San Fran - Yosemite - Coast - LAX - San Diego

Jan 27th, 2011, 02:07 PM
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Something to consider - just to throw more decisions into your process - is that you don't have to visit Napa for CA wine. The rest of your itinerary takes you past lots of wineries. Other options along your itinerary are: Sierra Foothills, Santa Cruz mountains, Carmel Valley, Santa Ynez Valley (near San Luis Obispo), and Temecula (near San Diego). There are also some central valley wineries that you may pass on your way between Yosemite and the coast. I probably forgot some - someone will chime in.

Soooo - if you map out your itinerary and decide that you need to add some days somewhere but don't want to forego the wine - there is wine EVERYWHERE in CA. You almost can't visit without stumbling over wineries.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 04:22 PM
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Toadd to nov_moon's info . . One of the very best and prettiest wine regions is between SMF and Yosemite. Especially in Amador county but also in Calaveras and other areas along hwy 49. Centered around the village of Plymouth are many wineries w/really terrific wines. It is what Napa/Sonoma was 25 years ago-- free tasting, no crowds, the chance to talk w/ the actual owners/wine makers.

Or down the coast are some great wineries. Napa isn't the be all/end all

As for Yosemite - you can make a refundable booking at in El Portal and keep trying for a cancellation at Yosemite Lodge. Because folks have to book so far ahead plans change and people have to cancel every day. Wawona is too far to use as a base for the Valley.
janisj is online now  
Jan 27th, 2011, 05:49 PM
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I don't think there is any comparison between Sierra foothill wines and Napa Valley wines. However, the scenery and history (California Gold Rush) are interesting.

For your planning purposes, Sacramento Airport is wonderfully easy. The drive from Sac Airport (SMF) to Napa Valley is about 1 hr 10 min (dependent on time of day/traffic, etc - as with any airport in the region). The entire valley is small and easy to navigate ( 30 to 40 min from one end to the other, on a two-lane road). The drive from Napa to San Francisco is about 1 hour (sometime less, sometimes a little more - again depending on traffic).

I think your plan is doable if you make sure you allow enough time for your priority sites. I would do 2 nights in Yosemite at least - so you can have 2 full days. You might even prefer 3. And I can't imagine spending less than 2 nights in SF.

You're doing great! Keep up the good planning work!
elnap29 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 06:12 PM
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"I don't think there is any comparison between Sierra foothill wines and Napa Valley wines."

Things, they are a changin'

It is so nice not having to fight the nasty traffic on hwy 29, exorbitant tasting fees, and the rest of the Napa/Sonoma 'elitism' . . .
janisj is online now  
Jan 27th, 2011, 07:49 PM
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If you're flying into Sacramento, I'd suggest doing Yosemite first and get that out of the way. That's the whole point of flying into Sacramento - to be closer to Yosemite.

Then go to Napa - SF etc.

Or, since you say you've already been to San Francisco, just skip Napa and San Francisco (gasp! did I just say "skip SF"!?)

Drive straight from Yosemite to Monterey and start your coastal journey there. Places to stop are Point Lobos, Pfeiffer Big Sur, Nepenthe, Julia Pfeiffer Burns - then Hearst Castle if you are so inclined.

southward from Hearst Castle ther are some wonderful wine regions: San Luis Obispo County, starting with paso Robles area

going down through Santa Barbara county

I hope onemoneygirl sees this as she would be a wonderful guide for the wineries of that area.

Some of the wines in both these counties are beginning to rival those of Napa and Sonoma.

In this Central Coast area is the best California Mission for tourist purposes, the Mission La Purisma:

Almost all of the other missions are working churches, La Purisma is a state park with extensive reconstruction where you can get an excellent idea of what life was like in the early days at a mission.

If you really do all these places and give each an appropriate amount of time, you may not have much time for either LA or SD!

Have a great trip! Sounds exciting!
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 28th, 2011, 07:07 AM
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Thanks for all of your suggestions. It does appear like there is a bit of a Wine War out there between the north vineyards and central coast vineyards!!! I appreciate being the catalyst for your debates!!

I don't know if this sounds snobby at all, but as an east coaster, having heard about how wonderful and beautiful Napa Valley is, I think it might be worth the extra day or 2 out of the way to head a little further north to Napa. I'm sure the vineyards in the Central Coast are beautiful as well, and I look forward to visiting many of them in addition to the ones in the north, but I want to make a traditional trip to "Wine Country."

That being said, where the hell should I go?!?!
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2011, 08:06 AM
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Maybe you could tell us what kind of wines you like? Red or white, for starters?

If you're never coming back to California, then driving to Napa just to say that you've been to the famous Napa Wine Country would be worth it. Otherwise, save Napa for a joint trip to Sonoma, because you're not going to have the time to do both this trip.

If your purpose is to simply dash in and out, you're going to be severely disappointed in the "beauty" of Napa County since the main road, Highway 29 through Napa, isn't exactly beautiful. To get to the beautiful parts of Napa county, you'll have to detour to the Silvarado Trail or drive much further north to St Helena.

It can be done, just didn't want you to have Great Expectations for such a short visit to Napa.
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 28th, 2011, 12:02 PM
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There is no 'wine war'-- well sometimes there is actually --

But wonderful wines are made in several parts of California. as easytraveler says --Napa/Sonoma is great and parts are really pretty --but you won't see the 'great parts' on a whirlwind trip on the main roads.

I was just suggesting that you could see some working wineries, talk to the wine makers, taste to your hearts content--w/o zig zagging all over the state. We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to wine. The AmadorCounty region is between SMF and Yosemite. Then there is Napa/Sonoma, The Sacramento Delta/Lodi region, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey county, the Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara area --and many other wine/grape growing regions.

