Northern California 8 days

May 8th, 2018, 04:27 AM
  #1  
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Northern California 8 days

Hi, wondering if someone could help - we are traveling as two couples and one 15 month old July 20-28 to Northern California. We are staying two nights in San Francisco, four in Carmel-by-the-Sea. We have two nights remaining at the end of our trip before we fly out again from SF. We had initially planned on going to Yosemite (and adding an extra day there) but lodging is pretty booked and with the baby it seems like a lot of driving, will save it for a separate trip. Any suggestions on where to spend our final two nights without going too far off the circle back to SF? Napa? Thank you!
alexandrak is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 05:46 AM
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If you are all arriving in California by plane, consider flying into Sacramento, Oakland or San Jose instead of SFO. Are you coming with a car seat or renting one from the car rental company?
I like Sacramento (SMF) because of the ease of getting on I-5. Try to spend at least a few hours in Yosemite before heading for Carmel. Try to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row.
If you want to see northern California, try either Lassen or Redwood NP
tomfuller is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 06:30 AM
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Two nights in San Francisco seems about 3 night too few, IMO. Consider more time in San Francisco.

Here are some things to do to fill up your 2 extra days.

San Francisco - Stu Dudley's Recommendations

Stu Dudley
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May 8th, 2018, 07:34 AM
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Lassen and Redwoods NP do not fit with the rest of your itinerary and I'm pretty sure your flights are already booked - right?

You certainly could stay two nights at Yosemite (check if there is availability at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal) -- it will be very crowded but still 'worth' it.

If it was me I'd consider either add the time to San Francisco or head to the Marin/Sonoma county coast. Bodega Bay/Jenner etc. OR you could stay in/near Santa Cruz and visit Henry Cowell Redwood state park, the Boardwalk,, Capitola, etc.
janisj is online now  
May 8th, 2018, 08:54 AM
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Napa is not on your way back to SF from Carmel, you know.

I'd stay longer in SF. Take a day-trips to Marin headlands, take the ferry to Sausalito, etc.
MoBro is online now  
May 8th, 2018, 08:55 AM
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[QUOTE=MoBro;16726371]Napa is not on your way back to SF from Carmel, you know.

I'd stay longer in SF. Take day-trips to Marin headlands, take the ferry to Sausalito, etc.
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May 8th, 2018, 10:15 AM
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You might also go to Point Reyes, easy hikes, small elk herd, light house etc.
emalloy is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 10:30 AM
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You might consider Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks if you wanted to visit the Sierras, but not have the crowds of Yosemite. It's still a longer drive though.

Otherwise, the coast north of SF is a great idea, and not a long drive out of your way.

More time in SF is always good - plenty to do and see there.
november_moon is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 11:48 AM
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Yes, flights are booked, and the couple we are traveling with has already "done" SF so wanted to minimize their time there. We are okay with that and will visit again another time. The Carmel hotel is already booked so the days are set. Somewhere north of SF within an hour or two is what we would like to work in, but wondering the best suggestions. We will look into Bodega Bay.

To further clarify, we will be leaving Carmel, driving up the coast, stopping in Santa Cruz to see the boardwalk, continuing to see Muir Woods, and then need a place to rest our heads, spend the next full day, but easily driveable to the SF airport the following afternoon.
alexandrak is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 12:05 PM
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>>in Santa Cruz to see the boardwalk, continuing to see Muir Woods, <<

Really bad idea -- sorry. Not the Santa Cruz bit . . . but Muir Woods. It gets very VERY crowded, one is not allowed inside the park without pre-booked/timed reservations - which you really couldn't manage driving north from Carmel via Santa Cruz.

A much better park much more convenient would be Henry Cowell in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Muir Woods is the 'famous' one but is far from the best redwood park in northern California.
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May 8th, 2018, 12:27 PM
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I agree with janis - For redwoods, definitely stop at Henry Cowell (or Big Basin) state park in the Santa Cruz mountains. HC is a 15 minute detour for you (if that) and it is a great park - and so much less busy than Muir Woods. Muir Woods has become a madhouse. Big Basin is farther up the hill, so takes longer to get there, but is also easily visited from Santa Cruz and very much worth the drive.
november_moon is offline  
May 9th, 2018, 05:16 AM
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Thank you - we are already going to Big Basin but will consider HC as well
alexandrak is offline  
May 9th, 2018, 06:14 AM
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>>Thank you - we are already going to Big Basin but will consider HC as well<<

You will probably visit Big Sur & Pfeiffer State Park from Carmel - where there are even more big redwood trees. Three places with redwoods would be an overload of redwoods for me.

Stu Dudley
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May 9th, 2018, 07:33 AM
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I think it's a bit logistically confusing to try to visit SF, then south of SF, then north of SF, and then back to the airport (lots of driving and traffic since you must pass through the city or around the East Bay in order to accomplish that). It's a good 2 hours just to the airport from Carmel (I did it on Saturday afternoon), then probably another 90 minutes to Point Reyes from the airport.

If it were me, I'd schedule my time in Carmel/Monterey first, then drive to the Point Reyes area (a really good idea ... and look at Inverness as well as Bodega Bay for your lodging), then end in SF itself. If you could rearrange your hotels a bit, that might be a bit more convenient.

You could also do a night or two in Half Moon Bay, which is still south of San Francisco and has access to a lot of other beautiful areas.

You will see magnificent redwoods in Big Sur and not have nearly the crowds at Muir Woods, but I disagree with those who say you absolutely shouldn't go to Muir Woods. If you can get a reservation, why not? (You can also do it easily on a day-trip from San Francisco if you wanted to add a third night there.)
doug_stallings is online now  
May 9th, 2018, 07:52 AM
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It's not that I wouldn't go to Muir Woods (although I've lived in SF for 45 years and haven't been in at least 35), it's just that there are plenty of places to see redwoods that are just as inviting (including Stu's backyard ) and Muir Woods is considerably more difficult because of the reservations system and crowds.
sf7307 is offline  
May 9th, 2018, 09:07 AM
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I think the reason not to go to Muir Woods is because the OP will have had the opportunity to see redwoods in multiple other places during the trip, and with limited time available, it doesn't make a lot of sense to also go to Muir Woods - especially given the reservation requirements and depending on their other plans, Muir Woods may be a significant detour. Not to say that Muir Woods is a bad place, I just don't think it makes sense on this trip.
november_moon is offline  
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