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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 22nd, 2009, 05:08 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,322
" . . . drive with no plans and no schedule up to the Redwoods along the Coast Highway. . . . . "

not really - because free wheeling along the coast, at Tahoe, or especially in Sonoma in summer w/o reservations is a crap shoot.

Weott is almost to Eureka - from there to Tahoe is a hell of a looooong drive.

I'd not go as far as Weott unless I had 3 full days absolute minimum - not just for up there, but for the trip up, exploring, and the drive back.

You are trying to cover a LOT of territory. I'd personally stick to the coast, redwoods, and Sonoma area -- that will fill your 7 days nicely. If you really REALLY want to fit Tahoe in -- then you'll have to fudge on someplace else.

The fast roads (I-5, I-80 across the valley, etc) are not the least bit scenic. And the scenic roads are not the least bit fast. You'll be logging a lot of car time
janisj is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 05:13 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 11,120
I would also change an evening in Fisherman's Wharf to an evening in North Beach.
Birdie is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 05:41 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 17
too much on one trip. would do redwoods & wine country on 1 trip and yosemite/tahoe on another. you pick which you want to prioritize earlier!
colomonica is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 469
I agree with janisj, I'd stick with a wine country, redwoods, north coast itinerary. A 7 day roadtrip is plenty of time to do justice to the area. I'd start out by heading to the Napa side (I prefer Napa over Sonoma, but either is good) and stay in either Yountville or St. Helena for 2 nights midweek. Then head north up 101 to the Avenue of the Giants and grab a room for nights 3-4, probably around Garberville or Benbow. Then head over to the coast and start the southern leg along Highway 1, stay in Fort Bragg or Mendocino for nights 5-6, Cross over the Golden Gate and into SF for night 7. Celebrate with a great SF dinner of your choice.

Yosemite and Tahoe are indeed "must sees" but in July they will both be crowded and reservations required, so not conducive to the wandering you desire--save them for an early May or late September time line when you could do both without advance resv. For that trip you could also fly into Reno as another option. Yosemite in particular is awesome during the Spring thaw.
Parrothead is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 03:13 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,823
Don't miss Point Reyes NP, Mount Tam, and Muir Woods, all just a short drive north of SF.
emalloy is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 17
One of my favorite things is Ocean/Slough Kayaking down the Elk River Slough/Bird Sancuary or in Montery Bay.. Affordable and Fun.
one1badpirate is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,322
OK -- this is the second rec for Muir Woods. If one is going up north to see Redwoods, there is no reason whatsoever (none IMO) to visit Muir Woods. They are nice to be sure, but they are generally recommended simply because they are so close to SF - not because the trees are special/large/whatever. It is an over-visited small redwood park. NOTHING like the massive redwood stands/parks up north.
janisj is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 06:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5
I sure do thank you guys for all your suggestions. I think we just don't mind car time as much as some. We kinda like to see things as we drive and maybe take a hike into the Redwoods, a few hours driving around Lake Tahoe and one evening in a casino on the NV side, then drive down to see a winery or two. We hardly ever spend more than one night in one spot.

For example, a 7 hour drive to us is not much (where we live it's a 2 hour round trip to the grocery). Although 14-16 hours in one day is a bit too much we never take expressways unless we are in a big hurry to get somewhere so the driving is a big part of our sightseeing.

We took several days one time to drive from Cincinnati to Manhattan and took back roads all the way.

According to Mapquest, from SF to Eureka is only like 5 hours on 101, although I'm sure it's longer on the Coast highway but the Coast highway drive would be the goal, not the arrival point which would just be the place we sleep until we drive again. Of course we want to see the redwoods, but I've kinda got a Clarke Griswold attitude about that stuff, see them, bob my head, move on.

From Eureka to South Lake Tahoe Mapquest says is only about 7 hours. Probably not as pretty but if we land on the North Lake shore and drive around it, that sounds nice.

