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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 22nd, 2019, 12:04 PM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,412
The place you found in Yosemite West would be perfect for you -- as I mentioned up thread (post #28) it is the closest location not actually on the Valley floor (besides El Portal which I don't think fits your needs/style). Do not expect big/posh grocery stores etc. But driving in from the west you can stop in the central valley and pick up provisions in large supermarkets before heading up the hill to Yosemite.

Yosemite Valley Lodge would be good too -- It has the best location.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 12:10 PM
  #42  
 
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This is probably much too late, but I'm going to circle back to this thread now that we know your actual dates, and recommend a rather different plan. Of course like everything this is a mere "thought experiment," and if you keep your present plans intact, I'm sure you'll still have a terrific time.

BUT....

Some thoughts: Early April can be wet along the coast and if not wet, the chances of overcast conditions are better than even along the north coast. If it's an "El Nino" spring, precipitation (rain on the coast, late snow in the mountains, even in Yosemite) can be an issue. Now being British one assumes you're not especially put off by the prospect of wet conditions, but, well, this IS California we're talking about, so what if you used the state's geographic and climate diversity to your advantage?

Consider this map - https://goo.gl/maps/B8V5UVTMDxQHhcPF6 - and contemplate an alternative schedule, something like this (with overnight locations listed) -

5-Apr LA area
6-Apr LA area
7-Apr Palm Springs
8-Apr Palm Springs
9-Apr Santa Barbara
10-Apr San Simeon
11-Apr Carmel
12-Apr Carmel
13-Apr Yosemite
14-Apr Yosemite
15-Apr San Francisco
16-Apr San Francisco
17-Apr San Francisco
18-Apr Depart

Here's my thinking for this rather big departure. First, follow spring northward. Give things a little time to dry out or warm up enough for more water in the Yosemite waterfalls to appear.

Start in LA then head east to Palm Springs. You'd be there just before the huge Coachella festival kicks off (on the 10th) so you wouldn't be caught up in the crush and accommodation shortage, but you'd have enough time to enjoy the warm weather and a day in Joshua Tree National Park, which in early April is nothing short of glorious. Enjoy Palm Springs' fab food choices, terrific mid-century ring-a-ding architecture and nice little art museum. Have a date milk shake at Shield's in Indio or head out for a short spin on old Route 66, all within easy day trip range of PS.

Then head out to the coast and Santa Barbara, my vote for the most beautiful town in California. Visit the Spanish mission (the "queen of the missions") and maybe tour the "Sideways" wine country around the Santa Ynez Valley. Then continue north along Hwy 1 and visit the Hearst Castle and nearby elephant seal colony at Piedras Blancas.

Continue north to the Monterey Peninsula and spend a couple of days visiting magnificent Point Lobos, the old Spanish mission, beaches and twee shops in Carmel, the wonderful Monterey aquarium, then head across the central valley to Yosemite for a couple of nights, then to San Francisco to finish the trip.

This would offer a real sense of the diversity of California - wild coast, deserts, the Sierras, wildlife, lots of history and some of the most agreeable towns in the state. I think with your son in tow you'd have more than enough variety to keep everybody entertained; the schedule would be active but not hectic. Like I say, just another thought experiment for now, but maybe worth considering.

Joshua Tree



Santa Barbara mission



San Simeon elephant seals


Last edited by Gardyloo; Sep 22nd, 2019 at 12:44 PM.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 12:43 PM
  #43  
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Ok good, Valley Lodge or a posh cabin in Yosemite West. Just need to decide and I do agree Nelson, waking up in the midst of everything is a magical prospect. Yosemite West looks very sterile.

SF hotel for 3 nights.

God Janis, you weren’t joking about the pricing models. The Hyatt looks good but I could have a large room in two weeks time for $720. Change the dates to our nights and the rate goes up to $3400 for the same room. It appears to be in “Japantown” which sounds extremely suitable for our culinary needs.

We’ve found Kabuki which is in Pacific Heights (no idea why that area rings a bell). Hotel is us all over and $900 for three nights. Anyone know it?


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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 12:49 PM
  #44  
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Gardy

You know Scotland, four seasons in a day!

We’ll be getting wall to wall sun in France for two weeks after this trip and so the weather isn’t really an issue.

thanks for the pic of The Joshua Tree (I loved U2 in my youth) but this is my feared image of LA



I won’t sleep tonight.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 12:54 PM
  #45  
 
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Look at Travel Zoo and Groupon for deals in San Francisco. We got a very good rate at the Omni in San Francisco. Very nice hotel, great location for walking around the city.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 01:26 PM
  #46  
 
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Early April still has the possibility of snow in Yosemite so you may want to take that into consideration when deciding whether to stay in the valley or having to drive in. Also if snow is in the forecast, you may be asked if you're carrying tire chains the day you enter the park. I wouldn't want to take a rental RV at that time of year unless the forecast looks good.

Are you planning to spend a night in Cambria? It would be 4-5 hours from Yosemite to Cambria and then 3 hours without stops from Cambria to Monterey. You won't pass Los Banos (only if you drive directly from Yosemite to Monterey). If you want to include Cambria, I'd take one night from Yosemite and spend it in Cambria. I think 3 nights in Yosemite is fine at that time of year as you're limited in where you can go and then you can take your time driving Hwy 1.

