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Planning a California trip


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#1 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 10:50 AM

So me and a mate are set on planning a month to six week holiday in California around the April mark next year.
We don't really plan on setting out a day by day plan, more just a rock up at a city, spend some time there and then figure out what to do each day.

What are some pointers you guys have from past experiences? or places worth seeing?

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#2 Arie

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 11:53 AM

Disney land!!!!!!! Hahaha

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#3 The Midnight Q

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 08:54 PM

Definitely set out what you might want to see and check out. Contrary to popular belief, there's nothing to do in LA unless you know about the spots beforehand. It's definitely not a city where you can wing it. San Fransisco on the other hand is the opposite, lots to do there. The state is definitely big on its night life, so that should give you an idea about California. Definitely a lot of your time may be spend in southern California but don't neglect the north. Do a camping/hiking weekend and check out some of the sequoia forest. My vote is San Fransisco all the way, love that city.


Also, avoid the ghetto.

Edited by The Midnight Q, 09 August 2012 - 08:54 PM.

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#4 Dax

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 10:39 PM

Yeah I'd research what you want to do before you do it. To be honest there's a lot more to do in the surrounding cities rather than LA itself. First and foremost make sure you have a car (I'm guessing you will if you plan to be here that long). California doesn't have the greatest public transportation system.

If you're really into sports you might be able to catch a Lakers game or a Dodgers game. Disneyland isn't too bad but for my money I'd go with Six Flags, the rides are better and the atmosphere is less fairytale. There's also Knots Berry Farm which is decent but if you're on a time restraint I'd hit up Six Flags or Disneyland first. There are also plenty of missions to check out if you're interested in the history of California, they can be pretty interesting. West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, possibly even Malibu would be the major places to hit up if you go to the LA area. Don't go to East LA unless you're feeling the thug life and even then... If you do go to Disneyland you can also catch an Angles game (baseball again).

If you're into art there's the J Paul Getty Museum and then there's the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena which have really good collections.

Medieval times in Buena park (near Anaheim) is pretty cool too. They reenact fights while you eat a ton of food, haven't been there in ages but I'm never disappointed.

There's generally always some concert/event happening in LA. Also I'd try to get tickets to see live viewing of shows. Anything that tapes with a live audience, like Conan for instance, generally have free tickets either through raffles or readily available. Even then you can stand in line and I'd say half the time you can get into showings because people don't always show up. I know a lot of the studios offer tours (some cost money, some are free).

As for beaches, try to avoid LA's. It can be just as polluted as the air at times... Aim for Santa Barbara's or Ventura's.

Honestly if you're going to be here for a month to six weeks I'd just try doing all the tourist stuff in one week and just venture out (as long as you stay out of East LA...and Compton, and east/south Oakland, and Riverside [not because you'll get hurt if you go to Riverside, it's just because it's Riverside...]). There's a lot to do here if just explore around for awhile.

Definitely hit up San Diego too, it's a bit under appreciated. They have an amazing beach and there's some interesting things to do around there too.

I agree with Jeremy about the camping/hiking trip up in Norcal. It's the non-desert part of California and it's actually pretty beautiful.

San Francisco is worth checking out. The Bay Area in general is pretty nice (except certain parts of Oakland...) They have nice parks, a shop for everything, and there's ton of history in SF. There's nothing past SF worth checking out though so don't go too far north unless it's for a hiking/camping trip.

Jeremy's also right about California having a lively night life, so if you're into clubbing or just general partying you're in luck. Even if you aren't there's usually something going on at night.

The drive between LA and SF is about 7/8 hours if traffic is good (don't count on traffic being good in Cali). Also there's not really anything in central California. Lots of agriculture if you're into that, and there's also cowschwitz, but nothing really worth seeing. Good luck man.

