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zialot Feb 17th, 2006 06:51 PM

Airports for Carmel/San Fran/Sonoma trip - help please

I have been asking questions about a trip we are planning which will most likely start in Carmel, then we'll go to San Fran and then Sonoma (or Sonoma and then San Fran). Am I choosing the best airports if we fly into San Jose (to go to Carmel) and then fly out of Sacramento after our last days in Sonoma?
According to mapquest they aren't far - is that a good plan or is it better to fly in / out of Oakland or San francisco?

zialot Feb 17th, 2006 06:52 PM

Part of what I'm looking for is which airports are most convenient and easy to get in / out of.

easytraveler Feb 17th, 2006 07:00 PM

It kind of all depends on where you are beginning your trip and what flights are available to you.

San Jose is the worst of the Bay Area airports for ease of "getting in/out of" - Sacramento is probably the easiest. San Francisco recently won some kind of "user-friendly" contest of big city airports. Oakland Airport is favored by the "discount" airlines like Southwest and Jetblue.

I'd suggest you fly in and out of San Francisco. Drive south (it's not difficult) to Carmel, then head north to Sonoma and end your trip in San Francisco.

If your departure is an early departure, you might consider spending the last night at any one of the excellent hotels near the San Francisco airport - you could also save on one day's car rental by turning in the car the night before and taking the hotel shuttle the morning of your departure.

almesq Feb 17th, 2006 07:00 PM

San Jose is the closes major airport to Carmel (although you can get connecting flights to Monterey Peninsula airport, but if those are not convenient it's a pretty easy drive from San Jose to Carmel.) San Jose is a relatively small airport, fairly easy, so you shouldn't have a problem.

As far as leaving, Oakland airport is a bit closer to Sonoma than Sacramento is, but time in getting there is probably about the same (between an hour and hour and a half). Haven't flown into or out of either one, so can't comment on which is better.
Since the distance is about the same, I would say choose the one that gives you the best/most convenient flight times and best price.

jtrandolph Feb 17th, 2006 07:09 PM

I would do it by the price of the ticket. Oakland is usually the best value. Assuming you wlll have a car, I would just pick the best price airport, SF or Oakland.

You probably won't want to plan your trip to Carmel just before you fly out, but either San Francisco or Oakland are reasonahle distances from Sonoma. I probably would fly into either Oakldna or San Francisco, then go to Carmel, and then to Sonoma, and then San Francisco...FWIW.

zialot Feb 17th, 2006 07:10 PM

Thanks for the information! We are going to fly on Frequent flyer miles and we can only do it if we don't fly into San Francisco. We can fly out of San Francisco, but we need to fly into a different airport. San Francisco must be very popular with the frequent flyer crowd!

cabovacation Feb 17th, 2006 07:22 PM

In that case, San Jose is perfect for Carmel. And I am not so sure why easytravel says it is not easy. I have always found it to be the easiest. In any case, it is the closest to Carmel and under your circumstances, into San Jose and out of San Fran is a perfect scenario.

Sacramento is not close enough to the Bay Area to be worth thinking about.

Have fun!

janisj Feb 17th, 2006 07:39 PM

Sacramento may not be convenient to the Bay area -- but is certainly IS for Napa/Sonoma.

Your easiest route would be into San Jose, drive to Carmenl, then to SF and then on to Sonoma and fly out of Sacramento. But what days of the week are your arrival/departure? If you leave on a weekend - then OAK would be as good as SMF because the east Bay traffic wouldn't be as nasty as on weekdays..

zialot Feb 17th, 2006 07:41 PM

We would arrive on Saturday and fly out on Sunday morning. Thanks!

easytraveler Feb 17th, 2006 07:43 PM

If you have to fly into a different airport, then San Jose would work best for the type of itinerary you wanted.

Be forewarned that San Jose Airport has been under perpetual construction which gives the airport traffic patterns a kind of Alice in Wonderland unbelievability and idiocy. (Have been to SJC twice this last week and on one trip almost smashed into a barrier because of the confusing and constant changes - and I live in Silicon Valley!)

Your best bet if driving out of San Jose Airport is to follow the signs for 101 SOUTH and head for Carmel. This is not the most scenic route but it can be relatively fast during non-peak traffic hours. About 45 minutes later, take Highway 156 to Monterey (this is very short, about 7 miles of flat road), Highway 156 becoems Highway 1 to Carmel. To get to downtown Carmel, exit on Ocean Avenue off of Highway 1.

janisj Feb 17th, 2006 07:51 PM

Did I miss when the trip is? On a Sunday you would be fine using either SMF or OAK - UNLESS there is an A's game that day. They don't get huge crowds but enough to foul up traffic since the colliseum is practically right at the airport.

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