How long of a trip? (wine country/San Fran)

Old May 14th, 2003, 01:34 PM
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How long of a trip? (wine country/San Fran)

We are from Florida and making our last big trip before kids. We really enjoy wine, and would like to spend some time tasting, exploring and just puttering around Sonoma/Napa.
Additionally we'd like to spend a bit of time in San Francisco as we've never visited CA at all and will be flying in/out of there anyway. Kind of a hit the highlights overview.
The truth is that we didn't expect accommodations to be so pricey in Sonoma/Napa and are feeling like we should shorten our trip.(Lodging suggestions welcome!)
How many days would you suggest in each place? We are thinking will will have 8 days total including travel days. (But if we had to we could stretch it)I'm thinking 5 in wine country and 3 in San Fran...
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Old May 14th, 2003, 02:07 PM
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Welcome to the Bay Area. There's no such thing as reasonable accommodations. I paid $40 to park my car at my hotel in SF. In Napa I would look into the John Muir Inn. Nothing fancy, just a nice hotel in the town of Napa right on the highway. The wineries really start north of Napa on Highway 29, then back to Napa on the Silverado Trail. I think you can have a good sampling of Napa in one day; Definitely 2. Better to spend the hotel money in one of the excellent restaurants. Make reservations in advance. Same thing for Sonoma. Then off to Healdsburg and the Alexander Valley for a day.

In San Francisco, stay on the outskirts and take public transportation into the city. That way you'll avoid the parking fee.

The whole area is very romantic. You may be having kids sooner than you planned.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 06:32 PM
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Here's a great website I found from the friends in the SF area. http://www.wineroad.com

Click on the Lodgings tab.

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Old May 14th, 2003, 08:46 PM
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I think Madwen has a good suggestion about staying outside of SF instead of IN town. Some people describe SF as being soemwhat grimy and as a result are not too keen on staying in town. Usually when i go to SF on business I stay at one of the airport hotels. I think that 2 days in SF will be plenty, as it's a relatively small city. Spend the bulk of your time in the wine couintry. Napa, Sonoma, and Healdsburg are all great places to explore.

http://www.winecountry.com/

http://www.san-francisco-sfo.com/


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Old May 14th, 2003, 09:02 PM
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Marci
Another option:
We stayed at the Fishermans Wharf at the Radisson for $80.00 per night(Priceline) including parking. It is across the street from Pier's 41 and 39. We had a bay view and if we left our window open we could hear the harbor seals from Pier 39. We took cable cars to Chinatown and the Blue and Gold boats across the street to Alcatraz. We drove north to wine country, which is one hour away, and we drove south to Muir Woods, Sasalito (sp)?and San Jose. We loved our trip to SF and our time in wine country. We stayed in the Sonoma area for wine tasting and touring. It was great.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 09:08 PM
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Hi Marci,

You might get more suggestions if you tell us your price range and when you are planning on going. Also, what are your interests other than wine tasting -- do you like hiking, museums, shopping, etc.?

In any case, with 8 days I might recommend a day in the redwoods a little further north, spending a day or 2 in Monterey/Carmel, or checking out Stinson Beach/Pt. Reyes. I would take this time out of Napa, not SF, which is a spectacular city.

Other posters have used Priceline, Expedia, etc. to get better deals on lodging in Napa and SF. I would definitely not recommend staying near the airport -- it's several miles south of SF in an industrial area.

I've gotten offers from the Orchard, the Serrano and Monaco in SF, all of which are well-located and attractive hotels. They had packages that included valet parking. I live 10 minutes north in Marin County, so don't do too many overnights in the city. Hope this helps -- I think you are planning a wonderful trip!
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Old May 14th, 2003, 09:14 PM
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I agree with the others who say to stay outside of SF. There are many excellent hotels by the airport that offer a free shuttle to the Cal Train station. From there it's about a 15 minute ride into SF. Spending most of your time in the wine country (Napa and Sonoma) would be the best use of your time. I recommend no more than 2 days in SF.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 07:45 AM
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Hi. Thanks for the replies!
We are planning to go in June, the earlier in June the better actually.

To answer your questions,tpl, we really would like to keep lodging under $100 per night. It appears that it will be possible in SF but isn't looking so good in Sonoma.
As for other activities, I would say that shopping, sightseeing, we would enjoy, but probably not museums or state parks unless there was a specific attraction that appealed to us.
What is in Monteray/Caramel?
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Old May 15th, 2003, 09:48 AM
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Hi Marci,

For the Napa area, you might try staying someplace nearby like Calistoga or even Petaluma, where the lodging is less expensive. Also, you will be driving to wineries in any case, so it's not essential that you be located right in the town of Napa or Sonoma.

As for SF, it is a very easy city to drive, and for the most part, park in. It is nothing like NYC or other large cities that discourage driving. IMO you will definitely want to stay in the city to experience it. Cannot overstate how grim it is out by the airport (and how unnecessary it would be to take CalTrain in) on your vacation.

