San Francisco to San Luis Obispo

May 13th, 2016, 11:42 AM
  #1  
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San Francisco to San Luis Obispo

We are heading to the San Francisco area in July, landing in Oakland at 11:05am on Sat 7/30 and flying out of San Jose at 1:50pm on Sat 8/6. We are a family of four with two teen girls (18 and 13). This is our first time in that part of California. We would like to spend maybe two days in San Fran. For the rest of the week we'd like to visit Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, San Luis Obispo, then drive back up via the PCH with stops along the way (McWay Falls, Point Lobos, etc). Would greatly appreciate any suggestions on sights/areas we shouldn't miss along this route. We love short day hikes. We don't mind going an hour or two north of San Fran or south of San Luis Obispo if there's something out further in those areas. Thanks so much!!
STPGO is offline  
May 13th, 2016, 12:52 PM
  #2  
 
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SFO and OAK are served by BART.
Do you pay a drop fee to leave the rental at San Jose?
Whether you want the 2 days for San Francisco at the beginning or end of the trip depends on whether you can get at least 1 night at lodging inside Yosemite.
If you can't get lodging in Yosemite, you may have to stay somewhere in El Portal.
Kings Canyon and Sequoia are just parts of one large National Park.
What is the attraction to SLO over such beautiful coast such as Big Sur?
tomfuller is offline  
May 13th, 2016, 03:14 PM
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Sorry -- but you simply don't have time.

Think in terms of nights:

July 30, 31 in SF (which gives your 1.5 days). Aug 1-2 Yosemite, Aug 3-4 Sequoia/KC, Aug 5 somewhere on the coast, Fly out Aug 6.

The reason you need a minimum of 2 nights in the National parks is because it takes half a day to get there so one night will give barely half a day in either park.

Plus it will be very difficult to get accommodations in Yosemite -- I would try for that first and see if you can get anything then plan your itinerary around what you can get.

Assuming you can't get a room in Yosemite Valley, book at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal which is the only place easily drivable into Yosemite Valley.

Forget about Sequoia/Kings Canyon just too far for your short time.

SF/YNP and 2 or 3 days on the coast is all you have time for.
janisj is offline  
May 13th, 2016, 04:38 PM
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I agree it sounds more like a 10 or 14 day itinerary than 7, but if I had to drop something it would be Yosemite not Sequoia, especially in July. Both parks will be crowded but Yosemite will be much worse, and imo both are definitely worth at least one visit. In fact after having spent much time at both, we prefer Sequoia. Fewer people and the landscapes/terrain are even more prehistoric, with the huge trees and boulders etc it's a real experience.

Did you know that 95% of tourists to Yosemite limit themselves to 7 square miles of the valley, and ignore the other 1200 square miles of the park? It's the main reason I steer "just want to see it" types to other places. Yes, the same view that you've seen on countless postcards is gorgeous, but then what? It's like the Grand Canyon in this regard: unless a traveler is devoted to at least several days to begin to explore its backcountry, it's not worth the effort. As mentioned above, the same scenery is available with much less driving and traffic. Sequoia and King's Canyon are easy in comparison during summer.
fdecarlo is offline  
May 13th, 2016, 07:29 PM
  #5  
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I won't mind dropping SLO. Thought it was a good addition, but would rather make better use of our time. Wish we had some time to spend in the back country of these parks, but we just won't. For years we've spent our summer vacations visiting family in Southern Maine and just now starting to venture out to other destinations. It's difficult to choose one place to devote some time to when we are just so excited and want to see EVERYTHING! Perhaps in the near summers ahead we'll plan around less quantity and more quality. For now we want to see as much as possible without losing too much time on the road. This will also be good for us to plan ahead when we return someday to backpack some back country.
STPGO is offline  
May 13th, 2016, 09:27 PM
  #6  
 
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Where are you coming from? I ask because people from other states, except Texas, are surprised at the long driving distances in California and tend to underestimate the time it takes to get there from here.
Underhill is offline  
May 13th, 2016, 09:41 PM
  #7  
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We're an hour northwest of DC.
STPGO is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 05:09 AM
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Driving along the coastal highway is slower going, too, so just factor that in as you plan your time. It is all so beautiful!
jayne1973 is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 06:08 AM
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OK -- blasphemy here (I spend a LOT of time on the coast and LOVE it) -- but since you are a veteran of Coastal Maine perhaps (just for THIS quick trip) concentrate on JUST Yosemite and Kings Canyon/Sequoia.

