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12 day california coast itinerary: are we overdoing it?

12 day california coast itinerary: are we overdoing it?

Sep 4th, 2019, 03:48 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2013
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12 day california coast itinerary: are we overdoing it?

Two couples travelling to California for 1st time and we've been hashing out an itinerary - and some of us are thinking we may be trying to do to much at the expense of really enjoying what we see. This is what we are thinking - any feedback would be appreciated.
1st day in San Fran (landing at airport at 3:30pm)
2nd day San Fran (we have booked Alcatraz tour)
3rd day leaving San Fran for Napa Valley, (for wine tour - Falconcrest?) spending night (questioning whether 1 night is enough or should we do 2 night?)
4th day (thinking area around San Jose so that we can do the Winchester Mystery House) - where should we stay? Visit Red Woods (but is that our best option for redwoods?). Stay at Dream Inn
5th day Carmel - should we stay one or two nights and use it for a base? Stay at Post Ranch Inn worth the $$?
6th day Carmel - seeing Pebble beach, lighthouses, whales migration - eat at Nepenthe if not foggy
7th day Hearst Castle - morning tour? or stay a night and do evening tour (where?)
8th day - making our way down toward Sand Diego (should we pick Santa Barbara or another location en route?)
9th day - San Diego
10th day - Pasadena (Breeders Cup in Arcadia)
11th day - Pasadena (local sightseeing)
12th day - depart LA for Toronto

trippingalong is offline  
Sep 4th, 2019, 04:48 PM
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Looks to me like too much moving around in the limited time you have.

When will you actually see anything in SF, let alone actual have time to just enjoy being there?
A day in SJ to see Winchester Mystery House? Waste of time and $ in my experience.
Not sure what you mean by Red Woods.
You mention carmel, but that's an hour drive from Post Ranch. Either stay at Post Ranch, or visit Carmel.
Driving all the way to San Diego, only to come back to Padadena the following day - not sure what you'll have time to do/see in San Diego. I'd skip SD and add a day to actually see something in SF, and another day along the central coast between Carmel and LA.
J62 is offline  
Sep 4th, 2019, 05:05 PM
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waaaaay too much in too short a time. Before we can give detailed advice we need to know when this thrip is. Time of year makes a huge difference in some places. . . . OH -- it must be at the end of Oct beginning of Nov because of the Breeders Cup.

Since SF and SoCal are the only set-in-stone musts I would drop Napa (there are other wonderful wine regions throughout the state) and the Winchester Mystery House (though it is right there so you could see it en route south if you 'must')

I would think about SF 3 nights, Carmel 2 nights, post Ranch 1 night if you want the splurge or Cambria 1 night if you don't stay at Post Ranch, visit Hearst Castle after leaving Post Ranch or from Cambria, Santa Barbara 2 nights (including nearby wineries), Pasadena 2 nights, fly home.

No time for much more

You can see redwoods near San Jose or in Big Sur.
janisj is online now  
Sep 4th, 2019, 05:08 PM
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Skip San Jose and the Winchester Mystery House, spend more time in SF.

Skip San Diego. Stay in Santa Barbara, go to Pasadena from there. Take Highway 126 to Highway 210 into Pasadena, and you can skip the driving hassles of the LA basin.
socaltraveler is offline  
Sep 4th, 2019, 06:50 PM
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Thank you all for your quick response. So if we ditch Napa,where are the other wine areas that you refer to (non-Napa)? If we spend extra time in San Fran can anybody recommend a guide that we can hire to take us around for an afternoon (walking tour or other, not really looking for hop on hop off since we've heard San Fran is very walkable/great transit? We are just looking at accommodations now in San Fran - something that is handy to the sights, safe and not "over the top" expensive.
trippingalong is offline  
Sep 5th, 2019, 07:24 AM
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Also https://pasowine.com/

Late October is too early for migrating gray whales. We don't typically see our first southbound grays until mid-November. Humpbacks may still be in the area. Here are last October's sightings October 2018 Monterey Bay Whale Watch Marine Mammal Sightings List

Consider Ventana if you want something less pricey with ocean views in Big Sur.

