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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

Old Jun 5th, 2019, 07:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93,343
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.

Victoria - Definitely you want to start a new thread with a different title. Most people will only open this one if they have input to your original question about a California trip. Good luck!
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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 09:04 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2019
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San Francisco/Monterey/Carmel/San Simeon/Sequoia forestKings Canyon/Yosemite/SF

Time came to properly plan that trip of ours again, but now for June2020. Traveling with husband and 2boys (17 and 10yo). We planning to fly in San Jose airport on June20 around noon time, rent a car and drive to Monterey/Carmel area to stay for 2nights (need hotel recommendations), then on June22 drive to visit Hearst Castle and Piedras Blancas for seals and keep driving to Sequoia forest to spend the night. On 23rd of June-drive through sequoia and Kings Canyon to Yosemite park, where will stay for 3nights. On 26 of June-drive to SF and stay there for 3nights (need hotel recommendations to be close to main attractions and enjoy the city and comfort). On June 29-flight back to NY from SFO in the early afternoon. Does this plan makes sense to you guys? Are logistics correct or we need to rethink this itinerary? There is still some room for redistributing days between locations. Please let me know what do you think and advise on lodging in San Francisco and Carmel/Monterey area.
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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 09:28 PM
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You seem quite determined to fit it all in, including Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Sequoia and Kings Canyon as drive bys to check them off your "been there list".
June especially 22 & 23 sound like fun days.

6/22 would be something like this, driving only. No time allocated for stopping along the Big Sur coast, or accounting for summer traffic.

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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 10:18 PM
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I would still recommend you drop Kings Canyon & Sequoia.
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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 10:21 PM
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>> then on June22 drive to visit Hearst Castle and Piedras Blancas for seals and keep driving to Sequoia forest to spend the night. On 23rd of June-drive through sequoia and Kings Canyon to Yosemite park,
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 08:26 AM
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As for San Francisco hotels, please let us know what your budget is and whether you want one room or two (if one, do your kids share a bed, or do you also need a rollaway?) - San Francisco hotels are wildly dependent on what is going on in town. You should definitely check the convention schedule before you pick your particular dates for SF.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 08:37 AM
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I just visited Monterey Bay in early October. We had plans to meander down Highway 1 toward Hearst Castle, hoping to arrive there around 2. I knew itd be tight but figured we could do it if we started early. We drove the 17 Mile Drive around Pebble Beach first and started down 1 around 9:00 am. Well, we stopped at just about every scenic overlook. It was impossible not to, the scenery was incredible. Ive seen the west coast of Ireland and the Amalfi Coast, and this still blew me away. I also made a point of stopping at Pfeiffer Beach, which was very cool (google it for photos). Long story short, we got to Piedras Blancas at 2:30 and spent over an hour walking the length of the shore where the elephant seals are, and Hearst Castle closes at 4. We made the decision to stay with the seals and save the castle for next time. Also, there were two spots along the drive where road construction narrowed to one lane to serve both directions, so we lost time sitting in non-moving traffic, and there is a back-up at Bixby Bridge where everyone gets out for photos. October is low(er) season, Id hate to see how this is in June. My advice, dont try that day you have planned. Unless you have excellent self-restraint and dont stop at all along the drive down Big Sur.

We were very happy with the Hotel Abrego in Monterey. It isnt along the water but very convenient to it and free parking. Id stay there again.

Last edited by amyb; Nov 17th, 2019 at 08:39 AM.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 09:05 AM
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I hear you guys and apparently I dont have an excellent restraint, but I also dont want my family hate me... Sooo, what would make more sense to do about it to make a vacation look like vacation? May be I should take away 1 of SF nights and spend it on staying overnight around San Simeon area to break the long drive on 23rd of June? How much time should I allocate for major stops along the coast? Or will I regret it if I skip the driving down the Hearst castle and Sequoia all together? How should I redistribute our time then? Or would it make any sense to still drive down the coast, but then skip Sequoia/Kings Canyon and drive all the way up to Yosemite? Id appreciate your ideas, cause we have zero experience in driving around California.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 09:36 AM
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Having just visited Ireland, and having had to cut out pieces of our itinerary to make it not be the death drive from hell, I appreciate your problem. Also as a native Californian I have to agree with the advice above. You need to consider making some cuts to your plans; driving all over in 1-2 days will not work. Summer traffic is miserable. I won’t give any more advice, but you have been given some excellent suggestions already. Good luck. Have your family read this, and have them look hard at a map with with you.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 10:02 AM
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>>Sooo, what would make more sense to do about it to make a vacation look like vacation?
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 10:12 AM
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Here's the schedule I'd suggest. Overnight locations listed.

20-Jun Carmel
21-Jun Carmel - day trip to San Simeon
22-Jun Yosemite area
23-Jun Yosemite area
24-Jun Gold country
25-Jun Gold country - Calaveras Big Trees
26-Jun SF
27-Jun SF
28-Jun SF
29-Jun Home

Map - https://goo.gl/maps/BYaiw77fw54vrsov8

This would make San Simeon and Piedras Blancas a day trip from Carmel (or anywhere on the Monterey Peninsula.) Daylight hours will be very long, so it's not difficult to do this round trip in one day, allowing time to stop at Point Lobos en route (a must-see.)

You'd then take most of a day to travel from the Monterey Peninsula over to the Yosemite area. I say "area" because at this stage you're probably going to encounter difficulties in securing accommodation within the national park, If this is your desire, you need to get on it right now - this morning. You're talking about a peak period for the valley.

