San Francisco, Napa Valley or Tahoe?

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May 10th, 2000, 11:02 PM
  #1
Nevine
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San Francisco, Napa Valley or Tahoe?

My husband and I are planning on spending a week in Northern California at the beginning of October. We are travelling from Egypt and want to make the best of the trip but can't make up our minds where to stay. Ideally, we would like a base from which we could take daytrips. I tend towards staying in SF but am worried about practicalities like parking, etc. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks
 
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May 11th, 2000, 02:43 AM
  #2
SFSally
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First of all, you are coming here at the best time of the year. Weather should be perfect. Probably a little chilly in Lake Tahoe.

It is simply not practical to visit Lake Tahoe as a day trip. You really need to stay at least one night and preferably 2. Napa is doable as a day trip though I suggest staying there for a night also.

That leaves 4 nights for San Francisco which is not very much but ceratinly enough for you to see the highlights and enjoy our great city.

Having said all of that, I would make San Francisco my base as you will be here for the most time. Parking in the city is not good. A car is definitely NOT an asset in San Francisco. The good news is that it is not necessary to have a car in the city. The public transportation is pretty good. I would rent a car only for visiting outside of the city such as Lake Tahoe and Napa etc. A trip to Monterey/Carmel would be pretty good also. That can be done as a day trip though it will be a pretty long day.

Visit Lake Tahoe during mid week, It gets pretty crowded on the weekends. Accomodations are much less expensive Sun-Thurs inclusive.
 
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May 11th, 2000, 07:06 AM
  #3
meg
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Skip Tahoe. Two years ago, my husband I did Carmel, Napa and Tahoe. I wish we had spent more time in Carmel and Napa and added a day or so in San Francisco. Tahoe is a big lake surrounded by cheap hotels and a few casinos. Maybe it is different in the winter and if you ski.

Carmel/Monterey area is great. Great Food. Great coastline. 17 Mile drive. Pebble Beach. Just south of Carmel is Point Lobos park and Big Sur. Beautiful.

The drive up Highway A1 from Carmel to SF is beautiful. Acres and Acres of artichokes. Whales. Otters.

Napa/Sonoma was fun. Do your research before you go; there's lots more to the area than wine tasting and shopping.

Have fun!
 
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May 11th, 2000, 03:44 PM
  #4
kam
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All good suggestions. If you go to Carmel, don't take Hwy 1 all the way back to SF. Get off at Santa Cruz and take Hwy 17 over the Sta. Cruz Mtns. to 280 and back to the city on 280. From Santa Cruz to SF is pretty flat and boring whereas you'll see some pretty redwoods along 17. Tahoe is a toss up. With just one week I think I might skip it as well, but it is a beautiful mountain lake. If you go to Napa, try also to visit some of the Sonoma wineries as well. I would do 1 night in Napa/Sonoma and 2 nights in Carmel/Pacific Grove/Big Sur and then the 4 nights in the city. Agree that it's the very best time of year.
 
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May 11th, 2000, 04:17 PM
  #5
John
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Kam:
What is this? "From Santa Cruz to SF is pretty flat and boring. . . " Are you talking about the same stretch of coast I love? Great state beaches, lots of surg, sea lions (and the great white sharks who feed on them), lots of sea birds; some splendid hikes, etc. etc.; Princeton Harbor . . . Besides, how about those horrid traffic jams on 17? Three hours from Santa Cruz to San Jose is unfortunately NOT all that uncommon.
 
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May 11th, 2000, 04:40 PM
  #6
kam
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John, Yes, in fact, I'm talking about your favorite coast! Especially on the drive north at which point you'll be on the right side of the road driving through the ollalieberry fields near Half Moon Bay. Sorry, but after the beauty of Big Sur and farther south, this part of the coast doesn't do it for me! How many great whites have you seen there lately? I'll take my chances with 17--it usually goes very quickly unless there's rain and in that case 1 will be no picnic either. Last week they had one car length visibility in Pacifica and countless accidents--now that's a pretty view!
 
