Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

First visit to the West Coast - flying into SFO where do I start?

First visit to the West Coast - flying into SFO where do I start?

Old Sep 17th, 2019, 11:30 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 124
The Sonoma Coast is beautiful but for wildlife I have to go with the Monterey area. You are 99% guaranteed sea lions, sea otters, and maybe whales. The aquarium is really worth it. For budget lodging look at Lovers Point Inn.

One great thing about the California coast is there is coastal access everywhere.
emmajm is online now  
Old Sep 17th, 2019, 11:37 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,451
Originally Posted by BritishCaicos View Post
OK! Everyone seems to love Bodega Bay Lodge but am I missing something?

They are offering me a basic double with an extra bed for $200 a night or a suite with two separate bedrooms for $320. This appears to be well below what I was expecting in view of the style of the hotel and the reviews both here and booking/TripAdvisor.

That sounds about right -- Taxes will likely be on top of that though. I usually say in a 'Bodega Bay' room w/ fireplace - which I think are the most basic rooms. Most I've ever paid was maybe $250 and some dates like $175-ish.
janisj is online now  
Old Sep 17th, 2019, 11:49 AM
  #23  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,455
Thanks everyone so far.

Iím going to digest all this and try to come up with a day by day plan.

This has saved me days of research. I have to say my knowledge of the West Coast was a bridge, some place where they made films and an ďup startĒ valley which thinks that itís overtaken the Medoc!

I have to say that I thought Yosemite was in the middle of The States (gulp) (at least Iím honest).

I love the look of the Sonoma coast and valley.

We have booked the flight via Dublin to SFO return which means pre-clearing immigration.

Gardy that is entirely a possibility, Janis donít tear your hair out.

Timefor bed.

BritishCaicos is offline  
Old Sep 17th, 2019, 11:51 AM
  #24  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,455
Thanks Janis

That’s good news, thought I was missing extra charges, it looks very good value, reminds me of Kiawah a little but a quarter of the price.
BritishCaicos is offline  
Old Sep 17th, 2019, 12:06 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,451
>>Timefor bed.
janisj is online now  
Old Sep 18th, 2019, 06:54 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 21,007
Two things to put on your list if you stay at the Bodega Bay Lodge:

1. Visit the University of California Marine Laboratory.

2. Visit the Marine Mammal Center (check the web site for tour information).
Underhill is online now  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 10:40 AM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,455
ďTime for bedĒ

not literally but time to put all electronic devices to bed. Iíve no idea how one is supposed to manage a teenage boy but we have put a ban on the family using iPads after 8:30pm.

I am now really looking forward to this trip, the more I dig the better it gets.

Quite shocked by the the cost of accommodation in SF city centre, I was aware it was a; expensive city but struggling to see anything under $400 a night which looks modern and smart.

Plan so far

Sun 5th April Land SFO 15:35 stay city centre
Monday 6th SF do very little in city centre , walk round wondering why itís light when it should be dark!

Tuesday 7th SF open to ideas for city centre

Wednesday 8th SF drive up to Bodega Bay Lodge stay 3 nights
Thursdays 9th Bodega Bay walks on beach
Friday 10th Bodega Bay love the idea of marine biology visits, our son is a scientist and have spent his life with sea life round the world.
Saturday 11th drive from Bodega Bay to Sonoma spend night in the area
Sunday 12th drive through Napa Valley (lunch) and up to Yosemite (150 miles) night in Yosemite
Monday 13th Yosemite
Tuesday 14th Yosemite
Wednesday 15th Yosemite drive down to Carmel / Monterey night there (200 Miles) would love ideas for lunch or transit stops
Thursday 16th Monterey Whale trio of possible, never seen a humpback, seen almost all other sea life but not humpback. Night in same hotel.
Friday 17th Carmel , night in same hotel, open to ideas.
Saturday drive back up to SFO flight back at 17:30.

Questions : how does all look?
Ideas for missing accommodation, please.
Ideas for eating, please. Thanks for the suggestion of ďThe Girl and the FigĒ : itís us through and through.

Also does anyone have suggestions for Yosemite accommodation? Lodges or smartish hotels again $400 a night. Air BnB seems to have a very mixed bag of 1970s lodges and the hotels look a bit faded!

We have gone against the idea of an RV!

thanks again.





