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I've got 7 days in Northern California Coming Up, Need Suggestions

I've got 7 days in Northern California Coming Up, Need Suggestions

Jun 20th, 2009, 02:42 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2009
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I've got 7 days in Northern California Coming Up, Need Suggestions

My wife and I are thinking about flying to San Francisco and then renting a car for about 5-7 days. We really don't have a clue about Northern California "Must See" or "Must Do" things. We thought a day or two in Sonoma or Napa wine country, maybe the redwoods, maybe a little of the coast. We really don't like tightly planned trips, we enjoy wandering a little.

So how are the distances and what should we see first? My thought, leave SF, drive to Sonoma, then cross over to Napa then up to Redwoods. Not sure where the best place is to get the full impact of the Redwoods.

Then I thought we might take the coast higway back to SF.

Any help.
marcuscarey is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 06:05 AM
  #2  
 
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Redwoods: Muir Woods is just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. In Sonoma County Armstrong Woods is off of River Road which goes out to the coast. You could make a nice loop in leaving 101 at River Road stopping at Armstrong Woods, continue to Jenner (stop and see the sea lions at the mouth of the river), go south on Hwy 1 to Bodega Bay and either back on Bodega Hwy (Hwy 12) to Santa Rosa (Hwy 101). Without stops that loop would take you about 2 hours and you'll see magnificent coastline (IMO)and beautiful redwoods. Otherwise you'll be driving about 3 hours north of San Francisco to get to Redwoods. Santa Rosa is about an hour north, depending on traffic. You could also do a loop from Muir Woods to the Coast, but I'm not sure of the details on that. We enjoy Point Reyes National Sea Shore on the Marin Coast.
CLynnWeg is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 06:10 AM
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I don't know as much about the Redwoods area so will leave that to others. Traveling the coast highway is stunningly beautiful. It's slow going so don't plan too much progress there! Been so long since I've been there that I don't really remember where we went other than Bodega Bay which was really cute.
Napa & Sonoma are great. I actually prefer Sonoma but it's a matter of preference. It's a little sleepier. Love visiting the wineries. Would be fun to rent bikes to do that rather than driving. Just read about both (try Food & Wine or Sunset magazine for ideas) to see which you'd like, or you could look up where your favorite wines are. I think the most fun is wandering into little wineries you've never heard of & meeting the winemaker. Pick up stuff for a picnic at one of the amazing little markets.
colomonica is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 07:10 AM
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A trip to Carmel, Pebble Beach, and Pacific Grove is always a highlight for CA visitors.
montereybob is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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Sonoma area (no need to do both Sonoma and Napa valleys and Sonoma is generally better and less congested)

Then through the Alexander Valley to the coast. The Sonoma and Mendocino county coasts are magnificent. The best redwoods are not Muir Woods - though they are the closest to SF.

You'll see redwoods in Armstrong State park or other places farther north (Navarro, Mailliard etc) Or if you go farther north you could see the Avenue of the Giants more.

W/ 5 days I'd do two near Sonoma or Calistoga or somewhere in that area, Two on the Mendocino coast (Little River, Mendocino or maybe Ft Bragg, and one enroute down the coast towards SF.

W/ 7 days you could go farther north and see the best of the redwoods. Sonoma - 2, northern Redwoods - 2, Mendocino - 2, enroute to SF - 1.
janisj is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 11:15 PM
  #6  
 
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Two must see places in No. CAL - Lake Tahoe & Yosemite. Both are known for their scenic beauty. You can easily combine both by going up Hwy80 from SF to Tahoe then wander down Hwy395 to Yosemite. Maybe take a slight detour through the June Lake area.
JayZee is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 12:18 AM
  #7  
 
