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San Francisco-Monterey Bay-Hearst Castle-Sequoia Forest-Yosemite Park combo

San Francisco-Monterey Bay-Hearst Castle-Sequoia Forest-Yosemite Park combo

Jun 3rd, 2019, 12:51 PM
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San Francisco-Monterey Bay-Hearst Castle-Sequoia Forest-Yosemite Park combo

Planning to visit California with 16yo son in August. We have total of up to 8 days and want to see SF, Monterrey, Carmel, Hearst Castle, Sequoia Forest, Kings Canyon and Yosemite Park. Will fly from NY JFK.
Is it possible to pull up such itinerary in 8days including flight time and be able to enjoy it and not be constantly driving? How many days would you allocate for each place? Is there any other airport but SFO that we can depart from back to JFK non-stop and is closer to parks, or we must get back to SF?
Where to make stops on the way? Recommendations for lodging would also be appreciated!
Is it better to stay in Monterey or Paso Robles? We plan to see Carmel, 17 miles drive, Point Lobos, Monterey Aquarium, may be Nepenthe... What would be the best balance between having time to enjoy and driving to the next spot? Any shortcuts that we should be aware of taking advantage to be more efficient?
If anyone has an itinerary please share.
Thank you in advance for your feedback!
.
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Jun 3rd, 2019, 01:03 PM
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Jun 3rd, 2019, 01:15 PM
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>>Is it possible to pull up such itinerary in 8days including flight time<<

8 days including travel time is actually 6 days on the ground - 6.5 days at the VERY most. So not nearly enough time for all that. Plus August is very bust in Yosemite and Sequoia so getting accommodations in the parks will be awfully difficult or impossible.

>>Is there any other airport but SFO that we can depart from back to JFK non-stop and is closer to parks, or we must get back to SF?<<

There are several airports convenient to Yosemite SFO, OAK, SJC, SMF -- heck even Reno. But since getting accommodation at this late date is your problem. And don't fall for the ''Close to the park" that most places advertise. They are usually 1 hour to 2 hour drive drive from Yosemite Valley. The only close 'outside the park' places are El Portal, Yosemite West and Foresta.

Let's use 6 days on the ground for sake of discussion - the is enough time for San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur and Hearst Castle -- but even just that would be rushed.
janisj is online now  
Jun 3rd, 2019, 02:29 PM
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How many days would you allocate for each place?
(fly into SFO or Oakland)
SF = 2/4 days
(drive ~ 4 hours) Yosemite Park = 2/3 days
(drive ~4 hours) Monterrey, Carmel, Hearst Castle = 2/3 days
(drive ~3 hours) Sequoia Forest, Kings Canyon = 3/4 days
(oops still need to get back to an international airport somewhere... back to SFO 5 hrs, San Jose is 4 hrs, LAX is 5 hrs, or?)

Is it possible to pull up such itinerary in 8 days including flight time and be able to enjoy it and not be constantly driving?
No Well perhaps it is technically "possible" but to me what you describe is a more like a 2 week road trip.
suze is online now  
Jun 3rd, 2019, 02:52 PM
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>> Plus August is very bust busy in Yosemite and Sequoia so getting accommodations . . . << (though 'bust" would work too since things book up so far ahead)
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Jun 3rd, 2019, 03:19 PM
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I would drop Sequoia/Kings Canyon and build the trip around what ever dates you can get for Yosemite lodging. There are sequoia groves in Yosemite too.

SF or Oakland would work for airports as would San Jose.

SF probably 3 nights (arrival day, 2 days sightseeing, departure to Monterey Bay then
3 nights (1 or 2 Pacific Grove and 1 night San Simeon/Morro Bay.
Paso Robles will be very hot in August. I'd include a visit to Monatana de Oro while down in the Hearst Castle area.

3 nights Yosemite. One arrival day, two sightseeing days, then drive back to departure airport
1 night near your departure airport.
mlgb is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2019, 03:28 PM
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That Itinerary is 10 nights -- the OP says a max of 8 days including flights - which would seem to mean 7 nights at very most
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Jun 3rd, 2019, 04:34 PM
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Try to avoid Car Week on the Monterey Peninsula. Thursday through Sunday (8/15-8/18) are the busiest days.
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Jun 3rd, 2019, 06:51 PM
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Thank you everyone! So we’ll probably have to narrow it down to SF, Yosemite park, Monterey Bay/Carmel? Does not seem like we’ll have time to make it to Hearst Castle, right. With 3nights at Yosemite park how would you recommend to distribute the rest of the days and what is the best order of moving through this itinerary if it matters?
victoriafink87 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2019, 07:28 PM
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>>With 3nights at Yosemite park <<

>>what is the best order of moving through this itinerary if it matters?<<

Yes, it can matter a lot . . . have you already booked Yosemite? If so, Where? If not, the absolute very first thing you need to do - like tonight, is nail down a place to stay in Yosemite (see my post above). After you have those dates, then you can build the rest of your itinerary around what you are able to get. Once you know when you can get into Yosemite, that will tell you the order of the rest.

