Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page > Help with family trip to San Francisco and surrounding area

Help with family trip to San Francisco and surrounding area

Reply

Feb 9th, 2018, 01:38 PM
  #1
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 56
Help with family trip to San Francisco and surrounding area

Hello,
Thank you in advance for your help with our next adventure.

I am in the preliminary stages of planning a short family trip (spouse, me and three kids ages 11, 9 and 8) that we are taking on to a family wedding in the Truckee/ Tahoe area. We will be flying in and out of SFO because that was the most reasonable in timing and price, and because we have friends we want to see in the San Francisco area. We enjoy outdoor activities, hiking and nature-based play. The kids are into history, and enjoy stopping at historical spots. We are quite accustomed to long family road trips, and while we often go to major cities, we have also traveled a fair bit to the off the beaten track type places. I should also mention that while we say that this won't be our last family trip to California, our last family trip to California was ten years ago when we only had one kid... so we should make an effort to do the highlights because who knows when we will be back again.

Our flight arrives at SFO on a Friday early in the day and we need to be in the northern part of Tahoe (about a 3 hour drive) by Thursday night/ Friday morning the next week. We will have two or so days post-wedding to make our way back to SFO, so can stop along the way at interesting sites, or have another day in San Francisco.

I tried to do some research online and was really overwhelmed by the quantity of material available; I suppose my first question is - can anyone recommend a solid guidebook for families for San Francisco? and Yosemite? and must see stops on Route 80 (between San Fran and Truckee)? or generally that area? Where do I start?

We were thinking about staying our first two or three days (over the weekend) with our friends and doing a few of the touristy must see things in San Fran (we think the kids will really like Alcatraz but haven't made any more progress than that). Next, we considered whether we could drive to Yosemite for three nights, and then do the six hour drive from there to Tahoe (back through Stockton/ Sacremento or through the El Dorado forest and up through Tahoe lake region)? We have driven through New Zealand and Europe, with comfort on narrow, winding, mountain/ rural roads, but given recent fires and mudslides, are these roads passable or expected to be passable during the summer? What other safety concerns should I be thinking about for a road trip in that area in August?

There were so many options that appear to be available for lodging at Yosemite - but am I too late to book for this summer? Is it usually done years in advance? We (really me) don't want to do real camping - a lodge or cabin or rustic motel is great, but tent camping is not an option.

Thanks in advance.
cdc
cdc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 01:48 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 61,416
I'm leaving in a few minutes so can't post in detail. But there is no reason to go to Tahoe via Stockton/Sacramento. You would go either via Tioga pass/395 (a glorious drive) and to truckee via reno or around Lake Tahoe, or up hwy 49 to Auburn (really interesting through all the Gold Rush towns) and I-80 to Truckee
janisj is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 02:10 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 24,677
Yosemite lodging usually books up a year in advance, but there are often cancellations, so you should start with that and work your trip around both the lodging dates you can get in Yosemite and the wedding in Truckee.

I'd highly recommend staying at the lake rather than in Truckee, even though Truckee is a great town - it's just that in August, the lake is "where it's at". It's only 20 minutes from Kings Beach to Truckee, so there's no need to move for the wedding. There are tons of motels, rental properties and condo developments - among them Brockway Springs, Chinquapin, and Tahoe Taverns (but there are many more). The only lakeside higher-end hotel is the Hyatt in Incline. While you're in Tahoe, be sure to kayak on the lake and take a hike. I can be more specific about hiking if you tell me how "hard" you like to hike (steepness, difficulty, length, etc.)
sf7307 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 03:16 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,055
From Yosemite tp Lake Tahoe go over the Tioga pass and then north to Lake Tahoe, unless you want to stop at some of the Gold country on CA49 such as Columbia which you could do on your way to Yosemite.

Rather than coming back on I80, go from Lake Tahoe to Truckee, Downieville and Nevada City. It's more scenic.

There's Fort Sutter and a train museum in Sacramento.
Michael is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 03:46 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,976
So we are a family of 5 and we weren't able to get a spot within the park when we went 5 years ago. But we got one at a large lodge in El Portal. I looked it up and we booked on Feb. 20. It had a pool and a reasonable (not amazing) pizza place on site. This is the closest lodge to the entrance. If you do this, buy some bagels and yogurt the night before for breakfast. (I think most rooms even have a fridge). Get going early and eat in the car. The morning is the best part.

You should definitely do Alcatraz and don't wait too late to book your tickets.

