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California - Yosemite, Cambria, Monterey, San Francisco

California - Yosemite, Cambria, Monterey, San Francisco

Dec 1st, 2003, 05:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 551
California - Yosemite, Cambria, Monterey, San Francisco

To all of you who replied to my post last week, I apologize for asking these questions again. However, before I could print the replies to my original post it was deleted. Two Fodorites got into an on-going argument in replying to my post and it was removed from the board. I hope those of you who provided me with valuable information before will do so again. My plans and questions are as follows:

1. Flying into Oakland around noon on Saturday. Have reservations for 2 nights at Curry Village. What is the best route from Oakland to the north entrance of Yosemite and on to Curry Village?
2. Are there tours at Yosemite that are worth taking, or would it be better to tour on our own?
3. On Monday morning we will drive to Cambria. Can we exit through the south entrance through the tunnel? What is the best route to Cambria?
4. What is there to do in and around Cambria in the late afternoon and evening?
5. On Tuesday morning we will tour Hearst Castle and then travel on to Monterey. Are there whale watching trips in mid September? Any suggestions for moderately priced lodging in Monterey?
6. On Wednesday afternoon we will travel on to San Francisco to spend Wednesday and Thursday nights and most of the day Friday before flying home. I plan to try Priceline for a hotel at Fisherman's Wharf, although I am also considering the Columbus Motor Inn since parking is free and I will have a car. What is the best route to San Francisco? We will book a tour for Thursday to Alcatraz but I have no other definite plans. What are the other "must sees" in San Francisco?
Thanks again to those who answer my post. And please, no arguments between Fodorites!
mlm59 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 05:33 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 23
Hi mlm59,
I posted about the whale watching trip last week, but since it may have been deleted before you got to it, here it is again...My boyfriend and I just visted San Francisco and Big Sur in late August. In Monterey we went on a whale watching trip that we booked through www.Gowhales.com. It was amazing! We saw Humpback, blue, and fin whales,and common dolphins. There are also more sea lions than you can count at the warf in both Monterey and San Francisco. It's really cool. Ive never seen anything like it. My advice for the whale watching trip is to dress warmly...very warmly. It got unbelievably cold out on the Pacific, even in August. Enjoy your trip, I cant wait to go back myself!
bgoldie is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Cambria is beautiful! WE just spent the day there a couple of weeks ago. Make sure you catch the sunset at Moonstone Beach from one of the many benches on the walking paths. There are many nice shops in Cambria.

For dinner I would recommend the Sow's Ear Cafe. Their salmon in parchment paper is excellent and also the fried brie appetizer is very good. Go to Linn's bakery across the street for some olallieberry desserts. Check out their eclairs there!!!

We are headed to Monterey on Fri. We have reservations at the Hotel Pacific. I have not stayed there before but have read good reviews on this and other boards.

The Spindrift Inn is very nice. We had a king corner room with full oceanview. Hope you have a great trip!! ***kim***")
kimamom is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 09:16 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I don't think I would bother with tours in Yosemite - use the shuttle bus in the valley. If you have time (and the road is open), make the trip up to Glacier Point (allow three hours or so) for the great views above the valley.

The best way from Yosemite to Cambria is to head out the south entrance on hwy 41. Stop at the lookout point just before the tunnel for your last view of the valley. You can stay on hwy 41 through Fresno and across the valley. Eventually it joins with hwy 46; stay with 46 the rest of the way. There are a number of wineries around Paso Robles if you are interested.

Monterey tends to be expensive; seaside is somewhat cheaper. I think the whale watching boats head out most of the year, not just during the gray whale migration; the rest of the time they look for non-migrating whales and other sealife.
curmudgeon is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 09:48 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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The best route from Oakland to Yosemite is 580 to 205 to 120 to 41.

Two of the tours that I took in Yosemite are the Valley Fllor and Glacier Point tours. Both were very good and I would recommend them.

From Yosemite to Cambria the best route would be 41 to 46 to 1.

Cambria has a number of antique shops, galleries, and wineries in the area along with beautiful vistas.


Sorry, I don't have any info. on whale watching in Monterey. For reasonalbe accomodations I would suggest looking into staying in Pacific Grove.


Columbus Motor Inn in SF is a great place to stay. Much of SF can be seen in a day or two. YOu may want to spend some time seeing the sights on the way to SF from Monterey as well. A good route to SF from Monterey is Route 1 to 17 to 280. Big Basin, off of Highway 17 is a wonderful park with beautiful coastal redwoods. Felton in Henry Cowell Park is also nice. I'd also suggest spending a day in San Jose as well to check out some of the museums, shopping, and cool restaurants in the city. The Tech and Rosicrucian Museums are worth a visit.




Have a great time in California.