It isn't that our coast isn't drop dead gorgeous (it is) but so is coastal Maine. Whereas Yosemite and Sequoia will be different than anything you have ever seen before.

You could drive from OAK to Groveland for the night of the 30th - maybe a 2.5 hour drive. Then stay the 31, 1, 2 at Yosemite View Lodge/El Portal. Spend 2 days seeing Yosemite Valley and one day driving up into the back country.

Then stay Aug 3, 4 in Sequoia or Three Rivers.

Day of the 5th long haul back to the Bay Area and stay somewhere on the Peninsula. Fly home on the 6th.

Save SF and the coast for another trip.
janisj is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 08:40 AM
  #10  
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Janisj, you are right! We are in love with coastal ME which is why we had no problem going back up every summer (sometimes several times a year). But I'm dying to see coastal CA too! And the kids have been looking forward to San Fran for years. I just booked a tent cabin in Half Dome for 8/1 and a room at the Best Western Plus in Oakhurst off of 41 for 8/2. So we'll have all day both days to explore Yosemite. Now, we can either head straight to the coast on 8/3, or spend some time in Kings Canyon before heading over?
STPGO is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 09:43 AM
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OK - great -- BUT can you cancel the best western? It would be MUCH more convenient to stay at Yosemite View in El Portal. Oakhurst is nearly a 2 hour drive from Yosemite Village.

>>Now, we can either head straight to the coast on 8/3, or spend some time in Kings Canyon before heading over?<<

Do you mean on the same day? If so, no.

If you mean staying overnight at Kings Canyon - then yes but it will be a hectic couple of days.
janisj is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 10:15 AM
  #12  
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No, unfortunately there was absolutely nothing available in El Portal. But I'm thinking we'll head out after breakfast on 8/1 from San Fran. Spend all day Mon in the park. Wake up early for the sunrise on 8/2, spend all day that day. Head to our hotel after sunset in Oakhurst, or earlier if we're too exhausted. Then head over to the coast on 8/3 for a night in Cambria (or should we go up further?) and a night in Carmel on 8/4. We have another night before departure on Sat about 1:30pm. Should we add another night on the coast? If so, and considering we're flying out of San Jose, where should we stay? Closer to the airport or somewhere between Cambria and Carmel?
STPGO is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 10:56 AM
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>>But I'm thinking we'll head out after breakfast on 8/1 from San Fran. Spend all day Mon in the park.<<

If you don't leave until after breakfast you won't have "all day" to spend in teh park. The drive will take at least 4 hours.

>>Head to our hotel after sunset in Oakhurst<<

Probably not a good idea to drive that road after dark. Not only is it un it there are animals to worry about.

So you'll probably want to leave the Valley by 5PM at the very latest.

>>Should we add another night on the coast? If so, and considering we're flying out of San Jose, where should we stay? Closer to the airport or somewhere between Cambria and Carmel?<<

Stay a second night in Carmel. You are already driving, packing/unpacking a lot. It is less than 2 hours from Carmel to San Jose airport and your flight is in the early afternoon so easy peasy.
janisj is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 11:06 AM
  #14  
 
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>>Not only is it unlit . . .<<
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May 14th, 2016, 11:28 AM
  #15  
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Oh that's right! I completely forgot to factor in the driving time between San Fran and Yosemite. And thank you for pointing out the driving conditions in the park. We'll be sure to leave early enough! We can catch the sunset the night before! Thank you!!
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