See redwoods at Henry Cowell or Pfeiffer Big Sur.
Patty is offline  
Sep 5th, 2019, 11:27 AM
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We always stay at the Big Sur Lodge in Big Sur. You'll be surrounded by redwood trees.

Here are some ideas of things to do in San Francisco.
San Francisco - Stu Dudley's Recommendations

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Sep 6th, 2019, 08:31 AM
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Agree with above comments to curtail and skip Napa, lots to see/do in SF, then go directly to Monterey/Carmel, Santa Barbara, and LA. Waste of time to drive 2-3 hrs from LA-SD for a day! You will spend most of your time on the 405 Fwy tho the HOV lanes do help. You can hit the wineries up in Santa Ynez Valley out of Santa Barbara (stopping at Cold Spring Tavern, an old stagecoach stop on the way in/out!)
aliced is offline  
Sep 6th, 2019, 10:08 AM
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Visit the Santa Ynez Wine Valley just north of Santa Barbara rather than setting aside day 3 for Napa. Santa Barbara also has an "urban wine trail" if you just want to visit a number of tasting rooms rather than see the vineyards/wineries.

Something's gotta give.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Sep 6th, 2019, 12:11 PM
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Yes it's too much, something's gotta give, but really that could be any couple places you've listed that gets cut.

I grew up in southern California and the Winchester Mystery house was my favorite summer vacation stop ever! I'd keep it.

1 night is enough to spend in Napa Valley.

Personally I would cut the San Diego leg, that would free up two days and cut some mileage (unless you have some specific reason for wanting to go there?).

Not sure what sightseeing will take an entire day in Pasadena?

And zero time in Los Angeles? I guess that's OK if you really aren't interested.
suze is offline  
Sep 6th, 2019, 01:44 PM
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Pasadena is a great place to visit if you are a fan of house architecture.

Seek out all the Green & Green craftsman houses
There is more than just this one in the area - get a map from the office at the Gamble House. Seek out the Blacker House in the beautiful Oak Knoll neighborhood (near the Huntington/Langham hotel)

And Bungalow Heaven

Huntington Library

Tour the Huntington/Langham hotel, where we had our wedding reception 48 years ago yesterday
Luxury 5-Star Hotel in Los Angeles, California | The Langham, Pasadena

Wrigley gardens & Mansion (house was a little disappointing)

Fenyes Mansion and Pasadena history museum

And, of course, Colorado Blvd - where I biked to several times while in grade school to watch the Tournament of Roses parade.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Sep 6th, 2019, 02:25 PM
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Sure nothing wrong with Pasadena, if you were in the neighborhood. But for a 1st time trip to California with only 12 days total, wouldn't make my list.
suze is offline  
Sep 6th, 2019, 02:37 PM
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They are going to Pasadena for the Breeders Cup horse race in Arcadia. I would rather stay/eat in Pasadena than Arcadia.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Sep 6th, 2019, 03:27 PM
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Old Pasadena is lovely -
starrs is offline  
Sep 6th, 2019, 05:17 PM
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Suze: They HAVE to go to Pasadena (or very near) -- from the thread it seems the Breeders Cup is one of the main purposes for the trip.

Trippingalong: Because of the short time and with SF and Pasadena as givens I'd forget about Napa, and there is not enough time for San Diego.
janisj is online now  
Sep 7th, 2019, 08:45 PM
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Pasadena also houses the fine Norton Simon Museum. And it was the childhood home of the great Julia Child. Then there's the Rose Parade...
Underhill is online now  
Sep 7th, 2019, 08:56 PM
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>>Then there's the Rose Parade...<<

Not in November . . .
janisj is online now  
Sep 8th, 2019, 06:47 AM
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In SF you might look at lodging near the neighborhood called Cow Hollow-they have a really good selection of reasonably priced hotels/motels in that area and it is close to the Marina and Presido which are both worth visiting. It is also relatively flat and very walkable.

Here is a map that outlines the area:

jpie is offline  
Sep 8th, 2019, 08:17 AM
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My question was about spending more than that one scheduled day in Pasadena. Yes I know they need/want to be for an event, I can read a post. Two plus days in Pasadena and no time in Los Angeles just seemed an unusual choice was all.
suze is offline  

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