As for Carmel and Monterey, they are two beautiful cities on the Central Coast with stunning scenery; they are very nice places to walk and browse in. Do a search online and check them out. The drive from SF is between 2 and 2.5 hours. To save money, I recommend staying at one of the chain hotels like BW or Doubletree, or checking out Marina (the Marina Dunes inn has rooms starting at $99).

Have fun!
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Old May 15th, 2003, 12:20 PM
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Marci,

I wouldn't describe the area by SF airport as grim. There are lots of 4 and 5 star hotels there and many good restaurants to choose from. The rooms at the airport hotels are significantly larger and a much better value than inside SF. The airport area is a lot safer than being in town. The Caltrain into SF is very easy. Most if not all the hotels in the airport area have a complimentary shuttle to the train station.

As far as Monterey and Carmel, they both warrant a sidetrip. I would stay 2 dyas there. TPL's travel time to Monterey may be correct for the middle of the night when there is no traffic, but at other times during the day plan on about a 3.5 drive each way.

With the amount of time you have I would suggest the following:

2 days in SF, 4 days in the wine country, and 2 days in Monterey/Carmel.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 12:43 PM
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I personally could not imagine wanting to visit SF and staying at the airport, it would be similar to wanting to visit Paris but staying at CDG; or wanting to visit NYC and staying at JFK; or wanting to visit Chicago and staying at O'Hare. If you are visiting on business and have meetings nearby, yes it makes sense. But each to their own I guess.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 12:50 PM
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TravelCal says: The airport area is a lot safer than being in town.

Wow, that makes it sound like staying in SF is dangerous, which is simply not true.

Anyone who has visited SF one time or those who live there, will agree that tourists should stay in the city over staying at the airport. I think of the hotels near the airport as places you stay the night before your flight out or where you stay when you are attending a meeting in those hotels. It's just so much more fun to stay in the city and see the sights!
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Old May 15th, 2003, 01:30 PM
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SAB and Suzie, I have stayed near the airport many times when visiting SF. Some of us prefer to a larger room compared to the relatively small and usually overpriced rooms in town. The airport area is very close to downtown, just a few minutes by car or train. And as far as safety, fotunately I have not any problems in SF, but many people have mentioned to me that they just don't feel as safe in SF as they did before. I don't know what it is. Maybe it goes back to the homeless issue.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 01:48 PM
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Yes Marny I agree with you on that but it appears you are a returnee who has some good knowledge of the area. Marci is from FL and looking for a few days in the city. Saying that the drive to SF from the peninsula is a "few minutes" may not be a fair representation of how long it actually takes. If you stay on the peninsula the odds are that once you return to your room from a day of site seeing and change into dinner wear you aren't going to want to drive or shuttle back to the city. You just get a different kind of visit when you don't stay right in the city.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 02:06 PM
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Hmmm, SF is actually on the Peninsula. I don't recall ever having to cross a bridge to get into town from the airport area. However, back to the matter at hand, it usually takes me about 10 or 15 minutes at the most to get into SF from any of the hotels in South San Francisco or Burlingame. Even on my first trip to SF I never acutally stayed in SF and did not feel like I really missed out on anything. And the parking fees at the hotels in town is out of sight (about $40 per night). I know that a few people say to not have a car in SF and rent one when taking sidetrips. However, if she rents from an agency in downtown SF, it will likely cost more than renting from the SF airport. In addition, she would have to spend extra money for a shuttle service to the airport when she turns the car back in to the downtown SF rental car facility. In my expereince, renting a car at SF airport and returning it there is the most convenient way to go.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 02:16 PM
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Ok Marny. You know that nobody is talking about SF when they refer to living or working on the Peninsula. I feel I've made my point. Nobody has to agree with what I've posted but I do think you are being disingenuous by giving a tourist the impression that it would take a few minutes to get to and from the city. These people are coming from FL not from another city in CA. A "few minutes" to someone who is familiar with the city is wayyyyy different than a first timer in unfamiliar surroundings. Let's be fair.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:02 PM
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Marcie, you should listen to Suzie's advice! You will be missing a lot by staying near SFO to visit the city of San Francisco.

BTW Marny, if there is a 5-star hotel near SFO I have yet to hear of it. And the 4-star hotels near SFO aren't going for $100 or less. Also, what great restaurants are you referring to? I don't know too many people who travel all the way from Florida just to take in the sights of Millbrae and San Bruno.

TravelCal, travel time to Carmel has been discussed exhaustively on this forum before. I grew up in Carmel and still drive there often from Marin and SF. Taking 280 to 85 to 101 to 156 it takes 2 to 2.5 hours. Did you know the speed limit is now 65 on many highways? It doesn't sound like the original poster will be constrained by having to drive at rush hour (and even then I've never spent close to 3.5 hours on this drive).

One of the purposes of this forum is to share information with fellow travelers. I feel that posters like Marny and Travelcal are purposely sharing misleading information.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:02 PM
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Suzie,

I am just trying to share my experiences while in the SF area that may be helpful to Marci, or others for that matter. I really don't understand how it would take Marci any longer to take the train or drive into SF that it does for me or anyone else for that matter? Also, when people refer to the Peninsula, they also mean SF as well. Locals, including the weather forecsters, will typically refer to SF being either on the Peninsula or in the North Bay.
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