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Bring a coat to San Francisco - and do spend some time in the city - Alcatraz, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, and the museums (Academy of Sciences is awesome but just too crowded these days - King Tut exhibit is starting this late June and will be here for quite some time ) I think that a long day's hike in Muir Woods to see the redwoods (check the parking lot even if the sign says it is "full" - and, do note, that these are not the biggest in Ca. but they are breathtaking and primeval, nonetheless ) and then a short drive to Muir Beach for a stroll on the windy beach followed by hot chocolate (or an irish coffee or dinner ) at the Pelican Inn (just outside of Muir Beach) is a lovely way to spend a day. Perhaps this is way too ambitious, but I would also look at the possibility of traveling south, down to Carmel and spending an afternoon there, strolling the shops, take the 7 mile drive and then spend the night in Monterey (blow some $ on the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa), see the aquarium or rent a kayak in the morning, then snake your way slowly back up the coast on 1 through Big Sur, Cambria (Hearst Castle is well worth a visit) then back to SF. Though Tahoe is breathtaking, too ( about a 4 hour drive from San Francisco to the North Shore). Heck. Can I come with you?
Laura2 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 08:21 AM
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Just to clarify a couple of points in Laura's post....first, after Carmel and Monterey, it would be "snaking your way slowly down the coast to Big Sur, Cambria, Hearst Castle" (thus, a longer drive back -- it's a great drive/trip, just didn't want you to think all of that was within two hours of San Francisco). Also, in case you're googling it, it's the 17 (not 7) mile drive.
sf7307 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 08:30 AM
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A couple of clarifications.
If you drive along the Alexander Valley which is in North Healdsburg..it will take you over to Napa valley and the town of Calistoga..not out to the ocean. You need to take Westside Road to go West.
IMO Armstrong woods is fab. Since it might get closed due to budget cuts, I'd see it now if you can.
Also, in Napa county/valley there is the town of Napa. In Sonoma county, there is the town of Sonoma. People go either to the town of Sonoma, or to the town of Healdsburg. Hbg. is about 1.5 hrs. north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
kleroux is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 09:23 AM
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You can't go wrong anywhere in NoCal. my personal favorite drive is the 1 north of san fran. it splits off of the 101 at Leggett and is one of the most fun drives anywhere. Yosemite is also a must. try to be there at sunset as the sun shines right into the valley from the west. awesome. a little known wine growing region near Yosemite is in Murphys, Ca. neat little town loaded with tasting rooms and great wines. Brice Station is my favorite vineyard, just north of town. Also north of Murphys is Calaveras Big Trees State Park for Sequoah viewing. have fun!
michael772 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 12:51 PM
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Oh -- sheesh!! Total brain fade. I Meant the Anderson Valley to the coast, NOT the Alexander Valley.
janisj is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 06:25 PM
  #12  
 
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San Francisco is one of the best cities in the world; if you haven't been there, leave time to explore the city. There is something for everyone! A meal at Chez Panisse in Berkeley is memorable. I agree with the recommendations to see Yosemite, Muir Woods and some wineries. The last time I was in northern CA a friend drove us to Point Reyes National Seashore. It was a beautiful drive that ended in a breathtaking spot. We saw elephant seals on the beach. We had great local oysters at The Station House restaurant (I believe it was in Point Reyes Station??)
Hmmmm....just reminiscing makes me think I am due to visit my friend in Berkeley again!
Have a wonderful trip!
minnehappylis is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 11:09 AM
  #13  
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We are now arriving in SF on July 20 and flying out at 5 am on the 28th. Renting a car at the airport. Thanks for all the suggestions. Yes, we've been to SF once before and enjoyed it very much, yes we've taken the PC highway down to Hearst castle and on to LA. This time we are going to try to stay in the North. So do you think we'd have time to do Sonoma, the northern redwoods, Yosemite and Tahoe all in one trip?
marcuscarey is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 11:51 AM
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No

Especially since you have to be near SFO the night before. "W/ 7 days you could go farther north and see the best of the redwoods. Sonoma - 2, northern Redwoods - 2, Mendocino - 2, enroute to SF - 1." Now you have 7+ days. so you could stay one more night somewhere.

It is a 4 hour drive from Yosemite Valley to Tahoe, a 4 - 5 hour drive from Tahoe to Napa, etc etc . . .

If you skipped the coast redwoods -- you could do Tahoe, Yosemite, Sequoia and a bit of the Amador/Mariposa wine region -- but the redwoods there are different species than the coastal variety.
janisj is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 11:53 AM
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Oh, the straight drive between Yosemite and Tahoe doesn't take that long -- but w/ summer traffic and two lane roads it could take even longer . . . .
janisj is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 12:46 PM
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Oh, the straight drive between Yosemite and Tahoe doesn't take that long -- neither does the drive from Tahoe to Napa. I can easily make Truckee to Napa in less than 3 hours, and without speeding.
sf7307 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 02:09 PM
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So can I -- But NOT during any kind of traffic in Auburn, Roseville, Sacramento, or Fairfield -- which is most any morning . . . . . .
janisj is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 02:32 PM
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True - timing is everything!
sf7307 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 02:56 PM
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We just did the San Fran, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe trip and had a great time. Adding wine country would have made a very busy week.

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...lake-tahoe.cfm
Birdie is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 04:45 PM
  #20  
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Okay, how does this sound?

Leave SF on the 20th in afternoon, drive with no plans and no schedule up to the Redwoods along the Coast Highway. Not sure how long we will take getting there but end up taking the redwood highway north to Weott. Then back track, cut across to Lake Tahoe, day or night there, then to Sonoma, then back to SF afternoon of 27th to drop car off at 5, then Fisherman's Wharf until late and a taxi to an early morning flight home. Doable at a leisurely pace?
marcuscarey is offline  

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