#5 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 11:02 AM

Disney land!!!!!!! Hahaha

Not really keen to see Disney Land. I'd rather see actual America

Definitely set out what you might want to see and check out. Contrary to popular belief, there's nothing to do in LA unless you know about the spots beforehand. It's definitely not a city where you can wing it. San Fransisco on the other hand is the opposite, lots to do there. The state is definitely big on its night life, so that should give you an idea about California. Definitely a lot of your time may be spend in southern California but don't neglect the north. Do a camping/hiking weekend and check out some of the sequoia forest. My vote is San Fransisco all the way, love that city.


Also, avoid the ghetto.

How are the two cities different when you say there is nothing to do in LA without planning it?

I shall most certainly not avoid the ghetto, was gon hang wif ma boyez in da hood

Yeah I'd research what you want to do before you do it. To be honest there's a lot more to do in the surrounding cities rather than LA itself. First and foremost make sure you have a car (I'm guessing you will if you plan to be here that long). California doesn't have the greatest public transportation system.

If you're really into sports you might be able to catch a Lakers game or a Dodgers game. Disneyland isn't too bad but for my money I'd go with Six Flags, the rides are better and the atmosphere is less fairytale. There's also Knots Berry Farm which is decent but if you're on a time restraint I'd hit up Six Flags or Disneyland first. There are also plenty of missions to check out if you're interested in the history of California, they can be pretty interesting. West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, possibly even Malibu would be the major places to hit up if you go to the LA area. Don't go to East LA unless you're feeling the thug life and even then... If you do go to Disneyland you can also catch an Angles game (baseball again).

If you're into art there's the J Paul Getty Museum and then there's the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena which have really good collections.

Medieval times in Buena park (near Anaheim) is pretty cool too. They reenact fights while you eat a ton of food, haven't been there in ages but I'm never disappointed.

There's generally always some concert/event happening in LA. Also I'd try to get tickets to see live viewing of shows. Anything that tapes with a live audience, like Conan for instance, generally have free tickets either through raffles or readily available. Even then you can stand in line and I'd say half the time you can get into showings because people don't always show up. I know a lot of the studios offer tours (some cost money, some are free).

As for beaches, try to avoid LA's. It can be just as polluted as the air at times... Aim for Santa Barbara's or Ventura's.

Honestly if you're going to be here for a month to six weeks I'd just try doing all the tourist stuff in one week and just venture out (as long as you stay out of East LA...and Compton, and east/south Oakland, and Riverside [not because you'll get hurt if you go to Riverside, it's just because it's Riverside...]). There's a lot to do here if just explore around for awhile.

Definitely hit up San Diego too, it's a bit under appreciated. They have an amazing beach and there's some interesting things to do around there too.

I agree with Jeremy about the camping/hiking trip up in Norcal. It's the non-desert part of California and it's actually pretty beautiful.

San Francisco is worth checking out. The Bay Area in general is pretty nice (except certain parts of Oakland...) They have nice parks, a shop for everything, and there's ton of history in SF. There's nothing past SF worth checking out though so don't go too far north unless it's for a hiking/camping trip.

Jeremy's also right about California having a lively night life, so if you're into clubbing or just general partying you're in luck. Even if you aren't there's usually something going on at night.

The drive between LA and SF is about 7/8 hours if traffic is good (don't count on traffic being good in Cali). Also there's not really anything in central California. Lots of agriculture if you're into that, and there's also cowschwitz, but nothing really worth seeing. Good luck man.

Yeah, I'm not really keen on being smack in the middle of LA or anything. I really want to go out and see the quieter parts of the area where life is a bit more normal. Really trying to plan it less as a rushy rushy see everything sorta tourist trip but more of a laid back, relaxing time seeing some sweet stuff in a new land.
How expensive is it to hire a car? Or would it be wise to buy one and sell it off again?

See, I don't know about much of this stuff! That medieval place sounds so cool.

Yeah, I like what you say about doing the big things in a week and venturing out. I really just want to chill out in, what I think, is the best country in the world haha. What you got against Riverside? One of my favorite bands is from there!

