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Help me plan 10 nights in SF, Sonoma and Monterey

Help me plan 10 nights in SF, Sonoma and Monterey

Dec 2nd, 2009, 03:08 PM
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Help me plan 10 nights in SF, Sonoma and Monterey

We are planning a 10 night stay in June 2010. The places we would like to have as our base are a few nights in Sonoma, a few nights in Monterey and a few nights in San Francisco, not necessarily in that order. We would be flying into and out of SFO.

We are 2 adults, 2 teens age 15 & 13. My husband and were in Napa and SF many years ago. We have been to Southern California a few times with the kids but want to concentrate our vacation to the areas above.

My questions are these - Should we start out in SF and then rent a car and go to Sonoma and Monterey or go to Sonoma first, come back to SF and then to Monterey?

Husband wants to visit the Russian River Valley wineries, should we base ourselves in Healdsburg or somewhere else in this area? Any suggestions on where to stay that has a pool that the kids will enjoy. Don't want to spend more than $350 per night and we do not like motel type / looking places

The one thing that may help us in getting some answers on where to start our stay is that we will be arriving on a Sunday. I would think that the Sonoma area would be more crowded on weekends meaning we should head there first and then spend the weekend in San Francisco? I am incorrect in assuming this?

Our dates that we are looking into are June 20-30 or June 27-July 7, 2010
I wasn't sure if we should avoid or make sure we are at a certain location if we choose the dates over July 4th.

Any suggestions, comments, feedback would be most welcome
Thank you
ga9497 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 03:36 PM
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1. If you are coming in late, or after a long plane ride, I would suggest starting in SF without a car, using public transportation and/or cabs. After that, it really doesn't matter whether you head north (to Sonoma) or south (to Monterey) they are 180 degrees apart.

2. I hesitate to mention it, but what will your teenagers be doing while you are visiting the Russian River wineries? In Monterey, they will love the aquarium and Carmel Beach, Point Lobos hiking, but Sonoma area for kids is iffy. Also, the hike from Lover's Point in Pacific Grove to the Aquarium is special (don't be put off by the name "Lover's Point"),

3. We love the Healdsburg area as a base. The town itself is quite charming. I suggest use of TripAdvisor or the like to narrow down your choices of hotels and to see photos of the available properties.
zorrosf is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 03:38 PM
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July 4, 2010 is on Sunday -- there will be fireworks in San Francisco (which are great, although sometimes it's too foggy to see them). On Saturday, July 3rd, there'll be a concert (Preservation Hall Jazz Band) and fireworks at Robert Mondavi winery, in case you feel like heading over to Napa. If the weather is good, you can go to the top of Twin Peaks and see the fireworks (albeit from far away) all around the bay.

The Marin County Fair is usually over July 4th. We were once driving back across the Golden Gate Bridge and everyone stopped dead to watch the fireworks in San Francisco!
sf7307 is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 03:55 PM
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I am not sure, but can you take you children into wineries?? Something to think about...
DebitNM is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 07:54 PM
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There have been a number of threads on here about that question, and although I personally think it's silly, lots of people say their children have been welcome at wineries and had a good time.
sf7307 is online now  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 03:20 AM
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I don't plan on taking the children to the wineries and I am not doing the tastings only my husband is. That is one of the reasons that we are looking for a hotel that will have a pool so that the children and I can relax or do some area sightseeing, shopping, etc while he is at the wineries.

I don't think we need to put off our visit to this area just because we have children I am sure we can find ways to entertain them. They have been traveling since they were babies and are very good travelers.
ga9497 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 03:22 AM
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Leaving the children out of the answers should we plan our stay in Sonoma on weekdays or weekends or will it not matter? I was thinking that the weekends may be more crowded and that the hotel rates may be more than weekdays? Can anyone shed any light on this?

Thank you
ga9497 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 04:25 AM
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On the Sonoma portion:

While Healdsburg itself may be a great place to visit, it may not quite fit your bill as a place to stay. You need a fairly large hotel with a number of amenities.

Try the Doubletree Rohnert Park:


It has a pool and is surrounded by a golf course with a small lake nearby, perfect for strolls.

I prefer the Doubletree to the Hilton (walls a bit thin at the Hilton) or the Sheraton (a bit too far away).

Wineries do allow children and it might be interesting for your children and you to go with your husband to some of the wineries on one day. The wineries are more than just wine and it's another kind of farming.

Start at the north end in the Dry Creek area with Ferrari-Carano (beautiful gardens)and just drive down West Dry Creek Road. Next to visit would be Raymond Burr (need resevations), which will give you a totally different idea than Ferrari-Carano. If your husband is really into wine, then stop by A. Rafanelli (need reservations). Next good family stop is Armida.