I personally would not dash across the state just to say "I've been to Napa". But then I have the luxury of being able to get to any of the wine areas in a few hour's drive.

You have to decide--do you mainly just want to see the process and taste some good/great wines --or do you want to go specifically to Napa?
janisj is online now  
Jan 28th, 2011, 04:39 PM
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Bias as a Napa Valley resident, of course - The Napa Valley is beautiful, and I must say that after living here for 25 years, I still am amazed by the drive between the towns of Napa and Calistoga. I feel lucky to live here! The drive to get here is not that special, but once you get to the gateway, I think you will enjoy it.

There is much advice to give and many recommendations to make if you do decide to head this way. So when you are ready, let us know what kinds of wines you like and what sort of experiences you seek. There is something for just about everyone. If you want snobby, well, you can certainly have that (and it's weird to me that some people actually WANT it that way), there are elegant wineries, folksy wineries, and places where the farm is the farm. You can have entertainment and silliness and regular people. There are millionaire vintners driving around in their dirty overalls and and funky pick-up trucks, completely absorbed in their farming life. And, of course, there are people who need to wear their success. But this is a very pretty place and you can have fun here, too.
elnap29 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2011, 08:20 PM
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If you wanted to stay at Wawona, the big trees are incredible. They are worth seeing, and it's really not all that far to the valley. The Wawona Hotel is also a nice place to stay. As for the time of the year, that is a good time to see the waterfalls.
mrjanto is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 07:09 AM
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Okay, so after lots of thought... we have decided to skip Napa this trip. We have plenty of things to do already and it will be a great trip either way! My boyfriend's mom has a TON of Marriott points, so that's the reason for mostly Marriott's in the major cities. So here is our "finalized" plan.

Day 1 & 2: San Francisco
-See all the sights! Golden Gate, Alcatraz, the Piers, etc.
-Hotel: Marriott Fisherman's Wharf or Union Square - which one is more central??

Day 3 & 4: Yosemite
-the boy wants to do Half Dome, I'm unsure. Any experience there?
-Hotel: Cedar Lodge in El Portal unless there are openings in the park

Day 5: Monterrey
-Hotel: Monterrey Marriott

Day 6: Pismo Beach (just to break up the drive)
-Hotel: Sea Venture Hotel

Day 7 & 8: Los Angeles
-Walk of Fame, Studio Tour (which is best?), Muscle Beach
-Hotel: uncle's house

Day 9 & 10: San Diego
-San Diego Zoo, possibly Tijuana, etc.
-Hotel: cousin's house

That's the plan! Any more feedback would be much appreciated
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 07:24 AM
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By "do"ing Half Dome I'm hoping he is not going to climb it.
There is plenty to see and do in Yosemite without falling to your death. Make sure you see the Mariposa Grove in the southern part of Yosemite.
Please stay out of Tijuana, just too much violence there. Lots more to see in San Diego than the Zoo.
tomfuller is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 07:43 AM
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Oh, he wants to climb Half Dome. I would love to see the views from the top, but I am way too scared to do it.

We definitely want to check out Mariposa Grove, if possible in late-May. From what I understand the road might be closed.

The San Diego list was just an abbreviated version. There is SO much to do there that it would have been a waste to write out. Thanks for the feedback on TJ though!
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 08:39 AM
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I also have no idea what you mean by doing half dome. one great way to see the valley is to take the bus from yosemite village to Glacier point. there you are a few thousand feet above the valley and can see alot of the high country. then walk down the trail into the valley. this takes a few hours and provides some of the most impessive scenery on earth.My two cents worth on the wine country is that you are traveling down the coast and will be right near some very impressive wine country so I might skip Napa and thier excellent wines.
paulhelmick is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 08:52 AM
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Here's a video about the Half Dome hike.
dbdurand is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 09:28 AM
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Just for clarification, by "doing" Half Dome, I mean hiking it. He wants to do the 17-mile hike all the way to the top.

I have watched the video and read a lot about it and am unsure. On one hand, it seems awesome. On the other, I don't want to die. I hope I can talk him out of it.

I am all for hiking in Yosemite, just some of the less strenuous, risky ones!
AMT6 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 09:32 AM
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Your days 5 and 6 are VERY rushed IMO. You won't get to Monterey until late in the afternoon and then will leave again the next morning. Monterey to Pismo Beach is 4+ hours w/o any stops/sightseeing (and there is a LOT to see along the way)

I'd think about cutting back on LA or SD and add another night on the coast (preferably in Monterey but anywhere will help)
janisj is online now  
Jan 31st, 2011, 11:15 AM
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For Half Dome - if you guys are in good shape and experienced hikers, then go for it. Do check to see if the cables will be up during your visit though - they take them down in the winter and put them back up in the spring sometime. You should be on the trail before daylight so that you aren't coming back down in the dark - it is a challenging hike and will take all day. And of course you should have proper boots, flashlights, food and water, etc - regular preparations for a major hike. Regarding the danger, yes it is real, but if you are smart and careful, the danger is significantly less. The people who tend to fall off Half Dome are the idiots who don't respect the potential dangers of the situation - people who don't want to wait their turn on the cables and decide to try to climb the final part outside the cables and that sort of thing.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 11:22 AM
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I believe you now need a permit to hike Half Dome. The cables usually go up in mid to late May.
sf7307 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 10:52 AM
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I think that permits for Half Dome are a good idea - if people have to actually plan ahead to make the climb, then maybe there will be fewer unprepared hikers up there who decide to do the hike in sandals without sufficient water and have to be rescued.
november_moon is offline  

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