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-   -   California in April - San Francisco - Monterey detour Sacramento? (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/california-in-april-san-francisco-monterey-detour-sacramento-1004179/)

marleymania Jan 27th, 2014 06:15 PM

California in April - San Francisco - Monterey detour Sacramento?
 
I am traveling to California for Spring Break with my two teen-aged sons (April 3-12). We are set for San Francisco for 3 nights. Thanks Stu Dudley! I know we want to go to the Monterey area too. But it is important to see the redwoods to us and we are looking at going up to Humboldt Redwoods State Park and seeing the old growth redwoods. We would travel from SF to the park, staying a night there. I don't want to spend the whole day in the car, so I was thinking of going to Sacramento from there and looking into some of the gold rush historic sites. We would spend a night in Sacramento and then go to Monterey or Pacific Grove from Sacramento for our last 2 nights. How does this sound to native Californians? Also any recommendations on where to stay in Sacramento or Pacific Grove/Monterey?

MmePerdu Jan 27th, 2014 06:40 PM

Firstly, there are redwoods south of San Francisco, 2 parks north of Santa Cruz, on your way to Monterey. No need to go north.

Gold Rush historic sites are primarily along Hwy 49, generally to the east and north of Sacramento so better to stay there if that history is your primary interest, rather than Sacramento. Grass Valley/Nevada City would be a good choice. Nice towns and the Empire Mine http://www.empiremine.org/. Stay there then drive down 49 to other gold rush era towns and sites like Sutter's Mill.

Go to Monterey from the gold rush towns then, if returning to SFO, see Redwoods on the way back.

cabovacation Jan 27th, 2014 08:33 PM

I agree with Mme. Sacramento is not necessary at all. Go to the Redwoods in Santa Cruz county. Big Basin State Park is terrific.

How many days will you be in California?

The Highway 49 - Gold Country - trip would take three days. Columbia is probably the best town. But I think San Francisco and Monterey area including the redwoods and Big Sur is good for 6 days.

A separate trip might include Yosemite and the Gold Country and Lake Tahoe.

MichelleY Jan 27th, 2014 10:06 PM

Humboldt is way too far north. Do as others recommend and see the redwoods near Santa Cruz. I would skip Sacramento and the gold country for this trip. You would be short changing SF, the coast and Monterey area.

janisj Jan 27th, 2014 10:49 PM

While Humboldt and Redwoods National parks are amazing -- you simply have no time for that jaunt. It will take at least 5 hours to get there and you'd have to leave first thing the next morning. It would be a total of 9 hours 'car time' w/o any stops in two days. Crazy.

Hit Big Basin instead - you will get a great Redwoods fix there.

marleymania Jan 28th, 2014 08:57 AM

OK - so Humboldt is definitely out. We fly into SFO arriving around 1:30 pm on the 3rd. I have booked a hotel in SF checking out on the 7th. We leave thru SFO on the 12th at 11:30 pm. I keep hearing about Monterey but I am not sure what to do there besides Cannery Row and the Aquarium. Would this be a good base for us and we could do day trips from here to Big Sur, Carmel, Santa Cruz...? Also, if we keep the Gold Rush area in the mix, what else is there to do in this area besides mines? Any ghost towns? This looks like it is at the base of the mountains. Are there travel concerns? We nixed any thoughts of Yosemite because a lot of passes may be closed still in early April.

StuDudley Jan 28th, 2014 09:28 AM

I'm not a big fan of Monterey - especially the tacky/touristy Cannery Row or the likewise Wharf. I would stay in Carmel or Pacific Grove (Carmel would be my choice for a first-timer). The Aquarium is actually on the Pacific Grove/Monterey border.

Lots to do in the Carmel area - shops, beach, 17 mile drive, Spanish Bay, Pt Lobos, Carmel Mission, Hansel & Gretel houses, etc. Big Sur & all the Pfeiffer stuff and Nepenthe is certainly an easy day-trip from Carmel.

Lots of Ghost Towns in the Gold Country. Columbia is the biggest draw. I think the Gold Country is only a 2 night event - and perhaps not worth it if you have to drive there from Carmel & return to SFO. Only travel concern is a huge rainstorm - which we would welcome.

No snow in Yosemite as of now. A little sprinkling is forecast for later this week - but not much.

I would give a pass to the Gold country, and:

- leave San Francisco on the 7th, visit the redwoods mentioned above, and stay the first night around Santa Cruz - so that you are not rushed in seeing & walking through the redwoods.

- then spend 2 nights (8th, 9th) in Carmel & explore that area.

- Drive down to Big Sur, stay at the Big Sur Lodge and explore that area. Dinner at Nepenthe. Stay 1 night (10th).

- Continue south on Hwy 1 & visit Hearst Castle. Stay 1 night (11th) in Cambria.

- Head north on 101 to SFO for your very late flight home.

Stu Dudley

marleymania Jan 28th, 2014 02:30 PM

Thanks for the info. This sounds great! I had already looked at Big Sur Lodge. Any hotel recommendations for Santa Cruz, Carmel, or Cambria? How long will it take to drive from Cambria to SFO?

StuDudley Jan 28th, 2014 02:54 PM

>>How long will it take to drive from Cambria to SFO?<<

About 4 hrs. When you get south of San Jose, take Hwy 280 north then 380 east to SFO. Hwy 280 is much more scenic than 101 - in fact, it is designated a "California scenic highway". Less traffic also - it should be a "clear shot" on a Sat night.

Stu Dudley

marleymania Jan 28th, 2014 04:03 PM

Thanks Stu! I was hoping you would reply to my questions as I got so much about San Francisco from your previous posts.

MichelleY Jan 28th, 2014 04:56 PM

Marley- are you doing any college visits? Lots to check out in the Bay Area clear down to San Luis Obispo.

marleymania Jan 29th, 2014 01:37 PM

No college visits. We live in Michigan and my son realized it might be nice to go to college closer to home.

StuDudley Jan 29th, 2014 04:00 PM

I lived in California, and went to Purdue for college. I wanted to get away from home.

BTW, it has been in the high 60s & low 70s lately. What's the weather been like in Michigan this winter? My father in law moved here 3 years ago after 90 years in Indianapolis - and he loves it here.

Stu Dudley

marleymania Jan 31st, 2014 04:10 PM

I could see going away for college, but as his mom I'm a little glad he wants to stay closer.

Michigan weather is Artic! We missed school Monday and Tuesday because of snow and the windchill was -20. No school Wednesday even though it heated up to 12. It was too cold to clear the ice off the roads. We are supposed to be getting another round of snow starting tomorrow. This is a year we definitely need to get away! This will be my first trip to California and my kids first trip west of the Mississippi. My husband will be in Europe, so the planning falls to me. It's hard to plan a trip that is fun for both me and 13 and 16 year old boys. Especially when I've never been there before. Lucky we are adventurous and will find fun anywhere.


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