast. Muir Woods on the 1 up north over the Golden Gate is a great trip. Once you get up to Point Reyes your about as far out as a good day trip can run.

                            Muir Woods National Monument and Mount Tamalpais State Park

                            I got to spend about 9 months there and road 7500 miles or more on my motor cycle.

                            muir beach ca - Google Maps (turn on the satellite over lay)

                            From Bodega Bay in the North to Half Moon bay in the south along the coast is really nice. But if I were picking and choosing I'd see the City (china town too) , Ride the Trolly down to the warf, hit the north side of the bay after seeing the Golden Gate.

                            San Francisco Trolley Car Tours - San Francisco Hop On/Off Trolley Tours

                            Another great trip is out to Yosemite. Quiet a haul from the city, but if you stay out east of the bay you can day trip both.

                            Yosemite Valley Tunnel View Panorama

                            ... did I mention Napa Valley


                            Man I could go on for days and Yes I live in Alabama and love it just as much alabama state parks - Google Images
                            Columbiana, Alabama WFO Build.



                            • #15
                              Re: West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver

                              And to keep on topic

                              Wild Flour Bread Bakery - Wood Fired Brick Oven Baked Bread - Wildflour Freestone (about an hour north of the bay)

                              North Beach - Bakeries - Bay Area | Urbanspoon

                              You could do a wood fired oven tour and I bet there are some folks on FB that have built ovens that live in the area as well
                              Columbiana, Alabama WFO Build.