First try IN Yosemite Valley, then try Yosemite View Lodge or Cedar Lodge in El Portal. Then try the condos in Yosemite West.

Also re the Monterey area, the exact dates are important (see patty's post above)

Before we can advise re allocating the rest of your time we need to know how many actual days you have since the OP says 'up to 8 days.
janisj is online now  
Jun 3rd, 2019, 07:30 PM
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ps: I see you are brand new. Welcome to Fodors. Unfortunately that means you can't post again until tomorrow -- you are sort of 'on probabtion' the first few days on Fodors. So get on the Yosemite booking tonight and then tomorrow you can post some of the details . . .
janisj is online now  
Jun 3rd, 2019, 08:42 PM
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There was an feature in the SF Chronicle this past Sunday about transportation in Yosemite. Hours, waiting in line to catch the shuttle.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/...php?psid=8B2Rz

For a VERY short trip - I would not want to spend any time in lines. I love Yosemite - but I would not want to spend 1/2 of a day waiting in lines for on a shuttle.

Focus on San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur.

Here is some stuff to study
San Francisco - Stu Dudley's Recommendations

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Jun 3rd, 2019 at 08:45 PM.
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Jun 3rd, 2019, 10:55 PM
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>>I love Yosemite - but I would not want to spend 1/2 of a day waiting in lines for on a shuttle.<<

I also LOVE Yosemite and drive down at least once a year - sometimes more (in fact spent my honeymoon there) . . . But even though I can drive there in 3.5 hours -- I would NEVER visit in August. Just not worth the hassle and the heat.
janisj is online now  
Jun 4th, 2019, 05:41 AM
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Just now coming to this thread but I'd have to echo several previous posts.

1. Postpone Yosemite until you can make it at some other time of the year, preferably spring to (very) early summer. By August the crowds and heat will be bad, getting around complicated, and the transits of the Central Valley, coming and going, will be miserable. Plus some of the waterfalls will be running out of water because the snow in the Sierras will have melted.

2. Be careful of the Monterey peninsula if you're anywhere near car week. https://www.seemonterey.com/events/sporting/concours/ Accommodations all the way from Santa Cruz to Salinas and beyond get filled up, prices go way up, and traffic gets awful.

3. If you can't avoid that week, then try to find accommodations closer to Santa Cruz and if you want to see Point Lobos or Monterey/Carmel, do it as a day trip. When the time comes to head south, shoot straight past Monterey to Big Sur, and spend a night close to San Simeon (Hearst Castle, Piedras Blancas elephant seals.) Be sure to visit either/both the Henry Cowell or Big Basin redwoods; both state parks are between San Jose and Santa Cruz.

If your timing is such that you're hitting car week, then I'd suggest a possible alternative scheme. From SF, head south all the way to Santa Barbara. This is an all-day drive, but shouldn't be too trafficky once you're past the SF Bay Area. It will probably be hot as Hades between Salinas and, say, Pismo Beach, but if you're easterners, nothing you can't manage. Anyway, spend a day or two enjoying Santa Barbara and its hinterland; see the beautiful old Spanish mission, explore the lovely town center, visit some wineries in the "Sideways" country... Then head back north, this time on CA 1. Visit the targets you've already listed - Hearst Castle, Big Sur, etc. - and back to SF.

If the timing works with the opposite plan, so be it. Work south on the coast, then high speed on US 101 back to SF.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 4th, 2019, 07:35 AM
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I think I wrote a report last year about July hell in Yosemite. I swore off going in summer ever again. If it's a priority, IMO the best way to deal with parking is to stay at Camp Curry (now called Half Dome Village) where you leave your car for the duration and walk to Vernal Falls. Mirror Lake and the main Yosemite Falls are often dry by August, but who knows with the big snowpack this year.

Report on Yosemite/Traffic Conditions

My recommendation is to not bother with Santa Barbara, which I find extremely boring (and with super expensive hotels!). If you do a trip south I like Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay/Grover Beach (general Pismo Beach area although I don't like staying in Pismo), and San Luis Obispo. If you want to drop Yosemite and see big trees somewhere, in addition to the well-known groves in the National Parks, there is also Trail of 100 Giants north of Kernville. You would go inland from SLO and can go up the east side of the Sierra Nevada on 395, then continue up via Bishop/Mammoth Lakes/Mono, and Tioga Pass to reach Yosemite from the back side. I'd still want to find at least one night inside the Park if you do that, but get a really early start when you head up from Tioga Pass. Also, people from Southern California sometimes visit Yosemite via Oakhurst, even staying there if they can't get lodging closer in. Oakhurst is relatively close to Mariposa Grove. So you could also not go into the Valley at all, but do Mariposa Grove and Glacier Point.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sequ...a/?recid=79825

