Drive time Carmel to Napa?

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Aug 9th, 2003, 04:56 PM
  #1
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Drive time Carmel to Napa?

We will be flying into Oakland on a Monday afternoon at 2:30, renting a car and driving directly to Monterey. How long should that take? Also, we are driving from Monterey to Napa area on a Thurs. mid-morning; how long should that take; and finally, from Napa area to Oakland airport on a Sunday morning? Haven't decided yet whether we will take Hwy 1 or 101, but probably initially we want to get to Monterey quickly. Maybe we'll do the scenic drive from Monterey to Napa. There seems to be differing views on this. Thanks!
SunnyTX is offline  
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Aug 9th, 2003, 05:45 PM
  #2
L
 
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From the Oakland Airport to Monterey should take about 3 hours. After getting out of the airport, it could be about 4 pm, so traffic can start to pick up. Going south on 880 can be yucky but it is the best route to hwy 101. Just check the local news for accidents, because you can take either 92 or 84, the bridges, before you get to the traffic back ups. These bridges cost, ?, but it is worth it to stay out of traffic jams. beware that more backups occur on bridges than on 880. The bridges take you over to 101. From 101, take the 156 crossover to hwy 1, not hwy 68, which is also backed up and dangerous.
L is offline  
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Aug 10th, 2003, 09:32 AM
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I agree that 156 is the route of choice to Monterey not 68.

If you want a long leisurely scenic trip going north HWY 1 is the choice.

But if you want to get up north more quickly the least congested northerly freeway is 280. Much of it is also very scenic and it will take you to San Francisco if you want that stop on the way. The most scenic route to get to 280 from Monterey is Hwy 1 through Santa Cruz then Hwy 17 to 280. For a faster, less scenic route, you could take 1 to 156 to 101 to 85 to 280.

Have fun.
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Aug 10th, 2003, 10:21 AM
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Hi, SunnyTX!

OK, let's see:

Oakland to Monterey Monday afternoon:
The above advice on crossing over SF Bay from Oakland and getting to the Peninsula to get on 101 is very good advice. 880 along the east shore of the Bay will be very congested, so avoid 880 at that hour. From 101, you cross over on 156 to Highway 1. 156 is two lane, but it's very short and then you will be on scenic Highway 1.

Depending on how much traffic you encounter (I'm assuming that you will have your car by 2:30 and not just exiting the plane at that time) - you should plan on about a 2 and 1/2 hour drive.

Monterey to Napa on a Thursday mid-morning: The earlier you start, the better. If you want to go along Highway 1, you can take it all the way into San Francisco. If you take Highway 1 through SF, you should find yourself on the way to 101N going across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can go along 101 until you reach the turnoff for 37, and take that to Napa.

Alternately, you can branch off to the right in SF and take the Bay Bridge across, then take 80 to Vallejo and then from Vallejo to Napa.

Estimated time: Monterey to SF - about two hours.
Going through SF: 1/2 to 1 hour
SF to Napa: about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours

You could also bypass SF altogether and return the way you came - via Oakland and just keep driving north to Napa. You may be able to cut driving time by an hour or more, but you will miss most of the scenic route. Depends on how much of a hurry you are in.

Napa to Oakland on a Sunday morning: if it not busy, you go through Vallejo to 80 and take 80 down to Oakland and then the airport - by then, you should know how to get back to the airport! Should take you about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The earlier the flight, the less time it will take for you to get there. If the flight is near noon, you might want to give yourself an additional half hour.

Welcome to the Greater Bay Area!
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Aug 10th, 2003, 04:51 PM
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Yikes, run and don't walk from Jason and L's advice. By the time you get your car and you get out of the airport it will be commute time and 101 will be a parking lot. 101 is usually bad even during non-commute time. There's no need to waste money crossing any bridges.

The traffic on 880 in the afternoon will be going north toward Oakland. Since you will be going in the opposite direction, it shouldn't be that bad. It's even better now since they have added lanes around Milpitas.

