3 or 4 days north of San Francisco with kids

Old Apr 17th, 2015, 03:46 PM
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3 or 4 days north of San Francisco with kids

Hello again. I am refining my earlier post.

We are taking the kids (ages 4 and 6) to the west coast for the first time in July. The plan is to stay in San Francisco for about a week to visit friends and family and I think we've got that part down. The tricky and overwhelming part is coming up with a trip up north. Please help me come up with an itinerary!!! This is making me crazy.

A few guidelines and questions:

We do not want to drive more than 2 hours at a time. We are city folk and are not used to spending a lot of time in a car, plus I'm not sure how long the kids will cooperate.

We want to see the Armstrong redwoods. Which towns/hotels would you recommend staying in? And for how long?

A friend suggested an overnight in Bodega Bay. Thoughts?

We are seriously considering a stay or visit to Safari West in Santa Rosa.

I know a lot of people like Healdsburg but we have been there before and don't have a strong desire to go back.

We are rather flexible as far as timing and number of days go.

I understand that heading south to Monterey, the aquarium, etc., would have a lot to offer but we want to head north this time.

So...please help me come up with an itinerary and thank you!!
jeepyland is offline  
Old Apr 17th, 2015, 04:25 PM
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2 hours a DAY or two hour increments with rests/outings in between? Just to clarify (as I've done both, depending on the kid).
marvelousmouse is online now  
Old Apr 18th, 2015, 05:32 AM
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A day. The less driving, the better.
jeepyland is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2015, 11:18 AM
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I think Safari West is an awesome idea. The tent cabins are gorgeous, and the safari ride is a lot of fun. I've been to Africa, and while less impressive, Safari West does not require shots and doses of malaria medication. Kids will get a good sense of the animals and what a safari is like.

I like the town of Calistoga, too. It's kind of wild west like, and fun to stroll down the main street. Lots of shops and restaurants. Indian Springs https://www.indianspringscalistoga.com/the-pool/ has a warm water pool, and cute cabins, if you like the old fashioned resort feeling.

I like the Old Bale Mill for hiking and time travel back to the past. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=482

The Charles Shultz Museum and Ice Skating Rink are also fun for kids. https://schulzmuseum.org/
Kailani is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2015, 04:15 PM
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Kailani, I like the way you think! Could you (or anyone out there) give me an idea of how long to stay in these places? Any particular order they ought to be seen in? San Francisco to Safari West, stay one night. Then to Calistoga, stay one night, then Bodega Bay and see Armstrong, then back to SF? As you can see, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.

The mill sounds cool and we'd go if it fits, but my kids are not really into Snoopy so I think we'll skip that one.

Thanks again!!
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Old Apr 19th, 2015, 06:16 PM
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I am terrible at specifics and timing! Also I'm not super current with the area.

But, about 15 years ago, Safari West was for sale for 1.5 million, which included 12 new hand-hewn tent cabins and 400 exotic animals, and 400 acres of land, and 3 houses. My friends & I thought about buying it, and went to talk to the owners. As far as I know, the current owners are the same owners, and more rational heads prevailed in our fantasy "we bought a zoo" scenario.

I also will suggest a couple of crazy but educational old tourist attractions, between Calistoga and Safari West. The first is the Petrified Forest. It's an old fashioned 50's style roadside attraction, but it is full of huge, petrified trees! It is also a great place to get in a good walk in nature, and learn about geology. http://www.petrifiedforest.org/index.html Looks like the website has been updated for modern audiences.

The other place is the Old Faithful Geyser. http://www.oldfaithfulgeyser.com/ It actually gushes on schedule, and as a bonus there is a pen of fainting goats! And a very cool giftshop with everything geyser printed on it.

I like this place in Calistoga; it's not really for kids, but it could be. Ca'toga, is a villa painted by an Italian artist, and it is quite fantastical. http://catoga.com/villa-catoga/villa-catoga.html

I think the wine train looks boring http://winetrain.com/ because it parallels the traffic filled highway, but it might be a fun thing for the kids and relaxing for the parents.

Another fun place is Jack London Park where you can see the burned out "Wolf House" that was his dream mansion, and see his grave. Also, a beautiful hike. And the tiny town of Glen Ellen is explorable.

Armstrong Woods is near Guerneville, and the Russian River. I used to stay at a little creekside cabin with my son for $35 a night. I am feeling old! Here is a link to the Russian River Chamber of Commerce. It's an old resort town, and while it is a gay mecca, it is fun for families. Here is a miniature golf course that I can't believe is still there. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10052 I tried to talk my husband into buying this too.

I also love Point Reyes http://www.ptreyes.org/?gclid=Cj0KEQ...lPsaAq4m8P8HAQ and Inverness, and the places around that, like Tomales Bay and Fort Ross. I stayed at the Point Reyes Hostel once with my son http://www.hiusa.org/california/point-reyes/point-reyes. Also, had dinner at Manka's, which caught on fire, and Jake Gyllenhall was there and helped rescue people (It is important for children to learn history). http://www.mankas.com/mankas/home.html

In San Francisco, the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, http://www.calacademy.org/exhibits/steinhart-aquarium has a good aquarium, and the Exploratorium is fun, too, and is on the water.

Your friends & family probably have lots of ideas, and know your kids. My kid is a parent now & we are planning road trips with the grand-kids, age 1 and 3. I would suggest plotting fun places on Google maps, renting a mini van, and reading stuff about exploring the area with kids. The area is so beautiful, and there are lots of odd places, and fresh farm stands, and creepy cemeteries, etc.

Personally, I don't mind trying a new hotel every night. I like finding weird places to stay like llama ranches and old saloons. But kids today are a lot more sophisticated!
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Old Apr 20th, 2015, 11:40 AM
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I think everything Kailani mentioned would be great, except that I find Calistoga to be really boring.
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Old Apr 21st, 2015, 04:46 AM
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Thanks so much! All of those places sound perfect for us. I don't mind trying a new hotel every night, either - sounds fun - but I imagine places fill up in July so I should come up with some sort of itinerary. If anyone has any suggested routes, please speak up!

I think Jake will be performing in Little Shop of Horrors here in NYC while we're in SF. Maybe you should come out here and reconnect!
jeepyland is offline  
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