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Susan56 May 19th, 2003 07:55 AM

Need Advice for Family Trip - San Francisco/Monterey/Hearst/Sequoia or S.F./Yosemite/Monterey????
We originally planned a trip this summer with our two kids (12, 16) to S.F. for 4 nights, then on to Yosemite for 3 nights and then to Sequoia for 2 nights. We have since decided that 2 National Parks are a bit much for us and that we wanted to see more of the California coastline. So, we are now looking at spending 3 nights in S.F., 2 nights in Monterey, 2 nights in the vicinity of Hearst Castle and then 2 nights in Sequoia. My husband wants to show the kids the giant sequoias! Does this make sense? Should we jettison Yosemite as we now plan? I have reservations in both parks and I have not cancelled them yet. I would love advice on this one as I have never been to CA and it is hard for me to decide. We would love to see the coast, any way to fit it all in?

DavidDJ_ May 19th, 2003 08:29 AM

I think that Yosemite is so nice, that it would be a shame to not go there since you will be so close. I would keep your reservation there.

elberko May 19th, 2003 08:34 AM

I don't know where you traveling from, but Yosemite is at the top of the list for me.

We live in the Phila. area and have been to Maine frequently. On our trip to N Calif. a few years ago, we went to Monterey, Sonoma, SF, and Yosemite. Monterey was OK (I like Maine better), but Yosemite was unlike anything I've ever seen. There are giant sequoias in the Maripose grove at Yosemite. Maybe not THE biggest tree, but huge, non-the-less!

J_Correa May 19th, 2003 09:13 AM

I just returned from Yosemite last night. It was my second trip and I can't wait to go back. In fact, we are in the process of making reservations for next year. It is an absolutely incredible place. I grew up in California and have been all over the Sierras, but it wasn't untill a couple years ago that I actually made it to Yosemite. What an absolutely incredible place! I had seen plenty of photographs but they did not prepare me for the scale of the place.

elberko is right - you can see giant sequoias in Yosemite - they aren't as big as those in Sequoia, but they are pretty impressive. Also, if you are planning to drive between SF and Monterey, you can make a side trip into the Santa Cruz mountains and see some coastal redwoods which are also some huge trees. The coastal forests are much different than the higher altitude forests in the Sierras. Since you are doing a tour of California, I think seeing the diversity of the state would be great.

Marny May 19th, 2003 10:09 AM

I completely agree with the others, Yosemite is a must see. I have not seen anyplace else that compares to it. If I were you I would cut out 1 or 2 nights from SF and 1 night in the Hearst Castle area. We did not find SF to be as impressive as some make it out to be. Yosemite on the other hand exceeded our expectations. When you are there, I highly recommend the Glacier Point tour and a hike to the base of Yosemite Falls.

BayArea May 19th, 2003 10:19 AM

J correa,

Was that you waving at me from the top of Nevada Falls yesterday? :D


Yosemite is one of California's crown jewels. Please do not miss it, it is wonderful. There are some big trees in Yosemite, so your kids won't miss seeing the Giant trees.

Susan56 May 19th, 2003 10:27 AM

Okay, so, I won't cut out Yosemite. As I mentioned, I already have reservations for 3 nights at the Yosemite Lodge. So, how would you finish off this itinerary? (we are traveling late August). We arrive in San Francisco mid day on a Thursday and spend 4 nights, we then leave S.F. for Yosemite on Monday morning, spend 3 nights at Yosemite Lodge. We leave Yosemite on Thursday, now where to go? We have an early morning flight from San Francisco on Sunday morning and I already have reservations at an airport hotel for Saturday night. What about Thursday, Friday, Saturday? Any ideas?

CAvacationer May 19th, 2003 10:40 AM

Well, in that case I would consider spending some time in the Monterey and San Jose areas. I would say maybe 1 or 2 days in Monterey and the rest of the time in SJ. In Monterey the Aquarium is excellent. I also like Point Lobos souith of Carmel. In the SJ area Big Basin Redwoods park is very nice. You could go to Roaring Camp and do the steam train tour in Henry Cowell Park. In SJ itself the Technology Museum of Innovation is really nice. The Improv Comedy Club is a also nice. You can also have dinner there as well.