Guarto is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 11:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,610
The best route from the Monterey Penninsula to SF in my opinion is highway 1. Some say that it is not that scenic and compared to 1 south of Carmel that is true, but I think it has it's own beauty . A quicker route would be 1 to 17 to 280. As far as SF recommendations, I stick by the list I've posted before:
1. Visit Crissy Field
2. Have coffee in North Beach
3. Walk up Coit Tower and see WPA murals
4. Drive up Twin Peaks and take in the view
5. See the restored Conservatory in Golden Gate Park.
6. See Mission Dolores
7. Walk across Golden Gate Bridge
8. Walk up Nob Hill just to say you did it and visit Grace Cathedral.
9. Have Sunday afternoon tea at the Palace
10. Visit Pac Bell Park
11. Walk along the Embarcadero
12. Visit the Ferry Building Farmer's Market
13. Walk down the Vulcan staircase in the Castro neighborhood
14. See the Victorians and views in Pacific Heights.
15. Visit a neighborhood (Castro, Cole Valley, Noe Valley, the Marina, the Mission, the Inner Sunset) and see why we live here.
SAB is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 738
I second everything SAB listed!

For Monterey, priceline a room--we have gotten the Hyatt more times then I can count. biddingfortravel.com.

Have a great trip!
kikahead is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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mim59, This was one of the best threads of visiting SF I've ever read here:


It's called Empty Days in San Fransisco (sic) if the url doesn't work. The original poster, BigRed, also just posted a very interesting trip report.

Too bad about your original thread. Usually the editors just delete the offending posts and leave the good info behind. As others have said, threads have been known to just vanish.
obxgirl is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 09:31 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 228
Mid-September is the most beautiful time of year to be visiting these areas, so your trip's gonna be great!

Is your daughter a child or is she grown? I'm guessing she's grown. I think Cambria makes a good stop for you. Lots of shops-- we like the bookstores and coffeehouses, second Kimamom's food advice. There's a row of small inns along Moonstone Beach. One of the newest is Moonstone Cottages, 3 ocean-view cottages featuring fireplaces, private jacuzzi tubs, really lovely room decor. From $165-$230. check them out at www.moonstonecottages.com. Cypress Cove Inn is nice, as are the suites at Cambria Pines Lodge in the forest.

Could you add another day for the Monterey Peninsula? Imo, this is the prettiest part of your trip and you'll not have time to see it well otherwise. That said, driving north on Highway 1, a good place to stop is Nepenthe, the house Orson Wells built for his wife, Rita Hayworth, perched on the edge of the cliffs with panoramic ocean views, now a restaurant, coffeehouse and nice gift shop. Could have lunch there or better yet, continue on to the Highlands Inn in the Carmel Highlands and lunch at the California Market, with its postcard-beautiful ocean and forest views. Across the street is Point Lobos "the most beautiful meeting of land and sea". No kidding! Take a walk around the oceanfront paths, you'll see lots of marine life and birds. Sit and watch and let Pt. Lobos do it's magic...

Then on to Carmel. Walk around this quaint little gem--lots of interesting places hidden away on the side streets, explore!

Drive over the hill to Pacific Grove, which is famous for it's many Victorian mansions, many of which have been turned into B&B's, some right on Monterey Bay, including Grand View Inn, Seven Gables, Martine Inn, Green Gables, also Gosby House and Pacific Grove Inn, a bit inland. They are all very pretty and if you like that kind of thing, gives you a feeling of being a part of the rich history of the area--some of the rooms are quite reasonable -- awesome views! Walk along the ocean pathways to Lover's Point Park and enjoy the tide pools and Pt. Pinos Lighthouse.

Monterey: if you're set on whale-watching do it, but from what I've read, it's not for the faint of heart Hang out around the wharf and cannery row and you'll see seals and otters, but if you want more, there's the Aquarium.

I could go on and on, but this is turning into the Monterey Peninsula monologue! Have fun with your plans!

Kimamom: Have a wonderful anniversary trip this week-end! (How I wish I was there, too!)

winerycat is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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In Yosemite there is an open air tram tour of the valley which is a lot of fun. It leaves from Yosemite Lodge and you can buy your tickets there or at Curry Village. The tour is lead by a park ranger who tells a lot of the history of the area. It was a hit with everyone in our group.

As for the route into Yosemite, I prefer hwy 140 to hwy 120. Hwy 140 goes along the river and throug the town on Mariposa. Hwy 120 is kind of a nail biter and although you get some great views, it's not at all a relaxing drive. Leaving Yosemite, definitely go through the south entrance on hwy 41. You can stop at Wawona and see the redwood groves.

As for the route from Monterey to SF, I would either take Hwy 1 all the way up or take Hwy 1 to 17 to 280. As you well know, there is some controversy about this and like with most things, it is a matter of personal taste. Both routes have their pros and cons. Hwy 1 goes through a couple small towns north of Santa Cruz and past many nice beach combing beaches. Hwy 17 route is faster being freeway most of the way.

