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Northern California Itinerary/Timing Assistance Needed!

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Jun 5th, 2014, 11:17 AM
  #1
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Northern California Itinerary/Timing Assistance Needed!

My husband and I are looking to celebrate our 30th birthdays this year by traveling from the East Coast to N. California Oct 8-13. Based upon flights that I am looking at currently, it works out best for us if we arrive in San Francisco mid-afternoon on the 8th. We will be departing early morning on the 13th. That gives us 5 nights and 4.5 days to squeeze in San Francisco, Napa, and the Monterey/Carmel area. Having never been to N. California before, we do not know best to organize our itinerary, or how long we will need to be in each place to enjoy it. I will say that Napa is where we would like to spend the least amount of time- if we can just visit a winery or two and make a daytrip out of it, we would be satisfied. I would also appreciate any travel tips, must-see/do/eat, and hotel/inn reccomendations! Thank you all in advance!
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Jun 5th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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This is how I would spend the five nights: San Francisco (2), Paso Robles (1), Cambria (1), and Half Moon Bay (1).

I would check out Monterey on the way to delightful Paso Robles.

In the evening I would have a great meal on Paso Robles’ town square, and in the morning I would explore the Paso Robles wine district. In the afternoon I would tour Hearst Castle.

I would drive to Half Moon Bay on Highway 1, have lunch in Carmel, and spend the night in a lovely room with ocean view at the Beach House.

HTtY

PS Half Moon Bay is 20 miles from San Francisco International Airport.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 01:24 PM
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If you want Napa for vineyards/wineries -- then there is no reason you need to go there (Napa/Sonoma is the wrong direction) There are vineyards and wonderful wineries in Santa Cruz county, Monterey County, and farther south along the coast like near Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo county.

So I'd drive south to Carmel on your arrival day (getting out of SFO as early in the afternoon as possible to miss the word of the traffic). Stay 2 nights, stay one night maybe in Paso Robles. Then up 101 to San Francisco and drop the car. Stay the last 2 nights in the city sans car. Fly home.

If you could possibly squeeze out one additional night it would be a less hectic itinerary.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 02:10 PM
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Both the previous posters give great advice. You will see plenty of vineyards and wineries in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. These are also well known for their wines and are not as crowded and expensive to visit.

http://www.discovercaliforniawines.c...central-coast/

http://www.cntraveler.com/features/2...-road-trip-usa

That time of year is the crush and some of the best weather.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 03:47 PM
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Agree with the others. I would do 3 nights on the coast driving directly from SFO on arrival, then 2 nights in SF to enjoy the city before going home. Adding Napa would just be too rushed.
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Jun 6th, 2014, 07:23 AM
  #6
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Thank you so much for your responses! I think these are great ideas! My husband and I were talking last night and decided to skip out on Napa. I am glad to know there are vineyards we can visit south of SF. Where would be the best area to stay in San Francisco? Somewhere lively and within walking distance to good restaurants and shopping?
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Jun 6th, 2014, 07:47 AM
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There are several good areas in SF -- what sort of property and what is your budget?
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Jun 6th, 2014, 11:32 AM
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Hotel- boutique or chain- no real preference there. I would say not over $350 per night. We won't spend too much time at the hotel, so as long as it is decent and clean, we will be fine. I am more concerned about the location.
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Jun 6th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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Omni on California Street.
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Jun 6th, 2014, 01:46 PM
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SAB
 
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Hotel Vitale on the Embarcadero--one of the best location in SF. The Omni is very nice, but it is in the heart of the financial district, which means lots of working people on the street during the day and dead at night.
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Jun 6th, 2014, 02:29 PM
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The Nikko on Mason was a nice, convenient hotel, just a block away from our rental car drop off location. Near Union Square and the Westfield Mall with easy BART access.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 07:46 AM
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Thank you all! If we flew into SFO late Tuesday (instead of Mid-day Wednesday), would it be recommended to drive to Carmel after-dark? Didn't know if the coastal highways were treacherous or poorly lit at night for drivers unfamiliar with the area?
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Jun 9th, 2014, 08:54 AM
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It depends on how late and how tired you'll be. But >> Didn't know if the coastal highways were treacherous or poorly lit at night for drivers unfamiliar with the area?<< really wouldn't apply since you'd be going down 101 which is a freeway and isn't along the coast. The drive itself is easy - but if you are flying from the east coast your body clock will be off three hours and it will seem even later than it is.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 10:11 AM
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Janis is correct. Depends how late. Hwy 101 is freeway. I would do it, but I grew up in Central California.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 10:35 AM
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If you take 101, it's an easy drive, I agree. I would do it, but being a night owl, I don't feel jet lagged heading west.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 05:55 AM
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Highway 101 is not treacherous, but picking up a car and driving to a strange place late at night is not the way I would want to spend 2.5-3 hours after a long flight: Pick up car (.5-1 hour), drive to Carmel (2 hours), locate hotel (.25-.5 hours).

HTtY
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Jun 10th, 2014, 11:58 AM
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If it's late afternoon/early evening I would go ahead and do it, the drive down 101 to Carmel is not difficult. For me, I would prefer eating and sleeping in Carmel to I'm guessing an airport hotel. But as others have said, depends how late and how tired you are after your flight.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 03:57 PM
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I also would prefer to sleep in Carmel than in an airport hotel, and in this scenario I would prefer to sleep at the Beach House in Half Moon Bay than in Carmel.

HTtY
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