Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Northern California 7 day trip - suggestions please!

Northern California 7 day trip - suggestions please!

Old Aug 24th, 2017, 08:31 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Northern California 7 day trip - suggestions please!

Hi.. It's my first time posting here but I have read great suggestions offered in other topics!
I will be travelling with my wife, both in upper 20's to San Francisco on Friday, September 22nd night and flying out of SFO on Saturday, September 30th at 11PM. I am planning to cover Coastal highway, Yosemite and San Francisco during that time. I have a rough itenary in my mind which I wanted to share with you guys and get some suggestions on how to make it even better.

09/22 - Land at 10PM. Rent a car and stay the night in San Jose
09/23 - Visit Santa Cruz, Carmel, Monterey, Point Lobos and stay the night in Pacific Grove
09/24 - Try to cover the rest of Big Sur area which is closed but I really want to see McWay Falls and maybe other great areas on this day and stay the night in Fresno.
09/25 - Visit Yosemite ( enter the park from south entrance and tour valley)
09/26 - Visit Yosemite (Glacier point and other hikes? Can I also do Tioga Pass on this day)
09/27 - Yosemite and maybe Lake Tahoe? (If I am done with Yosemite on 2 complete days, I want to visit Lake Tahoe for a day)
09/28 - SF(will still have the car, so maybe can do Muir Woods and then drop off the car)
09/29 - SF
09/30 - SF ( Leaving at 11PM so will have most of the day)

Regarding Yosemite Lodging, I want to stay inside the park and they have unheated canvas tents available in Half Dome, waiting for heated ones to be available preferably wooden cabins. Talked to representatives and they suggested to keep looking as there will be more cancellations and they have alot of canvas tents open. Any ideas on some hikes would be helpful. Any chance of seeing waterfalls? Really want to do some stargazing.. I read some tours are available but nothing is showing for September yet.

Regarding coastal highway, I have 2 days for that but I know road is closed midway. Is it possible to cover the north half on first day and then drive towards south of Big Sur on second day? Is it worth taking 3 hour detour from Monterey? I am most confused about this so really need some help.

Really looking forward to hearing suggestions from you guys. Thanks!
Ahkhan is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2017, 08:35 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,059
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I will answer the Big Sur part of the question. Two days in Monterey is perfect to see Point Lobos and the open parts of Big Sur. Do not make the trek down to Cambria (via Hwy 101) just to see the southern part of Big Sur because it's not open and won't be until sometime next year. The most scenic part is what you will see from Monterey.
AustinTraveler is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2017, 09:05 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks!
But can I still see McWay Falls from northern part then? What other hikes/sites do you recommend in northern parts? I am not too keen on aquarium. I read about 17 mile drive and that sounds good.
Ahkhan is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2017, 09:59 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,348
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Book the unheated tent NOW and then keep trying for one of the heated/cabins. Because people book YNP so far head there are frequent cancellations.
janisj is online now  
Old Aug 24th, 2017, 11:02 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,059
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You can hike a trail that goes around the bridge and then rent electric bikes to get to McWay Falls. I would skip 17 Mile Drive unless you have extra time. Do not skip Point Lobos!
AustinTraveler is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2017, 12:16 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
@janisj - Thanks, will do that! Also, do you think I should do Tioga pass on third day while leaving Yosemite or try to do it on second day itself?

@AustinTraveler - I just read about that electric bikes and it sounds fun. Will try to contact them. The only concern being, they will only offer those if the bridge is still closed and there are multiple reports saying the bridge might be open late September. So not sure, if I can book it early.
Ahkhan is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2017, 01:25 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,059
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If the bridge is open when you are there, you won't have to worry about the bikes. But, it is highly doubtful the bridge will be finished by then. Latest reports say work will continue into October.
AustinTraveler is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2017, 02:20 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,348
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
I'd take Tioga Pass as your exit route on the way to Tahoe. Then north up 395. The drive is only about 4.5 hours. But the high country is soooooo gob smacking gorgeous, you can plan on taking most of the day for the trip -- and possibly squeeze in a detour to Bodie.
janisj is online now  
Old Aug 24th, 2017, 05:05 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,125
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I posted a report with photo of the 26 miles of Hwy 1 south o Carmel that's currently accessible by car http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...os-6102017.cfm Initial estimates for the reopening of Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge were mid to late September but Caltrans has just stated that it's looking more like October. You can still get to McWay Falls by hiking the Community Bypass Trail at Pfeiffer Big Sur and renting an electric bike to ride the 11 or so miles one way. Info on the hike/bike option as well as the trails that are currently open are in the linked thread.
Patty is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2017, 05:21 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks guys.. Some great advice here.
Looks like I will book the electric bike option and do it on Sunday. Hopefully can go till Nepenthe.. Read so much about it, do want to try it out!
Another question, considering that Mariposa Grove is closed in Yosemite, where do you guys suggest I should see Sequoias? Coming from Midwest, never saw them so they are on my wish list. I have the option of seeing them in Muir Woods(while entering San Fran from north) or Henry Cowell(while going towards Monterey) or Sequoia National Park(this is hard but might be able to squeeze an hour or two for this).
Ahkhan is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2017, 06:35 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 141
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For Coastal Redwoods I suggest Henry Cowell or Big Basin. The problem with Muir Woods is it will still be high tourist season and parking is close to impossible. Besides, you are not coming from the north.

