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Help with our CA itinerary during 1st week of November

Help with our CA itinerary during 1st week of November

Old Oct 4th, 2021, 12:36 PM
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Before we start designing itineraries, I wonder if they really do want to see the Aquarium or were just interested in the drive. There are some nice coastline drives south of San Francisco and in Marin County, also.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 12:44 PM
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The only drives I've seen kids that age enjoy involved Christmas lights. Coastal scenery, no matter how beautiful we adults think it is, does nothing for little kids.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Barbara View Post
The only drives I've seen kids that age enjoy involved Christmas lights. Coastal scenery, no matter how beautiful we adults think it is, does nothing for little kids.
^^This, exactly.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 01:42 PM
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That isn't our decision to make although that rarely stops Fodorites. Might be that this is the parent's vacation too. Maybe they've done this before and know how to keep them entertained on road trips. If not, they will soon find out.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 02:31 PM
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"Coastal scenery does nothing for little kids"

Even little kids who've never seen the ocean? Or as my kids called it the first time they saw the Pacific........"the sea! the sea! the sea!".
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 06:43 PM
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I appreciate all the thoughtful responses. Here are some clarifications:

Main focus in SFO is just the Golden gate bridge.
Regarding the Big Sur drive - It has been in my personal bucket list for quite some time and want to do it . Kids have been pretty much okay for road trips so far. But based on all your comments, we may swap the big sur drive and stay and spend a day in Carmel. We have been to so many aquariums and did not want to visit one during this trip se we have very limited days.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 07:42 PM
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Fair enough.

Definitely visit Point Lobos. From there you can drive down into the north end of Big Sur and back to Carmel. Plenty of great scenery without driving the whole distance.

. . . Now, have you booked your room at Yosemite?
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 09:05 PM
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Before booking Yosemite, please check the air quality in the valley. Fresno air has been off the charts horrible due to the fires in Sequoia/Kings Canyon. Today the air quality index in Yosemite Valley was 183 rated " unhealthy." On the bright side, it is expected to improve but I wouldn't spend all the time driving there to be miserable so please do check it out daily. If Yosemite becomes unlikely, with kids that age, I would completely skip SF, Tahoe and Yosemite and fly to San Jose and go to Santa Cruz, Carmel ( Point Lobos, Dennis the Menace Park and the beach at Lovers Point) maybe even down to San Simeon for the Sea Lions and then back over to Fresno to fly home.

Last edited by lynni; Oct 4th, 2021 at 09:13 PM.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 07:45 AM
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It's a good point made by lynni, but be aware also that the situation will change from day to day, depending on wind conditions. Backup plans are essential.

I find it more helpful to use the webcams.
https://halfdome.net/

Saturday looked awful, but Sunday was better.

One of the reasons to try and book a spot with a good cancel policy. Direct with Aramark, you can cancel 7 days prior.

I agree I might not want to book to fly out of Reno for the return. I'd probably go with either a return trip to San Jose or Fresno. I think it gives you more flexibility in case you decide not to go to Yosemite.
You can track fires on Inciweb https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
closures on the Park websites for current conditions https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm for Yosemite.

Re Big Sur, if the weather is good (which it often is) I would not skip it. You do not have to do the whole thing. Carmel to San Simeon is about 3 hours but of course you can take much more time. Southbound is easier for pullovers but "scarier".

Motel 6 in San Simeon might work for a backup plan since they have the best cancel policy in the business (6pm day of arrival.) Drive Carmel to San Simeon and spend the night there. From San Simeon to the Fresno Airport is about 3 hours, back to San Jose is about the same (via 101).
If you are not familiar with Motel 6 they are basically just a room with beds. Amenities such as a refrigerator are up to the individual operator. This one is refreshed but no amenities. If you want to spend more, San Simeon and Cambria have other lodgings.
Or there is a great family-owned motel in Paso Robles that I used once, the Adelaide Inn. They have a 48 hour cancel policy if booked direct. Might be more comfortable for a family, reasonably priced during the week. (eg all the rooms are ground floor, kitchenette, near a McDonalds and Grocery Outlet). Paso is about another hour from San Simeon.

Last edited by mlgb; Oct 5th, 2021 at 08:35 AM.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 08:07 AM
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""Main focus in SFO is just the Golden gate bridge.""

Note that the scenic lookout at the north end of the bridge is closed to cars on weekends.

The best views of the bridge (IMO) are from the Golden Gate National Rec area at the north end of the bridge - high above the coastline on the top of some mountains. Take Conzelman Ave (use your GPS). You go up & up & up - at first you'll see the bridge with The City behind it. Then you'll see the City through the spans of the bridge, then you get on top & see the bridge below the City. And views down the coast to the San Mateo coast. All along the way there are WWII bunkers and forts you can explore. Your family might enjoy that. I like to watch the raptors circling above. After you get on top, stay on the one-way road that has fantastic views of the Golden Gate (entrance to the bay). More WWII stuff and an interesting museum (open on weekends). Even a lighthouse. You can visit the mammal center also. One of my favorite spots in the Bay Area (46 year resident) . Check opening days - sometimes Conzelman has been closed.



If you take mlgb's advice to take 280 into the city to get to the bridge, it is best to not take it all the way downtown - but to get off at 19th Ave instead. However, 19th is undergoing repairs (but I have not checked to see if they have been completed). We try to avoid 19th ave - but on weekends they are not doing repairs so it may be OK.

Visit Fort Point for great views of the GG Bridge (use a GPS to get there - tricky driving).

