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Author Topic: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?  (Read 684 times)

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Offline Noasar

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Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« on: June 27, 2018, 10:02:32 PM »
So in 4 weeks I am going back to California where I married my lovely wife last year. I can’t wait :cheer: We are going back with our two best friends for our anniversary. We spent 3 weeks road tripping in northern California last year, and this year we are also doing a week in Florida after we leave CA.

We are spending 2 weeks driving from Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez to LA, stopping off at Palm Springs, La Jolla and finally San Diego before catching a flight to Florida where we are planning to drive from Miami to Key West, then Naples (?) and then Crystal River before flying home from Orlando.

If there are any CA/FL locals here, or anyone who has traveled to these areas before I’d be very grateful of any tips, hidden gems or cool places to visit. Also places not to visit. We aren’t into theme parks so we’re not doing the whole Disney/Universal thing (and don’t even mention Seaworld just...noooo). I had planned to go kayaking in Florida but after seeing on the news about that poor lady who was eaten by an alligator I’m seriously reevaluating my plans...

Please let me know if you have any cool/fun/weird suggestions of things to do!
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 10:36:27 PM by Noasar »

Offline BlackCurtains

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2018, 10:25:34 PM »
I'm in Punta Gorda! You'll be going past on your way to Crystal River :happy:

I'll be honest, I've lived here for 12 years and not done a lot of things :P I can tell you that Sarasota is full of some awesome museums. There's the botanical garden which is gorgeous. Also the Mote Aquarium is one of my favorite places. It's also a laboratory and rescue & rehab center. Highly recommended if you find yourself in the area.

Other than that, I dunno!

Regarding the gators - it's mating season, so it's a bit more dangerous than normal. Buuuuut personally I don't think that should deter you from doing things you want. I find kayaks scary as it is (what if it flips over? :lookround: ) but you can rent sailboats and catamarans too. So, yeah. I really wouldn't worry too much about the gators  ^.^
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Offline Noasar

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2018, 10:43:09 PM »
I'm in Punta Gorda! You'll be going past on your way to Crystal River :happy:

I'll be honest, I've lived here for 12 years and not done a lot of things :P I can tell you that Sarasota is full of some awesome museums. There's the botanical garden which is gorgeous. Also the Mote Aquarium is one of my favorite places. It's also a laboratory and rescue & rehab center. Highly recommended if you find yourself in the area.

Other than that, I dunno!

Regarding the gators - it's mating season, so it's a bit more dangerous than normal. Buuuuut personally I don't think that should deter you from doing things you want. I find kayaks scary as it is (what if it flips over? :lookround: ) but you can rent sailboats and catamarans too. So, yeah. I really wouldn't worry too much about the gators  ^.^

No way will I be driving right past you! I’ll wave if I see the sign for Punta Gorda  XD

Thanks so much for those suggestions. I love museums so Sarasota is going on the list! Whereabouts is the Aquarium and botanical gardens? I would have liked to do the Space Center but I don’t think we will have time to drive up the east coast.

I wish I had never read about the lady and the alligator because I was so excited about kayaking and maybe seeing some manatees but now I’m going to be on edge and I’m not usually one to be scared of nature or wildlife at all! But dude, it ate a lady! Like a full grown human person! If I do get in a kayak I’m going to be doing my best not to flip it and I’ll definitely be practicing my defensive moves with oars :lol:

Do you have good marine life in Florida? I love snorkelling and I think there is a coral reef somewhere near the keys?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 10:45:16 PM by Noasar »

Offline Galactica

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2018, 04:55:21 PM »
Wow there are SO MANY things in LA and San Diego - that I think it would be impossible to make recommendations... just because the variety-  I mean it would depend do you like nature/music/shopping/theme parks/food...

I would strongly recommend buying a used travel book for the area-

Offline Noasar

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2018, 09:42:33 PM »
Wow there are SO MANY things in LA and San Diego - that I think it would be impossible to make recommendations... just because the variety-  I mean it would depend do you like nature/music/shopping/theme parks/food...