The redwoods you see in the mountains are Giant Sequoias, a different species. Both are worth seeing.

Also, look for paper guidebooks on Yosemite etc. at your library or bookstore. They will tell you a lot. And you may be underestimating drive times.
emmajm is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2017, 07:46 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,348
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
If you really need/want to see Giant Sequoias check out Calaveras Big trees

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=551

The parks is about a 3 hour drive from Yosemite Valley. I'd consider driving there from the coast and then enter YNP

Henry Cowell for Coastal redwoods.

Unfortunately I don't think you have time for either SNP or Calaveras (unless you drop Tahoe)
janisj is online now  
Old Aug 25th, 2017, 11:15 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,125
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
See coastal redwoods at Henry Cowell near Santa Cruz. There are also some groves at Pfeiffer Big Sur. I would only go to Muir Woods if you have no other opportunity to see them.

There are two small groves of giant sequoias, Merced and Tuolumne, at Yosemite https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvis...iposagrove.htm

Or skip Tahoe and add a night in Sequoia/Kings Canyon where the largest trees and groves are.
Patty is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2017, 08:56 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Emmajm, janisj, patty - thanks for the suggestions.

I did see the route and it does look like I have to chose between Lake Tahoe and Calaveras. I have to be in Sacramento that night to meet couple of friends so I am leaning towards Lake Tahoe. I am hoping to see some giant sequoias in Tuolomne Meadows.

Also, do you guys know if there is any place along the PCH I can rent jet ski or do parasailing? I have been looking to find a place but there doesn't seem to be any and the only place where I could find them is in Lake Tahoe.

And, can you guys please suggest on any good hikes for September in Yosemite? We are looking to do some moderate hiking and maybe rent a bike in Valley. For sunset, I am thinking to go to Glacier Point for one night and stay in valley for other. What about sunrise? Is Tunnel View a good place to be in early morning?
Ahkhan is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2017, 09:04 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just read the Glacier point road is closed due to fire Any ideas whether it might still be closed during the last week of Sept?
Ahkhan is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2017, 10:42 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 13,147
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I can't think of any place that offers jet skis or parasailing in the Monterey or Santa Cruz area - its not a common thing. The water is cold, which limits the amount of time people can spend in the water without wet suits and the currents are pretty strong. There are also rules about jet skis due to the marine sanctuary just off the coast.
november_moon is offline  
Old Sep 3rd, 2017, 01:40 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For hiking in Yosemite, I would recommend Vernal Falls and Taft Point/Sentinel Dome. We did Vernal Falls, then kept going to Clark Point (I believe) to come back down on the John Muir Trail. It was nice to not have to go back down the crowded, wet steps and to see the falls from above. For Taft Point, we parked at the stop along Glacier Point Rd and did the easy hike out to Taft Point. There is then another trail that relatively follows along the edge of the cliff and up to Sentinel Dome, then you have an easy walk down to Glacier Point where you can catch the shuttle back to your car. These were our two favorite hikes there, and we did them both in one day. We also did sunrise at Glacier Point and enjoyed it. Hopefully Glacier Point Rd will be open for you all!

Something else we did in Yosemite that we ended up really liking was renting an old car and driving around for half a day. The guy that owns the Tin Lizzie Inn has a collection of 1920s and 30s cars that he rents out for either a half day or full day. This was a birthday gift for my husband, and I didn't expect to enjoy that near as much as I did, but it was so fun and different from anything we had done before. And if you've never been to Yosemite, coming around that turn to see Tunnel View for the first time is amazing, especially so in one of those old cars with the roof down.

I also second the recommendation of Big Basin for the redwoods. We stopped there on our way up the coast from Cambria to SF and really enjoyed it. I lived in Santa Clara for a couple months, and if I remember right it's about an hour from there, and Santa Clara was 20 min or so from the San Jose Airport.
Virginia1990 is offline  
Old Sep 3rd, 2017, 01:58 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,125
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Big Basin is a bigger detour vs Henry Cowell on the way to Monterey.
Patty is offline  
Old Sep 3rd, 2017, 02:27 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,348
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Patty is right -- Big Basin is farther off the beaten path/much less convenient than Henry Cowell
janisj is online now  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
stephaniea
United States
16
Mar 16th, 2014 12:12 PM
a0628h0427
United States
14
Jun 6th, 2013 06:57 PM
degas
United States
10
Jul 15th, 2004 09:29 PM
monique
United States
18
Mar 19th, 2004 11:36 PM
ski_queen
United States
11
Oct 31st, 2003 08:12 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information