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mtolar Mar 18th, 2017 06:53 PM

Carmel/Monterey & San Francisco - itinerary help
Update!! Thanks to all your help, we were able to make a decision to SLOW DOWN and see that less is more. We will come back another time for Yosemite.

Here is our idea for an itinerary...what am I missing? What needs to change?

Sunday – Drive to Dallas and catch a late night flight; hotel near airport in either SFO or SJC

Monday – Drive to Carmel/Monterey….arrive by lunch and eat in Carmel. Relax and do whatever.  5:00 dinner at the Mission Ranch in Carmel – ocean-view on the deck.  After dinner, go watch the sunset at the end of Ocean Avenue.

Tuesday - Pack a picnic lunch and see Point Lobos early?...  Drive the 1 south to the Northside of Big Sur as far as we can go and take our time.   Hike to see the Redwoods in the area.  Dinner back in Carmel for the sunset.

Wednesday - Whale watching tour at 10:00 a.m. in Monterey.  Relax and explore the shops and sights.  In the mid-afternoon, drive to San Francisco.  Dinner somewhere.  Roy's?

Thursday - Go early to buy cable car tickets.  
Stu's recommendations: Drive car across the Bay Bridge toward Treasure Island and see the view.  Embarcadero, Cable Cars, Union Square, Lombard Street, maybe Chinatown, lunch in Union Street area. Dinner somewhere.

Friday - Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito.  Maybe Muir Woods.  Maybe sailing, who knows??   

Saturday - Drive to airport and fly out early.

Cowboy1968 Mar 18th, 2017 10:39 PM

Just a practical advice since you will rent a car and plan to drive Golden Gate bridge:

And another vote for not getting your hopes too high regarding Muir Woods. Last summer, we tried on three different days, and there was no way to park the car. IF Muir Woods is a must-see or must-visit for you, you can check out the shuttle bus:

When you take the scenic roads of the Marin Headlands with those spectacular view of the city and the bridge, you can also visit the Marine Mammal Center. But I would not consider it a must-see.

If you happen to be in North Beach for dinner, you can also take a look inside the "Saloon" for a beer and to get the blues, well the Blues. It's a really quirky place.. on Grant, close to Columbus.

Even though you will have car, you may want to consider taking public transport or taxi/Uber when you go out for dinner. The distances in the city are not that far, but finding a space to park your car can take some time (if you want to avoid paid or valet parking).

darlenef17 Mar 19th, 2017 03:49 AM

Your plan looks good.

Mission and Roy's are excellent choices! If you enjoy Greek/Mediterranean food, Dametra's in Carmel is a great spot for lunch, and Bruno's Market is a GREAT place to pick up things for a lunch on your Point Lobos day. It's in Carmel, so if you're staying in Monterrey, you go right by it.

SF - We loved Muir Woods. After Point Lobos, it's probably my favorite California park. Don't miss it, but don't try to park. The same holds true for the Bridge. You want to do more than drive over it - definitely walk on it and explore the park around it (less than an hour needed), but parking there is next to impossible too. We did the GG Bridge and Muir Woods on the same day.

We got an early start and took a bus to the bridge, a shuttle to Muir Woods, a shuttle back to Sausilito after Muir Woods for and a late lunch and wandering the town a bit (cute little town, plan to spend a couple of hours there), and the ferry back to SF Fisherman's Wharf. It worked out perfectly. The ferry ride was beautiful, but chilly, so have your windbreaker!

Here are some links to help you plan. The last two are older, but I had them bookmarked from our last trip. The info could still be useful:

StuDudley Mar 19th, 2017 08:36 AM

This is what I posted on your "other" thread - with a few modifications.

You are forgetting that the San Francisco Bay Area has a population of 6-7 million and that the commute traffic will be horrendous if you depart Carmel mid-afternoon on a Wednesday.

You might not get near Muir Woods on a Friday afternoon. You will also hit heavy traffic leaving the City starting around 2PM on Friday "get-away day".

Mission Ranch is fine for dinner, but we always stay the night somewhere close to the shops & Ocean Beach in Carmel so we can just walk out the door & wander around. Mission Ranch is not near the center of Carmel.

Unless you depart your airport hotel before 9:30am, you might not make it to lunch in Carmel before 1PM because of the heavy commute traffic on 101 heading south to Silicone Valley. I suggested you take Hwy 92 to Hwy #1 to Carmel instead. And then dinner at 5PM after a 1-2 PM lunch?? (early for most people out here - we dine at 7:00-7:30).

I haven't taken the Cable Car in years. But my Danish cousin did about a year ago. I think you don't have to purchase tickets in advance, and purchasing them in advance may not "buy" you anything. You just line up & pay just before you get on the car. Maybe there is a long line at the ticket booth??? Don't know - anyone else have an idea??

Don't get to Treasure Island too early, or you will get caught in the heavy traffic into San Francisco. Maybe depart SF at 9, spend 30-45 mins on treasure Island, and then drive back to SF around 10.

Do your Golden Gate Bridge & Cozulman Drive viewing AFTER you have visited Sausalito and Muir Woods (not recommended). If you try to view it in the AM - the sun will be in your face & you won't see anything at all.

About a month ago, the Bay Area was awarded with the prize as the "fourth most commute congestion in the US".

Stu Dudley

Patty Mar 19th, 2017 08:51 AM

See the redwoods at Henry Cowell and Pfeiffer Big Sur. After that you may decide to skip Muir Woods.

mtolar Mar 19th, 2017 09:47 AM

Thank you all so much! And Stu, my husband says he wants to go exactly wherever you say to go and do it exactly however you say it. LOL. Our conversations have now been including "what does Stu say we should do?" Love it! Appreciate all your help so very much!

Thanks for the tip about Muir Woods. We will likely skip that since we would rather see them "naturally" anyway at Henry Cowell and Big Sur.

Definitely will keep the heavy commute times in mind. I need to put it down on paper when we need to move and where so we don't get caught up too badly. We will definitely leave the airport hotel by 8:00am so we can get our day started.

We don't usually dine at 5pm either, but a friend told me you have to arrive early at the Mission Ranch restaurant to get a seat outside on the deck for the view. We are only dining there. That's the only evening we will not be in actual Carmel for dinner while there. We still need a place to stay overnight in Carmel.

I'm going to buy plane tickets today. Getting excited!

Patty Mar 19th, 2017 10:23 AM

You could also just go for drinks at Mission Ranch. Bar service on the patio starts at 4pm.

StuDudley Mar 19th, 2017 12:21 PM

We've stayed at the Coachman Inn the last few times we've visited Carmel and haven't stayed with our good college friends in their condo at Spanish Bay overlooking the 18th hole (that's why they are good friends!). We also stayed there on our honeymoon in the early 70s.

In Carmel last year, I had my Birthday dinner at Christopher's. A little less touristy than most other restaurants in Carmel.

My wife is a San Francisco City Guide volunteer, and when she conducts tours of "Landmark Victorians of Alamo Square" from 11:00-1:00, I have a nice outdoor lunch at Rose's Cafe on Union & Steiner. Directly across the street is where we pick up a sub-sandwich for a picnic at Ft Point & watch the surfers under the Golden Gate Bridge. We did this 2 weeks ago.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Mar 19th, 2017 12:25 PM

Almost forgot. When we we stayed with our friends who have the condo in Spanish Bay last April, we did what Patty suggested and had drinks at Mission Ranch & then drove into central Carmel for dinner. Forgot the name of the restaurant, but they have changed owners since then.

Stu Dudley

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