California dreaming family trip

Old May 16th, 2021, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by SirhanTheStrong
Not a Californian, but I would agree with the above posters. Do either San Francisco & Monterey Bay, or San Francisco & Yosemite, or Yosemite & Monterey, there's no way to fit all three into one week. Keep in mind Yosemite gets incredibly packed in the Summer to the point of being almost unenjoyable and you now require reservations in advance to visit in the Summer.

Maybe something like this:

Sun - Fly into SFO
Mon-Wed - San Francisco Bay Area
Thu - Monterey & Carmel
Fri - Either Santa Cruz or Whale Watching Tour
Saturday - Drive back to SFO, Fly Home

Normally, I'd say even just three days in San Francisco is cutting it short, but if you're not interested in going to any museums, than three days can certainly be doable. There are some beautiful hiking areas in the metro area like Muir Woods and Tilden Park that can make up for not being able to see Yosemite.
Thank you much! I am trying to convince the others that Yosemite is not a must do, I like what you've laid out.
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Old May 16th, 2021, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Christina
I don't really understand this itinerary either. I gather you intend to drive the coast to go from Monterey down to at least SLO, I guess. The drive alone may be about 5 hours, I think. And then you want to stop at Pfeiffer Beach and go hiking? You mention trails so I gather you don't intend to just drive by it or you wouldn't be mentioning it. I'd forget that. I agree that just getting to SLO that day would work. I never found it that fascinating a place, but you must be attracted by something there. Or you could go to Morro Bay nearby instead for a night, I think it is more interesting and scenic (SLO is not on the coast), but SLO has some interesting buildings downtown.

I guess you are flying out of Santa Barbara. I'd spend my time there doesn't something other than wine tasting, not sure your 15 yr old would find that so fascinating a way to spend time, watching you drink wine. I don't understand why you want to do that, you are flying home, you can't be buying lots of wine or anything. Unless you pay a lot to ship it, I guess, and live in a place you can do that. Some wineries don't allow those below 21 anyway on their tours/tastings. So maybe you plan to leave your child somewhere alone in SB all day? Is he/she ok with that? IF this is a family trip I'd think you'd want to do things together. I was pretty independent as a kid and given a lot of responsibility, but I don't think I would have been excited about the idea of spending a day alone in a strange city at that age.

I stayed at the BW Peppertree Inn in SB which I think is very nice and conveniently located with a car (but not right near the beach), and it allows 1 night stays on Fridays (but not Saturdays), not all hotels require 2-3 days luckily all the time, at least if you don't want want the the top ones.. It's a lot cheaper than some of those fancier hotels closer to the beach, also.
Thank you for the input! As far as Pfeiffer wasn't definite on what to do there, hence the various options. Same with SLO to be honest, they've just come up and we're weighing options to see what people would most like to experience AND what's most particle.
It is a family trip but we split up and do different things (We have adult children as well and it usually works out that everyone has a buddy
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Old May 16th, 2021, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Patty
Keep in mind that the second week of August is Car Week on the Monterey Peninsula so if that's time frame you're considering, check hotel availability and rates to see if you'd even want to come here that week.

Parking in Big Sur is difficult in summer. The lot at Pfeiffer Beach fills quickly and they'll turn you away at the highway if it's full. You need to be flexible on the Big Sur day based on where you can find parking. Getting an early start helps.
Thank you Patty! It looks like it will hit on the tail end and be in Santa Barbara by then.....BUT hubby and daughter might actually enjoy some of the Car Week festivities. The info on Pfeiffer is helpful.
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Old May 17th, 2021, 09:56 AM
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Southern Californians use predominantly the Oakhurst or Tioga Pass entrances into Yosemite.

I would agree that if you fly into Fresno, it would be better to spend the night before in Oakhurst or Fish Camp.

You probably are aware that you DO need a day-use reservation during August. The time frame allows a 5AM entry. If you are able to get up there that early, kudos to you. The Valley Shuttle is not operating this year you will have to find a parking spot and walk everywhere. When parking is full, you will be directed to turn around and leave the Valley. Since Yosemite Falls is typically dry in August, my advice is to NOT try to enter the Valley, but to immediately head up to Glacier Point (which is accessed from the Wawona Road) ASAP and get any parking spot that you see. After enjoying the amazing views either from the trails or the Road, head toward the Valley and look from the overview at Tunnel View, then TURN AROUND and leave back on the Wawona Road to visit Mariposa Grove on your way out. Note that the Mariposa Grove Shuttle is also down for the season, so it's a hike in and out.

In the Monterey Bay Area, you can stay in Pacific Grove or Carmel instead of Monterey depending on what you want to do. The 14-mile Drive gives you a taste of what the Big Sur coast is like. You can probably get into Asilomar Hotel since I doubt there are many conferences right now.

Because the coast is typically very foggy in August, I might only pencil in a Big Sur Hwy 1 drive as a day trip from the Monterey Bay Area. It's only a few hours driving time to Ragged Point. I wouldn't bother going all the way to Santa Barbara. For flying back home, perhaps San Jose Airport would work as well as Santa Barbara (did you say where you were coming from?).

It is a long drive from Yosemite to San Francisco so regardless of which road you use to get out of Yosemite, I would use the Pacheco Pass via Route 152 via Gilroy (love the smell of roasting garlic? Keep your windows open). Then spend the night in Santa Cruz or Monterey before going on up to San Francisco Bay Area. That way you can fly out of SJC or SFO.

