Point Reyes or Half Moon Bay

Old Feb 28th, 2009, 05:53 PM
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Point Reyes or Half Moon Bay

We fly into SJC in the evening and have reserved a hotel near the airport for our first night. Being from the East Coast, we expect to be awake early the next day and be ready for our fun to begin. We have reservations in SF on Lombard Street, but cannot check in until late afternoon. We can meander from SJC to the hotel and are considering a trip to the ocean for a great view. Looking at the maps, seems we can go south from SJC to Half Moon Bay and up to SF or north through Oakland, etc. to Point Reyes. This will be early June, probably 8am. Obviously, we would like to avoid rush hour traffic. Which route and vista would be more rewarding, giving us a place to stop for lunch with the family and then head into the city early afternoon on a Friday?
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 06:01 PM
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A drive I LOVE is to 17 mile drive down near Moneterrey. Otherwise, I am no California epxert, but have always enjoyed highway 1 going along the coast. I don't have a map near me but I think you can go on the highway to Carmel area, do 17 mile drive and mosey back up the coast to SF for a full day tour you will never forget.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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Your directions seem confused. Half Moon Bay is north of SJC and you would not normally go through Oakland to go to Pt Reyes which is north of San Francisco in Marin County. It would take you 2 1/2 - 3 hours to get out to the tip of Point Reyes from SJC. So going out there and seeing the sights and returning to SF would not work if you want to get back by early afternoon. And you might get out there and not be able to see anything due to the summer fog. June can be a particularly bad month so I would have an alternate plan in mind. Driving down to Santa Cruz from SJC and then up Hwy 1 to SF might be a better option and possibly less foggy.

Lombard is not the most scenic part of SF to stay in. I suppose the access for leaving the city is a plus and I guess the hotel rates are good but the street is very noisy.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 06:14 PM
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Hello, I don't know too terribly much about Half Moon Bay (I've been and it's definitely gorgeous though), but I know a lot about Point Reyes. It is probably easier in terms of the total amount of driving you'd have to do if you just went to Half Moon Bay and then into SF in the afternoon, but the north bay really is terrific and very rewarding. There is a lot of traffic into the city around 8AM, but from SJC it's not completely unmanageable. You can take 205 into the city (205 tends to be more miles but less traffic, and you get some nice views on the way), then take 19th ave all the way across to the Golden Gate Bridge. Cross that and you are in Marin County. If you follow highway 1 (you can leave just after the bridge, or there should be lots of signs pointing you toward stinson beach / muir woods further down the road, both of which are great stopping places for a nice walk) you can follow the coast all the way up to Point Reyes (it'll take a while following the coast, if you just want to get there quick you can continue on 101 to San Rafael). The whole drive will be completely gorgeous. Especially if there is no fog, you'll get some of the best city views possible.

But then again, it'd be a lot of driving and you would hit some of the morning commute into the city, so it'd probably be a bit more relaxed to go the Half Moon Bay route.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 06:46 PM
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Upon further reflection, you might be right about going through Oakland to get to Pt Reyes if you want to get there as quickly as possible. Going up I880 and then I80 to Albany and then taking the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge would avoid having to drive through San Francisco. You would miss driving across the Golden Gate Bridge but you would be doing that later anyway. So, if that's what you want to do, go for it.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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From San Jose, I would take Hwy 280 to 92 and then cross over to the coast and Half Moon Bay. If you drive to SF along the coast there you'll get to see ocean and there are even some nice places to stop and walk on the beach as well as eat lunch. North of Half Moon Bay and South of Pacifica is Montara Beach and there's a good bit of beach to walk along there.

I would not take 880 from San Jose. It's not pleasant at all. If you do want to go to Point Reyes, take 280 to SF, go through the city and over the Bridge to Marin County. You could follow the signage to Stinson Beach and go to Point Reyes that way, with lots of ocean views along the way.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 07:10 PM
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Oh yeah....sorry I meant highway 280 earlier not 205.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 11:08 PM
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Marin and Pt Reyes are great but that seems to me QUITE a long drive as you are currently constructing the trip compared to swinging over to the San Mateo county coast to HMB.
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 02:22 AM
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Point Reyes is north of SF so forget about going there on your first day. Scratch taking 880 N through Oakland off your list too -- that's unnecessary.

Here's a nice drive that will let you meander and explore on your way to SF.

Take 280 N from San Jose to Hwy 84 in Woodside (San Mateo County). Go west on 84 (toward the hills). The small town at the 4-way stop is Woodside. On the left is Robert's Market if you want any snacks or drinks; on the right in the little shopping center is Buck's Restaurant, which has a good breakfast and/or excellent pastries. Notice the big fish carved from a redwood log at the west exit of the little shopping center.