Here's a website to plan your wine country visit. It'll be a pity to see only the Russian River wineries and miss some of the other wineries.

easytraveler is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 04:47 AM
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Easytraveler - thank you for your information and yes we will explore other regions of Sonoma and different wineries. We won't be going with him to every tasting but will be going as a family to the locations that offer tours as my children think that the art of wine making is interesting and I am researching wineries in the Sonoma area that I think they would enjoy that will offer information on the making of the wine and my husband can still enjoy his tastings. I just didn't want to get too much into this because I have seen on other posts how many people are against bringing children to this area. I think it is educational and we aren't going only for the tastings.
ga9497 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 05:23 AM
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ga9497: glad to see that you will visit the wineries as a family. Sonoma County is really beautiful wine country, more beautiful than Napa Valley, IMHO.

The suggestion to do San Francisco first or last part of your trip is a good one, since you really don't need a car in SF.

As to which to visit first, play it by ear. Summer time is when the fog rolls in along the coast. Try and go to the Monterey portion when the weather is fairly clear (fog in the morning, but nice clear days after 11am or so).

The Monterey Aquarium is a great place for kids. Also don't miss Point Lobos, especially when the weather is good. Great, easy hiking along the ocean shore, you could spend a whole day there. Carmel is worth a visit as is Carmel Beach.

You can get a hotel in Carmel or Monterey. In Monterey try the Monterey Plaza Hotel and see if you can get a room right over the water.


In Carmel, try the Carmel Mission Inn:


sorry, gotta go, my plane leaves in a couple of hours.

Happy planning!
easytraveler is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 09:35 AM
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An interesting, off the beaten path stop in Carmel is Tor House. Young children aren't allowed, but your boys are old enough. They may find the tour a little boring at times, but it's short and has many interesting parts. Tours are only on Fridays and Saturdays.
christycruz is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 11:24 AM
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I like Tor House, too.

A place that might be fun to stay at in Sonoma is Safari West. http://safariwest.com/

It's close to the wineries, and you stay in deluxe tent cabins amidst the wildlife, like a mini-trip to Africa.
Kailani is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 11:49 AM
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I'd take the kids to the wineries - in fact, my friend and I were just talking about how great it will be when her daughter turns 16 and gets her drivers license. Then we'll have 5 years to use her as our designated driver before she is a legal taster Really though - the others are correct, there is plenty to interest the underage at wineries. If you decide to take the kids, just pick the ones that have more to offer visitors than just the tasting room.
november_moon is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:19 AM
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Check out this page - http://www.sonomauncorked.com/wine-c...iendly-sonoma/

Full disclosure, I run that site.

I live in the area and can honestly say that pretty much all the places here are kid friendly, obviously some more than others. I would suggest staying in either Santa Rosa, Guerneville or Healdsburg, all touch the Russian River Appellation. http://www.sonomauncorked.com/wine-c...-river-valley/

My personal suggestion would be to stay somewhere near Guerneville. It's close to the Sonoma Coast - Bodega Bay http://www.sonomauncorked.com/wine-c.../sonoma-coast/, And best of all Armstrong Woods http://www.sonomauncorked.com/wine-c...ds-state-park/

The predicament here is you would need 2 cars, 1 for your hubby to go wine tasting and 1 for you and the kids to go off sight seeing. That is unless your husband hire a wine tour place to drive him around, if so check out Vine Rover tours.

If the only choice is to tag along with Dad to the wineries I would find the ones with bocce ball courts to keep you and the kids entertained.

Hehe, I could go on forever. If you want go to my site and look up my email in about us section. I will try to help you more if I can.
zeninfinity is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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zeninfinity, very impressive and helpful website!

I don't think the family would need two cars, though. If they cluster the winery visits in the different areas to explore, Dad can have a couple of wine tastings, and then everyone can go for a hike, or visit a place or have lunch.

I didn't know wineries had bocce ball courts, though. I like that idea.
Kailani is offline  
Dec 12th, 2009, 01:36 PM
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Thank you very much.
ga9497 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 02:28 PM
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You may want to try Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley; wine tasting galor with in close proximity and you and the kids would never have to leave the property. A+ spa for you and cool pool, bocce and croquet for the kids. If you do Cannery Row; i.e. MB Aquarium you and the kids could do the aq and cannery row walk about and your husband could visit one of the many tasting rooms right on the row, Scheid, Bargetto or a Taste of Monterey which has ALL the Monterey County wines. Intercontinental, and Monterey Plaza for luxury stay and canneryrow.com properties or inns of monterey properties including spindrift for more affordable.
CelesteW831 is offline  

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