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Oct 5th, 2021 at 08:52 AM.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 10:25 AM
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There's a lot of ocean scenery to see on the Monterey Peninsula but if you decide to drive down to Big Sur (and assuming you're returning to the Monterey Peninsula), I would just drive as far as the village which is only 45 minutes or so south of here (not including stops and traffic). Along this stretch from north to south are Point Lobos, Garrapata, Andrew Molera, Pfeiffer Big Sur and Pfeiffer Beach. The day use fee is good at all state parks on the same day so save your receipt. Pfeiffer Beach is federal and requires a separate fee. If the weather is nice it will be busy on weekends so you might not find parking everywhere and may have to play your stops by ear.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 10:37 AM
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Friday night Pickup car and stay with family ( think you did not count this as Day 1).

Day 1 Saturday (San Francisco) Drive to see the Golden Gate Bridge. My favorite view is also as described by Stu from Conzelman. However IF you can get there early, you may be able to park on the north side.
https://www.goldengate.org/bridge/vi...tions-parking/
Also visit west end of Golden Gate Park (look for the Buffalo herd). Windmills, Buffalo Paddock, Spreckel's Lake.
Finding parking in GG Park on the weekend can be tricky. I usually park at the Ocean Beach end, sometimes you can find a spot on the west end of JFK drive.
https://goldengatepark.com/buffalo-paddock.html
Saturday night San Jose, stay with family if they let you!

Day 2 to Day 4 Sunday to Wednesday morning: Drive San Jose to Yosemite Spend 3 nights Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (two and a half days is plenty) Leave Wednesday morning before traffic gets bad.
Monday and Tuesday are two full days in Yosemite. You might even be able to get away with two nights. (half day Sunday, full day Monday, half day Tuesday)
Rooms ARE available if you book now, in either Curry Village canvas tents (get the heated ones) or the Yosemite Valley Lodge.
Look at the park website.

Day 4/5 Wednesday haf day /Wednesday night to Thursday
Drive to Carmel from Yosemite (if you want to drive the southbond side of Big Sur). Assume you will spend a few hours in the morning at Yosemite and reach Carmel around dusk, with not much time to do anything.Wednesday night in Carmel or Pacific Grove. (I like the Asilomar Conference Grounds lodging). They do have some options with flexible cancellation. Lots of nice places to eat out in PG. (Red House Cafe breakfasts!) And a few less expensive chains, like Subway. A lot are still doing takeout.
https://reservations.ahlsmsworld.com...Plan-Your-Trip

Day 5 Thursday full day, for Big Sur. Night either in Carmel/PG or back in San Jose.

Day 6 Friday drive back to San Jose. You should have time for a visit to Point Lobos if you missed it. Note I am not clear if you need to leave on Friday or Saturday.

Day 7 Saturday Flight home (I may not have counted correctly) If not, then you drive back on Thursday night for a Friday flight.

Last edited by mlgb; Oct 5th, 2021 at 10:59 AM.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 12:06 PM
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""Pfeiffer Beach is federal and requires a separate fee. If the weather is nice it will be busy on weekends so you might not find parking everywhere and may have to play your stops by ear.""

When we were there a few weeks ago, Pfeiffer Beacch was closed (I think), as were most federal parks (because of fire threat). But it may be open when you'll be there. Very scenic. We drove past Pt Lobos twice. First time was early/mid morning, going from our 10 nights in Carmel to 2 nights in Big Sur. Both times the parking lot was full and people were parking on Hwy 1. A long walk. Both "drive bys" were on week days.

Also, regarding my & mlgb's favorite view of the GG bridge from Conzelman. It is a much better view in the afternoon than it is in the morning. In the morning, the sun will be in your face & you see very little. Same with the lookout just at the north end of the Bridge..

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Oct 5th, 2021 at 12:20 PM.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 12:51 PM
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Los Padres National Forest reopened on September 23rd. This includes Pfeiffer Beach.

For Point Lobos early or late works best. Through November 7th, Point Lobos hours are 8am to 7pm.
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Old Oct 11th, 2021, 03:56 PM
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calif trip

i agree with janis that a plan to drive from SF to Big Sur to Yosemite in one day would very unpleasant to impossible. I urge you to skip the night in SF and spend that night in Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove and then possibly drive to Yosemite the next day. I just drove from Monterey to Yosemite and be aware that this drive alone took us 5 hours.
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Old Oct 12th, 2021, 08:31 AM
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I haven't read all of the posts but since you are arriving at San Jose and have family there think about taking the Amtrak bus to Stockton to get on the San Joaquins train to Fresno. Take a taxi from the Fresno Amtrak station to the Fresno airport (FAT) to rent your car. If you want to see the Sequoias that you would see in Kings Canyon, you can see a nice grove of them in the southern end of Yosemite in the Mariposa Grove.
Save San Francisco (Golden Gate bridge) for the end of the trip if you have the time.
I always prefer to rent and return rental cars at the place where I rented to prevent drop fees.
MY DW and I did arrive on a San Joaquins train at Fresno and taxi to the airport to get a rental car to go into Yosemite from the south entrance so I know how that works. The turnoff to the right just inside the south gate goes directly into Mariposa Grove.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 07:01 PM
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check out Sutter Creek where gold was discovered then drive hwy 49 to Columbia and on to Yosemite. its 4-5 hrs by car to Tahoe from SF on a Friday night. If you want Sf delete Tahoe go to the Wharf and to China Town with the kids. South to Monterey and the aquarium (world famous) is another option. very doable drive from SF
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 07:02 PM
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forget Carmel and pacific grove for the kids. that's adults.
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