I'm really liking the idea of just getting to a city like San Fran and just wandering the city, walking the bridge, looking at everything, parks and all that.

Thanks heaps for all your wisdomings

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#6 The Midnight Q

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 08:56 PM

Well Dax pretty much summed up the whole LA part better than I can.


Here's why Oakland and East LA should be avoided.
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#7 Dax

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 11:58 PM

Yeah, I'm not really keen on being smack in the middle of LA or anything. I really want to go out and see the quieter parts of the area where life is a bit more normal. Really trying to plan it less as a rushy rushy see everything sorta tourist trip but more of a laid back, relaxing time seeing some sweet stuff in a new land.
How expensive is it to hire a car? Or would it be wise to buy one and sell it off again?

See, I don't know about much of this stuff! That medieval place sounds so cool.

Yeah, I like what you say about doing the big things in a week and venturing out. I really just want to chill out in, what I think, is the best country in the world haha. What you got against Riverside? One of my favorite bands is from there!

I'm really liking the idea of just getting to a city like San Fran and just wandering the city, walking the bridge, looking at everything, parks and all that.

Thanks heaps for all your wisdomings

That's not a bad idea, really a lot of the tourist attractions out here are over rated. Honestly LA is so huge and there's tons of cities right by it anyway you won't have trouble finding things to do. I suppose Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are more high end. If you want to see more low key everyday California in Socal I'd hit up Santa Monica or go over to Simi Valley. I'm not really sure there is a normal in the LA area, it's really a mesh of several different lifestyles, from the rich and the famous to the poor and crazy with everything in between.

As for the car rental generally you can find something for $11-$20 a day but you have to be over 25 to rent in Cali. If you buy one you can usually find something decent for around $700-$1000.

As for Riverside, it's basically the butt of jokes for Socal. I suppose it tries to be a great city but fails in so many ways from pollution to violence that people just make fun of it now.

You'll probably enjoy SF/Bay Area a lot. There's a lot to see in San Francisco alone, and you can check out the east bay using BART (some of the decent public transportation offered in California). It has a lot of historical relevance, great entertainment, and some pretty cool specialized shops (spy shot, lots of photography shops, Acme Bread is pretty cool). All in all there's a lot that can be done there too.

#8 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 12:47 PM

Well Dax pretty much summed up the whole LA part better than I can.


Here's why Oakland and East LA should be avoided.

Haha, thanks for the video. I'll take Dave Chappells advice!

That's not a bad idea, really a lot of the tourist attractions out here are over rated. Honestly LA is so huge and there's tons of cities right by it anyway you won't have trouble finding things to do. I suppose Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are more high end. If you want to see more low key everyday California in Socal I'd hit up Santa Monica or go over to Simi Valley. I'm not really sure there is a normal in the LA area, it's really a mesh of several different lifestyles, from the rich and the famous to the poor and crazy with everything in between.

As for the car rental generally you can find something for $11-$20 a day but you have to be over 25 to rent in Cali. If you buy one you can usually find something decent for around $700-$1000.

As for Riverside, it's basically the butt of jokes for Socal. I suppose it tries to be a great city but fails in so many ways from pollution to violence that people just make fun of it now.

You'll probably enjoy SF/Bay Area a lot. There's a lot to see in San Francisco alone, and you can check out the east bay using BART (some of the decent public transportation offered in California). It has a lot of historical relevance, great entertainment, and some pretty cool specialized shops (spy shot, lots of photography shops, Acme Bread is pretty cool). All in all there's a lot that can be done there too.

Do you live in California? You seem to know HEAPS about it! (Which is rad and very helpful!)
San Fransisco really sounds like, from what you said, the best place to spend time. I really need to get me hands on a touristy book for California!

Yeah, none of us are over 25 years old so buying one seems like a good idea, how hard would it be to sell off at the end?
If it comes to it I'd just find someone/somewhere to donate it too.

