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I love California, I really do, but traveling around their congested cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco can be a nightmare for most RVers. While van dwellers and those in smaller class B motorhomes may find it easy to navigate the larger urban areas of California, those with tow behind campers and large class A rigs will find it frustrating at best.
One of my favorite places to visit in California is the city of San Juan Capistrano. This city is rich with history and its Spanish inspired architecture make its downtown district a place to visit and enjoy and I highly recommend you take some time to stay there too. A visit to its famous mission is well worth the time as well.
Where should I stay?
As many of you know, I love to boondock while I travel. However, in this part of California, boondocking spots are few and far between. However, the O’Neill Regional Park is approximately 10 miles from San Juan Capistrano and it has a nightly camping rate of $20 or $15 if you’re a senior or disabled. Parking can be a bit of a challenge in this downtown district so I would suggest leaving your rig or tow vehicle behind and take an Uber or Lyft into town when you go.
Visiting San Diego
Amtrak offers six trains a day and the cost is $24 for a one-way coach class ticket or $35 for a one-way business class ticket. The ride takes approximately 1½ hours and it’s a very scenic route along the Pacific coastline. Normally, when I travel on Amtrak, I prefer to book a business class seating because of its amenities such as the free use of their station lounges with access to free beverages and food. However, on this short of a journey, I would take coach and save my money for visiting San Diego.
While in San Diego, you should consider visiting the U.S.S. Midway Museum, a retired U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that is now a museum with daily tours. Another site to see is San Diego’s world famous Zoo and Safari Park, and of course a visit to the city’s harbor front for a bite to eat or a freshly brewed beer at one of its many eclectic breweries is certainly worth a visit as well.
Visiting Los Angeles
Visiting Los Angeles from your campsite in San Juan Capistrano by Amtrak is just as enjoyable as spending a day in San Diego. You’ll find that your travel time will be like a trip south to San Diego and it will take a little under an hour and a half. Cost of the tickets will be $21 for a one-way coach ticket and $32 for a business class ticket.
Another nice advantage to staying in the San Juan Capistrano area and traveling Amtrak north is that you can easily visit Disneyland as Amtrak and Disney offer a free shuttle to their park from its Anaheim, CA station. The cost of these ticket is $15 for a one-way coach seating and $21 for a business class ticket. While your journey into downtown Los Angeles takes approximately 1½ hours, the train ride to Anaheim from San Juan Capistrano takes a little over 30 minutes.
Also, if your travel times are not consistent with the Amtrak schedule, you can also utilize the trains that Metrolink provide as well. These trains arrive and depart from the same stations, take approximately the same travel times and cost $12.50 per way. They also have an earlier travel time as well as a later arrival time at their respective locations.
With that said, once in Los Angeles, a trip to the Hollywood Walk of Fame is well worth a visit as is a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. However, these are not the only points of interest, and I recommend that you do a thorough online search on these cities before you begin your journeys into these cities so you can choose the options that best suit you.
As always, my friends, have a safe and healthy journey.