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Old May 17th, 2021, 12:20 PM
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The Gilroy Garlic Festival will just be finishing up (permits pending) August 1 and is close by. Gourmet Alley however will be a drive-thru this year. The garlic sausage is terrific, the garlic ice cream an acquired taste.
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Old May 17th, 2021, 02:40 PM
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Here you go

Day 1 Arrive into Fresno and drive to Oakhurst ( 1 hour drive time plus an hour to collect luggage, etc). Hit up a supermarket and/or to Subway (closes at 8pm) to pick up dinner and breakfast, lunch for next day (s). Alternatively, there are a few lodgings around Fish Camp such as the fancy Tenaya Lodge, another 15 miles or so down the road. For my (admittedly cheap) money, I'd get up the extra twenty minutes earlier and stick with Oakhurst.

Day2 Depart Oakhurst at 5:30 AM, to the South Entrance, arriving about 6AM (it's only about 15 miles). From the South Entrance, it's another 30 minutes to the turnoff to the Glacier Point Road junction. Arriving between 7AM and 8AM should be early enough to be permitted to drive up to Glacier Point, about another hour uphill (9AM), allowing for "bear jams". Amazing views from the road, Washburn Point and the end of road. If you like hiking, I recommend Sentinel Dome, especially if you will not do the four-mile roundtrip walk up to the Mariposa Grove. Continuing on, take the Wawona Road through the tunnel and pull over at the Tunnel View parking area. I'm not sure exactly what the new circulation plan will look like, but personally I would make a U-turn as soon as feasible, to head back out of the Valley. If you do find that traffic is not unbearable, LOL, you can loop round through the Valley. I believe Bridal Veil Falls is not available this year, and there is no reason to go to Yosemite Falls since it will be dry. From Glacier Point you will have seen Nevada Falls, etc. Read about the Viewpoints here

From 9AM to about 2PM is another 5 hours to either hike or do some driving around the Valley and/or Mariposa Grove.

From the Valley heading out, I would drive toward the town of Mariposa on 140 (1 hour) and then to Merced and the Pacheco Pass and on to Gilroy. (About 4 hours total). About another hour to either Santa Cruz or Monterey. You'd want to leave Yosemite around 2pm accordingly, to get to the next destination around 7-8pm.

Days 3-5 for exploring Monterey Bay and a day trip down Big Sur and back up.

Day 6 it's about three hours to drive up Hwy 1 for your west side of San Francisco route, plus 5-7 hours for stops. (Or two hours from Santa Cruz). If you're going to fly out of SFO you might want to stay near Burlingame instead of IN San Francisco.

Day 7 is the Day for crossing the Golden Gate Bridge if you didn't get to it on Day 6 (which is possible) and seeing the Marin sights.

Fifty-one year California resident (lived in Southern California, worked a few summers in SF, with family in Marin and Burlingame).

Bottom line, don't listen to the "you can't do it's".

One thing to stay on top of is any fire outbreaks which happen earlier and earlier each year. They aren't restricted to back country any more. August can bring lightning incidents and we are in a bad drought.

Last edited by mlgb; May 17th, 2021 at 02:49 PM.
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Old May 17th, 2021, 05:01 PM
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""Bottom line, don't listen to the "you can't do it's".""

The "you can't do it's" were commenting on her plans that you described, PLUS visits to Mt Diablo, Black Sands Beach, Shark Fin Cove, Pt Reyes, Mt Tam, Santa Barbara, and SLO.. It seems that there are several adults plus a 15 YO traveling together (all in one rental car?). Maybe all 5-7 people are Super Humans - but that 2nd day of 17 awake hours with all that driving & walking and hiking would kill me!!

Stu Dudley
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Old May 17th, 2021, 05:32 PM
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Some really enjoy playing 'gotcha'. As Stu says the 'impossible, you can't do this' comments were about your original plans - and they were impossible. Cutting back to Yosemite, Monterey Peninsula, and SF is absolutely doable -- a bit hectic and a lot of car time but definitely doable.
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Old May 17th, 2021, 07:26 PM
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But don't forget about Car Week on the Monterey Peninsula. The main events are Aug. 12-15, but there are events as early as Aug. 2. Lodging is hugely impacted. Area traffic at certain times, in some places is nuts.
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Old May 18th, 2021, 06:54 AM
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They've not said it was anything more than "preliminaries".

Mt Diablo was a maybe.

Santa Barbara is the main thing I would drop, I am not a fan of it to start with. Plus August weather isn't good along the coast.

Yosemite, Monterey Bay, San Francisco and Marin can absolutely be covered in one week.

BTW I would not spend any time in Downtown San Francisco.

PS I checked Asilomar for 2 adults 1 child and only August 13/14 weekend are sold out.
Here is the direct link for lodging
Monterey Car Week events (tentative

Be sure to also check the entry requirements and road closures at Point Reyes, don't go on a weekend. Due to road construction it may be problematic. I think Mt Tam and Mill Valley will be better if you get up there early and not on a weekend.

Last edited by mlgb; May 18th, 2021 at 07:24 AM.
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Old May 18th, 2021, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
Some really enjoy playing 'gotcha'. As Stu says the 'impossible, you can't do this' comments were about your original plans - and they were impossible. Cutting back to Yosemite, Monterey Peninsula, and SF is absolutely doable -- a bit hectic and a lot of car time but definitely doable.
Some others really do like putting themselves out there as the only California experts, and don't have up to date information. Others really do like to "Just Say No" to anyone who doesn't mind a full day of driving and touring.

Many other California residents have just as much experience but hesitate to post on these threads (and the Europe Boards) because of these few posters.
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