Looks like I'm gonna have to do some in depth research into the SF area by the sounds of it to get an idea of whats available.

Another question, what do you think I'd be looking at money wise? Tickets alone are going to cost about $950 NZD ($770 USD). According to my calculations, by April 2013 I'd have around 8-9K NZD Saved ($6500 - 7200 USD). Surely this will be sufficient?
We aren't looking at staying in fancy hotels or nothing, just hostels. Cheap and good for meeting randoms.

Last thing, one thing I've always wanted to go to my whole life. I heard there are some around, but I REALLY REALLY want to go to one of those really stereotype black American churches like you see on the TV. Know any? hahaha, random I know.



Thanks heaps for all the advice and info. Its extremely helpful! I feel like I need to pay you

Edited by Monkey Cartwheels, 13 August 2012 - 12:48 PM.

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#9 Dax

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 03:40 PM

Do you live in California? You seem to know HEAPS about it! (Which is rad and very helpful!)
San Fransisco really sounds like, from what you said, the best place to spend time. I really need to get me hands on a touristy book for California!

Yeah, none of us are over 25 years old so buying one seems like a good idea, how hard would it be to sell off at the end?
If it comes to it I'd just find someone/somewhere to donate it too.

Looks like I'm gonna have to do some in depth research into the SF area by the sounds of it to get an idea of whats available.

Another question, what do you think I'd be looking at money wise? Tickets alone are going to cost about $950 NZD ($770 USD). According to my calculations, by April 2013 I'd have around 8-9K NZD Saved ($6500 - 7200 USD). Surely this will be sufficient?
We aren't looking at staying in fancy hotels or nothing, just hostels. Cheap and good for meeting randoms.

Last thing, one thing I've always wanted to go to my whole life. I heard there are some around, but I REALLY REALLY want to go to one of those really stereotype black American churches like you see on the TV. Know any? hahaha, random I know.



Thanks heaps for all the advice and info. Its extremely helpful! I feel like I need to pay you

Yeah, born and raised in LA county and I've lived the last year up in NorCal for school.

If you sell it down in LA and the car is still in good condition I don't think you'll have trouble finding a person to sell it to. You might not get what you originally bought it for but you should be able to recoup your money. If all else fails there are tons of places to donate it to.

SF has a lot, since it's so compact there so much to do in one area. I'd say check out Fisherman's wharf, China town (I liked it anyways), Cal Academy of Science (which surprisingly has a really good nightlife), Alcatraz (a bit stereotypical and touristy but still pretty cool). There's really no shortage of things to do in SF, but definitely plan ahead. Even some of the opera houses and ballet companies are top notch here, though I never really pegged you as an opera/ballet person haha.

If it's just you who has that money it's more than sufficient. If it's for the entire group (depending on how many are in your group) you'll probably want to save a bit more, not really a whole lot more but better to be safe.

Off the top of my head no unfortunately. Those are found more in the deep sound (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia) then they are in california. I would check out the baptist churches, they generally fall in line with that. So probably your best shot is the Second Baptist Church or Central Baptist Church (also a mega church I believe), but I can't say how stereotypical it is.

Np, California is a pretty awesome place so you won't be disappointed.

#10 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 12:14 PM

Sweet, to be honest I wouldn't be overly fussed to get money back for it. Would feel pretty good to donate it to someone that needs one or can use it.

Man, SF is sounding more and more like the place to be! Honestly, I would be keen to see a ballet or something, it would be a pretty cool experience.

There are 3 of us going. I'll have about as much as I said, one dude would have a minimum of $6000NZD (Around $4800USD), but probably closer to what I'll have. Not sure about the 3rd guy, he'll have the same-ish. I think we'll be sweet as for cash.

I have been told there is one in LA at least. I'll have to have a look around. REEEEALLY want to go to one haha.


For some reason I've decided that April is the month to go seeing as that's when it starts to cool down in New Zealand. Seeing as you have years of living experience in the state, what actually is the best time of year to visit? Would probably be nice to avoid the "tourist season" (If there actually is one (I imagine there is (Bracket within a bracket = Inception))).

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#11 The Midnight Q

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:37 PM

$770 for airline tickets?! Dang, my flights to the Philippines were always costing me $2,800 give or take.
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#12 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 10:51 AM

$770 for airline tickets?! Dang, my flights to the Philippines were always costing me $2,800 give or take.

Man that's heaps!
Was that flying economy? Also was it return?
If I was to fly one way it would cost A LOT more

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#13 Dax

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 04:20 PM

For some reason I've decided that April is the month to go seeing as that's when it starts to cool down in New Zealand. Seeing as you have years of living experience in the state, what actually is the best time of year to visit? Would probably be nice to avoid the "tourist season" (If there actually is one (I imagine there is (Bracket within a bracket = Inception))).

We pretty much get tourists year round. April/May would probably be the more ideal months as it's starting to warm up and you don't hit the summer tourism rush. June through August will probably be busy because most schools are out and people visiting on holiday during that time, same with mid December to early January.

#14 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 11:19 AM

BLOODY HELL

Am I just looking in the wrong place or are all the Hostels in California really really expensive!?

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#15 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:28 AM

Found out I have a relative in San Diego. Would it be worth taking the trip down to SD? Or is there not really enough to see?

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#16 Dax

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:58 PM

Yeah good hostels generally aren't cheap. You could find some ghetto ones, but they generally aren't located in the best locations. SD is worth checking out, they've got a nice beach and there's a lot of interesting shops and restaurants in the area. It's one of the more beautiful parts of California.

#17 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 10:32 AM

Yeah good hostels generally aren't cheap. You could find some ghetto ones, but they generally aren't located in the best locations. SD is worth checking out, they've got a nice beach and there's a lot of interesting shops and restaurants in the area. It's one of the more beautiful parts of California.

Bro, I'm thinking it would be wise to avoid the ghetto at all costs haha. Are hostels the cheapest form of accommodation around the area?
Could do a bit of couch surfing haha. One of the people that is going might be able to get in touch with some people to house us for a bit of it which would be lovely.

I'll look into SD then. See whats around.


Got me a little booklet and I'm writting down prices, places to see and all that rot. And was thinking of having a looksie at the car prices around, where should I be looking? E-bay? Craigslist? I don't know.

Thanks once again for your assistance

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#18 Dax

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 05:55 PM

Bro, I'm thinking it would be wise to avoid the ghetto at all costs haha. Are hostels the cheapest form of accommodation around the area?
Could do a bit of couch surfing haha. One of the people that is going might be able to get in touch with some people to house us for a bit of it which would be lovely.

I'll look into SD then. See whats around.


Got me a little booklet and I'm writting down prices, places to see and all that rot. And was thinking of having a looksie at the car prices around, where should I be looking? E-bay? Craigslist? I don't know.

Thanks once again for your assistance

If you can couch surf that would save you some money. You might be able to find some cheap hotels/motels but odds are they'll be located in more low income/ghetto areas. If you could couch surf half the time you should be able to afford a decent hotel/motel the rest.

I would say for the car craigslist and personal ads in the paper would be your best bet. There's no shortage of used car lots in LA so it shouldn't be too hard to find a decent used car.

#19 Monkey Cartwheels

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 02:40 AM

Been figuring out prices for this.

After flights and accommodation plus a BMX bike that I'm going to buy and bring back to NZ with me, prices are around $2067 - $2168. Which I am more than chuffed about! Way cheaper than I thought.

I was trying to figure out what I'm likely to spend on food. Last year while flatting it was spending between $40 - $60 a week on food, but that was student living and I don't plan on going overseas and eat like a poor student.
My mate said I would be looking at around $500 for the whole 4 weeks. Sounds about right to me.

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I am Sterre's pet Armadillo

by the way i hate alcohol, just thought i would mention that





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