Napa to San Francisco on Friday

Jul 27th, 2005, 06:10 PM
  #1  
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Napa to San Francisco on Friday

We're planning a 2-week trip mid Sept 2005, Seattle to San Francisco. This board has been very helpful, thanks to those who contribute. In planning our itinerary, believe we will visit Napa Valley on the way to SF rather than do a day trip once we're there. If so, we will be there on a Friday. We're not into wine but want to see the area and maybe tour one or two, have lunch or dinner to experience Napa food, and then drive into SF. Reading the posts about the rush traffic, wondering when we should go - leave Napa early to beat the rush or wait until evening. We will be staying in North Beach area. Would appreciate suggestions and best route to take. Thanks.
texasjo is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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Boy, that's a tough one. You will be going against the regular commute traffic, but it is a Friday night and a lot of people go into the City to have dinner, show etc. If it were me, and obviously it's not, it's you..but, I would either head down to SF right after an early lunch or wait and have dinner and leave then. I would just go down 101 through Marin and over the GG bridge. That's just me also, but I HATE the east bay traffic and then 85 thousand lanes merging on to the Bay Bridge, and....well, I would use 101.
crefloors is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 06:43 PM
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Why not visit Sonoma county instead ?
Ok, I'm biased I live here

From Napa I would take 121/12 EAST
over to where these 2 split,just east & south of the town of Sonoma.
At the 3-way intersection, hang a left
onto 121. Follow this to Sears Point
and the intersection with Hwy 37.
Turn right and follow 37 to the junction with Hwy 101. Take Hwy 101
over the Golden Gate into SF. If you have an early dinner and leave Napa
around 7 PM, you still have enough light to see the bridge and the scenery
along the way.

The major rush crunch will be going North on 101 from SF between 3-7 PM.
You will encounter some back up
going South on 101 from Sausalito into SF between 4-6 PM or so.

Expect Napa to be very crowded on a Friday in September-it's usually
harvest time (the "crush). There is only one 2-lane road -Hwy 29-that runs the length of the Valley. Left tuens into wineries create more havoc.
You could also
use the Silverado trail (which parallels
Hwy 29) but have a good map to find your way out of the Valley.

Just curious, where are you driving
from (the night before)to Napa ?
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 06:47 PM
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I'm with crefloors..
I-80 and the Bay Bridge might look quicker/easier than 101, yet I would only consider driving through there between midnight and 4AM !
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 11:38 PM
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razzledazzle, we're driving down the coast from Crescent City on Thursday and plan to cut over to 101 and stay at Ukiah Thurs night. That should enable us to get to Napa about 10 a.m. on Friday. We could possibly do this area on Tuesday- would that be less crowded??- as a day trip but we wanted to go to Monterey/Carmel and would have to make that a day trip also. If we go to Napa on Friday, we plan to spend the weekend in SF and then stay Monday night in Monterey. We have to return to SF for Tues night as we have Noon flight home on Wed.
Thanks to all for your replies.
texasjo is offline  
Jul 28th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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Had trouble find this, moved down rapidly! If we do day trips from SF, can you reasonably do sights down as far as Big Sur Light and return in one day? Visiting wine country on Tues, our last day, might be nice ending to our trip.
texasjo is offline  
Jul 28th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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Texas, when you open Fodor's website, you see your name on the top of the screen, right? Just click on it, and all your posts will line up on top, no need to scroll down.

This is our little secret
FainaAgain is offline  
Jul 28th, 2005, 12:39 PM
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You may want to check some wine country maps before you fix on Napa for a Friday. Ukiah is north of the wine valleys. It is just north of the Anderson River area, which has rural small wineries but no real tours. Further south will be the Sonoma Valley and then to the south east the Napa Valley. The Napa Vally wineries are the most commercial and closely packed together, Sonoma is less densely commercialized.

The town of Napa is furthest south and will not have wineries. I suspect you will want some nice winery tours along with your tastings. Search this board and you will get some good ideas.

There are great restaurants all through this area.

Your main considerations should include winery hours (most close up at 5PM) and traffic. Decide on a few places you want to see on your way from Ukiah to San Francisco, and decide where you might want to eat. You will need reservations for most if not all of the restaurants, unless you walk in at 5:30 or so.

Getting to San Francisco after dinner may be your best bet, depending on your hotel and parking arrangements. Parking in San Francisco is harder than getting a hotel room.

So, come up with a few ideas and post them for more comments. It sounds like you'll have an interesting but long day.
AJPeabody is offline  
Jul 28th, 2005, 06:16 PM
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Thanks, FainaAgain. You can tell I'm new to Forum!