BritishCaicos is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 11:04 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,451
Looks a plan . . .

Re Yosemite. For hotels, stay ONLY at The Ahwahnee (very pricey - historic NP lodge. Not 'UK-Historic' but for Calif, ancient), at Yosemite Valley Lodge (less pricey but still up there. Across from the base of Yosemite Falls) or at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal. (A very large, nice motel close to the Valley.) https://www.yosemiteresorts.us/yosem...SAAEgJ80_D_BwE

Don't be misled by other properties that claim to be 'close to the park' or even IN Yosemite National Park. That 'Close to the Park' accommodation will be a one to two hour drive.

For other than hotels - look for a cabin or condo in Yosemite West or in Foresta. Both are very small communities just inside and just outside the park boundaries and close to the Valley.

For other things in Monterey/Carmel area - Point Lobos for sure and the Aquarium in Monterey.
janisj is online now  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 11:07 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,451
oh -- re San Francisco. Room rates are VERY date specific. Look at the Hyatt Embarcadero. Is pricey but the location and views cannot be beat. On BART, trolley and streetcar lines, on the California Street Cable Car line, across from the Ferry Building, just a great location for a first time visit.
janisj is online now  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 01:04 PM
  #30  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,423
At Yosemite also look at Curry Village which is in the valley not far from the the hotels janis mentioned - same concessionaire / website. Most of the accommodation there is tents on platforms but they do have some hard wall cabins with, both with and without bath as well as a handful of hotel rooms.
J62 is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 01:25 PM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,451
Curry village is certainly an option -- might be a bit more basic than you are looking for. But you were considering an RV, so maybe not.
janisj is online now  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 02:36 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,065
There's nothing smartish in Yosemite. Stay in the places janisj mentioned. Even the motel rooms and cabins with bath at Curry Village are very basic/rustic.

There's not much of interest on the direct route between Yosemite and Monterey so I'd suggest just driving through unless you want to detour to Pinnacles National Park. Without the detour, it's about 4 hours from Yosemite Valley to Monterey.

Maybe look at the Intercontinental Clement in Monterey which is oceanfront and more modern. It's on Cannery Row (and next to the aquarium) which is very touristy but you can walk the coastal recreational trail in the direction of Pacific Grove and be out of the main tourist zone very quickly. Or look into staying in Carmel which is more quaint. Not sure if La Playa is possible under $400 a night. That's Pebble Beach Food & Wine weekend. Perhaps look at some place like the Hideaway which has been renovated. There are about 20 wine tasting rooms in downtown Carmel.

Do you mean whale watching trip? If you actually meant whale trio, it's possible but you'd have to be really, really lucky to see humpbacks, orcas and gray whales even though they're all present in spring. You'll want to go out on a boat. Shore viewing is very hit or miss.

Go to Point Lobos one morning. You'll want to get there right around opening time at 8am. Several short trails. Harbor seals pup at Whalers Cove and China Cove.

The same day that you go to Point Lobos you may want to drive farther south into Big Sur.

Eating - The Bench in Pebble Beach, Poppy Hall in Pacific Grove, Esteban in Monterey, Sur House in Big Sur and in Carmel I like La Balena, Il Grillo, Stationaery, Seventh & Dolores. Eating in Yosemite is mostly for survival.

Last edited by Patty; Sep 19th, 2019 at 02:49 PM.
Patty is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 02:42 PM
  #33  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,423
The Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge is actually ok for dinner. Beautiful setting with floor ceiling windows overlooking Yosemite Falls.

When we stay at the lodge itís nice to come back to the room after a day out in nature, rest, clean up and go there for dinner in clean clothes.

J62 is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 02:55 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,451
. . . and go for a breakfast or lunch in the Ahwahnee dining room. Food can be semi-meh (though I have had the odd very good dinner and breakfasts are good) but the room setting and view is spectacular.

https://www.travelyosemite.com/dinin...=google_places
janisj is online now  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 03:13 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,065
I do like breakfast at the Ahwahnee.
Patty is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 05:37 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,013
Triple ditto on the Ahwanhee for lunch. We had two lunches there over our stay in May two years ago. Plus a drink out on the patio.

We we stayed one night at El Portal and three, I think, at the Valley Lodge, which was reasonably priced. A Pileated Woodpecker landed on the tree outside our window one morning, fantastic!

