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Northern California trip

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May 7th, 2011, 06:04 PM
  #1
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Northern California trip

We have 6 nights in N. California in June. This will be our anniversary trip for 2011. We plan to stay 2 nights in Pacific Grove and 4 nights in SF. What are our must see destinations? We aren't shoppers & hubby has never been to the area.

We can skip the aquarium due to time constraints. The 17-mile drive will be a must do!

Any feedback is appreciated!
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May 7th, 2011, 08:10 PM
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The area between SF and Pacific Grove/Monterey I consider to be the Central Coast. Nothing at all wrong with SF and I'm sure you can find lots to do there for 4 days but why would you not go for 1 or more days to Yosemite.
Don't think that you have to fly into SFO. There are good airports with cheaper rental cars at Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento.
North of SF you should see the Marin Headlands and Muir Woods.
I took my DW to Yosemite for our anniversary in 2009.
You may have to take a detour to get to the 17 mile drive. There was a washout of 1 or 2 sections of US 1 after the tsunami hit the coast. Check the most recent thread post on this subject.
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May 7th, 2011, 08:51 PM
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OK -- you know what you want to see so I'm not going to suggest you should go somewhere else instead. Because someone else happened to celebrate their anniversary in YNP . . Oh never mind. We have some posters who post the same advice on every thread -- even when it has NOTHING to do w/ what was asked.

(A trip across to Yosemite would take the best part of 3 full days from your itinerary)

2 days in the Pacific Grove area and 4 days in SF makes for a perfectly FINE plan.

In two days around Carmel/Pacific Grove you can visit Carmel Mission, several state beaches/parks, the northern end of Big Sur (all of Big Sur if they get the road opened), Monterey's Fisherman's wharf, really good food, lunch at Nepenthe.

In SF - great eating - any sort of food you want, a ferry to Sausaulito and walk back across the GG bridge, tour of Alcatraz (book ahead - it sells out), farmers market in the Ferry Bldg, guided walks through many neighborhoods, The De young museum/Academy of Sciences/Japanese Tea Garden all in Golden Gate Park, drinks at sunset at the Cliff House . . . and a 100 other possibilities.
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May 7th, 2011, 08:54 PM
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BTW -- the washout of Hwy 1 has absolutely NO affect on 17 mile Drive. Not anywhere near each other.

jeeze . . .
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May 8th, 2011, 02:09 PM
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Hi Deb, saw your post in the Costa Rica forums (BDC GTG) so I thought I would visit this forum to provide advice since I live in NorCal. Janis provides good advice. I will add the following:

- The Monterey Bay Aquarium is really spectacular so it might be worth 1/2 day
- Point Lobos State park has some really great hiking so that is another option in the Carmel area.

Regarding the SF area, if you head north of SF into Marin, do stop at Point Reyes National Seashore. This is great place for wildlife (elk, deer, badger, bobcat, weasel, coyote and more) and hiking. Here is our trip report from Point Reyes a few months ago.

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/.../Point%20Reyes

I know that the museums in Golden Gate Park have been redone and are getting good reviews, but I haven't been there in years. But, in case you are museum folks, I thought I would mention that as well.

Have a good trip.
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May 8th, 2011, 05:01 PM
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Agree with janis & atdahl. Don't skip the aquarium in Monterey. Even for a few hours would be well worth it.
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May 8th, 2011, 07:30 PM
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Geez ladies and gentlemen...I was so sure we made the right decision about the aquarium. Here's some background that led us to think we would skip it.

- We live in Atlanta which has the Georgia Aquarium - the largest in the world
- We only have one FULL day in the area. We arrive at SFO just before Noon and will rent a car for the drive to Pacific Grove. The day we leave PG, we plan to be in SF no later than 5 PM.
- My research indicates we should allow a minimum of 3 hours and I'm not sure our time wouldn't be better spent elsewhere.
- The tickets are quite expensive to just pop in for a short visit.

More later. I intentionally didn't give many details on my first post because I wanted unbiased opinions.

tom - we only have 6 nights and our trip duration is not flexible. Yosemite would be a nice inclusion, but as janis states, our trip would be too broken up by adding a 3rd destination.
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May 8th, 2011, 08:29 PM
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The Monterey Aquarium is really very nice, but if I only had one day, I'd probably skip it, too. Does the Georgia Aquarium have a fabulous jellyfish exhibit? Because the Monterey Aquarium is worth the price of admission just for that!!
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May 8th, 2011, 08:43 PM
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Here's a little more info...I'll focus on the Monterey Peninsula first.

