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Old 09-21-2009, 01:11 AM
Frances's Avatar
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Default 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?
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:57 AM
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Default 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".
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:19 AM
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Default 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.

Drake
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:31 AM
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Default 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.
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Old 09-21-2009, 12:52 PM
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Default 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.
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:12 PM
Jed Jed is offline
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Default 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?

JED

PS: And if your travels bring you through Bend Oregon, we can certainly fire up the oven!
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:13 AM
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Default 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).
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:16 AM
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Default 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.
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:30 PM
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Default 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,
Ed
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Old 09-23-2009, 12:47 PM
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Default 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.
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Last edited by cynon767; 09-23-2009 at 12:52 PM.
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