Which beach cottages are you looking at? Short term vacation rentals are illegal in most peninsula cities with the exception of Pacific Grove. Here are legal cottage rentals in Carmel https://www.carmelcottageinn.com/

Last edited by Patty; Sep 22nd, 2019 at 01:40 PM.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 02:37 PM
  #47  
 
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>> Also if snow is in the forecast, you may be asked if you're carrying tire chains the day you enter the park. I wouldn't want to take a rental RV at that time of year unless the forecast looks good.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 03:16 PM
  #48  
 
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Re the possibility of snow, chains etc.

Heavy snow is unlikely then -- but certainly is not unheard of. At that time of year I would ONLY plan on driving in via Hwy 140 because it parallels the Merced River and is the lowest elevation/easiest route in. Snow is also possible on 140 but not nearly as much as 120, and 41 is way too far out of the way if driving from San Francisco.

To enter Yosemite they will likely ask if you are carrying chains. This is a catch 22 because you need the chains . . . but installing chains is (almost always) not allowed on rental cars. What you do is rent chains in the Central Valley before heading up 140 so you can show them at the entrance gate. In Yos. Valley itself the main road loop will be totally plowed so you won't need the chains - and you can take the shuttle buses around so no need to move the car especially f you stay at the Valley Lodge. Then drop the chains back where you rented them before heading across to the coast.

(Aside: I've taken my mini cooper roadster into Yosemite twice during spring and winter snows and did fine (I will NOT put chains on her) Did sweat it one winter visit when a big storm was due so I left for home very early AM to beat the storm. But since I live so close I can always cancel at the last minute or take my junker spare car and park in Merced or El Portal and take YARTS in)
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 03:19 PM
  #49  
 
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Oh -- and as much as I adore Yosemite, I also think you can make do with just 3 nights since you will be limited to the Valley. 4 nights would be wonderful of course, but 3 nights will let you see/do most of what the Valley offers.

And by cutting to 3 nights it 'might' make the Ahwahnee more doable??
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 04:34 PM
  #50  
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I agree 100% with what janis says "At that time of year I would ONLY plan on driving in via Hwy 140 because it parallels the Merced River and is the lowest elevation/easiest route in"

which is exactly why staying at Yosemite Valley Lodge it the best option. Yosemite West is at higher elevation and while technically "IN" the park it is not part of the National Park service lodgings - they are private. You won't regret the location and you have plenty of time for posh elsewhere in CA where location is not so important.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 04:45 PM
  #51  
 
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>>you have plenty of time for posh elsewhere in CA where location is not so important
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 05:15 PM
  #52  
 
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>> What you do is rent chains in the Central Valley before heading up 140 so you can show them at the entrance gate. ...........Then drop the chains back where you rented them before heading across to the coast.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 05:20 PM
  #53  
 
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>>And hope that you don't have an accident or need any assistance from the rental company or AAA (chains wrapped around the axial) while the chains are in/on the car. >Will the chain rental company check/verify the ownership of the car?
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 06:01 PM
  #54  
 
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>> Where did I ever say install the chains??? My entire point was to just have them in the trunk to show at the Yosemite entrance gate so they can drive into the park. > You must not have used/needed chains very often
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 06:27 PM
  #55  
 
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>>So you just drive past the place where everyone else is putting on chains, and go into Yosemite with the only car without chains??
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 10:04 PM
  #56  
 
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>> so you have them in the trunk just like everyone else. . .
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Old Sep 22nd, 2019, 10:30 PM
  #57  
 
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>>I've had about 4-5 glasses of wine>So nobody installs chains in Yosemite???? >Why buy/rent chains if you are not going to use them.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 03:47 AM
  #58  
 
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The Kabuki Hotel is IN Japantown (not Pacific Heights). It’s a Joie de Vivre brand hotel, which are generally well thought of, and gets good reviews on TA.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 04:33 AM
  #59  
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That’s enough of the storm in the teacup about snow chains but thanks for the advice about snow, I hadn’t factored it in. West Yosemite roads look ripe for closures and I did notice that they were higher than the valley. Pretty much set on a shabby (chic?) lodge in the valley.

Snow’s nothing new for us but as we are a bit older and wiser, we don’t take the risks we did in years gone by.

It does bring back happy memories of Bavaria in February. I’m very picky about the cars I drive and usually email the local hire office, strike up a relationship and secure the model I want. It usually works. In Munich, I’d been promised a 4wd Volvo XC60 but after 2 hour wait in line at the desk was given a rear wheel drive, Mercedes estate as was it was a “far superior” German car. I asked for chains and they prohibited flitting them. The snow was really bad in Bavaria and the Merc coped with it like a chocolate fire guard. All good fun.

Ive just booked and asked for an XC90 (which I have at home)(bugger it I could sleep in it rather than a shabby valley lodge). Bring in the snow with the “off terrain” mode activated!

thanks Sf7307 it looks to be in a good location, love the style and love Japanese food even more.

We are going to redo the daily schedule to build in driving up through Big Sur to Monterey in the way from Yosemite. A night in Cambria May be an idea.

Currently binge watching “Big Little Lies” , great to see that extra curricular school life in Monterey is just like Lytham. There’s a Maddie in every group of parents.

Patty

The 3 rental options are all in Pacific Grove, all immensely chic and shabby , which is us. Still looking for a house like those on “Big Little Lies” for less than a huge pile of money.

I’ll link the house when I get chance, see what you think if that’s OK



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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 07:33 AM
  #60  
 
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I don't think Japantown is a particularly good location of you want to visit the sites most people want to visit. Plus Japantown is quite ugly. They have been talking about tearing it down for about a decade - but haven't.

Stu Dudley
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