Me and wife are going to California for a wedding this September. Most of the schedule is set already, but would still like to hear if anyone has advice for any lesser known gems (i.e - not mentioned by Lonely Planet) or maybe some event we should catch? We are less interested in Alcatraz/Disneyland type of attractions - more in cool cafes, vintage shops, design and art.

We’re flying into SFO and leaving from LAX 2 weeks later. Wedding is in Paso Robles and we have 5 days to spend before we get there.
We’re thinking 2/3 nights in SF, and 3/2 on the road.
Route option 1: Hwy1
Route option 2: Yosemite and/or Sequoia.

Any advice where in SF we should look for a hotel? $200/night.

After wedding we go to Santa Barbara, and last 2 days before we fly out we have 2 nights booked in Palm Springs. Any advice in and around Palm Springs specifically?


I’d say driving down to Big Sur is always an experience.
They had a pretty nasty mudslide though recently and I am not sure if you actually can drive there at the moment.
If yes, I recommend to stay at Glenn Oaks
For dinner, we really enjoyed Nepenthe

Good but affordable hotels in SF are actually surprisingly hard to find.
But when I travel for work/fun, I often stay at the Phoenix
It has a good vibe and it doesn’t break the bank. The only drawback is, it’s in the tenderloin which is one of the roughest hoods in SF.
However, it’s very central and close to pretty much any part of town with both BART and Muni close by.

For food, I would recommend both Statebird Provisions and their sister restaurant The Progress. Both awesome.

Good call on Palm Springs! Not sure where you are staying but the different resorts have a bunch of fun activities.
We were at the Ace and had a lot of fun with karaoke and bingo. There are some mid-century architecture tours you can do but I thought they looked a little thin and quite pricey.
We also did a pretty stunning hike in a reservation which was amazing. I think it was called Palm Valley or something like that. Otherwise, just vegging out by the pool, drinking cocktails is not a bad way to spend the day :wink:

There is no better place to be than in SF after Labor day. The tourist crowds are gone, the kids are back in school and a relaxing vibe settles across the entire bay area. I just returned to Seoul from a week in SF with my wife.

For sunsets: Grizzly Peak Blvd in Claremont Hills or anywhere along the coast between Half Moon Bay and Pigeon Point Light House.
For music: The SF symphony kicks off its 2017 season in September and Club Deluxe in the Haight has Jazz and cool drinks.
For food: Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline Drive, the Cliff House in SF and Sushi or Korean in Japantown are all unique spots to take your wife to.
For Hotels (with wife) around $200: Good luck in SF. Some nice Airbnbs exist in Santa Cruz that are way affordable and cozy.
Shopping: Sports Basement near Chrissy Field (for buying) and Nike and Apple (for looking) in Union square are must stops for designers.

Some disappointments on my last trip were Palo Alto (boring), GG Bridge crossing (only takes electronic toll payments now, no cash) and traffic along the Embarcadero (jam!).

I’m jealous…Some of my best memories of SF were in the months of September and October.


So many things to do, I don’t know where to start.

If you get to go North of SF at all, my wife and I wrote this little piece on Marin county:

On your way South, Monterey, Carmel, San Luis Obispo, Ojai, Los Olivos are all fun places to check out.

So many things to do and see in LA and SF. Check out Hayes Valley in SF, of course the Presidio, there is some fun architecture to just urban hike around the financial district. Some people hate the Ferry Building, but I like to pop in there for lunch. SFMoMA expansion.

In LA, the Broad Museum, LACMA, The Petersen…

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You could also do some architectural tours in LA. Lautner, Neutra and Wright al have some awesome homes. I did one a few years back where an architectural historian just drives you around LA in a minivan. Was super fun. She knew a lot of the home owners and got us into some private residences.

Thanks for all the input!

Is Eames’ house in LA worth a visit?
Is Loewy’s house in Palm Springs open for visits?

We’re staying at Seguaro in PS.
I kinda want to take a drive around Salton Sea - any specific fun/weird spots besides obvious Salvation Mt?