We will rent a car at SFO (leaning towards Dollar - any comments on that choice?) and drive down Hwy 1 to Pacific Grove where we will be staying for 2 nights at the Seven Gables Inn. Plan to have lunch somewhere along the way.

Our must see list is:
- 17 Mile Drive
- Pebble Beach (will go in and look around - Hubby is from Augusta and he won't want to miss a gander at the beautiful course)
- Monterey Wharf
- Point Lobos State Park
- Carmel

Maybes are:
- Carmel Mission
- Monterey Aquarium
- Asilomar Beach
- Big Sur (north end)

Restaurant options, but still doing research:
Casanovas – Carmel
Fandango – Pacific Grove
Fishwife
Mission Ranch – Carmel for drinks
Nepenthe – Near Big Sur (excellent views)- How much time will at visit from PG to here take?
Passionfish – Pacific Grove
Red House – Pacific Grove for lunch
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May 8th, 2011, 08:53 PM
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sf...there are some jellies, but to be honest I haven't been in a couple of years and I can't remember all the exhibits. The big draws are the Whale Sharks and the Belugas.
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May 8th, 2011, 09:16 PM
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As I said I like the Aquarium, although I'm not as huge a fan as some others. Also, it's pretty small. But if it doesn't appeal to you, and since you only have a day, I'd say spend it in Carmel, 17-mile Drive, Pebble Beach and Point Lobos (the Monterey Wharf is just a bunch of restaurants and souvenir shops)
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May 8th, 2011, 10:35 PM
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I think that the road is closed between PG and Nepenthe.

You might want to visit the elephant seals on Año Nuevo on the way to SF.
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May 8th, 2011, 10:50 PM
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"I think that the road is closed between PG and Nepenthe."

Hwy 1 is closed below Limekiln -- far south of Nepenthe. The restaurant is totally accessible from the north.
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May 9th, 2011, 06:00 AM
  #14
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Thanks sf...we'll probably go to the wharf for a short stroll, hopefully the day we arrive.

janis...thx for the clarification. I thought I'd read that the access to Nepenthe was OK. How long will it take to get there though?

And what are everyone's favorite restaurants in the area for lunch and dinner?
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May 9th, 2011, 09:13 AM
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You know -- I've been to Nepenthe several times, but have never driven straight there (always stop for photo ops etc) so I honestly don't know how long a straight drive would take. But the restaurant is 30 miles south of Carmel, so figure a bit under an hour
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May 9th, 2011, 09:25 AM
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http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/welcome.htm

According to Google Maps, 30 miles and 44 minutes
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May 9th, 2011, 09:57 AM
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starrs: Ah - but that is not when you get stuck behind a motor home

But yes -- w/ a clear road/no traffic I'd guess 45 mins is about right.
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May 9th, 2011, 11:46 AM
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Don't worry about skipping the aquarium. I probably would too with only a short stay. I like the aquarium, but I haven't been in probably 15 years. We go to Monterey at least a couple times a year and have a weekend planned for next month. We won't be going to the aquarium then either.

Point Lobos is a must-see IMO. I don't know if you'll end up with the time to go down to Big Sur, but Point Lobos will give you a taste of the Big Sur coastline and it is only a few miles from Carmel.

Since your DH is from Augusta, definitely see 17-mile drive. It is a must for golf fans. For everybody else, it depends.

The coastline along Pacific Grove is beautiful - there is a path you can walk or bike along there.

From the wharf - if you have time and the water is reasonably calm, you might want to take a boat trip out on the bay. They have boats leaving on a regular basis - some go out farther than others, but I'd probably choose one that goes out for an hour or so. Gives you nice views of the coast and also an opportunity to see some sea mammals. Sea kayaking is also good if you are up for it, but you might be too short on time to fit that in.
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May 9th, 2011, 11:54 AM
  #19
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It may take longer than usual to get to Nepenthe because there is only one lane of controlled traffic at Rocky Creek, where the slide that cut off Big Sur from the north occurred. The road is open but there is only one lane so traffic from the north and south is let through alternatively.

My 2 cents on the Aquarium, if you have kids, yes; if you have plenty of time, yes; if it's foggy or cloudy or raining, yes; if it's a gorgeous day and you can take a hike or walk at Point Lobos, no.
In the countless times I have been to the Monterey Penninsula in the past 30 years, I have been only twice.

BTW strike the Fishwife from your list, it's nice enough if you are staying at Asilomar or in the area, not worth a special trip.
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May 9th, 2011, 02:07 PM
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Save the Aquarium for another trip or if the weather is cold & foggy.
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