Quick First Trip to CAL

Old Oct 2nd, 2000, 08:56 AM
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Quick First Trip to CAL

My husband and I are planning a quick 5-day first trip to CAL second week of Nov. Where to begin? Can you help us choose the best itinerary for 5 days in CAL. We would enjoy either cozy cool weather places or warm beach areas or cozy cool beach areas. We're easy to please.
Old Oct 2nd, 2000, 09:03 AM
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Step 1: You've got to decide between the following:

Southern California (L.A./San Diego)
Northern California (Frisco/Napa)
Other (Central Coast/Big Sur)

Five days would be sufficient for any of these, but rushed for more than one.
Old Oct 2nd, 2000, 09:10 AM
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Can you help me decide between the three for November?
Old Oct 2nd, 2000, 09:25 AM
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Hi Wanda. I would focus on the central coast/Big Sur area. To me it is the most beautiful. San Francisco is wonderful too, so you could spend the whole 5 days there if you prefer cities to wilderness. Alternatively, you could do a bit of both. You could fly into San Francisco, spend 2-3 nights there, then drive down to Big Sur. Stop on the way to see the Monterey Aquarium which is terrific, and stop at Point Lobos State Park south of Carmel to walk the trails for an hour or so -- gorgeous rocky coastline, pounding surf, lots of wildlife. If money is no object, in Big Sur base yourselves at Ventana or Post Ranch Inn for the remaining 2-3 nights (I would choose 2 nights in SF and 3 nights in Big Sur). We stayed one night in Big Sur at Ventana and it was fantastic and we wish we could have stayed longer. They have an excellent restaurant, spa services, hiking trails, etc. The website is www.ventanainn.com. I've also heard great things about the Post Ranch Inn but that one is even pricier and it was out of our price range. www.postranchinn.com
Drive down one day to the southern end of the Big Sur coast to San Simeon where Hearst Castle is located. It is unbelievable. The tour takes 2 hours and is well worth it. www.hearstcastle.org. Cambria is a cute little town just a few miles south of San Simeon and has some great restaurants and B&Bs also.
Old Oct 2nd, 2000, 12:23 PM
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The Central Coast/Big Sur is beautiful, but I don'tknow that you'd want to spend a lot of your time traveling up and down Hwy 1 on account of the weather in November. Another best of city/countryside possibility would be to spend three days in SF (I wouldn't limit it to just two), and the other two just north of SF, exploring Muir Woods (for the California redwoods) and Point Reyes National Seashore. The former will give you a taste of the redwoods, which you won't want to miss, and the latter offers some gorgeous vistas foor cool weather beach walks. For these two days, you'd want to stay at one of the many cozy B&Bs in the area, in Inverness or Olema, and maybe take a stroll around the charming "downtown" of Pt. Reyes Station. In SF, three days can give you a taste of the city, time for seeing some of the major sights, doing a walking tour or two, etc. SF is easy to negotiate using public transportation (easier than with a car).

If this sounds good to you, searcg this site for many SF/Marin County suggestions; also, here are some web sites that might be helpful:

www.visitmarin.com has info on lodging and recreation (for Muir Woods and Point Reyes)
www.nps.gov, the Nat'l parks web site, has info on Pt. Reyes and links to info about Muir Woods
www.transitinfo.com has tons of info on SF area public transportation
www.wokwiz.com has info on the Wok Wiz SF Chinatown walking tour, which includes shopping and lunch
www.walking-tours.com/cityguides has info on the many free neighborhood walks offered by the SF Public Library

P.S., if you do decide to go down to Big Sur, there ARE places under $250/night, such as the Big Sur Lodge, Big Sur River Inn, and Deetjen's.
Old Oct 3rd, 2000, 06:59 AM
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There is not a pat answer to your question. Any one of the three could be very suitable depending on your preferences. I am a native Californian but I do NOT have a prejudice for either Northern or Southern California. There are many that do. I love San Diego as well as San Francisco and most points in between.

If it were me, I would probably choose San Diego simply because the weather will probably be nicer in Movember. San Diego is a beautiful clean city with a lot to see and do.
Old Oct 3rd, 2000, 05:42 PM
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Agree with Cal that San Diego would have the better weather. It will start raining at some point during November in Northern California, exactly when nobody knows, but when that starts SF is still OK but the rest of the coast is pretty miserable to drive. There's plenty to do in San Diego for 5 days especially if you plan a daytrip to Laguna Beach/ Newport Beach or Catalina. You'll get a feel for southern CA, but know that you'll have to return to see northern CA which is much different. The Central Coast is ideal in September or October when the weather is pretty much perfect.

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