AJ, I have researched a lot on the wineries (have maps) and will have a plan for our visiting/touring/tasting when we go. The real problem is we will only have one day so have to decide whether it should be on Friday or wait and do a day trip on the next Tuesday. So much to see and don't want to miss either wine country or Monterey/Carmel. Are the day trips a better plan??

Thinking we'll try for Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen for lunch. So many resturants sound too good, hard to decide.

Thanks! I welcome your suggestions.
texasjo is offline  
Jul 29th, 2005, 06:07 PM
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Help, anyone, on latest questions?? Thx!
texasjo is offline  
Jul 29th, 2005, 06:34 PM
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DEfinitely do the Napa-Sonoma trip on your way down.

No sense backtracking just to taste wine.

California has hundreds of wineries, so if you miss one, there's always another one down the road.

As for time to get into San Francisco, the later the better. Either way, 101 or I80, it's going to be baaad, especially at peak traffic hour. The suggestion to stop and have a great dinner in Wine Country, then get into SF after dark would be good. Wait until everyone has driven into the City for dinner, a show, whatever - then drive in.

Which route you choose depends very much on where your hotel in SF will be.

Also, after leaving SF and going to Monterey/Carmel, don't go back to SF for the night. San Francisco Airport is SOUTH of SF, so if you return to SF and then go back down again to SFO, you are backtracking again.

Plan your trip so that you are continuously going south from Mendocino to Wine Country to SF to Monterey/Carmel.

The only time you backtrack will be going from Monterey to San Francisco Airport. It's a two hour drive from Monterey. If you do decide to return to SF, give up the car, and get to the airport via BART. Or, you could get a hotel near the airport - lots of great choices.

Hope this helps a bit!
easytraveler is offline  
Jul 31st, 2005, 10:10 AM
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Thanks easytraveler! It helps a lot. The "don't go on Friday" thing scared me a bit but seems the original plan makes more sense, and we'll have a night in Monterey before coming back to SF. Have already booked hotel near airport for return.

texasjo is offline  
Jul 31st, 2005, 01:37 PM
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As we have done the "into the City"
on many a Friday eve from Sonoma
County, I can say that if you leave
Napa around 7PM you'll hit the GG Bridge as the sun is beginning to set and the back up from the Bridge to the Waldo tunnel (Sausalito)will be gone.

Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen is my currrent St. Helena favorite for long lunches.
It's been graced by a few other Fodorites as well...
Be sure to make a reservation !
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Jul 31st, 2005, 01:38 PM
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As we have done the "into the City"
on many a Friday eve from Sonoma
County, I can say that if you leave
Napa around 7PM you'll hit the GG Bridge as the sun is beginning to set and the back up from the Bridge to the Waldo tunnel (Sausalito)will be gone.

Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen is my currrent St. Helena favorite for long lunches.
It's been graced by a few other Fodorites as well,
Be sure to make a reservation !
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Jul 31st, 2005, 09:42 PM
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Razzledazzle, that helps! ...what's your favorite place for early dinner before we head to the city? Casual, as we will not have a chance to change.
texasjo is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:04 AM
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Razzledazzle (or anyone) - did you see my followup question?? Also, dinner in North Beach - Ristorante Franchino, Mona Lisa, or Stinky Rose? Thanks.
texasjo is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:10 AM
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Not the Stinking Rose: mediocre food and one of the worst tourist traps you'll around!
bardo1 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:19 PM
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I agree with bardo1
Stinking Rose, Awful !!!

Mona Lisa

A yummy early dinner place...how about Cafe La Haye in Sonoma town, you could
stroll the square as well.
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:33 PM
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I would take the Hwy 12 exit from 101 to go from Santa Rosa to Sonoma. This goes by some wineries which are actually on their own vineyards and you will not hsve a lot of traffic. It is also a beautiful drive through the Valley of the Moon.

I can suggest Kunde Estate Winery, which has a tunnel in the limestone mountainside for storing wine. It was done with the same technology that built the Chunnel between England and France. Chateau St. Jean is also on this route.

The town of Sonoma is interesting, built around an 8 acre plaza around the 1820's, many of the original adobe buildings still survive. Not too far from the town of Sonoma is the historic Buena Vista Winery. Sebastiani is on the edge of town.

As you leave Sonoma on your way south to Hwy 101 is the Carneros appelation with Viansa and a couple of other wineries, including the Gloria Ferrar champagne cellars.

We don't go to Napa anymore. It is a zoo.

If you are interested you can get wine maps, etc. at the visitor's website..www.sonomavalley.com
jtrandolph is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 06:40 PM
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I second the recommendation on Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen. Do make a reservation as we couldn't get a seat for a weekday lunch last week at 1pm. For a fun casual dinner I suggest "Boon Fly Cafe" on Hwy 121 just a couple miles West of Napa (on the way to Sonoma).
cobbie is offline  
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