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Muir Woods from SF, then to Carmel - best plan?

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To summarize, I'll be in San Francisco (with a friend, without a car) late Tuesday 6/4 through sometime Saturday 6/8. At some point on Saturday we'll rent a car and head to Carmel, where we'll base until we drive back to SFO Tuesday morning to fly home. My friend has been to San Francisco briefly, several years ago; I've never been. Neither of us have been to the Carmel area, and neither of us have driven in SF.

We've gotten numerous recommendations to visit Muir Woods, and it sounds like something we'd really like to do. However, I'm struggling to figure out the best way to do it. Our options as I understand them:

1) Take a guided tour like this one - well reviewed on TA. $70 per person, includes pickup at hotel, transport, tolls and parking, and a guided tour through Muir Woods. Could be done any day (though we already have lunch reservations Thursday and Alcatraz booked on Friday). http://muirwoodstour.com/ Easiest solution by far; also most expensive.

2) Public transport, as mentioned in Dayenu's post and on the NPS site for Muir Woods: http://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/muir-woods-visiting-the-easy-way-.cfm Limits us to Saturday, I believe. $5 for the shuttle plus $20 each for the ferry rides.

3) Rent a Zipcar (normally $25 + $60 to join plus hourly rental, but they have a 30-day trial where we could just pay the $25 plus hourly fee, I think - no Zipcar in our cities, so it wouldn't make sense to join otherwise). This was an option recommended by a friend, and gives us flexibility in terms of the day we go.

4) Renting our car early-ish on Saturday, then driving ourselves to Muir Woods and then through or around SF to Carmel. Gives us the most flexibility to stop at Marin Headlands or Muir Beach. Probably puts us in Carmel kind of late Saturday, but has us driving downtown and paying tolls on the GG Bridge twice.

If we *don't* do option 3, I was thinking of just taking BART out to SFO and renting our car round trip from there, avoiding driving in the city.

It's entirely possible I'm overanalyzing this. :) Any thoughts would be great!

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