I would strongly recommend buying a used travel book for the area-

I like nature, swimming, good food and beaches - my wife likes shopping, sport and music! We’re total opposites haha.

Offline BlackCurtains

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2018, 12:09:31 AM »
I've never been to the Keys but afaik there's reefs down there. Marine life in the gulf is abundant! I see manatees all the time :) There's also sea turtles, rays, a variety of sharks (including harmless ones like hammerheads and nurse) and lots of other fish!
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Offline Noasar

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2018, 06:50:06 PM »
I've never been to the Keys but afaik there's reefs down there. Marine life in the gulf is abundant! I see manatees all the time :) There's also sea turtles, rays, a variety of sharks (including harmless ones like hammerheads and nurse) and lots of other fish!

Ooooh that sounds like paradise, I can’t wait! I actually love sharks so I’m totally up for snorkelling with some friendly ones. It would actually make my whole life if I saw a sea turtle or ray!!

Offline Mkia

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2018, 02:45:23 AM »
San Diego totally deserves a Seaport Village visit. So fun. And the San Diego Zoo is pretty fun if you’re interested in that. We love snorkeling at La Jolla also. Oh and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is pretty cool in San Diego too!
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Offline Noasar

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2018, 08:30:59 AM »
San Diego totally deserves a Seaport Village visit. So fun. And the San Diego Zoo is pretty fun if you’re interested in that. We love snorkeling at La Jolla also. Oh and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is pretty cool in San Diego too!

Thanks Mkia! I’ve just googled Seaport village and my wife would love that!

Online Haruna

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2018, 08:52:54 PM »
Florida native here! :biggrin: My suggestions for Florida are partly boring/practical . . .

1) Water, sunscreen, mosquito spray, poncho/umbrella, possibly portable fan: Just bring these everywhere (you can keep them in the car or something but I'd recommend having them somewhere as you travel the state). You probably know that Miami especially and the rest of Florida are at their hottest this time of year, and the humidity makes the hot weather really sticky. Water is a godsend in weather like this. If you have fair skin like me you'll need sunscreen, and there are lots of mosquitos around (not everywhere, but lots of places, especially nature-ish areas and places where there are small bodies of water [i.e. most of Florida]) so it's good to have spray on hand. This is also the rainiest time of year for Florida and showers here are pretty sudden, so a cheap plastic poncho or an umbrella are great to have. You might find it worth it to get a portable fan -- you'll look like a tourist if you do, but sometimes comfort is more important than appearances!

2) Places to visit: I actually haven't done a lot of the tourist-y things in Florida, except, of course, the theme parks, and some of what I have done is up in the panhandle where you won't be. I can definitely recommend any of the beaches on the Gulf Coast, though, which it sounds like you'll be driving up; the sand is beautiful and white/white-ish (depending on the beach) and the water is nice and warm. The waves tend to be gentle unless a storm is coming up. Clearwater Beach is one of the best beaches on the coast (though there's not much wildlife there besides seagulls, if wildlife is your focus; it's just really pretty, and admittedly touristy).

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium houses rescued marine wildlife, including a dolphin named Winter fitted with a prosthetic tail after she lost hers due to a crab trap. They made a movie about her and she's the focal point of the aquarium. They also have sea turtles and rays that you can touch (you mentioned liking those, but maybe you'd rather see truly wild ones?)

My suggestion for Key West is pretty obvious: have some Key lime pie. You might not be up for this but some places serve alligator nuggets too and it's worth a try :) Kind of a funky dark-meat chicken taste. Key West was a lot of fun, partly just because of the vibe. Ernest Hemingway's house has six- or seven-toed cats -- they're pretty cute. I don't remember much else about the tour of his house, lol.