From Yosemite, I set two days to explore the gold rush country running along California Hwy 49 through the Sierra foothills. This lovely road is a nonstop joy - historic and incredibly picturesque old towns, white water rivers, wildflowers... gobsmacking. Stop at the museum town of Columbia, then head up CA Hwy 4 to the Calaveras Big Trees. These are every bit as spectacular as the trees in Sequoia National Park, but way, way more convenient given your time limitations. Consider spending a night in the lovely town of Murphys, just down the road from the big trees; Murphys is also a big center for the local wineries that are becoming big business in the area.

Then on the way back to San Francisco, consider stopping for a brief time in the fascinating village of Locke in the Sacramento River delta. The old downtown of this Chinese-dominated place is a national historic district, and rightly so. Google street view: https://goo.gl/maps/5zCLVopeqX6AsFkAA

This is still a lot of driving for a short time, but IMO worth every hour.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 10:43 AM
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[QUOTE=janisj;17017687]>>Sooo, what would make more sense to do about it to make a vacation look like vacation?
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 10:48 AM
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The only problem I see with Gardyloo's suggestion of making San Simeon a day trip from Carmel is that fog along the coast in June is not just a possibility. It's a probability. Although a little fog can add to the beauty of the scenery, a blanket of fog will obscure everything. How much fog you'd encounter can't be predicted more than a day or two in advance. Fog can linger through the morning, burn off mid-day and return at sunset, so in the day trip scenario it would be possible you could have fog in spots in both driving directions. Depending on the density of the fog, a nearly 3-hour drive in each direction could easily take much longer.

To allow time for a more leisurely drive and multiple stops, I wouldn't return to Carmel on the same day. I'd spend the night in Cambria (or perhaps Paso Robles) and head to Yosemite the next day.

I'll be the broken record and recommend you drop Sequoia/Kings Canyon.

I'll also reiterate socaltraveler's comment about summer traffic. Don't underestimate driving times.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 01:45 PM
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One more vote for dropping SEKI since you do not have time. Visit Hearst Castle and the seals then stay overnight in that area (Cambria has more lodging and restaurants than San Simeon). I strongly disagree with trying to visit Hearst as a daytrip from Carmel as this has you either taking Highway 101 and missing Big Sur, or rushing through with almost no stops other than 1-2 photo ops and certainly no hiking.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 05:36 PM
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What are your plans for Monterey? I wouldn't day trip down to San Simeon. Julia Pfeiffer Burns or Limekiln would be a good turn around point for a day trip. If you want to go as far as San Simeon, I'd spend the night nearby and then head to Yosemite or Seki from there. No reason to backtrack to Monterey. I think Seki is doable (but still rushed) if you did 1 night Monterey and 1 night Cambria/Paso or 2 nights Monterey with a Big Sur day trip in between and then drive directly from Monterey to Seki. I'm in Seki right now and made it in under 4 hours this morning but left early and there are hardly any tourists right now. Calaveras Big Trees is also very nice for sequoias.

Last edited by Patty; Nov 17th, 2019 at 05:38 PM.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 10:10 PM
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Thank you all, dear travelers! We are ready to drop Sequoia Forest and spend the night in Cambria or Paso Robles (looking for hotel recommendations in order to visit Hearst Castle). So wed still spend 2nights in Monterey/Carmel area (to visit aquarium, Pacific grove, Spanish Bay, Point Lobos; what else we should not miss while staying there?), then drive down the coast on June22 towards Cambria/Paso Robles, while stopping by Big Sur, Julia Pfeiffer, may be Morro Bay, Montana de Oro (do tell which other stops should not be missed or we should skip and advise on the place for lunch on the way may be?). Will spend the night somewhere there to visit Hearst Castle on 23rd in the morning, then drive to Yosemite (we did book Yosemite View lodge for 3nights June 23-26). On June 26-driving to SF (I guess we can decide over there if we want to stop by Calaveras Big Trees park on the way). Well spend 3nights in SF and need hotel recommendations with good location and nice accommodations (juccuzi or pool would be a plus, but not priority; 1room is enough for us, kids can sleep together; willing to spend under 1k for 3nights). Thoughts?
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 11:53 PM
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That is a much better plan. Yosemite View Lodge is a great location with good family amenities.

In San Francisco check out Columbus Motor Inn or any of its several sister properties all linked from the same website. Family rooms, parking, most have good locations close to the Bay, Fisherman's Wharf, Marina district/Marina Green, Fort Mason, and the Presidio. Rates are very date specific so you'll have to check each of them individually.

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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 07:02 AM
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Paso Robles to Yosemite route, you will approach Yosemite from the south on Hwy 41. This will take you by the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, so no need to detour up to the Calaveras Big Trees, unless you want to see more of the foothills and historical towns.

I would skip the Delta detour to see Locke. It is interesting, but with your limited time, not a must see.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 09:33 AM
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Two nights in Monterey is only one full day plus a couple of hours on day 1. You have several sights listed for that single day, so you're going to have to be time disciplined and should think about what you most want to see/do. My priorities (which may not be your priorities) would be #1 Aquarium, #2 Pt. Lobos and #3 17-Mile Drive. Pacific Grove would be a "drive-by" for me, but if you had any time on your arrival afternoon, you might want to walk around PG or the town of Carmel and/or see the Carmel Mission.

On your drive-the-coast day, you don't mention Piedras Blancas which is the elephant seal rookery. It's a couple of miles south of San Simeon.

On your drive-to-Yosemite day, you don't have time for Morro Bay. You should spend the prior night in San Simeon and take the first castle tour of the day. Study the several Hearst Castle tours, pick one or two, and understand how much time this will take. Hearst Castle is not a quick stop. The drive to Mariposa Grove will take 4+ hours, and Yosemite View Lodge is another 1+ hour beyond MG.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 03:16 PM
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Thank you! Any other recommendations for hotel in San Simeon castle area and in Monterey/Carmel area?
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