Another route would be Hwy 1 to 9 to 85 to 280 - this is much slower - it's the back way over the Santa Cruz mountains, through a few little towns and past Big Basin SP.

Whatever route you choose, you can't go wrong because the whole place is spectacular.

J_Correa is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 07:06 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 1,360
Hey Winerycat!

Your post brought me back to your lovely "neck of the woods" with reminders of our 20th anniv trip.

Thanks for the great description... I couldn't have said it better

Mlm59... enjoy planning your trip... sorry about your last thread... don't miss leisurely enjoying Big Sur, Nepenthe and Point Lobos... fond memories!
makai1 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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If you're still with us, for more ideas re: the Monterey Peninsula, you might want to click on Makai1's name and scroll down to her Trip Report from last September. This was her first trip there and she captured the essence of the area so well!
winerycat is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2003, 03:48 PM
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Hey winerycat!

I'm still here, just haven't had time to get online for a couple of days. I'm not sure how to get to Makai1's trip report. You said to click on her name, but how do I bring up her name?

You are right - my daughter is an adult - she is 25. We travel together - my husband refuses to fly so we take off and leave him at home. My daughter loves to shop, especially for neat and unusual souveniers to bring home. She enjoys photography and has great scrap books of our vacations. Both of us like visiting historic sights and just enjoying the scenery in places we have never been. My daughter is an animal lover. She is very much interested in seeing and photographing sea animals. This will be our first trip to the west coast. It sounds like there are lots of seals and sea lions. I'm not sure about the whale watching trip. I know my daughter would enjoy it, but I'm a bit worried about getting sea sick.

I would very much like to add another day or two to our trip, but it is not possible. We can only be away from Saturday-Friday. I know we have planned a lot, but we want to see as much as possible during our trip. Not sure when we will return to the west coast. There are many places we want to visit and my daughter only has 2 weeks of vacation a year.

I like the idea of maybe staying at a bed and breakfast in Pacific Grove. Have you stayed at one you would recommend? The only thing is that we need a room with 2 beds and many of the B & B's I've checked on before only have rooms with a single bed.

Have you ever been to Muir Woods? Some of the other posts I have read say it is a beautiful place to visit. Since I will have a car in SF I was thinking about taking a side trip there in the afternoon on Thursday.

Thanks to you winerycat and all of the others who have responded to my post. We are so excited about this vacation. Can hardly wait until next September.
mlm59 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2003, 03:53 PM
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Posts: 551

I forgot to ask you another question. When traveling from Yosemite to Cambria will we pass through a region with wineries? If so, do you know if the winery owned by Fess Parker is in this area? My husband is a big fan of Fess when he acted in Westerns and portrayed Daniel Boone. If we are near his winery I would love to stop to pick up a souvenier to reward hubby for staying home and taking care of the pets.
mlm59 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2003, 05:33 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 228
Hi mlm59,
First off, to read Makai1's trip report, just scroll back to her post on this thread--I think it's 4 or 5 posts back from here, click on her name and you will see all her posts on the left. The one you want is 20th anniversary trip report, appx. post #64--you'll find it.

I think Carmel will be fun for you both. It began as an artist colony and there are many interesting and unusual shops, art galleries, restaurants. The Weston Gallery is especially fine photography of the area, but there are many others to enjoy.

For history, you can't beat the Carmel Mission and the Path of History in Monterey is good too. If you can read up on the area beforehand, you'll appreciate it that much more.

As for B&B's, my favorites are on the bay: Grand View Inn and Seven Gables (www.7gables-grandview.com), Green Gables and also in downtown PG Gosby House, both owned by foursisters inns (www.foursisters.com). While I think most of the rooms do have 1 large bed, look at the websites and see which you like, then call and see if they can accomodate you. The Gosby House Inn might have the most reasonable rates.

Muir Woods is a very beautiful area. I was just north of there at the Point Reyes National seashore and had a fine 2 days enjoying the area. PamSF and razzledazzle are experts on this and makai1 was there recently, I think.

Fess Parker's Wine Country Inn and winery is a beautiful place located in little Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez valley. It's a beautiful wine growing area, lots of tasting places. We have stayed there and love it. Has a spa and good restaurant, which features his nice wines. Maybe your hubby would enjoy some of them. It's maybe an hour (? - don't quote me) south of Cambria and inland--his vineyards border Michael Jackson's property (www.fessparker.com) I'm not familiar with the route from Yosemite, but maybe someone else can tell you if it's feasible to go there. If only you had more time, or dropped something else. Hope this helps!
winerycat is offline  
Dec 8th, 2003, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Thanks Winerycat!!! We had a very nice time. The weather was a bit wet but it was still very nice. Your recommend for the White House was spot on!! This place rocks!!! I can't wait to return for another meal there. My husband who is very picky was equally impressed. Hope to try Bouchee next time. We did look in the place and it looks very nice. Carmel at Christmas is the best!! ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
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