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May 11th, 2000, 08:35 PM
  #7
John
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Kam:
I know those beaches well. I used to sleep on them (back when they were still county parks) on my frequent trips from LA to SF. They were the only lodging this whilom impecunious college student could afford. I loved the artichoke fields. Nobody can find you when you spread your sleeping bag in an artichoke field. But I have to admit that the Brussels sprout also make for decent cover.
I love the walks along the beaches with pelicans flying by low above the surf line. I love the hawks hanging out, and the elephant seals at Año Nuevo, and the grove of [wild] Monterey pines, and the miniature forest atop the bluffs. . . .
And the light! Especially on a foggy day when the sun barely penetrates the clouds. It's magic.
I'll take that bracing salt air any day over the congestion and exhaust fumes of Hwy 17!
And you have to admit that, dangerous as the highway can be, even the Devil’s Slide has its attractions—mainly that gorgeous view.
Incidentally, even if you are driving north to south, you can pull out on the side of the road or at a park and walk, to fully catch the flavor of that beautiful stretch of coast.
 
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May 12th, 2000, 12:13 AM
  #8
nevine
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Thank you all for the wonderful advice. I think we are definitely ruling out Tahoe with so much else to do on the coast.

What we have decided to do, though, is to add a couple of days to the trip and drive from SF to Las Vegas. Is the drive doable in one day? If not, where is a ggod place on the way for an overnight break?

Thanks
 
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May 12th, 2000, 10:46 AM
  #9
kam
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Hi John, Should be say "You take the high road, and I'll take the low......." Actually, the nicest way to get over the hill is on Rt.9 but lots of people get claustrophobic in the forests. I would hesitate to recommend it to strangers to the area, and do you know the back route around Big Basin if 17 is too congested? Much as I love artichokes, must admit I've never had the experience of sleeping with them! Did you go to UCSC?
 
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May 12th, 2000, 10:51 AM
  #10
SF Ghost
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Drive from SF to Las Vegas??? Now that's a long and boring drive. Better to Extend your trip through the travel agent to fly directly to/from Las Vegas at the beginning or end of your trip. A flight from SF/Vegas only takes 45 minutes. Many airlines fly several times a day.

Another alternative overnight trip is Yosemite National Park. The most beatiful valley in the world, bar none.

SF, Napa/Sonoma, Monterey/Carmel, Yosemite and Las Vegas. Now that's an itinerary
 
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May 12th, 2000, 11:35 AM
  #11
John
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To Kam:
Yes, but if you sleep UNDER (not with) the artichokes, you get to watch the Pigeon Point Light flash you all night long.
I love Highway 9, but I like Pescadero/Alpine Road even better (obviously I don't get car sick and narrow roads twisting through redwood groves don't give me claustrophobia).
I should also mention that great marsh near the mouth of Pescadero Creek--it's a marvelous place for bird watching! And as a special treat (if you go that way), you can have lunch or dinner at Duarte's Tavern.
By the way, I found that (if I take the high road, I'd rather take Highway 35 than I-280 (it's a lot prettier than the interstate, and you can Hwy 92 down into Half Moon Bay and have a meal at the Princeton Fish Company, at the Moss Beach Distillery, or at that little Chinese restaurant (the name escapes me, but the last time I walked in, in mid-afternoon, the family was sitting around the table hand-stuffing wontons--talk about authentic!) at Rockaway Beach/Point San Pedro.
Or you could pick up the interstate for a few miles and then enter the City by way of Skyline Blvd.

No, I did not go to USCS. The campus didn’t exist yet when I did my undergraduate work. I went to Cal State Fullerton when it had less than a thousand students (but a lot more when I left).
 
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May 18th, 2000, 07:02 AM
  #12
SFSally
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I agree with Kam on skipping Hwy 1 from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. I would make one small change in Kam's route. Take 17 from Santa Cruz to 85 ( just past Los Gatos ). Take 85 north to 280 and then follow 280 north to San Francisco. Taking 85 will shorten the trip a bit and is a little nicer than 17 through Campbell and San Jose.
 
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May 18th, 2000, 07:23 AM
  #13
howard
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Kam, I'm surprised you didn't pick up on SF Ghost's Yosemite recommendation. Now's your chance to extol the virties of Yosemite--certainly a destination preferred over Las Vegas!
Also,let's not ignore north of San Francisco--Muir Woods, Reyes National Seashore, etc.
 
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May 18th, 2000, 08:20 AM
  #14
John
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HIGHWAY 17 UPDATE:

Monday May 15 08:47 AM EDT

Hwy. 17 repaving to start

Caltrans will soon embark on a $3 million repaving job on Highway 17 to reduce the amount of water on the mountain road and give motorists a better chance of keeping their cars and sport-utility vehicles under control on rainy days.

 
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May 19th, 2000, 01:00 PM
  #15
Jean
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Sending this to the top for Elaine to see.
 
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