So I was thinking a day from SF to Eureka, maybe a night on the road. A day in the Redwoods, then a day to Tahoe is 3-4 days. One night in Tahoe (unless I'm winning big of course) then a day to the wine valleys is 5-6, then the short drive to SF and one evening there was doable in 7 plus days. NO?
marcuscarey is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 6
I agree with janisj and emalloy. You don't want to exhaust yourselves. Pt. Reyes is not to be missed. The lighthouse and the Station Restaurant are a must-do and the drive is scenic. Napa is VERY crowded in the summer and tasting lines can be long. You might want to try the Silvarado Trail. Sonoma is beautiful, but the wineries can be harder to find if you are pressed for time. Our favorite last stop of the day was always Domaine Carneros for a flight of champagne and a cheese plate overlooking the vineyards. There are good wine country maps available showing the location of the wineries. I would skip Fisherman's Wharf and head to the Ferry Building for a real culinary treat. Caviar & champagne at Tsar Nikolai, Hog Island Oysters w/a glass of sauvignon blanc, Cow Girl Creamery Cheese, Scharffen Berger chocolate and more local delicacies. On Saturday mornings, there is a farmers market outside of the building with lots of delicious local goodies. Oh, how I miss SF! And, of course, you can take the ferry to Sausalito and "Sit on the Dock of the Bay"
Trish2 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 07:14 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
I strongly feel that Yosemite/Tahoe/Gold Country/Sierras deserves its own trip and that you will have a nicer vacation if you stay on one side of the Central Valley for your itinerary. Let's say you pick SF, Napa/Sonoma wine country & the coast: Several good ideas have been posted so far: I agree that the River Road along the Russian River to Jenner is lovely. Check out Guerneville. The Sonoma Coast north of Jenner is rocky and dramatic. You may find yourself stuck behind some cows crossing, but just enjoy the view. The state park at Fort Ross is a lovely picnic spot. If you want to go all the way up to Eureka to see the big redwoods up there, I would suggest stopping at the Benbow Inn in Garberville. If you like historic hotels, this would be wonderful for you. It's squeezed between 101 and the Eel River, but traffic on that stretch of 101 is very light, so not too noisy. They have a wonderful dining room with nice wine list. Garberville itself is one of those little towns that time forgot. They still have their independently owned, single-screen cinema going on Main Street. There's also a great little cafe for breakfast & lunch. Check the calendar for the dates of "Reggae on the River" in Garberville, or else you won't be able to find accomodations in the area. On the way to Eureka, you'll want to stop in Ferndale to see the historic downtown. Enjoy!
Alfredos_mom is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 07:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2
We just did this trip in January. It was great! The Benbow Inn is the place to stay..it's just outside the Redwood Park.
Muir woods is lovely but wait and do the really big trees if time is short.
We stayed at Apple Valley Inn in the wine area. We made no reservations..just stopped at 5:30PM and got great rates.
Ferrari vineyard is beautiful and the wines are delicious. We also enjoyed the tours and tastings at Korbel. That is a freebie.
Mendicino is a lovely town and well worth an explore.
We drove to some town that was supposed to be known for it's Victorian houses...not worth the drive.
bevrossg is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,322
bevrossg: "We made no reservations..just stopped at 5:30PM and got great rates." But you were traveling in January . . . That would not be the case in the summer -- if you waited til 5:30 PM now you could end up sleeping in your car.

Marcuscarey: Folks have suggested (or flat out said) that you are trying to cover too much ground in too little time. It is your trip - so you should do what you want. W/ that plan you will see much of northern California's glorious scenery through your windshield. If you'd rather spend 7 hours w/ your butts in your car seats instead of actually getting outside and exploring - that's your choice. But your idea to "see them, bob your head and move on" tells me you really shouldn't drive all the way up to the northern redwoods. Save the time/stress and just pop into Muir Woods and say "been there - done that", then hop over to Lake Tahoe. I think that would better suit your travel style . . . .
janisj is offline  
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