A Week in San Fran and Monterey

Old Nov 30th, 2022, 12:49 PM
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A Week in San Fran and Monterey

Hi friends,
I always appreciate the input I receive from interchanges on this forum, and was planning a new trip and itinerary and would welcome and value your advice.

I'm headed to the San Francisco Bay Area during the 2nd and 3rd week of January 2023 with my wife and two little ones (5 and 3). We love natural beauty, day hikes, marine life, and of course the "highlights" everyone should see when they go to certain places.

Day 1: Fly to SFO in the morning, get settled in at hotel, go to Coyote Point Playground, see sunset at Half Moon Bay, get dinner (sunset is 5pm)
Day 2: Tide Pooling at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve or CuriOdyssey, or Coyote Point Recreation Area (playground)
Day 3: Drive to Muir Woods in morning, see Stinson or Muir Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, eat out all meals, come back to hotel (Red Rocks Beach is NUDE)
Day 4: Hike Lands End Trail and Golden Gate National Recreation area, Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, see sunset maybe at Mile Rock beach (1.8 miles round trip)
Day 5: Drive highway 1 to Monterey (2.5 hours), stay at Hampton Inn Monterey (free parking),
Day 6: Big Sur, Salmon Creek Trail, Buzzard's Loop trail, beach with sand dollars
Day 7: Monterey - point lobos, lone cypress tree, Go to carmel by the sea, 17 mile drive loop, pebble beach etc
Day 8: Monterey, Monterey Bay aquarium (15 mins away)
Day 9: Fly home

A few random thoughts:
1) When it comes to safety, is the downtown area of San Francisco something I need to be worried about? Car break-ins, panhandling, catcalls, anything that might scare my little children as we're walking around? I will introduce them to the painful realities of this world, but I'd like to wait until they are a little older.
2) Would I be better served taking the first half of my trip (noting that the second half of my trip involves exploring Monterey in detail) using it to explore another part of northern California that is way more important to see than the downtown San Francisco sights? I know Tahoe is around 3 hours away but I think we'll save that for another trip. Same with Yosemite.
3) Where do you recommend a whale watching tour? From San Francisco? From Monterey?

Again, I welcome anything else you might want to share - we are open to trying anything out of the box too!

I do want to say I did review this super recent thread for ideas too (Travelling to San Fran May 2023 for 12 days - itinerary suggestions) (and other threads).

Thank you so much for your time.
Papsicle is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2022, 05:31 PM
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It's called the Golden State, but we do get winter-ish weather... For a trip in mid-January, I hope you get weather nice enough to do half of what you plan, esp. the hikes, tidepools and sunsets. I don't think you'll see much at Red Rock Beach at that time. ("Shrinkage!")

Call me a wimp, but there's no way I'd go on a whale watching trip in January.
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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 10:34 AM
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Winter is our rainy season and it is colder weather, particularly in Northern California. You may need to have alternate plans depending on the weather.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 05:53 AM
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Thanks, Jean and Michelle - I absolutely hear you about the weather. We're just going to try to make the best of it, and will plan accordingly when it comes to weather. Bottom line is we'll all be together as a family, on an adventure. I am glad you don't see any glaring issues with the itinerary, but let me know if I'm missing anything huge that I should try to see - weather permitting. I appreciate your input and time!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 08:19 AM
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About the only thing I'd say is that your list of activities are all outdoors (except the Aquarium). You should identify another list of indoor things you can do. I.e., what if going to Big Sur becomes totally unappealing? You'd have an entire day that's unplanned. Consider the Exploratorium in SF, MY Museum in Monterey, Pacific Grove Natural History Museum, etc.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 08:56 AM
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We've been to both San Francisco and Monterey every year with our son from the time he was one year old (he's now 33); half the time in February (for an annual conference in Monterey). So, here's some of my thoughts on what our son enjoyed most when he was your children's ages.

The Exploratorium in SF is fun, but our son really enjoyed, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, the Discovery Museum in Marin County (Sausalito). https://bayareadiscoverymuseum.org/

Had a great time whale watching in Monterey in February, but dress warmly and don't go if it's raining. Also, Dennis the Menace Park is truly the best park in Monterey that we loved as much as our son. https://monterey.org/city_hall/parks...rk_complex.php And, yes, you can spend all day at the Aquarium! Most hotels have package deals for the Monterey Aquarium . . . will save you time and money to get them ahead of time.

About a half hour's drive, by Santa Cruz in Felton, CA is the Roaring Camp steam engines . . . my son's favorite thing to do at that age, taking one of the rides, like through the redwood forest on the steam trains. It can be a little loud (the whistle), so earmuffs may be needed if your kids are very sensitive to noise. Kids and grown-ups love these rides . . . in fact my friend who lives in Monterey just did the ride (for the 50th time) last week.
https://www.roaringcamp.com/ Actually, the whole Santa Cruz area is loads of fun for kids, and is just a beautiful place!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 09:00 AM
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When you park, make sure you don't leave anything in your car if you don't want your windows smashed. We have warning signs all over the city in touristy places about it.

Muir Woods parking is by reservation only, so make sure you have it.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Dayenu View Post
When you park, make sure you don't leave anything in your car if you don't want your windows smashed. We have warning signs all over the city in touristy places about it.

Muir Woods parking is by reservation only, so make sure you have it.

This is very important. DONíT LEAVE ANYTHING IN YOUR CAR, VISIBLE OR OTHERWISE.
MichelleY is offline  
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