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Help Needed-Hearst Castle, Redwoods, Grateful Dead-Oh My!

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Greetings California experts! I hope you have the time to help me. I'm trying to plan a trip for my wife & myself to celebrate her 50th birthday & our 22nd wedding anniversary. We both work two jobs and find ourselves short on time to do a lot of research online or otherwise. We'll have 7-8 days, probably flying into/out of SFO or Oakland from Atlanta early morning & renting a car. This will be at the very end of March/beginning of April(we know-Easter weekend & all but only time we could work out time off together from all the jobs).

My must(or really wanna)sees are some redwood trees & the Grateful Dead Archives at UC Santa Cruz. Already checked & Archives will be closed for UCSC Spring break the last week of March but they reopen on April 1 so would like to plan around that. Wife desires a tour of Hearst Castle and visit to Big Sur. We have debated a day in Half Moon Bay-is this area worth the time or maybe spend the time in/around Cambria on the other end of our drive?

We are avid, albeit amateur, photographers so looking for beautiful scenery of course, good food, beaches to walk on & just to not be rushed too much. We have done the San Francisco highlights trip a few years back so can skip this trip.

I would really appreciate any ideas/advice on an itinerary, lodging that any of you have enjoyed(under $200 a night), and of course restaurant & activity recommendations. I will thank you in advance for any help & the time you take to answer!

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