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provence97 Aug 26th, 2005 05:02 AM

San Francisco, Napa/Sonoma, Coast
How many days would you recommend in SF, Napa or Sonoma, and to drive along the coast if you have seven days to spend?

I will be arriving on a Weds (early October) and leaving the following Weds.

Is it better to see Napa or Sonoma?

What coastal line (heading north or south from SF) is spectacular?

magiccarpet Aug 26th, 2005 05:24 PM

I'd go for Napa.

Highway 1 is spectacular north and south of San Francisco; however, the northern coast is rural (farms, little towns, etc.) while south of San Francisco there are major points of interest: Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, San Simeon (Hearst Castle), Cambria, Santa Barbara, and Malibu to name a few.

LoveItaly Aug 26th, 2005 05:48 PM

Hi provence, personally I would go to Sonoma. But if you really want to see Napa Valley you will have a good time. I just prefer Sonoma as Napa as gotten so busy. But I have lived in this area all my life so on second thought if I was visiting for the first time I would probably go to Napa Valley also. And Hwy 1 south of SF is sooo beautiful as magicarpet said. Whatever you decide I hope you have a beautiful visit.

jtrandolph Aug 26th, 2005 06:14 PM

Yes, you can do the coast south, but you did ask about Sonoma/Napa.

I would stay in San Francsico for the first four days, no less. The first Weds doesn't count...arrival, etc. The fifth day, Monday, go to Sonoma, less than an hour's drive, spend a little time enjoying the ambience of the town and visit the historic Buena Vista Winery, then head west on Hwy. 12 towards Santa Rosa.

There are wineries on this route to visit. Kunde Estates. St. Jean, etc. etc.

Then take the Redwood Highway to Jenner, on the coast, where the Russian River enters the sea. Turn south on Hwy. 1.

You could stay in Bodega Bay for the night. There are good lodgings here and it is not "spectacular" scenery, but very pleasant. Alfred Hitchcock filmed "The Birds" here. This is Tuesday.

Go back to the City and relax a night and enjoy before flying out again.

Persons are going to suggest all kinds of winery detours from these. Trust me, you don't have time. The reason I suggest the Sonoma-instead-of-Napa is twofold. First, Napa has become a zoo of tour buses and it is not near the coast.

OKAY. Let's say you want spectacular coast and don't care all that much about wine tasting. Take Hwy 101 to Petaluma, to the Washington Street exit. This will eventually lead you to the aforementioned Bodega Bay. If you continue up the coast you will come to the aforementioned Jenner. Continue up for 13 miles of the most incredible coast driving scenery anywhere, including Big Sur. After 13 miles you will come to Fort Ross Historical State Park...which is a restored Russian fort, from the days when they occupied the territory and hunted seals.

If you want to stay here overnight I recommend the Fort Ross Lodge, which is about 3 miles north of here. The prices are reasonable, you have your own patio with a barbeque. The Timber Cove Lodge is just up the road and is worth a look. I don't know how much they charge for their food these days, or whether it is any good, but the architecture is awesome. (The lodgings are getting run down and are VERY expensive.

Up the road a ways is another restaurant...let's see..Ocean Cove?. Well you cant' miss it.

xxxx Aug 29th, 2005 04:10 AM

I would steer clear of the Timber Cove Inn--very run down, especially for the price.

provence97 Aug 29th, 2005 04:26 AM

If I spend Sunday doing the Sonoma-Jenner-Russian River from Sunday till Monday evening; then head towards Carmel and Big Sur Tuesday morning and leave for the airport Weds afternoon to catch our 4pm flights. Is that possible?

I plan to pick up a car rental Sunday morning from downtown SF. Any recommendations? How early do most of them open? Will I have problems renting a car Sunday morning?

I would like to go to two wineries, then just enjoy the scenery. Stop here and there to take pictures. Walk along the beach.