My advice is to take 880 to 280 north to 85 south to 101 south then 156 to route 1. It make sound like a round about route but in fact it is more direct and will save you a lot of time. Usually in the afternoon 101 around the Mineta San Jose International Airport is a mess. By taking 85 you will be able to skip that part. However, you will be getting on 101 again in South San Jose so you should be prepared for some slow traffic until about Gilroy (30 miles). The total travel time from Oakland to Monterey is about 3.5 hours.

Another option is to just stay at the airport and have a late lunch or early dinner and let the traffic go ahead of you.

As far as going from Monterey to Napa the best route is route 1 north to 17 north then 680 north to 80 west to 12 west. This route will allow to avoid the nasty SF traffic since route 1 is actually 19th Avenue(basically a surface street with stop lights) Traffic on 19th Avenue is notoriously bad at any time of the day.

The most scenic part of route 1 is in the Monterey area. The strectch of route 1 north of Monterey is not nearly as scenic. Therefore by not taking route 1 north of Monterey you'll have extra time in Napa. The trip should take about 4 hours during the middle of the day since traffic will not be too bad.
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Aug 10th, 2003, 06:57 PM
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Which ever way you go, you will encounter commute traffic, so just be prepared. Pick up some snacks, put a nice cd into the cd player and settle in. You'll get there when you get there. I would take 880 south to 280 south to 101 south if I were going. I can see Neilson's route and trying to avoid traffic, but I don't know that you would gain much by going that way. Once you get south of San Jose, the traffic should really thin out. Hwy 101 south used to be really bad, but they've recently openned up a couple new lanes, so they've alleviated some of the merging issues south of San Jose.
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Aug 12th, 2003, 01:46 PM
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Hi, SunnyTX!

Your bottleneck is the Greater San Jose area and it would be good to know exactly when you will be leaving Oakland airport.

I travel 85 almost every day and would not recommend, as Nielsen has, to take 85 any time after 3pm.

Nor would I recommend taking 880, especially - again - in the San Jose area, any time after 3pm.

The junction of 880 and 101 is a bottleneck at any hour (on 880 N or S), but especially bad during commute hours.

One way to avoid this is to go south on 880, then - after Fremont - cross over at the Mission Boulevard crossover to 680. Then go all the way down 680 to 101 [680 becomes 280, but don't pay any attention to this, it's irrelevant].

Maybe you SHOULD stop for a drink and avoid commute times altogether, but this will get you into Monterey at night - which would not be too cool!

As for saying that the most scenic part of Highway 1 stops in Monterey - ummm. Highway 1 is probably the most scenic drive I have done in my lifetime and I am admittedly very prejudiced in this perspective. To me, there is definitely more to Highway 1 than Monterey. Part of the diversity of Highway 1 is precisely that it runs smack dab through San Francisco. But you must decide for yourself what are your priorities and what YOU would like to see. We here, on the forum, can only tell you of our preferences.

My assumption was that you would want to see as much as possible along the way and not just to use the freeways to get from Point A to Point B.

Whichever way you go, have fun!
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Aug 12th, 2003, 07:12 PM
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I think that Neilson's routwe makes the most sense. I have done his route a number of times on a weekday afternoon and never had a problem on 880 south toward San Jose as the commute traffic is going in the opposite direction. Similarly highway 85 is a great way to bypass some of the bottlenecks on the 101.

As far as highway 1 is concerned, since you will already be going to the Monterey Area, which along with Big Sur are the most scenic areas along highway 1, thee's no need to take highway 1 north of Monterey. It's not to say that it has terrible scenery, but once you have been to highway 1 in the Monterey region, the vistas north of there will pale in comparison.
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Aug 15th, 2003, 01:36 PM
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Our commuter lanes are operational from 3 PM to 7 PM, Mon - Fri for 2 people or more. It sounds like it will be possible for you to use them because of the word "we." Good luck.
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