Do you have lodgings in San Francisco chosen and if not, what pricepoint and your preferences?
5alive is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 04:14 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,471
If you do go from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe over Tioga Pass (then up 395), your kids would enjoy Bodie Ghost Town and Mono Lake. You can stop at the Mobile gas station just before turning left onto 395 for an unexpectedly good bite to eat (Whoa Nellie Deli inside)

Whoa Nellie Deli: The Mobil

Bodie: Bodie SHP

Mono Lake: Visit Mono Lake
sludick is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2018, 06:21 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 61,416
5alive is talking about Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal. If nothing is available in Yosemite valley, book a Yosemite view and then keep trying for a cancellation in the Valley. August is extremely busy in Yosemite so you will want to book ASAP. And whether you stay in the Valley or el portal, use the shuttle to get around.
janisj is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 11th, 2018, 08:34 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,976
Thanks, Janis! Yes, it was the Yosemite View Lodge.
5alive is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 03:28 AM
  #9
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 56
Thanks for the tips. I looked in the valley and as predicted it seems nearly all booked. I will keep trying and the goal for this week is to figure out our driving routes.
The wedding is actually in 'north tahoe'?- I don't know if that's a real thing and seems like it is more in Truckee. We have lodging with the wedding party there but will take the advice given on exploring Tahoe on our drive to or from the wedding. In San Francisco the current plan is to stay with friends except our last night to stay at the airport.
I will follow up on this thread as I plan more- thank you to all who posted. I feel a lot more knowledgable with this info.
Best,
cdc
cdc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 06:09 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 61,416
No - north Lake Tahoe is not the same as Truckee. Where exactly is the wedding? Truckee, Tahoe City, Incline Village, Kings Beach, or somewhere else???
janisj is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 07:04 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 24,677
Well, Truckee is certainly North Lake Tahoe as opposed to South Lake Tahoe! Itís just that itís not actually on the lake - about 20 minutes driving away from the lake itself.
sf7307 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 09:40 AM
  #12
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 56
Hi again,
To answer a few questions - Our plan is to stay with friends in San Francisco (they live in one of the suburbian outlying towns, not actually San Fran) so we don't need lodging recs for this trip. On our last night in San Francisco, I have a reservation at the Embassy Suites by the airport. I figured if we want to take the mass transit back into the city to do any last minute sight seeing we could - or if I was done with the rental car and wanted a day to relax by a pool (albeit with planes flying overhead), I could have a few hours break before our evening flight. I am not married to this idea and I can always cancel the reservation.
For the wedding, my apologies for causing confusion. I keep saying its in Tahoe, but it's really in the greater Tahoe region. Not on lake Tahoe. Near a different lake though (maybe Donner Lake?), closer to Donner and Sugar Bowl. All of our lodging for the wedding has been arranged by my inlaws - so no changes allowed there.
I am sure this is a little crazy, and def needs some fine tuning but so far this is what we have (with the helpful insight of this forum):
After a couple of days with friends in San Francisco, we head towards Yosemite. We have two nights reservation (Monday and Tuesday) in the canvas tents of the Half Dome Village. I know to bring flashlights, extra chargers for cameras, phones, etc., ear plugs, sleeping bag, hiking boots, rain gear, padlock for bear box, ziploc bags .... anything else that they don't tell you about on the website? While two nights is short, my thought was that we would possibly have some of Monday afternoon to wander around, and all day Tuesday to do a solid hike. We could leave on our last day (Wednesday) and explore Tioga pass, with stops at a few of the trail heads that people recommended and pulling off to see Tenaya Lake, which my SIL really likes and recommended. We will get a reservation near Mono Lake for Wednesday night, so that we are not rushed leaving the park - and if it is really crowded with traffic, we break up our trip. The Lake View Lodge in Lee Vinning looks clean and nice - but we have not booked anything yet, if others have suggestions for clean, more upscale than budget/ hostel, but doesn't need to be fancy lodging on the east edge of the park. On Thursday, we will leave the Mono Lake area and drive the 3.5 hours up 395 to Sugar Bowl to meet the wedding party - with stops in the Mono Lake area and perhaps at Bodie Ghost Town. Is there anything in Donner to see? My son might find its gruesome history interesting. If not, we may drive around Lake Tahoe, although that route seems longer, I imagine it is pretty.
Post wedding, we will drive back towards the SFO airport - on Route 80 or 49...with a stop in Fort Sutter Historical Park. I am leaving a day in at the end if there is anything we really want to see that we missed or we want to revisit - but if not, we sit by the hotel pool until our flight.
What am I missing - probably a lot
Thanks again!
cdc
cdc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 10:26 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 24,677
The drive around Lake Tahoe is gorgeous - I just did it recently (last summer and again in January).

There is nothing to see in Donner, although Donner Lake itself is very pretty, and the restaurant at the lodge at Tahoe Donner is very good.
sf7307 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 12:27 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 61,416
Actually the new Visitors center at Donner is quite good.
janisj is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 01:43 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 24,677
Oh, I didn't know that. I was thinking about outdoors stuff.
sf7307 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2018, 08:27 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,101
Lots of cool hiking around Sugar Bowl and Donner Summit. There are abandoned railroad tunnels for hiking.

https://www.theoutbound.com/lake-tah...ruckee-tunnels


MichelleY is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 24th, 2018, 11:27 AM
  #17
cdc
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 56
Thanks. This hike looks really fun! And perfect for the whole extended family. Inlaws are doing the wedding food tasting next week and will stop by the visitor center (if open) to get more info on the area. Thanks again everyone!
cdc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 24th, 2018, 01:49 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 61,416
Next week there is supposed to be snow several days and chains may be required.
janisj is online now  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:38 PM.