If you happen to be in San Jose on a Friday, don't miss the Farmer's MArket in San Pedro Square downtown (10AM-2PM).

MichelleY May 19th, 2003 03:02 PM

Dear Susan:

Can you put SF last??? Go to Monterey/Hearst Castle first, head to Yosemite then finish out in SF. Save some time and driving and see the Big Trees at Mariposa Grove.

braham May 19th, 2003 03:20 PM


I think that your plan of seeing SF followed by Yosemite with the last night at a hotel by SF airport makes the most sense. In between I concur with spending some time in San Jose, including the redwoods. Big Basin is one of my favorite parks to appreciate the redwoods.

RM May 19th, 2003 04:34 PM

Susan, we are leaving Pensacola May 30th with a very similar itinerary. We fly into SFO get there very late...1st night at airport hotel. The next day I pick up the van, head to Yosemite for 3 days, then on to Sequoia for 2 days. From there we are driving to Hearst Castle then on to Monterey. We are spending two days in Monterey then on to SFO for the final 3 days. Our flight out is at 2 pm so we are going to stay at our Union Square hotel. We are a family of five and I HOPE I've got the driving logistics of this trip down. I really don't want to have to spend any 8-10 hours days on the road.

Typed in haste, excuse all typos and syntax errors.


Susan56 May 19th, 2003 05:21 PM

Unfortunately I don't think that I can move my Yosemite Lodge reservation around; I think that they are now booked for August. So, the plan is San Francisco for 4 nights (3 days), then head to Yosemite for 3 nights. Again, that leaves me with 2 nights and roughly 3 days before our flight home from S.F. Do you think we can fit in a drive from Yosemite to Hearst and then Monterey and back to S.F. in that time? I could take a day off of the Yosemite Lodge and add it to the coast part of the trip?

J_Correa May 19th, 2003 05:39 PM

I'd opt for just going to the Monterey Bay rather than trying to squeeze in Hearst Castle. It's doable, but it would make for a lot of driving. I also don't think you should take away a night from Yosemite. If you do, you will wish you hadn't once you get there.

I would drive to Monterey on Thursday. Spend the remainder of Thursday and all of Friday exploring Monterey. Go down to Point Lobos for some great scenery - it's very much like the scenery in Big Sur, but only a short drive down from Monterey. Saturday drive up to Santa Cruz (it's only about a 45min to 1 hour drive) Hit the Boardwalk and the wharf - this should take up most of the day. Then late afternoon or evenning drive back to SFO.

Kathy200 May 19th, 2003 07:36 PM

Take time to enjoy Yosemite. Hearst Castle is nice, but it's a long drive. A better use of your time (especially with kids) would be to go to the Monterey area - scenic drives and a beautiful aquarium. Spend one night there. If your children are interested in an old fashioned boardwalk, then drive to Santa Cruz the following day and spend a few hours at the boardwalk. Spend the night in Santa Cruz. On your way back to San Francisco, stop in San Jose and check out the Winchester Mystery House - not exactly the Hearst Castle, but interesting in a quirky way.

kam May 19th, 2003 07:38 PM


I think J Correa's right about not doing Hearst Castle. If you had an extra day or two I'd say go for it. I would leave Yosemite Thursday morning for Monterey. See the sites in the Monterey/Santa Cruz areas on Thursday afternoon and Friday. You could easily see Point Lobos on Thursday afternoon. On Friday you could do the aquarium in the morning and the beach boardwalk in Santa Cruz in the afternoon. Drive to San Jose on Friday evening and stay there Friday night. Downtown has many attractions/restrauramts, etc within walking distance. Saturday you could do Big Basin or other attractions in San Jose. Leave SJ on Saturday evening for SF airport hotel.

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