Last edited by mlgb; Jun 4th, 2019 at 07:52 AM.
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Jun 4th, 2019, 09:11 PM
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After much consideration and hesitation (lodging issues in the park, crowds, auto-show, heat, lines and so on...) we decided to postpone such trip in Aug and rather plan for it a bit more in advance-for the spring. Thank you for your valuable advice, it won’t be wasted! But now we are looking into other nature-oriented interesting and beautiful 8days travel options for the beginning of Aug, that won’t require planning that much in advance. We are traveling with a teenager, so are trying to think of a balanced and diverse exposure to keep him interested. Any ideas are welcomed!
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Jun 4th, 2019, 10:13 PM
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>>and rather plan for it a bit more in advance-for the spring.<<

Spring is FABULOUS in Yosemite. The waterfalls are running at full force and while it is busy, it will be much less crowded than August. The back country will be inaccessible -- there will probably still be a lot of snow over Tioga Pass an the road will be closed, but there is plenty to fill 3 days in Yosemite Valley. Plus with this much lead time you'll be able to book accommodations in the Valley.

Depending on how long you'll have you could do a loop of Monterey/Big Sur, Yosemite, the Gold Rush foothills/Columbia State Historic Park, and San Francisco.
janisj is online now  
Jun 5th, 2019, 05:37 AM
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Hopefully the Colorado people will check in!
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Jun 5th, 2019, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by victoriafink87 View Post
After much consideration and hesitation (lodging issues in the park, crowds, auto-show, heat, lines and so on...) we decided to postpone such trip in Aug and rather plan for it a bit more in advance-for the spring. Thank you for your valuable advice, it won’t be wasted! But now we are looking into other nature-oriented interesting and beautiful 8days travel options for the beginning of Aug, that won’t require planning that much in advance. We are traveling with a teenager, so are trying to think of a balanced and diverse exposure to keep him interested. Any ideas are welcomed!
There are so many possibilities that we'd just be throwing things out there. A little more information about yourselves would really help. Where's home, and does 8 days include travel days to and from? North America or would Europe be a possibility? What sort of budget would you have? (You don't need to be ultra specific, just an idea if we're talking youth hostel v. the Ritz. We probably know the answer.)

I'll throw out one idea, just as an example. Fly to Vancouver BC and spend a week or so in that region. The city itself is one of the world's great travel destinations, with fantastic activities in the city including glorious parks, beaches, public markets, and amazing and diverse food scene, even a terrific Shakespeare festival (performances in tents with the city skyline behind.)

A couple of hours north of the city (via one of North America's most scenic highways) is Whistler, the big ski resort and home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. However, in the summer it changes its identity to a fabulous outdoors destination, with hiking, water sports, sightseeing and so many other activities it's crazy. And because it's been developed as a winter resort, the supply of accommodation in all categories, but especially in self-catering resources (condos, apartments etc.) is very wide and large, and prices are quite reasonable. The pedestrian-friendly Whistler Village is full of fun cafes and galleries, and with the strength of the US dollar v. the Loonie, prices are very fair.

On the way from Vancouver to Whistler, you'll go past the Horseshoe Bay terminal for BC Ferries. From there you can take a ferry over to Vancouver Island, with the lovely (but crowded) capital of BC, Victoria, or you can take a different ferry to Langdale, on BC's little-known (outside of BC) "Sunshine Coast." The Sunshine Coast is a string of charming little towns set in superb setting, extending north around 150 km (say 80 miles) across mainland and islands.

South of Vancouver is another ferry terminal, with more direct access to Victoria, and also to the Gulf Islands, an incredibly picturesque group of islands full of farms, beaches, hiking opportunities... There are opportunities for fishing or whale watching (currently facing restrictions due to concerns about the impact on the orcas) or kayaking.

Here's a map showing the location (not necessarily a suggested route) of these places. https://goo.gl/maps/dPpVCrYcDW1U34b36 . In essence, this is an area that rivals the Monterey Bay in terms of great variety at close range, but absent the crowds that you'd experience in Yosemite or during Car Week farther south. Mind you, there will be plenty of other tourists, but the resources are more than capable to handle the demand.

Pictures (not all of them are mine) -

Vancouver from Spanish Banks beach



Granville Island market



Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival



Whistler Village



Ferry to Sunshine Coast



Typical coastal scene, Sunshine Coast



Southern Gulf Islands



... and this is just one possibility. There are many, many others.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 5th, 2019, 06:39 AM
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Since you are now looking fo ideas for a different trip in August (assuming not to California) - you might want to start a new thread???
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