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First time to Monterey California...can I skip San Francisco?

First time to Monterey California...can I skip San Francisco?

Old May 1st, 2010, 11:29 AM
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First time to Monterey California...can I skip San Francisco?

Hi,
We are planning our first trip to California this summer. I have rented a cottage in Pacific Grove for 6 nights during the last week of June through July 5. We originally planned to fly to San Francisco and stay overnight 2 nights, then rent a car and drive to Pacific Grove and return to San Francisco to fly back to Houston. We are a family of 4 with ten year old twin boys. As we live in the concrete jungle of Houston we are very much looking forward to being surrounded by the beautiful sights of this part of the country and will spend many days hiking/beachcombing/kayaking. We plan to hit the hot spots between Pacific Grove and Big Sur. and settle into the area without over-plannig or overscheduling. The boys are great travelers and we are looking forward to this adventure.
Here's where I'm stuck: If we were to skip San Francisco altogether, is there another airport we could fly into easily to get to Pacific Grove? Would it be a huge mistake to not go to San Francisco? I am not much interested in a "city" tour , but enjoying the outdoors in SF, Muir Woods, Alcatraz for the boys are what is on our short list. Again, we don't want to cram too much in, I know our time there is short, only 2 nights.
Also, the 2 nights we have available to be in SF are I believe, Gay Pride Weekend. Is that an event that is held all over the city or certain areas?
I have read most of StuDudley's San Francisco info but may have missed something.
Is flying into San Francisco the only way to "do it right"?
Thanks so much for any suggestions you might have.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 11:46 AM
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Well, first off, IMO to skip SF would be missing out on one of the greatest cities on Earth... but I'm not sure if that short of time would be good in the city. But you could definitely hit the main sights and see the city.... which would still be enough for me

If you choose to skip SF, however, and just go to Pacific Grove/Big Sur (both areas are stunning, btw) the only other airports you could really fly into are San Jose, which would shave off maybe a half hour or so compared to SFO, or Monterey Airport (MTY). MTY however doesnt recieve that many flights...

Also, if going to the coast alone, it may be well worth flying into another airport, as SFO can get very congested, and delayed due to fog.

In terms of Pride weekend, it mainly occurs in SOMA, around Market St, and in the Castro, though you will probably notice it still in the central areas, i.e. North Beach, Union Square, etc. If you're thinking its a bad thing though, I would have to disagree. The city (especially in the first three areas) turns into a big party of sorts..
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Old May 1st, 2010, 11:46 AM
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If you think this is the only time you'll get to northern CA, then perhaps you should spend two nights in the City, but frankly, if you want a different kind of vacation, I don't think you have to be compelled to go there, and especially for such a brief time. Frankly, I think the kids are going to like the Monterey area more than the City.

If you skip SFO you could try flying into San Jose. That would put you closer to Monterey area.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 12:14 PM
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As a long time SF resident I think my city is well worth even a brief visit if you have never been here before, but it's your vacation, do what appeals to you. We spend many weekends in Carmel so obviously we love that area also and you can't go wrong whichever way you decide to spend your trip. However, if you are concerned about visiting the CIty during Pride weekend, don't be--the Pride parade, the Chinese New Year parade, Carnival are all a part of what makes San Francisco special.

As others have posted, San Jose is the closest major airport to the Monterey Peninsula. But I would only pick SJ if it were cheaper and more direct than flying into SFO.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 12:22 PM
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It's your vacation so do what you'd like to do. If you're more interested in the area south of San Francisco, than that's what you should do. There are plenty of things you can do with kids in San Francisco,but there's also plenty that you can do in and near Pacific Grove. As SAB pointed out, you can have a wonderful vacation either way. And either SFO or San Jose airports would work for getting to Pacific Grove.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 03:42 PM
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The San Jose airport is definitely more convenient if you're not going to go into San Francisco. I would choose the airport where you get the best price. You might also check out the prices on Southwest from Hobby to Oakland. That round trip looks to be about $70 less than IAH to SJC, which is $10 less than IAH to SFO.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 04:48 PM
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If you want to escape city life, then it would be fine to skip SF. The ideal flight is into Monterey Airport---it is tiny and serene. Your second choice would be in and out of San Jose airport. SF or Oakland airports are a distant 3rd choice.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 04:00 AM
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Missing San Francisco would be sacrilege.The most European town of the US.We left our heart there as in Tony Bennett 's song.We're from Belgium so.Paul
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 04:40 AM
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I would save SanFrancisco for another trip when the kids are teens... there's enough to do without the two days in the city... you must go back, however, but next time make it about the city and north as well as a side trip to Yosemite... its not a sacrilege if you visit the shrine in another pilgrimage!
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 05:54 AM
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I appreciate the valuable feedback so much.
I think I just needed to talk it out. We have added an additional night to the cottage and have decided to fly into San Jose and will enjoy SF on another trip. Who knows, we might get crazy and drive in for the day? Coming from Houston, we are used to driving. Muir woods will be missed, but Big Sur just might make up for it.
Again, thank you to everyone who responded.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 06:01 AM
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http://www.bigbasin.org/
not quite Muir Woods, but lots of fun
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 06:51 AM
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took a group of high school seniors to SF, Muir Woods Monterey, and Carmel...we loved SF...the kids would love the Alcatraz tour, Muir Woods, seeing the Golden Gate, maybe if they can remember the show Full House, they would love to see the house where it was filmed...oh Lombardy Street, Ghiradelli Chocolates...cable cars...we had a blast in SF...sorry to add this so late..i realize you have made a decision, but I just thought i would mention...SF is truly a great place to visit
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 07:10 AM
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San Jose is a good choice to fly into. I am not that fond of San Francisco. Years ago it was fabulous - now everything seems to have gone downhill IMO. Monterey area and down the coast to Hearst Castle is a beautiful drive. There is a beach just north of the Hearst Castle where the elephant seals come several times a year. It is awesome to watch them.
Have a great time.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 08:53 AM
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Vising SF is wonderful -- but so is staying your entire time in Pacific Grove. There is no right or wrong here. As long as you think you'll have a chance to visit the City sometime, stick to PG/Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur and maybe a day trip up to Santa Cruz.

Flying into San Jose and heading south would be the most hassle free (other than into Monterey, but those airfares are probably astronomical). If you did want to add SF, then San Jose would not be as convenient.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 09:04 AM
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Be prepared for heavy fog all morning in Pacific Grove. June Gloom is one of the terms for it.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 01:33 PM
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>>Be prepared for heavy fog all morning in Pacific Grove.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 03:34 PM
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I will take a chilly foggy morning in June/July in California over a 100% humidity and 100+temps in Texas ANYDAY
Now THAT'S gloomy in our opinion
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 03:52 PM
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Beckster, I hear you on the humidity but really, remember when you are packing and it is really hot and humid in Houston to pack long pants and sweatshirts.Seriously, think Houston November weather. Also the ocean temp in Northern California is REALLY cold, even in the summer.I am not trying to discourage you as I think you will have a fabulous vacation, it is just really hard when you are so hot to think that it could possibly be that cool in the summer somewhere else.

By the way, I think you are right to by pass SF this time. Makes a good excuse to come back again! Have fun!
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 05:05 AM
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Thanks so much for the advice and information. The thought of cooler weather and stunning scenery was what led us to the Monterey area for our vacation. I feel certain San Francisco will be a destination for us another time.
If anyone has a lead on the best kayak tour in the area (for spotting marine wildlife, easy maneuvering, best scenery) I'm all ears!
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 10:55 AM
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Pacific Grove is beautiful! We loved the walking/jogging path right next to the ocean.
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