Northern California - Itinerary Critique

Dec 2nd, 2006, 10:53 AM
  #1  
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Northern California - Itinerary Critique

I am putting together a trip as a surpise Christmas gift for my wife. Neither of us have been to Northern California and we have spoken about it for years so I felt like this would be a good opportunity.

This is what I have in mind, perhaps a bit ambitious, but we have done similar trips in the past and enjoy seeing "as much as possible". I would welcome any comments or suggestions!

This trip would take place in early March...

Day 1) Fly into Sacramento, overnight at Goodnight Inn or some place comprable and close to the airport as it will be a late flight.

Day 2) Drive to Sonoma, overnight at El Pueblo - do some tastings, great meal, and relax

Day 3) Morning in Napa Valley and then drive to San Francisco, Nob Hill Motor Inn

Days 3, 4, and 5 in San Francisco - standard tourist stuff: Chinatown, GG bridge, Cable cars, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, etc. Also would like to visit Muir Woods and Sausalito, perhaps on day 5.

Day 6) Drive south to Monterey area, visit Carmel, Point Lobos, etc. - Stay at Seven Gables in Pacific Grive

Day 7) More Monterey, Big Sur, Hearst Castle

Day 8) Drive to Yosemite - Stay at Yosemite Lodge

Day 9) Yosemite

Day 10) Back to Sacramento for flight home

Crazy?

Anxious to hear your thoughts!
Jeremy
JSHInCT is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 11:03 AM
  #2  
TAW
 
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It looks doable until Day 7. I don't think you can do all of that in 1 day. Hearst Castle is almost a day in itself to see it. In my opinion I would remove one of the destinations - either Hearst Castle or Yosemite or something else. You can still see Big Sur even if you eliminate Hearst Castle. Hope this helps.
TAW is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 11:18 AM
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Busy but doable. I agree w/ TAW that it falls apart a bit on days 6 and 7.

I would normally NEVER recommend dropping Big Sur or Yosemite - but you only have 10 days and are touring an area equal to several eastern states. So you need to choose - I'd personally keep Yosemite and drop Big Sur/San Simeon.

For this trip, I'd stay 2 nights in Pacific Grove and then drive over to Yosemite. There is much more than enough in Monterey/Carmel/Pacific Grove to fill what is essentially barely more than 1.5 days.

Also - early March could be anything from warm-ish and glorious to really stormy. I would not over-plan a road trip for that time of year. Too much coastal driving in a wet Pacific storm and you might be basket cases.
janisj is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 11:32 AM
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I would spend more of day 3 in Napa Valley--otherwise I agree with TAW.
When you drive south to Hearst's Castle you are extending the distance you must drive toYosemite.
(Cambria to Yosemite--about 5 hrs.)
Another issue to consider is possible weather delays...
Rarely early March can have lots of rain--which causes mud slides on Highway one and maybe snow in mountains. I know these issues are not predictable but might help you make decisions. IMO Hearst's castle
would take up 1/2 day and that would have to be afternoon tour..
I guess it boils down to Hearst's castle OR Yosemite !!!
I found myself thinking "rich man's extravagence vs. natural beauty"
What a choice.....
Sounds like a great trip...
traveler24 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 12:24 PM
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Have you thought of flying in and out of San Francisco instead of Sacramento? You could wait to rent car until after you see the city thus saving both rental and parking fees.
Barblab is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 01:13 PM
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Your trip sounds pretty busy so you might want to make a list of priorities so you can make sure you see the absolutes and then you can fill in with teh "would love tos" if time allows. This will help nail down the planning. I agree that leaving from Monterey for Yosemite makes more sense.

Did you know that Goodnight Inn is off 50 and Howe? That is not close to the airport at all.

There are many places along I 5 off Richards, Garden Highway and Jiboom near old Sac or in Natomas that would be more suitable. Also you can get good deals for nice hotels through priceline.
Suzie is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 01:21 PM
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Good catch Suzie. I didn't even notice the Goodnight Inn bit. JSHInCT - I wouldn't stay there. There is no easy way to get to that motel from SMF. It is quite a distance - and then you'd have to drive the HORRIBLE hwy50 commute the next morning to get out of town to Sonoma.

There are much better located budget accomodations in Sacramento, that would be more convenient for your itinerary.
janisj is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 01:52 PM
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I stayed at the Super8 at Discovery Park on Jiboom 2 years ago, and it was decent/ clean room with easy access to I-5. Also I see the following on Jiboom in my AAA N. CA tourbook:
Comfort Suites - Downtown
La Quita Inn - Downtown
Best Western - Sandman
trippinkpj is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 01:56 PM
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Sorry, La Quinta Inn.
trippinkpj is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 03:28 PM
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Jeremy,

A good trip...for the most part your planning is great. I like your choices of lodgings in Sonoma, SF, and Pacific Grove. I haven't stayed at Yosemite Lodge

I, also, wonder about why you are flying into Sacramento rather than San Francisco or Oakland. Sonoma is only an hour from the Golden Gate Bridge, from Oakland about the same, except for traffic on Hwy 880. I always thought that it would be less expensive to fly into OAK or SFO than Sacramento (?) Oh, perhaps you are wanting an airport nearer Yosemite on your way home?

And, I agree that you will be hard pressed to do Day 7. You need reservations for the Hearst Castle tour, there are several a day, and by the time you do more Monterey and get there, if you explore Big Sur at all, it may be too late to do a tour that day.

Having visited both placss, if I needed to choose, I would skip Hearst Castle for a better visit to Yosemite. Maybe they sell videos of the Hearst Castle tours? That way you could see all of them <grin>. Check their website.

Have a great ttip.
jtrandolph is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 03:36 PM
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Sacramento is about the easiest airport around. Just so others can benefit from the information, I picked up my sis from the Sacramento aiport and we drove Sonoma. This was on a Friday in February at 10:00 am. Going west on 80 we were in the town of Sonoma by 11:00 am. Since I was previously not paying attention to drive times and because on this particular trip we were meeting others, I was really surprised that it took exactly 1 hour to get from the airport to the town of Sonoma. The other benefit of course is you don't have to deal with SFO or bridge traffic if you use OAK or SMF.

Had to laugh about jrandolph thinking that SMF isn't cheaper. We, in the central valley, get great deals on flights. It's not like SMF is some hoaky small town airport anymore!

If you do decide to include Hearst at teh last minute if you find yourself with some extra time I'm not sure you would have a problem arriving at Hearst Castle midweek in early March with no reservations.
Suzie is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 03:37 PM
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Actually - flying into SMF makes a lot of sense. Great fares (WN is the biggest carrier there so fares tend to be less than SFO).

It is an easy drive from Sacramento to the wine country w/o the East Bay/SF traffic. And the drive from Yosemite is very easy.

And in SF, if you stay in one of the Lombard St motels or somewhere similar, you'll be able to park for free.

Using SMF is fine for this itinerary.
janisj is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 03:39 PM
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Was posting the same time as Suzie -- basically the same info re SMF . . . .
janisj is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 04:05 PM
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Has anyone mentioned the ressies for Yosemite Lodge-I made ours for June 2007
in June 2006 ! I say run to that website
JSH !

R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 04:44 PM
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OTOH I made mid April recervations for Yosemite Lodge in early April. I assume I lucked out. I was looking at the reservation site for the Yosmeite Lodge and it looks like there are plenty of choices at the beginning of March. To ensure continued availability you should decide which nights for Yosemite and make your reservations there first. In case you need to change things around if you can only get certain nights in Yosemite. Here's a link:

http://tinyurl.com/y2h23v

Suzie is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 05:50 PM
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I love Sacramento Airport - it is so easy to use. I would recommend getting your rental car at the airport and then driving NORTH on I-5 to the next town, Woodland. Actually, before Woodland is Exit Road 102 and there are a couple adequate and clean hotels there (Holiday Inn Express and I forget the other - check on Tripadvisor or AAA. Tourbook). You should book in advance because they do fill up.

Next morning, take Hwy 113 toward Davis to hook up with I-80 and head to Wine Country. It will take about 45 minutes. I'd recommend visiting Napa Valley first as it is on your way to Sonoma and you will be there early in the day. After some Napa Valley wine tasting/visiting/eating, you can head to Sonoma whenever you feel ready, and you can explore Sonoma that evening and the next day. From there, you would head toward San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. You might want to see some of your designated sights along the way (like Sausalito or Muir Woods) - or come back a different day, but I think this route might make more sense.

I agree that Hearst Castle may be a bit much for this trip. I would add another night in Pacific Grove to explore everything else on your list. Seven Gables is in my favorite location as you can walk out your door and stroll the wonderful walking path along the waterfront. Big Sur and Point Lobos visits can take a full day and are very enjoyable.
elnap29 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 06:00 PM
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I love Sacramento Airport - it is so easy to use. I would recommend getting your rental car at the airport and then driving NORTH on I-5 to the next town, Woodland. Actually, before Woodland is Exit Road 102 and there are a couple adequate and clean hotels there (Holiday Inn Express and I forget the other - check on Tripadvisor or AAA. Tourbook). You should book in advance because they do fill up.

Next morning, take Hwy 113 toward Davis to hook up with I-80 and head to Wine Country. It will take about 45-50 minutes. I'd recommend visiting Napa Valley first as it is on your way to Sonoma and you will be there early in the day. After some Napa Valley wine tasting/visiting/eating, you can head to Sonoma whenever you feel ready, and you can explore Sonoma that evening and the next day. From there, you would head toward San Francisco via 101 and the Golden Gate Bridge. You might want to see some of your designated sights along the way (like Sausalito or Muir Woods) - or come back a different day, but I think this route might make more sense.

I agree that Hearst Castle may be a bit much for this trip. Instead, I would add another night in Pacific Grove to explore everything else on your list. Seven Gables is in my favorite location as you can walk out your door and stroll the wonderful walking path along the waterfront. Big Sur and Point Lobos visits can take a full day and are very enjoyable.

Yosemite is beautiful. Yosemite Lodge is fine; you are there for the scenery. Most rooms have a balcony or patio. If you don't have reservations yet, get them immediately - but you can keep checking back because there are always cancellations. In my view, the Hearst Castle tour would be best included in a trip to Southern California.

I think you'll have a marvelous time! Enjoy!
elnap29 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 08:23 PM
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elnap's idea of heading up I-5 to Woodland for the first night is good. Since it appears you are looking for budget accomodations that night and it is just a sleeping stop before driving over to Sonoma. And Woodland is just about the same distance from SMF as downtown Sacramento (and a LOT closer than the Goodnight Inn).

But instead of going south to I-80 and fighting the HEAVY traffic through Davis/Vacaville/Farifield, I'd take 128 around the south end of Lake Berryessa and on to Rutherford > Glen Ellen > Sonoma.
janisj is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 09:43 PM
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The Lake Berryessa route is windy, slow and very scenic. But it is rare to have bad traffic on I-80 unless it is late Sunday afternoon. Just check at the hotel desk oron the tv to find out.
elnap29 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2006, 09:54 PM
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"it is rare to have bad traffic on I-80 unless it is late Sunday afternoon"

Sorry but I just have to disagree. I-80 has become a mess pretty much any time of day but especially during the morning commute when JSHInCT will likely be traveling.
janisj is online now  

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