Parking is an issue. We arrived early 9:00 AM-ish at our chosen lot for most of the day then walked or took the shuttle. Finding a spot mid-day is problematic anywhere, at least in May around full moon on our trip.

Waiting for for a shuttle could take a l.o.n.g time, but there are worse things than waiting around in Yosemite.
Nelson is online now  
Old Sep 19th, 2019, 05:52 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,535
>

Taking Hwy 152/156 to Monterey, stop at Casa de Fruta, perhaps for lunch and check out their fruit stand store. Or keep going down the road and stop in San Juan Bautista to visit the mission and town.

In Los Banos is the Woolgrower’s Restaurant. It was a hotel for Basque sheepherders back in the day. They serve family style Basque-American food.
MichelleY is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 03:35 AM
  #38  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,455
Just trying to focus on Yosemite at the moment as it seems to be the problem.

We have never really enjoyed staying in hotels and like to have the quiet space that rentals offer, we also like to alternate between eating in and finding different restaurants. Itís been really frustrating in the past to find good quality food markets and not being able to buy anything to eat in a hotel room.

Iíve have a look through the previous threads on accommodation and agree that Ahwahnee looks like the best offering in terms of hotel. However, compared to the James Bond style Alpine hotel we stayed at in Bavaria this year for half the price, Iím probably going to grump around all the time moaning about value for money.

After a couple of days now of trawling through the sort of lodges I wouldnít let our dog stay in, we have found this

https://www.yosemite.com/lodging/cab...ldrummy-lodge/

which is on budget and perfect for our style, it looks fairly close to the entrance.

We intend a long drive from Bodega Bay, to arrive in evening the stay for 4 nights and leave very on the final morning to drive down to Cambria and then up the coast to Monterey.

Michelle

the Woolgrowers looks immense, will try and build it in that day.

Nelson

this rental seems close to where you stayed, just wondering why you moved accommodation in Yosemite

Janis

I would have have hoped for more than meh for those prices!

You once posted that ďourĒ Rockcliffe in Dumfriesshire reminded you of Monterey, I couldnít agree more. Just looks for far more happening in CA.

Patty

the hotel looks perfect for us, we will consider it but we have seen some great looking beach type cottages. Will definitely build in a walk in/our Point Lobos

From ďwhy are we going to the West coastĒ through bears, cougars, sea lions, whales, food, wine, architecture this is lining up to be a heck of a trip!

Sort of throwing out the budget for accommodation, we will rememiner to trip in 10 years time not the size of the credit card bill.




BritishCaicos is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 08:10 AM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,013
Originally Posted by BritishCaicos View Post
Just trying to focus on Yosemite at the moment as it seems to be the problem.

Nelson
this rental seems close to where you stayed, just wondering why you moved accommodation in Yosemite


British, we wanted to stay in Yosemite Valley the entire time of our visit, but it was booked for one of the nights. Being right in the valley is a lot more magical than being anywhere outside, IMHO. But we stayed in El Portal one night at the end of our drive from near Sacramento to stage us for getting into the Park early. The Kildrummy Lodge could work for you (I'll let janis or others address that), but you really need to get an early start for you day.

Once we were at the Valley Lodge we actually never really had to move the car if we didn't feel like it. The cafeteria and small grocery store there is acceptable. And staying at the base of Yosemite Falls is amazing.

Hope that answered your question and good luck with planning.

BTW, in Cambria we stayed in one of these, I think Sand Pebbles, a room with an ocean view. It was excellent.
https://cambriainns.com/
Nelson is online now  
Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 11:11 AM
  #40  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,455
Thanks Nelson

This is much clearer.

The National Park website doesnít make it easy to quickly identify where all the accommodation is located. From much poking around, it would seem that we have a choice between

In the valley :

Ahwahnee - expensive and doesnít look great value but the best on offer
Curry Camp - reasonable but the accommodation looks at best, slightly better than an RV
Valley Lodge - looks OK, reasonable standard. We can get a family room for $300 a night.
An RV but we will have to pick it up and drop it off during our trip which will be extremely inconvenient.
A tent - mmmm. really not sure.

10 miles outside the park - one of the posh lodges in a mundane wooded area. Will cost around $600 which compared to other incredible properties we have rented in The States - itís expensive.

I think youíre right Valley Lodge would seem the best option.
BritishCaicos is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO