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Itinerary help (especially with traffic): San Francisco, Napa, Carmel

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Itinerary help (especially with traffic): San Francisco, Napa, Carmel

Old Mar 6th, 2013, 11:05 AM
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Itinerary help (especially with traffic): San Francisco, Napa, Carmel

My husband and I are traveling to SF, Napa, and Carmel in June. Our exact travel dates are a little flexible, but we must be in Napa on Friday night and Saturday night for a friend's wedding festivities. Cheapest flights are arriving on Wednesday. We need to depart on Monday or Tuesday. Would love to make Tuesday work, but might have to live with a Monday departure, as we have wee ones at home. So these are my options:

Option 1:

Wednesday: Arrive in SFO at 1:35 or 5pm. Take public transportation to hotel (haven't figured out where we're staying). Stay 2 nights.

Friday: Pick up rental car and head to Napa for 2 nights

Sunday: Head to Carmel. Stay 1-2 nights.

Monday or Tuesday: Catch flight out of San Jose at 1:35pm.

Option 2:

Wednesday: Arrive in San Jose at 5:40pm. Rent car and head to Carmel. Stay 2 nights.

Friday: Head to Napa for 2 nights.

Sunday: Drive to San Fran, return rental car and stay 2 nights.

Tuesday: Catch flight at 6:05, 8:20, or 10:50am.


As to those options, and speaking to logistics like picking up rental car, airport, traffic and driving only, which do you think is the better option? I'll be posting other questions about itinerary, but for now I'm just trying to decide where to fly in and out of and where to rent the car. I'm limited to SJC and SFO so know that other airports aren't an option. Thanks!

Thanks for your feedback!
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 11:33 AM
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I think either one works. In either case, leave for Napa before rush hour on Friday.
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 11:39 AM
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I would use San Jose airport as much as possible- much smaller and easier than SFO. I recently returned a car to SFO - I thought it was rather stressful compared to San Jose.
but then, I would not go to Napa either- much prefer Sonoma .
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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When is rush hour on Friday? Thanks!
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 11:49 AM
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I'd want to be leaving San Francisco by 3 p.m. at the latest.

As for the airport, I use both regularly, and I don't think it's a big deal which one you choose, other than choosing the one closer to where you're headed (i.e. San Jose if you're headed to Carmel, SFO if you're headed to San Francisco).
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 12:25 PM
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Thank you for the feedback, @sf7307.

@sunbum1944: We have wedding festivities in Napa so that's what we're limited to this trip. I hope to return to Sonoma sometime soon!

Anyone else have any thoughts? If you needed to catch a 1:35pm domestic flight on a weekday in San Jose, and you were coming from Carmel, what time would you leave Carmel?

thanks!
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 02:50 PM
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It took me less then 1:20 mins to get to San Jose International from Carmel this past Saturday. So depending on what time you like to get to a small airport before a flight, leaving Carmel around 10:30 a.m. should be sufficient.

I would choose option 1--Leaving San Jose for Carmel around 6pm will stick you in traffic and Carmel to Napa on a Friday will put you in traffic both in the San Jose area and the Bay Area; thereby reducing the time you have to spend in Carmel because you won't get there until 8 pm if you are lucky and you will have to leave early on Friday to avoid traffic.

BTW take 101N to 85W to 87N to get to SJ airport; yes, the airport website gives directions from 101 but there is practically no signage on 101 for the airport.
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 03:40 PM
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Sometimes it takes my daughter 2 hours to drive from Campbell to Monterey if traffic is bad- you just never know.

Last time I did that trip, I stayed close to the airport the night prior to departure
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 06:02 PM
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IME,On a Friday I would be out of SF by 1:00 PM-that's my
rule. 2 PM M-Thurs. Are you taking 80 or 101/37 to Napa ?

There are a few scenic routes through the southern end of
Sonoma County. You could take 101 to 37
hang a left on 121 at Sears Point. Follow it to the intersection
where 121 meets 12 and head over to Napa.

If you have a little time, you could have lunch on the square in the town of Sonoma before proceeding on over to Napa.

R5
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 06:46 PM
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1 would be even safer than 3
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 10:53 PM
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Re Option 1:
- If you arrive on the earlier flight, take a cab to SF from the airport; you'll save 30 minutes. BART is sloooow. If you arrive on the later one, BART will still be slow, but a taxi won't be terribly fast either.
- Make sure you clear out of SF by 2pm on Friday.
- Napa to Carmel on Sunday should be OK, about 3 hour drive. I'd take 680 down to San Jose and then 101.
- Carmel to SJC should be 1:30 or so, but you could get stuck in traffic on 156 or 101. Probably not for a 1:35pm flight, but I'd probably leave myself two hours just in case.

Re Option 2:
- You are arriving at the heart of rush hour. Perhaps by the time you get your bags and car it will have abated somewhat. If not, grab dinner in San Jose, and then drive down to Carmel. You can play this by ear and check traffic when you get there.
- Friday, you'll probably drive up 101 to San Jose, and then take 680 over the Sunol Grade up to Benicia, and then go over to Napa. Avoid 880 and 101 through SF at all costs. You want to be through San Jose and Dublin (680/580 intersection) by about 4, so you'll probably have to leave by 2:15 at the latest.
- Napa to SF on Sunday will involve traffic, unless you leave early afternoon.

I'd probably go with option 1. As long as you leave SF before everyone else on Friday, you should be OK.

BTW, Carmel is the other end of the Bay Area from Napa. If it were me, I'd probably do Sonoma, Healdsburg, Bodega Bay, Pt Reyes, and/or Marin instead.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:13 PM
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I think we've decided on Option 1. I hear many of you suggesting Sonoma, and I'd love that, but we're going to wedding festivities in Napa.

I just found out there's a NASCAR race in Sonoma that weekend. How does that change things for Option 1??

Thanks for ALL of your feedback!!
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:59 PM
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Option 1 will probably work better if there is a race at Sears Point, since you will be heading away from it to get to Carmel.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 06:10 PM
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Have you checked on flights to Sacramento (SMF) and renting the car there? It beats trying to drive over the Oakland Bay Bridge either way. Oakland also has an airport.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 06:38 PM
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The race is probably going to affect Saturday and Sunday traffic mostly. I don't think you'll be affected too much, since you'll probably leave early enough on Friday from SF, and most race traffic out of SF will be on Saturday morning. On Sunday, you'll be heading from Napa Valley to Carmel, and you be heading away from the race. On Sunday, make sure you take the East Bay route (routes 29 > 37 > 80 > 780 > 680 > 101 > 156 > 1) and don't think of heading back through SF.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:43 AM
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If I'm going from Napa to Carmel on Sunday, then from Carmel to the San Jose airport on Tuesday, will I be missing the scenic Highway 1? I don't know which portion of 1 is the "must see" part and whether I can hit that or not? Thanks!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 09:58 AM
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The most scenic part is south of Carmel, to Big Sur. You will not pass this area on the way down from Napa or on the way to San Jose. Take a day while in Carmel to go down Hwy 1 to Big Sur and environs.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 09:13 AM
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Yes, the Big Sur stretch of coast is very dramatic and beautiful, and you should see it if possible, but almost all of California's coast is beautiful and worth seeing. On your return to San Jose airport you'll be cutting inland and won't see too much coast, except around Monterey Bay. I think you would enjoy driving down the coast from San Francisco to Carmel when you leave Napa. You can use Google Maps to get driving directions. Once across the Golden Gate Bridge here are some places you could see enroute (these are in order, heading south from SF via Great Highway to Hwy 35 to Hwy 1):
http://goo.gl/maps/6kdIB

Palace of Legion of Honor
Cliff House & Sutro Baths
Ocean Beach
maybe see some hang-gliders at Fort Funston
the pier in Pacifica
Pacifica State Beach
Devil's Slide
Gray Whale Cove Beach
Point Montara Light Station
Moss Beach Distillery (restaurant, great view, perched on cliff)
Pillar Point Harbor in El Granada
Half Moon Bay (small town)
San Gregorio State Beach
Pescadero State Beach
Pescadero (small town)
Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Ano Nuevo State Reserve
Greyhound Rock (a beach area)
Davenport (small town)
Natural Bridges State Beach
Santa Cruz (city)
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Moss Landing State Wildlife Area
Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge
Monterey (city)
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Cannery Row
17 Mile Drive
Carmel (town)
Carmel River State Beach


I think it's a gorgeous drive.
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