3) Stingray shuffle, jellyfish, and alligators: You've probably heard about most of this (California must have stingrays and jellyfish, right), but if you're in the water and can't see where you're walking it's a good idea to shuffle your feet to warn off the stingrays that may be in the sand. The jellyfish here aren't particularly dangerous but can be painful to run into (I have learned from experience), so just keep an eye out for them (often you can see them floating on the top of the water, and there will be beach warnings out for dangerous marine life if there are tons). About alligators: as BlackCurtains said, I wouldn't worry too much about alligators. They're literally all over Florida -- I've grown up seeing them, really all Floridians have -- and alligator attacks are very rare and sensational (hence why you see them on the news). I won't say you're silly for worrying, since American alligators do attack humans on occasion, but it's very rare for them to kill adult humans, perhaps because they're used to smaller prey (birds, fish, etc.; child- and dog-sized, unfortunately) and once they realize you're big they give up. I'd say definitely go kayaking or manatee-swimming if that's what you were planning :) It's kind of like the risk of roller coaster rides breaking down -- it's very rare and does happen but people also safely ride roller coasters all the time.

(Edit: Wow, I wrote a book! :blush:)

Offline Noasar

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2018, 09:01:33 PM »
Haruna thank you SO much for taking the time to write that post! It’s super helpful.

I did know about the rain but didn’t think about bringing a poncho or fan - I will definitely get some of these to bring as my wife will not be able to handle the heat! Mosquitos also love me so I’ll pack my heavy dity bug spray because we are going to be going through the Everglades at some point.

You’ve reassured me a lot about the alligators - i’m not scared of wildlife and I’ve always done open water/wild swimming and lots of nature things growing up but as I’ve got older I do calculate the risks a bit more! And my wife worries, so it’s good to hear that the risk there but not so dangerous that an attack is inevitable.

I’m really excited to go, I think it’s going to be quite different to anywhere else I’ve been. And I LOVE key lime pie, my Grandma makes an amazing version of it so I can’t wait to try some authentic pie in the Keys :)

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2018, 06:31:47 PM »
Awesome! I’m glad my book-like response was helpful.  :blush:  :lol: I hope you have so much fun on your trip. Someday I really really want to visit England, so you can give me tips then!

Offline PrincessTiffy

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2018, 06:24:36 AM »
Native San Diegan here. I would definitely recommend seaport village, especially since they have plans to totally redo it in the next couple years :(
Lots of beaches, but the further south you get be careful at night. The more southern beaches can get a little sketchy. I love La Jolla shores, and Pacific beach. Pacific beach as a long line of shops, bars, and restaurants. Coronado is nice too, the Hotel Del Coronado is another popular tourist spot. Old town and balboa park with its museums, more popular tourist locations. There’s Koby’s swap meet, one of the bigger popular ones. I’m trying to think of hidden gems but my brain is failing me. There’s a lot you can do here. I was born and raised here and still have things I haven’t done and I’ll be 30 soon lol.

Offline Noasar

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2018, 06:38:47 PM »
Native San Diegan here. I would definitely recommend seaport village, especially since they have plans to totally redo it in the next couple years :(
Lots of beaches, but the further south you get be careful at night. The more southern beaches can get a little sketchy. I love La Jolla shores, and Pacific beach. Pacific beach as a long line of shops, bars, and restaurants. Coronado is nice too, the Hotel Del Coronado is another popular tourist spot. Old town and balboa park with its museums, more popular tourist locations. There’s Koby’s swap meet, one of the bigger popular ones. I’m trying to think of hidden gems but my brain is failing me. There’s a lot you can do here. I was born and raised here and still have things I haven’t done and I’ll be 30 soon lol.

You are sooo lucky to live in San Diego!

Thanks for the heads up about the beaches I will definitely be careful down there. We are in La Jolla for 3 days and only one night in San Diego before we fly overnight to Florida. I’ve actually just booked a kayak trip to La Jolla cove so looking forward to that.

What’s a swap meet?

Offline tailrustedtealeaf

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Re: Travel recommendations for LA, San Diego and Florida?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2018, 07:14:51 PM »
What’s a swap meet?
I believe that's West US talk for a flea market!
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