Continue west on 84 towards La Honda. After leaving Woodside you will start climbing a very twisty stretch. At the summit is a crossroads (Hwy 35/Skyline Blvd) town called Sky Londa. There on the right is a market if you need anything. They usually have great baklava. I think there are some porta-potties outside to the right. Across the highway is Alice's restaurant -- a biker and locals hangout.

Keep going west on 84 (also called La Honda Rd). It's twisty and turny as you now go downhill. After a while you come to another small town - La Honda. There's a market on the right and Apple Jack's Bar on the left. Not far after leaving La Honda will be a road to the left, Pescadero Creek Road. I think the sign points to Memorial Park. Turn left there. About a mile up, the road bends 90 degrees to the right and another smaller road (Alpine Rd) goes straight. Keep right on Pescadero Creek Rd.

This will take you through some great stands of giant old coastal redwoods. Sam McDonald Park is on your right if you want to pull in there an look around. There are restrooms there. Farther along this road on the left is San Mateo Memorial Park and it has beautiful redwoods.

Eventually, after coming out of the forest, you will come to the town of Pescadero, which is only a mile from the coast. If you happen to see the Phipps farm stand of the left before getting to Pescadero, stop there. They have an amazing assormnet of dried beans along with other things. The assorted giant runner bean mix is super if your want to buy some. On the right at the stop sign is Duarte's Restaraunt & Bar (pronounced "dew-art's"). This is the place you should have either breakfast or lunch. Get whatever the special is, esp. the soup. Poke you head into the bar for a look at a real old-time tavern.

There is a gas station w/ a Mexican restaurant (not bad) opposite.

When you get to the stop sign at the coast (Hwy 1), directly straight ahead is Pescadero State Beach. Pull in there if you want to get your first taste of the Pacific.

If you want to see a very pretty lighthouse, from there drive south a few miles to Pigeon Point Light Station. You can't miss it. And just past that is Año Nuevo State Nature Preserve, which is known for the elephant seal population.

But eventually you need to be heading north to get to San Francisco. There are many scenic state beaches on this stretch. Just be very careful pulling into them and exiting them -- Hwy 1 is a two lane undivided highway (with some passing lanes). Don't speed, watch for bikes and trucks -- you could be in fog one minute and bright sun the next. It most likely though will be cold and gray so have jackets and sweaters ready.

Continuing north will bring you to Half Moon Bay. Drive down Main Street and look around. A couple of miles north of HMB is Pillar Point. Pull in there too and see the marina and the working fishing boats. Walk out on the pier. Out there beyond the breakwater is where the Mavericks international surfing competition takes place.

Continuing north from here are couple more small communities - Moss Beach, El Grenada ad Montara. Then the road gets tricky at Devil's Slide where tunnel & roadway construction is underway. Be very careful driving this stretch. You're hanging high above the ocean on a strip of roadway. If it's clear, look north along the coast and that piece of land you see jutting out is Point Reyes, many miles away. If you look out to the ocean and see tiny islands - those are the Farallones, 25 miles out.

Then you come down into Pacifica and Hwy 1 turns into more of a freeway, still called Hwy 1. Just north of Pacifica 1 will merge with 280 and you are getting into the city now. Follow Hwy 1 (19th Ave.) towards the Golden Gate Bridge and just use your SF map now to find Lombard St.

This is a lot of driving (some of it requiring utmost attention to the road) but you will see redwoods, a gorgeous coastline, small towns, maybe a lighthouse or two, maybe some marine life -- so I think it's well worth it. Get a fairly early start and you should have no problem getting into SF by mid-afternoon. Have a nice trip.
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 02:23 AM
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Oops, sorry about not turning the italics off...
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 09:35 AM
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Another vote for Duarte's.
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Where you stay depends on how late your plane arrives at SJC. Will it be early or late?

If you arrive in early evening, there is no reason why you can't head for the coast and just find loding along the coast.

If you arrive late, then I'd take the suggestion to head to Carmel instead of thinking of Point Reyes. Stop over in Morgan Hill/San Martin/Gilroy area for the night (1/2 hour drive from SJC), this will give you a head start on getting to Monterey/Carmel.

If you are determined to get up to Point Reyes, I would suggest going straight up north on 101 and stopping off at a hotel near San Francisco Airport. (In town in San Francisco, the hotel rates are much higher).

Whatever you decide to do, you don't have to stay near SJC the first night but can plan your trip by a hotel stop somewhere along the way to your ultimate destination.
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 11:39 AM
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ET they are staying by SJ for the night, this trip is the next day from that hotel before they check into their Lombard St. hotel.
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 12:04 PM
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SAB: Thanks for your correction. What I'm trying to say is that, if they arrive early enough, they could be on their way to their next day's destination without having to remain close to the airport. There's really nothing to recommend the hotels around SJC (not that they're so bad). They could very well get on 101 or 280 and be much closer to the coast within a half an hour.

OTOH, if they are arriving at 1am, then there's no point in driving further afield.
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