How crowded is the Carmel and Big Sur? Is there much traffic? All I want to do here is enjoy the scenery and take pictures.


jtrandolph Aug 29th, 2005 05:05 PM

Okay, look. I grew up in the Sonoma Valley and probably was one to recommend the Russian River to the coast trip.

I do NOT suggest that you try to include Monterey, Big Sur and Carmel in your itinerary. That is just not possible in a week. Take your choice.

As I said before, I grew up in Sonoma, I think at this point in time you would have better experiences in the Sonoma Valley then in the Napa Valley for wine tasting, lack of crowds, scenery, etc. than you would in the Napa Valley.

I am also now a long time resident of Santa Cruz, on the Monterey Bay.

If you try to do what you suggest in one week you are (pardon) out of your mind.

Actually, what I would to in a week, is spend at least three days in San Francisco, (not counting the arrival day) drive to Sonoma on the fourth or fifth and do the wineries in the valley, ending up at Bodega Bay, possibly. Staying overnight there and going back to SF to stay a night for your flight home.

PM me if you want.

razzledazzle Aug 29th, 2005 05:38 PM

>>>>Then take the Redwood Highway to Jenner<<<<<
on a map of Sonoma County you will see this as 116 West between Santa Rosa and Jenner.

I live in Sonoma County and I think jt
has given you 2 excellent options for your visit. Hang in SF 4 days, then go to Sonoma County via town of Sonoma,
Valley of the Moon (Hwy 12) and out to Jenner
the coast via Petaluma. There is pretty darn spectaular coast out here, especially around Jenner.

Pick up a Compass map at any drug or quick mart and you'll see all the winery locations in the county.
You'll see many along or near Hwy 116 in the Russian River Valley.

Pt.Reyes-south of Bodega has some fabulous coast line if you continue down Hwy 1, BTW.
I wouldn't include Carmel etc. this trip,either, waaaaaaaayyyy too much.


lschu Aug 29th, 2005 05:44 PM

Well I think u need to decide if u will be doing any serious wine tasting, or just driving thru each area. Napa is a smaller area than Sonoma, but if ur not really going to do the wine tasting thing, then 1 day in each county may be enough for u to get the feeling of the areas.
We were there in early June during the week and spent one day in Napa and one day driving thru the Russian River Valley. We wished we had more time in Sonoma in order to stop at even more wineries! More than one night or two might be enough for some in San Fran. The wine county is breathtaking..

cabovacation Aug 29th, 2005 10:12 PM

Is this your first trip to San Francisco?
If the "real" wine country is not that important to you, you could consider San Fran and then going down to Carmel - where there are some nice wineries, and the experience of a winery.
You really have to make a choice between the North (wine country and Bodega Bay? Jenner/ Tomaels Bay) and the South(Carmel/Monterey/maybe big Sur).
Once you make that decision several of us can help with details.
What will help you to decide?

Sounds like a fun trip in any case!

PamSF Aug 29th, 2005 11:26 PM

I agree with R5 Carmel is way too much this trip. Do consider a trip out Hwy 128 to the coast. You will pass (and hopefully sample their wares)some pretty great wineries in the Anderson Valley.

provence97 Aug 30th, 2005 04:42 AM

Can't make up my mind, but I think I'm going towards the Northern part - Sonoma, Russian River, Jenner, Bodega Bay, etc. I would want to get away from the crowds, do some wine tasting, enjoy the scenery, and hike.

Where are there good places to hike/explore?

razzledazzle Aug 30th, 2005 11:31 AM

This is our bible for hiking Sonoma county-paticularly the Coast
It's a must have !

LehmanL555 Nov 8th, 2005 11:39 AM

i have questions very similar to provence97 & need advice.
i'm flying into SF next May & staying 2 days. next, i want to include both Sonoma & Napa in my trip as well as Muir Woods, Jenner/Highway 101 Coast, ending up north to depart from Arcata. what's the best route to take so i know how to book hotels/overnight stay ?

Underhill Nov 8th, 2005 03:07 PM


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